Thursday, March 6, 2014

Recounting Old Man Winter’s Latest Heroic Attempt To Have Me Acquire Room Temperature

I’ve missed you guys somethin’ awful.  I’ve been the sickest I’ve ever been and not be confined to the inside of a hospital room.  My last posting was way back on Tuesday, February 25th.

It is entirely appropriate for me to thank co-author Proof for continuing to put up quality articles during my flirt with death sickbed time.  The guy is a saint I tell ya.

As many of you know, I have had a series of medical diagnoses over the last year that have been daunting.  I won’t recount them here.

I am under an ever-intensifying amount of pressure at my work.  I never used to put much stock in stories about the ill-effects of stress on the body.  I always believed stress was something that could be handled by prioritizing issues according to their gravity.  FACT:  The older you are the less likely prioritizing will help.  It makes more sense to throw your hands up in the air, run around with your hair on fire and curl up in the fetal position under your desk.

Last Friday, I was being testing for recertification in my job skills as a supervisor.  My team was scheduled for their monthly training day.  The protocol was that I would be tested first.  My name was called, the evaluator verified the last four of my Social Security Number, I provided my full name, my current certification and a quick review of the procedures were read to me.  I acknowledged that I understood what was about to occur.

Two-and-a-half hours later I emerged from the testing room to await “feedback” from the evaluators.  When they came, I was told that I was a “first-time go”.  In the event that I had committed a “critical error”, I would have been required to be remediated immediately and scheduled for a reassessment within three days.  If a “critical error” was committed again the same process would have been in place.  A third failure would mean termination.  That’s what I call stress.

The next day I woke up as sick as a dog.  I picked up the phone and called off of work.  I was running a fever of 101°.  I had no appetite, in fact, I was feeling nauseous.  I laid around all day.  I got up only to pee.  I was sweating in my sleep.  I changed my PJs and the bed sheets and laid back down.  I had nothing to eat all day.

Sunday rolled around and I felt worse than the day before.  I took my insulin and tried to fix some breakfast.  I made some grits and scrambled eggs and a piece of toast.  I sat down to eat it but it wouldn’t go down.  I fed it to Sophie, my little furkid.  She said it was deelish.

On a day when you’re feeling like death warmed over, it would be nice if there were something good on TV that would soothe the savage breastesses.  Sunday would not be that day.

I went all day without anything in my tummy.  I was having hunger pangs but was scared to eat anything.  Hurling is not something you want to add to the list of accomplishments on a sick day.

Monday, I managed to roll out of bed and transfer my dying carcass to the sofa in the den.  Again, there wasn’t shit on TV.  I was thankful that my DVR was set to autotune to Star Trek The Next Generation. (Criticize me not.) My consciousness coincided with that event and I was provided the pabulum I needed.  It seemed I was drifting between stupors.  The fever wasn’t breaking.

The hours turned towards night and thoughts of going back to work filled my head.  I was facing two days of critical training for which my attendance was mandatory.  My body was achy.  Even my hair hurt.  While I had had no problems sleeping for hours on end the two days previous, Mr. Sandman would not grace me with a visit this night.

Tuesday morning, I tried valiantly to fix a healthy bowl of oatmeal with bananas and honey.  I ate a few bites before pushing it aside.  I fed it to Sophie.  She said it was yummy.

I tried to catch a power nap before the “real” alarm went off.  No matter how I tried I couldn’t get comfortable.  What’s more, I was having real trouble breathing.

I struggled to get up.  I struggled to pad down the hallway into the bedroom to put on my uniform to go to work.  I struggled to see how to drive on my way in to work.  I struggled to be able to walk straight.  I struggled to stand.  And let me tell you, that visual is not reassuring when you’re wearing a federal officer’s uniform.

My training began at 13:30 hours.  I walked the quarter-mile to the office where the training was to take place.  What would normally have been a 5 or 6 minute walk turned into an act of sheer will in which I was genuinely suffocating.  I had to stop walking in order to catch my breath.  Fifteen minutes later, I entered the room and fell into the first available chair.

Moments later, the trainer entered the room.  He took a place at the conference table, fired up the laptop and requested that everyone sign in.  He took one look at me and asked if I needed a medic.  Everyone chimed in saying they’d never seen me look “like that way before”.  (I thought how fortunate that this horror was not just my little secret.)  I declined the offer of the medic.  Apparently, I was galactically delirious at the time. 

He excused himself from the room and returned moments later with an OPM-71 (Request for Approved Leave) and a direct order to go home.  I submitted the form, headed to the time clock to punch out and slowly plodded down the hall to the elevator.

Someone saw me walking in the direction of the exit and took my arm to steady me to catch the shuttle bus to the parking deck.  I was moments from a clean getaway.

