Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Was it hell...or just the flu?

Saturday, Sunday, and Monday were three of the most horrendous days I've had in quite a long time. Maybe it's fortunate that I don't remember a whole lot of it. In fact, I lost a whole day--when I woke up yesterday morning, thinking it was Sunday, I asked Marty if it was "Will time"...our Sunday morning ritual of listening to Will Shortz, the puzzle master, on NPR, and he said "wrong day." "Isn't it Sunday?" I asked, and was amazed to find out that it was Monday!

I spent three days aching all over, feeling miserable and totally irrational. Marty says that when I get into one of these states I yell at him, which makes me feel bad, except that he doesn't seem to take it personally and understands that it's one of the ways feeling really awful makes me behave. Several phone conversations with Lauren were quite helpful for both of us, but at one point it was two A.M. and I kept insisting that he had to call Lauren, even though he knew she was just going to repeat what she'd already told him and which I was resisting (I think it was to take morphine and maybe some other drug); it's a tribute to Lauren's dedication that even in the middle of the night she was quite able to deal with the situation and tell me what to do (which was, of course, what Marty was already telling me).

Lauren's theory that I had the flu seems to be a good explanation of my symptoms. I didn't take my temperature, but I felt feverish, and the all over achiness is definitely flu-like. Although I've had an annual flu shot every year since the early '80's, I've come down with the flu a few times (the shot doesn't protect against every strain), and it is always hard for me to believe in the middle of it that it is a "minor" illness. I remember once, also in the '80's, thinking "the doctor says I have the flu, but he's wrong, because obviously I'm dying." Another time, back in the mid-70's, when I was living in a communal house in Vancouver, a 24 hour flu swept through the house, taking us one at a time. I was the last, and I remember lying on the bathroom floor, thinking there was no point in dragging myself out of there because I was just going to need to go back and throw up some more!

For the past three days I stopped eating completely, after finally getting my appetite back and having several dinners of turkey, stuffing, gravy, and veggies (from the prepared food counter at the supermarket), followed by a lovely Christmas Day dinner of roast leg of lamb. So until today, when I had some delicious mushroom and barley soup that Marty made at my request, I hadn't eaten at all since Friday. I had a constant craving for ginger ale, so I wasn't getting dehydrated, and Lauren always reminds me that I don't need to eat unless I feel hungry. I'm actually looking forward to having some more soup in a little while, but I have no interest in any other food right now.

In my semi-delirious state these past three days, I kept wondering if this was the beginning of the end, and found myself craving the peaceful state that could then slide easily into a coma, but it didn't happen. I just don't understand why I have to suffer so much, but at least I'm not in constant pain, which would be far worse. I have been getting awful headaches on an almost daily basis--the last one was last night in the middle of the night when I had to wake Marty because I needed ginger ale and tylenol. I felt bad about waking him, but he is just so good about it, and with a dose of morphine as well the headache was entirely gone in about half an hour. It is so frustrating that something as simple as getting a can of ginger ale out of the refrigerator is beyond my capabilities!

We did manage to have a nice Christmas day. Donna is still here (Marty will be taking her home tomorrow--the combination of last week's snowstorm and getting enough coverage for him to be able to be away for four hours or so has kept her here far longer than she had planned). Christmas is a big deal for Donna, so she was making all kinds of goodies which I was able to enjoy (this was before I got so sick), and we managed to be rather festive. Marty came home with the world's smallest Christmas tree (a tiny potted evergreen complete with lights), and we toasted one another with champagne. And on Christmas eve we did the "traditional Jewish Christmas"--at least the Chinese food part (we skipped the movie).

Although I feel so much better today, I seem to have become even weaker. This morning I got out of bed for the first time in three days, went to the bathroom, and discovered I needed Marty's assistance to rise from the toilet. Until now I've been able to use the edge of the sink to push myself up on one side, but now I need something on the other side as well. Tomorrow I will ask Lauren if hospice can supply a toilet surround, which is positioned around the toilet and provides something to push against, which will certainly be a lot easier on Marty. Every time I've asked hospice for a piece of medical equipment it's usually arrived the next day, so I'm sure this won't be a problem.

I'm hoping I can get back to my "normal" state, starting with a full night's sleep tonight. When I was feeling so sick, I wasn't reading, wasn't watching TV, I was just lying with my eyes closed, drifting in and out of sleep. I did start reading the paper again yesterday, and doing crossword puzzles, things I still get enjoyment from. And through it all, Marty and I are still able to laugh.

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