Posts Tagged ‘fever’

Feverish Thoughts

June 13th, 2008

I am slowly recovering from the bronchitis that has had me out of action for nearly two weeks now.  The first week was characterized by a fever ranging from 100.5 to 102.2 F (38 – 39 C).  The common medical wisdom these days, as I have heard it from a number of doctors, is that fever is a positive reaction of the immune system to an infection. To put it in lay terms, the body seeks to kill the infection by burning it up.  Therefore many doctors now recommend taking nothing for a fever, unless the patient is uncomfortable, or of course, unless the temperature rises dangerously high.  So if you can’t stand the body aches, or the head ache, or the heat itself, go ahead and take an analgesic, otherwise, let the fever burn.

I’ve been wondering how many people, given a choice and with analgesics available, actually just let the fever burn.  I am allergic to analgesics.  Incredibly, this was my first episode of fever since I developed the allergies five years ago.  My doctor recommended a homeopathic Belladonna preparation if needed for fever reduction, but I couldn’t find any to buy.  So I had a week of letting the fever burn.  It was an interesting experience, to say the least!  While my eyes were open I was fairly cogent, but had occasional visual and auditory hallucinations.  Nothing too exciting, a repeated mechanical banging sound in one ear, and a teddy bear face in the neighbor’s pear tree across the street that grinned and winked at me through the window.  I did not feel like myself at all; it was hard to even remember who “myself” was.  I felt like an alien from the planet Febrile!

It was very weird living on another planet. My body size was all over the map – at one point I was convinced
that the pillow I was touching on the other side of the bed was part of my body. Other times I felt very tiny, like a little fold in the bed-covers. Whenever I shut my eyes the fever dreams moved right in, with always a
committee of six or seven people in my head furiously making plans and fixing things. I’m sure if I just could have somehow recorded what went on my brain I would have written 16 volumes of great literature, solved global warming and created world peace too, while “we” were at it.  You’ve heard of doing things at a fever-pitch?  My thoughts were like that.

The worst thing was the head pain.  Headaches go along with fevers; for a near-chronic migraineur like me any headache has a high likelihood of morphing into a Migraine.  The persistent coughing of the bronchitis also banged my head around.  I woke every morning with a headache and developed a Migraine every day by afternoon.

I had one really funny fever dream where I closed my eyes and there were 7 of me around a conference table and one of us had this really searing disgusting hideous head pain, and the other 6 of us voted her off the show!  She had to go – and my goodness I woke up and my head pain was gone!  I don’t know but I may have to see if I can tap into the power of the fever dream committee other times too.

Everything is relative and I have been profoundly grateful that I am not that sick all the time, or even often.  I’ve been thinking about acute versus chronic illness.  I live with frequent Migraines, frequent fatigue, fairly frequent infections.  I know there are others of you whose chronic illnesses are more debilitating, and more progressive.  But mine pale in comparison to a high fever and racking cough, aches, shakes, dizziness and passing out.   Being that sick for an extended period of time could kill you!   I guess that’s why we read in 19th century literature of a “dangerous fever.”  I sit in awe of my body’s ability to fight off an infection like this one, largely unaided by modern medicine.   I’m giving it lots of rest and fluid and letting it do its thing.  It’s getting the job done, slowly.

- Megan Oltman

Back on good old planet Earth.

Heart of fire image courtesy of Marcus Vegas; pointing finger image courtesy of Lisamarie Babik.

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Face, meet Floor!

June 1st, 2008

Fall down go boom!

Well I had an exciting night! I passed out and fell on my face in the bathroom! The good news is that though my nose is very bruised and I’m getting a bit of a shiner on my right eye, nothing is broken, there’s not much pain this morning.  I have succumbed to the nasty virus with fever and coughing that my son had for ten days.  Danny came down with it after Adam was back on his feet for a few days, and I bit the dust (so to speak) a couple of days after Danny.

What makes this all the more exciting is that I have anaphylactic allergies to most analgesics.  So there’s nothing I can take for fever.  Luckily I’m not very prone to fevers; I often get the same virus as everyone else but minus the fever.  Not this time.   I’ve been lying around now for two days with a fever and a nasty painful cough.  The coughing hurts my whole body and jars my head enough to wake the migraine monsters.

Around midnight my head pain was resolving into a migraine so I went into the bathroom with the Imitrex package. I was very feverish and not thinking too straight. I thought I’d first take my temp and then read the
Imitrex packaging to see if there was some reason not to take it with a fever – there isn’t, and that doesn’t really even make sense, but anyway… I didn’t want to wake Danny up because he was sick too.

So I sat on the toilet lid and put the thermometer in my mouth. I was very woozy and could hardly sit up. So I put my feet up on a little stool, put my elbows on my knees, and started putting my head down on my
hands. The next thing I knew I was on the floor in excruciating pain with bright lights flashing in my right eye. Someone was making this horrible wailing noise and it turned out it was me. The whole family came running in. I was so disoriented, I had no idea where I was or how I got there, I just knew my eye and nose hurt and my glasses were pressing into my eye. I don’t know if the glasses saved me from getting more hurt or if they made it worse. They didn’t break. There’s a big bruise and cut on the bridge of my nose.

The kids got me ice packs and Danny helped me up – he was going to support me back to bed. Next thing I know I’m very peacefully and comfortably asleep on the floor and he’s saying, Megan, Megan, can you hear me? Apparently I just kind of slumped and slid out of his arms back onto the floor. So weird. He got me back to bed and I slept the rest of the night. I’m still coughing and feverish and weak and I’m staying in bed!

I don’t know if it was the fever or the migraine or maybe both that made me pass out. What a mess!!!  Just to make this all the more dramatic and interesting, my long-awaited headache specialist appointment is on Tuesday.  I will call first thing tomorrow to get in to see the internist, and find out if the Headache Center wants me to come in.  I “only” had to wait 4 months for this appointment – I really don’t want to give it up!  I’m perfectly willing to go in not feeling well, but if I’m in danger of passing out it may not be a good idea.

Never a dull moment!

- Megan

Blue tile floor image courtesy of Jason Meredith

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Posted in Medicine, Rant | Comments (6)

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