I drove as carefully as a lifeless corpse could—Safety First—my mission being to make it to The Urgent Care Center located at the hospital where all my recent medical adventures have been chronicled for posterity only to find that the center had closed and moved to another location.  Drat.  That damn Murphy had struck again.  Like any self-respecting sheep, I pulled on the handle just to make sure I wasn’t being deceived by the fever that was clouding my thoughts.  Undeterred, I walked back to the car and headed to the other Urgent Care Center with which I had become all too familiar.  I was to be saved after all.

I walked in the door and saw only two patients in the waiting room.  I took this as a good omen.  The receptionist was quick to take my pertinents and such and I took a seat.  The check-in time was 15:20.  I was issued a mask; small wonder since now we could add violent, uncontrollable bouts of coughing to list my of symptoms.  This brought much-noted relief to the faces of the two innocents in the waiting room.

I sat slumped in my chair listing left and right like a tiny boat being tossed on a tempest sea.  I drifted in and out of consciousness.  Some nightmarish image caused me to awaken from the fog in my mind and shortly afterward, the triage nurse entered the waiting room and called my name.  I thought I heard the voice of an angel.

I fought to lift my fourth point of contact off the Naugahyde.  Witnessing this exercise in futility, the nurse collected a wheelchair and put me in it.  There was a cool breeze that rushed across my body as we whizzed into the triage area.  The chair came to stop just long enough for her to maneuver me into one of the exam rooms.

Temperature. Check. Blood pressure. Check.  Oximeter. Check.  Statement of symptoms.  Check.  Look of compassion.  Check.  Bottle of water offered and accepted.

Left alone to swoon in a chilly room to contemplate my certain death.  Check.

Another round of vivid, nightmarish fever moments.  Check.  Dizziness.  Check.

Then came the “God’s finger reaching down from Heaven to touch Adam” moment when the doctor entered the room.

You know that moment when you see an adorable puppy and you ask if you can take it home?  It’s kinda like that when the doctor comes in and immediately knows you need help and aims to move Heaven and earth to make you better.

A repeat of the steps mentioned above complete with positive reinforcement that it’s going to be alright.  I am immediately given two successive breathing treatments of DuoNeb® inhalation solution via a nebulizer.  Followed by front and side chest X-rays.  Flu swab test.  Blood glucose test and a harpooning of the left flank with an antibiotic.  Sorry, didn’t catch the name.  I was delirious.  I mentioned  that already didn't I?

I was told the shot would “jump start” my body’s fight against the infection that had bivouacked there.  Don’t tread on me!  I have just begun to fight!  Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!

The doctor came back in the room and told me I had pneumonia.  I was discharged at 19:43 and sent home with my very own nebulizer and a prescription for cough syrup with codeine.  I stopped by my Walgreen’s to pick up the other three prescriptions for PredniSONE®, Levaquin® and the DuoNeb® inhalation ampoules.  Mercy continued to rain down on me.  I had to wait a total of five minutes. 

As I pulled in my driveway, I broke down in tears.  Finally, I thought, my nightmare was coming to an end.

I climbed out of the car, walked in the door and my little furkid was so glad to see me.  I set everything on the bar and weaved down the hall holding on to the walls to steady myself.  I peeled off my uniform and put on my fluffiest flannel PJs.  I washed my face and brushed my teeth.

I was hungry but weak as a lamb.  I decided to take my meds and lay down before I fell down.  I read the instructions on the cough syrup.  It distinctly said to take 10 ml using the dosing tool provided.  It carefully measured exactly 10 ml.  It looked like a lot, but fuck it, I was sick dammit.  Down the hatch!

Boom.  I was out like a light.  I woke up about six hours later and was high as a kite.  It was kinda nice.  Reminiscent of the “old days” if you know what I mean, and I think that you do.

I changed the channel on the babysitter so I could watch my faves The Golden Girls, Frasier and Cheers.

The next time I woke up it was daylight and the dog was staring at me.  Her nose just centimeters from my own.

My dearest friend who knows the morning is not a good time to call me did so on Wednesday.  She said she had a feeling I needed her.  When I answered the phone she was shaken to hear my weak voice.  I told her that I had spent the better portion of the day in the Urgent Care Center.  She pleaded with me to go the ER.  I assured her I could take care of myself.

She fears that all my other medical maladies are cause for concern.  She asked if the doctors know that I leave alone.  I answered that it never comes up and I don’t ever think about it.  She said that all my treating physicians need to know that.

Maybe she’s right.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that my dad taught me to be strong and self-reliant.  Admittedly, it’s always nice to have someone to fawn over you.  On the other hand living alone has it perks too.

I’ll let God sort that out.  He knows what’s best for this ‘ol gal.

I’ve got one more day of bed rest.  I’ll head in to work on Saturday and then I’ll have my two regular days off and start a new work week on Tuesday.  Hopefully with a different outcome than this week’s.

So thanks again to Mr. Proof, the man who’s kept this blogfire burning during my recent adventures of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

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