Last Thursday afternoon I started having chills. I thought perhaps that I had had too much sun the day before, so I didn't really worry about it too much. My parents are both nurses; as long as I'm not bleeding from an eyeball, I figure I can walk it off. The chills continued, I grabbed a blanket. Then another. Larry put his hand on my forehead.
"You feel warm," he said. So I took my temperature, and he was right. It was 99.6. I took some ibuprofen, and went about my business. After all, 99 isn't that big a deal. I went to a hair salon and had my hair cut and colored. Larry and I went out to eat, because Zane was spending the night at a friend's house.
By the time we arrived home, I was having chills again. The joints in my body were aching; my hips in particular. I took my temp; it was 100.7. I mentioned the number to Larry in passing, and took more ibuprofen. He was concerned, but his main job is to worry about me. I'm usually not concerned about fevers, especially not after all I'd been through in the last two years. Shrugging it off, Larry and I watched some Netflix for a couple of hours, then headed upstairs.
My fever was 101.2.
"Do I need to take you to the emergency room?" Larry was joking/not joking. I was a little concerned now, too. I'd take a lot of ibuprofen, and the fever had gone up. What did that mean? I thought about the open wound in my belly, but dismissed that idea immediately. There would have been other signs of such an infection. As for the aching joints, the chemo drug they have me on has that particular fun as one of the main side effects. Taking a couple of Tylenol this time, I went to sleep underneath four blankets.
I woke up at one in the morning, burning up. Holy cow, was I hot! I threw off all the blankets. I sat up and had a drink of water. That was when I realized that I wasn't sweating. I was extremely hot but I wasn't sweating. For some reason, that particular detail bothered me, and I couldn't let it go. I finally woke up Larry.
He didn't even grumble, but got up and took my temperature. It was 102.9. Another red flag for me. I hobbled out of bed; my joints were now extremely painful. I'd spent time on WebMd. High fever, painful joints...probably the flu. Yes, I am ridiculous about trying to diagnose my own maladies without an actual medical degree. I know just enough to freak myself out...and when I need to go to the hospital.
"You are going to have to take me to the ER," I told him. I didn't even change clothes. I put on my shoes, threw a blanket around my shoulders, grabbed my purse, and away we went to the closest emergency room. It was relatively empty; thankfully. I was led to the back and started answering questions and letting them examine me. Everyone was very nice, but at some point the nurse(who actually lives right across the cul de sac from me!) leaned over his communicator and said some concerning words.
Sepsis? Wha? No! I have no time for such things, my brain argued. This is the flu, dammit! They'd all looked at my open wound and pronounced it a beautiful specimen of wound packing. How could I have sepsis? I started to feel panic, and then they came to take my blood and set up an IV. Instead of the normal test tubes, however, they brought these bottles that looked enormous. About the size of one of those mini cans of soda they sell now. That was painful, but I made it. Then a little later, another nurse came in and took another gallon from the other arm, and she DUG into that vein like it was the Mother Lode. I nearly punched her in the face, even though the doctor was standing right there talking to me. She also took my blanket, because, she said in a singsong voice, "Fever means no blankets!"
Oh, and they did a flu test.
I couldn't pee enough in a cup to make them happy, so they gave me fluids. And...ibuprofen. 800mg of it, instead of the paltry 400mg I'd been chewing on all day. This time, my fever went down, and my liver did not leap directly out of my body in protest of all the ibuprofen. I call that a win. I even slept a little. Larry sat next to me and put his head on my stomach and slept, too.
And at five in the morning, the doctor came in to my room to announce that...absolutely nothing was wrong with me. Nada. All my blood counts were perfect, no trace of the flu, and I no longer had a fever. My discharge papers said "Fever of unknown origin". Like I was an X-file or something, and David Duchovny was going to come and ask me about aliens.
As we walked out to the car, I was annoyed, because if I go to the ER in the middle of the night, there should be something actually wrong, dang it. Larry was just relieved, because this was a happy ending, as far as he was concerned. After I calmed down, I realized that he was right.
Larry and I need a few happy endings to our medical adventures.