I don't usually use trigger warnings in my writing, mostly because I don't expect that many people read my blog, and those that do have not asked me to please do so — which I'd be happy to? -but wevs at this point. However, I'm using a trigger warning this time for… hm. I guess for possibly graphic descriptions of sickness? Therefore: please be warned.

 

I'd meant to write about our new dog right after the posting on the kitties. However, two rather significant events happened which derailed my writing. First, we signed on a house — WOW! I'm still amazed and thrilled by this. Second, we went out to celebrate with dinner that night… and I promptly came down with a hugely and painfully debilitating case of what I think was either food poisoning or stomach flu. I was under the impression that food poisoning usually lasted only a day or two. However, it's six days later, and I'm only today beginning to have enough functioning brain cells that I'm focusing well — which is annoying as heck. I truly loathe feeling stupid and not up to snuff.

I also have a new… what to call it — a new quantifier or descriptor for sickness now. It used to be, on a scale of 1 to 10, that my 10 was something like: "feel horribly icky, will only eat and sleep until I'm more healed up." My new 10 is more along the lines of: "Groggily waking up with agonizingly aching muscles due to whole-body pain-tensing during sleep. Trying to stay unconscious because otherwise am seriously pondering death rather than consciousness. Definitely would rather throw up than eat."

I have learned two important lessons from this experience. One, next time I'm just going to throw up the crap my body is unhappy about so I can get it out of my system as quickly as possible — screw worrying about making it to the freakin' bathroom. Two, I'm going to start getting the yearly flu shots offered by my insurance company in the hopes that this nevereverfuckingEVAR happens again.

So yeah. This threw a huge monkey wrench into my trying to write at least 15 minutes daily — no surprise there. But I intend to just start up again and not beat myself up about it, and if I've not got enough brain cells to write more for my dissertation then I'll just write what I can. Frankly, at this point, anyone that tries to tell me the brain is what drives the body… can bite me.

There's also a curious… I don't know, clarity? sharpness? -of sensory input and tunnel-vision focus one can get when seriously ill. It's like a sort of tunnel vision. So I'm writing about this while my thoughts and sensations are still relatively fresh, since I think it might be useful or interesting for later storytelling.

For example, I think the first symptoms started late Friday night, after a delicious dinner celebrating signing on a house, at a very nice local restaurant. Considering the dinner was some ten or so hours earlier, I'd like to think they weren't connected. I woke up several times that night from about 3:30ish am onwards, and I remember lying on my back in bed with a tummy ache, blearily doing belly dancing stomach rolls because they helped me feel better. Thank you, ATS. ;)

It wasn't until the next morning that I first realized I was truly ill. It was painful to stand up straight when I get out of bed, so I shuffled out to sit on the couch and talk to my housemate. That was when it hit me: first, I was about to faint! Second, my body suddenly and in an instant prickled all over with sweat in an effort to equalize my temperature. I've come close to fainting before – I remember forgetting breakfast one morning, and then later almost passing out during surgery in the animal hospital I used to work at – so I know the signs, and I know to duck my head between my knees and breathe deeply. This time, however, the prospect of putting that much pressure on my poor, pained stomach made me decide that just lying on the floor would be fine!

Admittedly it was more of a controlled fall to the carpet, and once I was there I had to concentrate hard on swallowing repeatedly because I did not wish to be ill right there. It was close, but I managed not to throw up… and I also remember realizing with a sort of vague wonder: my hands are both tingling as if the blood supply had been cut off and is now returning. Now why would they do that? I hadn't been sitting on them or anything…?

When I was finally able to try getting up, with the help of one of my worried housemates, I also remember staring at one of my hands where it rested on the couch, as I got ready to try standing. I wasn't wearing my contacts yet, and the early morning sunlight was falling on my hand… and I found myself dazedly admiring what almost looked like a layer of pearl lying over the skin on the back of my hand – and then I realized it must be the coat of sweat that my body had previously created. Was what I saw truly actually there? I have no idea… because I know I was mildly hallucinatory later on that day as well.

Later that day my sweetie – wait. May I take this moment to say that this last week of caring for a patient who loathes being sick has most certainly qualified him for sainthood? I swear the man has the patience of Job – and I never liked how Yahweh treated Job in the first place! I sure hope I wasn't that bad… but I'm not holding my breath. Plus my sweetie made sure two cats and a dog stayed fed on schedule, balancing who went where so the (still insecure) dog wasn't left alone too long, and so neither cats nor dog met each other unexpectedly – they're not yet used to each other, and we're trying to gentle them slowly into being friends. Oh, and he also walked the dog three times daily for two days alone – once while it was raining! — and two days with me while I was still very low energy. Sweetie, you are truly awesome – thank you so much! ;)

Ahem. Okay, starting up again: later that day my sweetie made me a small cup of one of my favorite soups: French onion dip. He set it up really nicely too: some Ritz crackers and some cut-up cheese chunks for me to nibble at as well if I wanted (he really is amazing). I'm well familiar with that sensation where you don't think you're hungry when you're sick – but then you get a whiff or a taste of the soup and whoosh! Your appetite comes back enough that you can eat a bit, so you don't dehydrate while ill. This time, though… nothing. The soup smelled great, but I was completely indifferent to it – and looking at the dairy products made me hastily glance away and swallow hard. With some gentle urging I tried a spoonful of the broth, to try to kickstart my appetite – and again: nothing. I literally had to force four small spoonfuls of that broth down my throat — and then I really didn't want any more.

I slept throughout that entire day and night, waking only to realize I was in pain from the position I was lying in. I'd roll over and fall back asleep like the dead. It wasn't until late that night, in fact, that it hit me: every time I was waking up, I was strongly stretching my entire, aching body — pointing my toes, rotating my ankles and wrists, rolling my shoulders, and clenching and unclenching my fists. Further, I had a terrible headache – and yet every time I remembered to, I'd been trying to take a few sips of the cool, lightly flavored seltzer water my sweetie had made for me. Surely my head couldn't be aching due to dehydration?

It took me a minute to realize, as I licked my dry lips and lay there thinking: the headache wasn't in the usual place on my skull. In fact, all the aches in my head twinged when I moved my jaws – and it was the long muscles in my legs that really ached too. Apparently I'd been in enough pain while asleep that I'd been clenching up my entire body, as well as grinding my jaw – and I was waking up when the muscular tension was such that I had to shift to release. Fortunately I wear a retainer at night, so I didn't damage my teeth… but wow, was that painful!

The rest of the week didn't have much in the way of those piercingly clear sensory epiphanies, though I could tell I wasn't completely healed yet due to the lack of energy and the rather groggy mental sensation — I loathe feeling stupid and slow due to exhaustion and illness even more than I hate being ill itself. There were two separate days, in fact, where I lay down for a short nap… and woke up some four or five hours later!

I did have a few nice moments, though — like the pretty stained-glass sparkle of multicolored Christmas tree lights through the cut-glass in the door of a house I was passing one night while walking Goldie, my handsome new rescue dog. That was so lovely… and the wet shimmer at night of beautifully colorful light smears on the rain-slick cobbled tiles of a private road near where I live, reflecting the equally beautiful Christmas lights strung overhead above the street. To me that's sort of the true meaning of Christmas, as epitomized in the beauty and joyous sharing spirit of the season: the giving back a little with both friends and loved ones, and those less fortunate than you, as we all take a moment to be grateful for this glorious, gorgeous old world who shelters and feeds us so generously — spiritually as well as physically — as She whirls us all safely through the universe for another year.

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