Patient, I am not…

…at least when it comes to actually being a patient.

I’ve been sick for more than 10 days and, quite honestly, I’m struggling. It’s been well established and documented that I tend to live a busy and full life, one that doesn’t readily accommodate more than a week of headaches, fatigue and the most brutal cough I’ve ever experienced. I simply don’t have time for not feeling my best, which means that in addition to my physical symptoms, my mental health also takes a hit. Being generally unproductive, along with incapable of exercising, knocks me off balance. It makes me miserable.

The first couple of days were Basic Cold 101 – chest tightness, some body aches, fatigue and a headache that wouldn’t quit. Of course, I tested for Covid, receiving negative results 6 consecutive days. I laid low, while my sweetie took care of me in ways with which I was not completely familiar, or comfortable. Being tenderly and attentively tucked in after having been served meals accompanied by hot tea and Tylenol, isn’t something I’m accustomed to.

While the attention and care I was receiving remained consistent as the days passed, my symptoms shifted – and not in a positive way. I began experiencing a cough like I’d never had before. It was dry and hacking, and as nonproductive and nocturnal as a teenager engaged in online gaming. It sucked.

By Tuesday, a full week after I first sensed an unusual compression in my chest, I finally called my doctor. It had been 3 nights since I been able to sleep for more than two consecutive hours without having a coughing fit and I was exhausted. Even more disturbing, was the extreme discomfort I started feeling in my chest. It started on the left side, but as the day went on it shifted and seemed to move to the right, eventually wrapping around my entire body. The pain was intense and sometimes, as a bonus, accompanied by the protusion of that annoying little abdominal hernia I have. Hot, right?

One brief telehealth visit later and I was the optimistic recipient of a course of oral steroids and a mess of cough suppressant gels. Yeah!

Sadly, the pharmies did not do the trick. The steroid seemed to prompt some improvement to my energy level, but those golden pearls did nothing to touch my cough. The pain in my chest from coughing was absolutely fierce, like other level, and left me unable to do anything beyond either curl into a ball or hug a pillow to my body in an attempt to minimize the discomfort.

48 hours after the phone call with my doctor, I was in the office for an actual visit. The exam included a swab for flu (negative, although I may be past beyond when the test would indicate a positive result), a check of my vitals and a chest X-ray. All were within the range of normal, an obvious relief.

The thing is, though, during these rare times when I’m not feeling well or healthy, I can’t help but think that there isn’t a reason in the world to believe that I won’t one day receive a catastrophic medical diagnosis. After two easily treatable cancers, I understand that, if there should be a next time, it may not be as simple. I know I’m not exempt, merely lucky so far.

After the results were in from my appointment, I was prescribed two different medications – a steroid inhaler and cough syrup with codeine. While I generally don’t like taking anything much beyond Alleve, I appreciatively partook in both of these and can happily report that I had my best night of sleep in nearly a week. The vicious pain in my upper chest remains breathtaking, but today’s snow day is giving me an extra day to take it easy. I massaged an ointment on the area and am hopeful that the steroids will address the inflammation and help to relieve the discomfort.

Losing more than 10 days of activities to not feeling well, has been a challenge, but having special people in my life who have suffered and struggled far beyond what I’ve experienced, helps me to keep perspective. I hope you’re keeping well and staying healthy during this busy time of year – and, if you’re not feeling your best, I hope you’ve got paid time off, health insurance and a special someone who’s as sweet as local honey.

PS – Any tips or experience with the muscular pain I’m experiencing? Ice? Heat? Stretches?

7 thoughts on “Patient, I am not…

  1. My husband has had this for 5 weeks the medication the dr gave him didn’t really help. I had it for 2 weeks it hangs on forever. I’m glad your starting to feel better

    1. Oh, no! The steroids seem to be helping, but the muscle pain feels like (I imagine) an airbag blew up on me. I can’t raise my arms up above my shoulders without intense pain. Hope you feel better soon!

  2. I have a wicked cold/flu right now and mine always take the same route. I’m so sorry, It’s so hard especially this time of year. I”m taking advil at night and surprising olive oil during the day has had similar impact as Ibuprofin. I usually get one cold/flu a year but had this same thing at Thanksgiving!!

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