Saturday, March 8, 2008

Burning with Fever

Whenever I am not feeling well, or am perhaps have some horrendous condition such as a hangnail, I like to put the back to my hand to my forehead and in my Best Dramatic Actress manner, ask whether I am burning with fever. Starting Wednesday, the answer was yes.

I knew something was off when I woke up, though I couldn't articulate what. But I needed to lay back down after the exhaustion of brushing my teeth. But I got dressed and headed to the S residence anyway.

When I got there, The Boy had made a mess in the living room. I bypassed it, fed the kids, sat down for a bit, changed everyone's water, sat down a bit, gave the cats their wet food, then drug a chair to the dishwasher to empty it. Then I crawled upstairs, threw myself across the foot of the bed, called M to come rescue me, called The Boss to let him know I wasn't coming in, hauled The Boy in bed with me, and passed out.

M got there about 90 minutes later, walked The Boy, cleaned up the mess, and helped me with the kids' meds. I diligently left my daily note, grabbed a plastic bag (by then, nausea had set in) and let M hustle me to his car.

By the time we were out of the neighborhood, I was thrashing about, screaming about being hot and that my extremities were numb, rolled down the window, attempted to climb out, then fell into M and whimpered the rest of the way home. I think I was conscious 15 minutes out of every hour the rest of the day.

Thursday, of course, I tried going to work. I made it until about 4pm.

Friday, of course, I tried going to work again. I made it until 3:30. M was lying in wait when I got home, ready to drag me to Patient First.

My Patient First experience was ... well, it was memorable. I was blessed by the presence of a young black nurse in training who called me "baby" and made me think of angels. I was cursed by getting the one doctor there who has the bedside manner of a starving hyena. They took my weight, height, blood pressure, temperature, urine; they looked in my eyes, ears, throat, listened to my breathing and my heart, and couldn't figure out what may be wrong with me. So a blood test it was.

(Let me pause to confess that I'm a fainter. I am a bit anemic and a lot squeamish. I don't do having my blood drawn. I barely tolerate having my blood pressure taken. Heaven help me when I get old, or if I ever really get sick.)

M was outside the door of my room when an older Filipino gentleman walked in with the sample tray. Terrified at this point, I warned him of the above. In a calm, quiet voice he told me he'd take good care of me, and gently guided me to lay down. His age was impossible for me to guess, and his serene look calmed me. He had me make a fist, tapped the crook of my arm, wiped the area, and while gently murmuring to me, inserted the needle. And for once, it was like nothing. No repeated jabs, no wiggling around for my uncooperative veins, just a tiny prick and his baby soft hands opening my fist. When it was over, he made sure I felt okay (and I did... mildly dizzy but no faintness) and my thanks was as pure as a child's. He smiled, and I was heartbroken he had to leave my side. His spirit reminded me of my granddad; they are nothing alike but both have an unmistakeable purity of spirit.

When my angel/nurse and doctor came back in the room, I whispered, I like him. He reminds me of my grandfather. My doctor scoffed and asked, "What? Is your grandfather Filipino?" I spent the rest of my exam with tears rolling down my cheeks. When the doctor left the room, I told the nurse about Granddad, and she told me she had just lost her uncle the same way: lung cancer that had spread to the brain. And she hugged me, patting my back and petting my hair, calling me baby and telling me everything would be okay.

Thus strengthened, as soon as the doctor came back in, I asked whether I was contageous and told him about Granddad and how important it is for me to be able to see him. Visibly taken aback, he assured me that I couldn't infect anyone via casual contact, answered my other questions, then left the room to write up my diagnosis, prescriptions, and release papers. All in all, the most exhausing medical visit I've ever endured, and I've endured some interesting ones.

I'm glad to report that the fever is only smoldering today, a tiny bit.

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