Well, it actually isn't pneumonia, either the walking or running kind, this time. What is it? I dunno. Neither the doctor or her PA was very specific.
I suspect I've got the black lung, Pop. (koff koff)
Oh, wait...let me start at the beginning.
*flashback waves and harp sounds*
I'm fairly sure whatever I had got it's humble beginnings while we were in New Orleans. If you read my story from the night after Sara's wedding, when we went down Bourbon Street and wound up with the funk of the ages all over us, you might remember that my eyes had apparently taken the brunt of whatever was in the air that night. I'm certain that there is some kind of mold in the air down there that comes from an old-ass city constantly being flooded and dried out again. Whatever it is, it really, really tried to blind me.
Ever since then, my eyes have been painful, itchy, burning, and crusty. I know that's disgusting, but I don't care because I'm being CLINICAL here, you guys! Anyway, I thought it might be pink-eye, but it wasn't the same as the last time I had pink-eye, and that is certainly something I'd remember *shudder.* I'd mostly be fine, but my eyes would get cloudy and I'd constantly have to rub them, and then they'd get watery, and then I'd wake up the next morning and my eyes would be welded shut with...whatever the crusty stuff was. It was unpleasant. I had some antibacterial drops that I'd put in, but they didn't do anything except make the inside of my eyelids peel off. (CLINICAL, y'all!)
Anyways, not long after that, I started feeling bad almost every night. I'd be OK during the day, but every night around the same time I'd start running a low grade fever, had chills, and had to lay down and wrap up in a blanket until I felt better. Every night. It was weird. I probably should have gone to the doctor then, but I didn't want to take the time to do it because it seemed like a dumb idea when I was feeling fine. Pretty soon after that I was sure I had some kind of weird sinus thing going on. It wasn't an infection, but maybe some kind of allergy to something. It made my head and face hurt, my nose stop up, my neck and shoulders hurt, and face and head misery in general. Basically I just felt so awful all the time that it started to seem normal. Once again, I should have gone to the doctor, but I kept putting it off for one reason or another.
All this was going on until a week ago when I began to get sharp pains in my chest. They weren't heart related or anything, it just hurt when I breathed. It wasn't all the time, and since the pains went all the way through me from my chest to my back, I thought maybe I'd just pulled a muscle or something, and every so often I'd tweak it just the right way to make it hurt. Then I noticed my back would hurt on the left, then on the right, and then my chest would hurt again, and it wasn't until I started having trouble breathing that I realized it wasn't my back after all, it was my lungs...and it felt exactly like two years ago when I got walking pneumonia. Seriously, it took me a month and change to get rid of walking
pneumonia, and I didn't have a job back then so I could take the awful medicine that made me trip balls and hear the neighbor's thoughts. I couldn't deal with it now.
Anyway...so after two days of huffing an expired inhaler, and suspecting that I had somehow grown sea sponges in my lungs, and feeling exponentially worse, I finally sucked it up and went to the doc-in-the-box.
I decided to go after work Monday, and it was packed in there. By then I was feeling really terrible, my voice was almost completely gone (a new development since that morning) and the walk-in clinic had apparently just updated their database, which meant I needed to fill out new forms! Joy! I was wheezing and glassy eyed, but why not? When I went back to turn in my form, it turned out that I'd left my driver's license at home in the pocket of the jacket I wear to the gym. She was nice enough to try and find the scans of my ID that they had on file, but since scanning it had obliterated my picture, she wouldn't accept my new form. I completely understand the bull-crap bureaucracy of the whole thing, but by that point I was feeling so terrible that I almost cried when she told me I'd need to go home and get it. Well, the crying feeling actually was secondary to wanting to reach across the counter and rip her arms out of their sockets, but THEN I felt like crying. I didn't though. Luckily, I don't live that far away, so it only took me about 30 minutes to go home, change out of my work clothes, grab my license and get back. Of course I had to sign in, again, because "We can't hold spaces, ma'am."
