Saturday, January 19, 2013

I have been sick.

No, this is not a repeat of the last few entries I've written over the past few months, this is a new one!

I think that working at my church must be like working in a day care or something, because hand-to-God, I have not been sick this consistently since I was a little kid.  It doesn't help that two out of the three people I share work space with have small grandchildren (who I'm fairly certain are some type of Typhoid-Mary germ carriers that must categorically lick every surface in their homes on a regular basis.)  Add to that the fact that Steve somehow popped up with a severe upper respiratory infection that he passed on to me, and there is no wonder that I've been a veritable petri dish of assorted single-celled death harbingers.  Seriously, I'm tired of it and I want it to stop.

This last bout with...whatever it was I had was a different kind of hell, though.

It began with Steve.  Steve started coughing one day.  Just a little bit, and not enough to really alarm anyone, but it steadily got worse and worse until he practically couldn't take a breath without sounding like he was breathing underwater or trying to force his lungs out of his body.  He was scheduled to go to California on a business trip, and for once he decided to go to the doctor before I had to force him to.  He got shots and medicine (the same fun stuff I got the last time I went to the doc-in-the-box) and so it was HIS turn to trip balls and lie helpless as the steroids made their way through his system.  He missed a few days of work, which was a sure sign he was sick as he never misses work if he can help it, and slowly but surely, he started getting better.

About halfway through his illness, I started coughing.  I was determined not to get sick this time, but nothing I did could prevent it.  I knew I was in trouble when I woke up one morning sounding like a 5 pack a day smoker.  Ugh.  I was worried about Steve and having to take care of him while I was at home, which didn't allow me very much rest time, and I was still going to work everyday because I was trying to figure out tax stuff.  Needless to say, I was not doing myself any favors.  I didn't want to take the time to go to the doctor, because I was fairly certain I'd just get the exact same medicine I got last time I was there and I couldn't deal with the steroids again...I just couldn't.  Luckily (and weirdly) my GP had given me a refill on my last bottle of antibiotics and I still had an almost full bottle of some kind of cough syrup called Zutripro, cough syrup I'd barely used because I wasn't actually coughing at the time.   I waited until I saw the signs of a respiratory infection (and I won't elaborate because ick) and then I started taking the antibiotics and cough syrup.  I think I made the right call about the medicine, because after a day or so, the antibiotics started clearing up the ick, and the cough syrup kept me from coughing, but stuff started happening to me.  Stuff I wasn't expecting.

At first I got, well, grumpy.  Everything was getting on my nerves.  I couldn't figure out why, because most of the stuff that was bothering me wasn't important, or even anything I usually care one way or another about.  Next I began thinking about...things.  Awful, past-few-years-things.  Things that, if I could somehow erase them from my memory, would drastically improve my emotional well being as a whole.  They'd pop into my head at odd moments, and I couldn't get them to go away.  Sometimes this happens to me in my low moments, but I can usually fight them back.  I couldn't fight them back this time.  Then I started feeling kind of panicky and clingy.  I try very hard not to be a clingy person, because it annoys and embarrasses me to feel like that.  I still felt awful physically, but now I had this nagging feeling that I was all alone and Steve was only trying to get better so that he could take this business trip to get away from me.  I'm not kidding.  I kept asking him if he was mad at me for some reason, and he kept saying he wasn't, but I didn't believe him.  As I well know, he's very reserved even when feeling 100% well, but when he's sick, he's even more quiet and withdrawn. It didn't matter that I knew that, all I could think of was that he was angry at me and just wanted to get away from me.  It made me feel even worse.  I wasn't sleeping well, either, which also didn't help.  It wasn't just Butler being weird, I literally couldn't fall asleep.  I'd stare at the ceiling, thinking awful night-thoughts, trying to read until I could fall asleep, but only managing to get an hour or two of sleep as a whole.  I'd be wide awake in the morning, but the lack of sleep was wearing on me, I could tell.  I figured that if I could just stay on my normal schedule, I'd feel better, but I ended up having to go home early from work on Monday because I felt so terrible.  I called in sick on Tuesday, thinking that after I took Steve to work (a friend was going to take him to the airport later that day) I could just rest and hopefully start feeling myself again.  It was dark and rainy, which wasn't helping my mood, and so I came home, put on a crock pot of beef stew, so I could at least have a good dinner of comfort food, took my cough syrup and I fell asleep for a while.  I woke up later, my hands shaking like crazy,  to still more rain and an even darker mood, taking only enough time to eat some bread before throwing myself back onto the couch and being depressed and panicky in my nest of snuggies.  To make things even more fun, I got food poisoning from the beef stew and was even more sick than I had been earlier that day.  I will not be eating beef stew again for a while (if ever) and it was my own stupid fault for trying to make soup out of leftovers that I'd apparently kept too long.  So that was lots of fun.  I've never realized how miserable it is to be sick and alone.  There wasn't even anyone to whine to!

