Monday, September 19, 2011

Breakbone, Part 1

The fever began on Friday morning, during a weekly meeting.

I didn't feel it at first, not when I left for work nor in the office. On the contrary, with all the things I had to look forward to over the weekend and into next week--two presentations I really wanted to deliver and a festival I had set in motion four months before)--I felt upbeat and chipper.

In retrospect, what may have triggered the fever was the snafu over the room where our meeting would be held. I thought we had booked the room throughout the semester. It turned out we were in conflict with another group that Friday. I found myself bouncing from building to building for half an hour looking for the correct meeting room.

Why do I have a fever, I wondered. When I develop a temperature, it's usually because of a cough or a cold. Ever since I shed my extra pounds, those had come fewer and far between. Maybe I was just tired? I hoped it was nothing serious. Throughout the meeting I kept feeling my forehead and my neck. I was definitely feeling hot.

At eleven, I excused myself. I was supposed to teach a class but I was already feeling the fever. I decided to go to my mother's store and crashed in the sofa. I popped a Biogesic and slept.

Paracetamol is usually effective with me. Half an hour after the dose, my temperature starts to go down. But when I awoke from my nap two hours later, the fever was still running high. The thermometer read 38, placing me just above the borderline.

"I think I want to see the doctor," I told my mother. "I think I have an infection." Just to rule out urinary tract infection, we took a urine sample and it had come back negative.

We saw the doctor at five in the afternoon. She looked me over, told me to say "aaah", and examined my throat. "There's some redness and irritation," she said, "it must be pharyngitis." She prescribed me a strong antibiotic and told me the usual: rest and fluids.

With my wife away in Canada, I decided to spend the night at my old house. I took more paracetamol, slept some more, though fitfully, and hoped to ride out the fever. I had already missed several classes, and there was still another class on Saturday.

Somewhere around 11:00PM, the fever finally broke. The thermometer placed my temperature at 37.5, still high but no longer hot. I still felt weak, though. Feeling somewhat better, I went to the bathroom and washed up a bit. Not a bath, just a splash of water here and there.

When I left the bathroom, though, I felt something was terribly wrong.

My feet were cold and so were my hands. Then my hands started shaking. Uncontrollably. I felt a spasm down my back. My knees began to buckle.

"Ma!" I cried out. "Something's wrong!"

I managed to throw myself to bed. My whole body felt cold, very cold. Cold everywhere, from my hands and my feet, to the very pit of my stomach. My teeth chattered and I had to clamp my own mouth down lest I bite on my own tongue. Every muscle seemed to cramp up and wrap tight around my bones. I wanted to throw up.

My sister had the bright idea of rubbing my legs, arms, and stomach with coconut oil, and that warmed me up greatly. Meantime, my mother called the doctor again. They wrapped me with blankets and buried me in pillows until I could feel the warmth return.

"I want to go to the hospital," I said.