“You look horrible”.
Why thank you for your honesty…
That’s what Dr Lisa told me as she was taking some readings and trying to listen to my phlegm-filled lungs. I can’t be sure, but I think she was trying to tell me that I’ve looked better. But as bad as I may have looked, it was how I sounded that was really worrisome. I’ve never had such bad coughing bouts as I have the last 2 weeks, and it was all I could do to answer her questions without coughing thick gobs of guck in her face. I even had to ask Jess to drive me to my appointment because I wasn’t confident that I could drive without taking a bad coughing bout, which sometimes leads to dizziness and a feeling of nearly passing out. Bad enough when I’m holding onto a wall for support… Not so good in a SUV heading down the highway.
Lisa confirmed what I already knew. The antibiotics that the clinic doctor had given me were proving ineffective in my case. This was no simple infection. She prescribed something stronger, gave me a neat little puffer thing to blow steroids into my lungs, and ordered me to go to the hospital and have chest X-rays performed… and a test for whooping cough. Huh? Yeah well… just a precaution. And she gave me a few masks, telling me that I’d need to put one on as soon as I entered the hospital. Nothing says “Look at me!” quite like a guy sporting a surgical mask… but I think I pull off the look quite well.
Have you ever been tested for whooping cough? No? Well let me give you a sense of the fun you will experience if you ever find yourself in this position. They want to test your mucus, which is great, because I’ve got plenty of that! But taking it from a tissue would be too easy. No.. they want the real good stuff that’s hidden in places you don’t even know about. The respiratory technician explained it to me. “I need to push this small tube up into your nose quite far. It’s not painful, but it’s not very comfortable either.” OK.. that doesn’t sound like much fun at all… but compared to the camera they once shoved up my urethra to look at the inside of my bladder this should be a piece of cake. She was right. It was not a pleasant experience. That tube went up my nose, and then curled into my mouth somehow. It lasted only a couple of seconds and when it was done, I waited for my lollipop. Apparently there was none.
Today Dr Lisa called me to tell me that the X-rays confirm “extensive pneumonia” in my left lung. The whooping cough test results aren’t back yet, but rest assured… public health officials will be in contact if that comes back positive! I picture a scene from the movie Contagion in my living room. She asked me how I was doing today with regards to eating and sleeping. She’s concerned by my lack of appetite for the last 2 weeks, where I’ve been lucky if I ate more than 3 or 4 gingerbread cookies for the entire day. (But hey! At last count, I’m down 13 pounds!) And drink. Lots. Every 15 mins. Water, juice, even pop… just to get the fluids into me. This will be the one and only time that my doctor ever tells me to drink Coke… and you know what… I have no real appetite for that either. I bought some ginger ale because that’s supposed to be good for my tummy… but I wasn’t interested in Coke at all. That tells you how in the crapper I feel.
So right now the plan is to stay home. No work. No exertion. Plenty of rest. Plenty of fluids. And if I get worse at all, then it’s straight to the emergency room. Which would really suck. I have a thing with hospitals. I’m sure that most people do. But I’d really rather just cough up a lung here in the privacy of my own place, than do it there. So if that means drinking every 15 mins… so be it!
Speaking of which.. my water glass is empty.