I almost punched her.
I shoved my license and insurance card to her and pointed to the form that was still out on the counter (I didn't have a voice, remember) and she told me to go sit down until they called me. It took a long time before they even called me to come up and pay the co-pay so I could get my license back. By then, I'd gotten over wanting to kill them all because I realized that the whole day must've been hectic and busy, and they weren't just being evil. They were just tired and ready to go home. Since I've worked customer service, I have a soft spot for others in that position, so instead of bodily harm, I just made a few jokes and waited until they called me back to a room. Friggin' finally.
I told the nurse what was going on and she took my vitals. Then the doctor came in and I told HER what was going on. She listened to my lungs and asked me if I smoked. Nice. She said "Yes, it sounds pretty pitiful" and then she pulled out the bed extender and told me I could lie down if I wanted. She also informed me I'd need some blood tests and a chest x-ray. A new person, I'm guessing a tech of some kind, came in and took about 9 pints of blood from me and then took me in for a chest x-ray. Again, I had to make the bra-less walk of shame from the exam room to the x-ray room, but luckily it didn't take long.
When I got back to the exam room, I sat for ages, waiting on my results. I had a book, but I mostly just sat there staring at the walls. At least the room I was in didn't have one of those "The Various Ways a Body Part Can Be Diseased" posters on the walls. They are both disgusting and fascinating all at once.
Finally, the doctor came in and said "Well, you tested negative for everything." I was all...OK...thinking she'd at least tell me what I was being tested for. She did not. So I asked her "So, I'm not contagious?" She said, in her musical Indian accent "Oh, yes, you're contagious. You will be until you stop coughing." I'm over there thinking WTF? I haven't been coughing! What does she mean? What do I have? She asked me how I felt about getting some shots, which I agreed to only because I wanted to get better much faster. I started to ask her what I was sick with, but she left before I could get my wits about me to ask. Then the PA came in and had to calm me down when I saw the needles, but I took the shots to the *ahem* hips like a champ. When she was done I said "So, what...I have some kind of crud?" Instead of clarifying, she just said "Yes" and left. Ok, then! Fine! I don't need to know what I have! I'll just hope it isn't monkey pox or anything! After that I was given my prescriptions and I left.
I had to stop by church, and by then the injection sites on my hips were sore and my kidneys were on fire. Like, I could actually feel my individual kidneys sitting there, burning. It was a weird sensation, and it scared me because I thought I was having a bad reaction to it, but that part didn't get any worse. I stopped by McDonald's on my way home to pick up a quick dinner, and then I went home. That's where things got fun!
Almost the second I'd finished eating, I started tripping hard core. I hadn't put two and two together when the PA told me I was getting a shot of steroids, but that is the medicine that puts me into a complete loop. I felt exactly as if I was drunk, albeit I didn't get the urge to email anyone. I was stumbling around and babbling and everything seemed like it would be fun to touch. I finally had to just lie down before I fell over and that is when my day ended!
I've had time to think on all of this, and I'm fairly certain that I had various kinds of illnesses going on in my body for a while. After I got the shots, I felt hot and tingly all over, plus I felt like...well, have you ever seen the movie "Transformers" when two of the big robots start fighting and you can't tell who is who, and it's just a big, confusing tumble on the screen? I felt like that on the inside. I also had high pitched sounds in my ears, like a bell that was almost out of hearing range, but just audible enough to nearly drive you crazy. The various prescriptions I'm on are the same ones I was on when I had walking pneumonia, and one of them is a cortico-steroid (I think), which is the medicine that whacks me out. I've been at work since yesterday dizzy and doped up, and I had to work A/V duty for a funeral while I was under the influence. Fun, right? The ringing in my ears is still there, and I'm still on antibiotics and steroids, but at least I'm not contagious anymore.
So that's my story! It was too long, probably, but I'm currently taking my steroids and I'm feeling chatty. Also, they make me not care at all about anything, so if it was too long...eh. :)