Then things got weird.  I was still not sleeping, I was depressed and angry, and I felt alone and abandoned.  I found myself lying on the floor, holding Butler's paw because it was the closest thing to human contact I had. When I could finally eat again, all I wanted was carbs - bread, cereal, chips, crackers...and I ate a lot of them.  I found myself getting very weirded out every time a specific commercial would come on TV.  Something about one man's face on that commercial unnerved me, and I swear it was like they would play that commercial as much as possible because they knew it was scaring me.  I got weepy looking at pictures of dogs online.  They weren't even Sara-McLaughlin-Sad-Dog-ASPCA pictures or anything like that.  It was just pictures of dogs!  I was upset that none of my friends were emailing me.  Not just that they weren't emailing me, but that they were not reading my mind about how bad I was feeling and emailing me to make me feel better. How dare they?!  I'd somehow know if they were sick and I'd email them, right?  I felt like every bad, awful thing that had ever happened in my life was returning and crowding around me.  It was really quite scary and awful.

That's when I did what I should have done days before, and I looked online at the side effects of the cough medicine I'd been taken.  I usually always check things like that, just in case, but I'd left it a little late since I'd only taken one dose when the medicine was originally prescribed.  Apparently, this particular medicine can play merry hell with your mind and body.  According to the website:

"The most common adverse reactions of Zutripro® Oral Solution include: Sedation, somnolence, mental clouding, lethargy, impairment of mental and physical performance, anxiety, fear, dysphoria, dizziness, psychic dependence, mood changes, nervousness, or sleeplessness; blurred, double, or other visual disturbances; confusion, headache, euphoria, facial dyskinesia, feeling faint, lightheadedness, agitation, restlessness, insomnia, irritability, tremor."

So yeah...this awesome cough syrup that I'd been taking with great regularity was doing all kinds of insane things to me. Those aren't even the "Call Your Doctor Immediately If These Things Occur" side effects...they were the most common.  That doesn't even include all of the physical yuck that it can cause, but gosh darnit, it kept me from coughing!  Why the hell would a doctor prescribe something like that to a person?  So I did the only intelligent thing I could think of and I threw the rest of the bottle away, coughing be damned.  Luckily I was not coughing as badly by then, and I had some over the counter stuff if I needed it.  I'd almost refilled that stuff y'all!  I could have jumped off of the roof out of sheer hopelessness if I hadn't stopped taking it.

I am still getting rid of the side effects, but I'm much better since I stopped taking the medicine.  At least I no longer feel like I am going crazy or being abandoned or anything.  If your ears were burning over the past few days, it was probably because I was saying bad things about you to the dog.  You know...cause you didn't somehow psychically know I was sick and needed company.  I'm also sorry if I sounded unpleasant or angry on any online stuff I might have posted. 

Don't do drugs, folks. 

Friday, January 04, 2013


1) Christmas went wonderfully for all of us, thanks for asking!  We had a low key dinner with Mr. Lee for Steve's birthday, another one with him for Christmas Eve, and we spent the afternoon with my loud family on Christmas day.  We had a lot of fun!  There were a couple of disappointments, of course.  Instead of show, it rained like we'd angered God somehow.  I missed having brunch with a long lost friend because of his "family obligations" (whatever, man) and I still didn't get that Red Ryder Bolt Action BB Gun with a compass in the stock and the thing that tells time, but other than that, Christmas was very, very nice!  I ate too much, though.  It was glorious!

