Hundreds of people sick on a cruise ship. Emergency rooms filled to the gills with flu patients. Yep–it is that time of year again when cooties abound and you have to be extra careful to prevent catching the germs yourself. But what happens if what you think you’ve got is just the latest bug when actually it is something much more serious?
This was the exact scenario I found myself in right before the holidays. You see, I never get sick. (Knock on wood) Sure, I get an occasional cold. But past that, I haven’t had too many “real” illnesses. I used to think that was such a great blessing. But what I discovered is that it is really a curse. Because when I did get really sick, I found out the hard way that I didn’t have the experience necessary to know when I had something other than “the flu.”
One Sunday morning I woke up feeling really lousy. I knew as soon as I opened my eyes to the day that something was not right. But I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly my symptoms were suggesting. I felt a little achy and I felt a little nauseous and maybe even a little feverish. Flu, right? After I got moving around, the symptoms seemed to dissipate a bit, so I decided to continue on with my day. First off was a church meeting. Just in case, when I got to my meeting, I made sure to keep to myself. I didn’t sit close to anyone and I didn’t talk much. However, the longer I sat there, the worse I felt. Maybe I did have something after all, I reasoned with myself. I endured the meeting and decided to forego any more activities and headed home. As soon as I walked in the door, I shed my suit, put my pajamas back on and climbed back in to bed.
For the rest of the day, I stayed by myself in my room. I didn’t want to contaminate everyone else…just in case. My sickness came in waves. First hot, then nauseous, then cold, then fine. Over and over and over again. Sounds just like the flu, right? I tried to sleep but a nap only lasted as long as the time between waves. My family tried to offer me items from the BRAT Diet (banana; rice; applesauce; toast) but nothing sounded good. Even sips of water were undesirable but I knew I had to drink something or else my symptoms would be multiplied with dehydration. Yuck.
The next morning, I felt marginally better. My goal was to get dressed and go downstairs, which I was able to accomplish. However, the family room couch was as far as I got. The nausea and dizziness continued, so I laid down and watched movie after movie because that was about all I could handle. The mere thought of food and making meals repulsed me. Luckily, my husband is really good at getting take-out , so that is what he, our son, and our son’s visiting, soon-to-be fiance existed on. (Yes, to make matters worse, I had a house guest in the middle of this bout)
This “flu bug” went on for 5 days. Finally, on the fifth day, both my parents, my husband and my son suggested I might have something more than “just the flu.” They encouraged me to go to the doctor. What? Me, see a doctor? “I never go to the doctor.” “I prefer to wait out my illnesses.” “Doctors are for really sick people. I never get that kind of sick.” “ It will be sooooo embarrassing if all I have is the flu. I couldn’t survive the rolling eyes of my doctor that for sure she would do because I wasn’t really sick.” and on and on went the battle in my head. But I really wasn’t feeling great and I really wanted to feel better, so what the heck. I made a same day appointment.
Because I’m never sick, I had a hard time vocalizing how I felt. One thing for sure, my upper abdominal area felt like it was burning. My doctor ordered a battery of tests and medicine and thus the chase began to find out what I really was suffering from. Two days and many tests later, it was determined I had Gastritis — an inflammation of the stomach lining. There is no definitive cause. It can occur suddenly (no kidding), last for awhile, and strike again without warning. Treatment consisted of 8 weeks worth of medicine to repair the lining so that the pain and suffering would be gone. Easy enough. Relief came in just a day and by the end of the prescription, I was cured.
What made this whole scenario kind of scary was that my symptoms could have been related to other illnesses — some even life threatening. Time and suffering was of essence and I ignored the warnings because, “I am never sick.” Dumb, I know. The older we get, the chances for serious illness and disease to occur increases significantly. What did I learn for the next time I am feeling really lousy:
- 1) Heed the signs. Only you know when you are out of sorts. Take inventory of what is happening and be prepared to act on what your body is telling you.
- 2) See a Doctor. They haven’t had all that schooling for nothing. Their diagnosis and subsequent treatment is the only way you’ll be able to get better.
- 3) Don’t delay. Early detection saves time and sometimes even your life. I wasted six days of feel horrible when if I had gone to the doctor sooner,I could have been on the road to recovery a lot sooner.
Here on out, I am going to follow my own advice. There is a lot more life for me to live, and I want that life to be a quality life.
What steps do you take when you’re not feeling well?