2) Ugh, so it's the new year already?  Yikes.  I wasn't prepared for this!  Time went by insanely fast this past year, owing, I'm sure, to the fact that I suddenly became kinda, gainfully employed.  This time last year, I was on my way home from an awesome mini vacation with some friends and wondering what I'd be in store for in the upcoming year.  Lots of wonderful things happened, and some pretty bad stuff as well, but all in all I know I'm very blessed.  Hopefully, this year will be just as good, if not better, for all of us!  No biking accidents, surgeries, having to unexpectedly have a dog euthanized, or emergency house repairs that cost more than you can afford!  Also, fingers crossed, I might just try to finally get the house reorganized at some point so that we don't look like a case study on an episode of Hoarders anymore, but I don't want to get crazy. 

3) Speaking of the New Year... Tuesday I tried my hand at cooking pig face (or hog jowl if one must be pedantic about it), for the first time.  It was always the men-folks in my family who cooked it when I was growing up, and I never really knew why until yesterday.  It's dangerous and messy!  I knew that it got smoky and very splattery, but I wasn't expecting the oily carnage that ensued.  OK, maybe that's a wee bit exaggerated, but not by much.  I kept the door to the garage open because I knew the smell of frying pork would fill up the house, and I was hoping not to saturate everything with it, but it only helped a little.  If you are unfamiliar with hog jowl, it's like bacon on steroids (maybe literally, the way livestock is raised in this day and age) and as messy as it is to fry bacon on the stove, multiply that by 7.  By the time I was done, the entire house smelled like grease, my kitchen was covered in a very thin film of oil, and I had multiple, minor splatter burns on my hand, arms and face.  The pork was delicious, luckily, but I don't think it will be something I attempt again.  Not only is it probably the absolute worst kind of food a person can eat, I can't get the smell out of the house and it's making me nauseated.  Also, I forgot to move the clothes drying on the sweater rack in the hallway, and now I have to rewash them because they stink.  I don't like anything that makes me have to rewash already clean laundry, so my first foray into salt pork will very probably be my last.

4) Last night was the first time I've slept in my own bed in weeks.  No, Steve didn't kick me out or anything.  We can blame this on our spoiled dog.  Sometime after Thanksgiving but before the Christmas holidays, we felt it was finally time to remove Bear's kennel (sniff) from the living room.  We'd left it up well beyond a reasonable amount of time, be we really needed the space since our house is still so crowded with out-of-place stuff.  I thought that Butler would have trouble with the change, but he seemed to take it OK.  Well, at least at first.  A few nights later, I remember hearing him batting at his kennel door, but because he's done that on and off since Bear died, we ignored it.  Later that day, I noticed that the carpet was wet under the door of the kennel.  It wasn't pee, thank goodness, but it had to be drool, and Butler doesn't normally drool very much.  The next morning, I got up to let him outside, and before I walked into the living room, I saw that he was standing up in his kennel and panting.  Not only that, I saw that the entire front of his kennel was wet, and so was the floor outside of the kennel.  Yuck!  The only explanation I had was that he'd stood there at the door all night and panted and drooled.  That meant he wasn't even sleeping a little bit at night anymore.  Geez.  So we started sleeping in the living room with him again, just like we did after Bear died, only this time he refused to stay in his kennel.  Since then, I've slept on the couch in the same room as the dog so that he won't freak out about being alone at night.  Steve slept in one of the chairs for a while, but he wound up hurting his back and has to sleep stretched out in the bed until he gets better.  We even tried making Butler sleep in our room, but he stands at the door and scratches at it like we're keeping him hostage.  Sigh.

It's not so bad, really.  It's strange sleeping alone, of course.  Our couch isn't uncomfortable.  However, the occasional, unexpected press of a wet dog nose on the side of my face in the middle of the night is somewhat disconcerting.

I really, really hope the dog gets back to normal soon.