Since we’re talking about unruly bodies, I’m going to take some time to talk about how unruly the bodies in this house have been this week. Let’s start with mine.
Monday: I’m fine. It’s like every other day. By the time I’m ready for bed, my throat is a little sore. I figure it is probably nothing, worst case scenario the start of a cold. Who hasn’t been there? I am mistaken. Sleep eludes me that night (and many that follow). I must have a high fever because I have vivid, lifelike dreams about real life things (I am talking to Kelly about my bad resume in one… in another I receive a package I’ve been waiting on but I misplace it… and in another I forget to write a paper… ok, so these are nightmares). These dreams are clear fever indicators for me because my body always reacts to high fevers with dreams so real that I never know when I’m awake or sleeping. I keep getting out of bed, wandering the house looking for that package, wondering when I’ll fix my resume and trying to remember which paper I’ve forgotten. If it sounds fun, it isn’t. If it sounds more like hallucinations, it probably is. I “wake up” feeling more exhausted than when I laid down. My joints ache, from my knees and elbows to each individual knuckle. My head throbs. My throat feels raw and tingly. I feel like I can’t get myself out of bed. There is just an overwhelming sense of ickiness that I still can’t explain that makes me feel both like I should stay in bed, and like I should head to the doctors…
Tuesday: Since my regular doctor has a terrible habit of not having same day appointments, and my two minute diagnosis of WebMD tells me it’s the flu, we opt for Minute Clinic. We get there and Thomas signs me in, while I sit in the waiting area, sighing dramatically. I feel terrible, I look terrible, and I’m just sitting there, reading over the “literature.” Minute Clinic isn’t cool enough for magazine subscriptions, so we brush up on Answers for Affordable Health Care and the Minute Clinic’s Weight Loss Program. We also take turns gasping in horror at the “reasonably priced” out-of-pocket costs (seriously, $60 for pink eye, not including the cost for the drops you ALREADY KNOW YOU NEED). When the nurse practitioner calls me back, we walk into her little office for my exam. But before we get the point, I have to answer “the questions.”
“Do you have insurance?”
“Yes. Good thing too, those prices are insane.”
“Who is the primary account holder?”
“And his name?”
“Seriously, he’s behind you. Ask him yourself.” (At this point, assume none of my responses are what I actually said).
“What’s your date of birth?”
“Do you know how much you weigh?”
“I think I have the flu.”
“Somewhere between a lot and more than that.”
“Do you know how tall you are?”
“Yes. I am as tall as I’ve been for the last 10 or so years. It’s probably in your records. I’m not exactly getting taller. I bet you a dollar it says right there, 5’4”.”
“When was your last menstrual cycle?”
“How is this relevant? I think I have the flu. Why do you need to know this? I’m assuming it is so that anything you prescribe me is safe for the baby we haven’t decided exists yet, but can’t you just ask me if I’m pregnant or not? Do you need to know these things? I’m not. Not pregnant.”
“Do you take any medication regularly?”
“Are you going to ask for my social security number, political views and parenting styles?”
“Are you allergic to any medications that you’re aware of?”
“None that I’m aware of, but wouldn’t it be fun if we find out tonight that I’m allergic to whatever you give me? I don’t have an epipen.”
Sigh. So, after I share all of my personal medical information, she asks about my symptoms and I tell her: body aches, chills, fever, throat hurts, weakness, tired. I think I had a high fever last night because I was hallucinating. It was almost 103 this morning. I feel gross. And I look like death warmed up. She takes my pulse and blood pressure.
“Your heart rate is a little fast. That could just be because you’re sick.”
It could be. My heart often works harder when it’s compensating for illness. It also accelerates when I’m nervous. Like at the OBGYN when I know that as soon as you’re done lecturing me about my racing heart, you’re going to take me into another room where I have to strip naked, lay on a plastic bed with paper on it and wait for the doctor to pry me open with plastic reversed scissors while you stand watch. That makes me nervous, because it’s uncomfortable and because I like as few people to see inside my vagina as possible and because it’s weird. I also feel nervous when I know you’re about to say “strep test”.
She listens to my chest, feels my lymph nodes, and looks in my ears and nose and throat. Then she says it. “I’m going to run a strep test. If that’s negative we will start you on anti-viral medication.” Lady, you can put me on whatever, but you lost me at strep test. I’m terrible at strep tests. I only have to think about things that make me gag in order to do it, so you shoving the longest q-tip ever into my tonsils is sure to make me lose it. I do my best. I grip the chair and tilt my head back and say ah. But here’s the thing: no amount of will power on my part can convince my body it’s not being gagged. So I gag. And gag and when she doesn’t pull that damn swab out I push her arm away. She looks annoyed but I would have expected grateful since we were two seconds from my vomiting on her white coat. She is angry: “I need to do it again. This time, don’t push my arm away.” Damn. Oh lord. She’s gonna stick that thing down my throat and it’s going to take everything I have not to smack her…
We survive, but it isn’t pretty. My eyes are streaming from the gagging and I am fuming. I feel like crap and you literally just gagged me with a q-tip. And I never get strep. Ever. I’ve never had it. So I especially hate strep tests. What a waste. And it’s negative. She prescribes over-priced anti viral medication and tells me to drink lots of water. Flu. I said I thought I had the flu. I knew it. Freaking strep test.
And that was the start. Tuesday sucks. I miss class because my body is totally out of control. My head hurts and my body aches and I just sit on the couch in a perpetual state of misery. I want to sleep but I am uncomfortable. I want to eat but the idea of it makes my blood boil. I want to be left alone and I want to be waited on hand and foot. Finally, I sweat out my fever and I feel like a person, albeit a very, very ill person. The kids are unhappy at their inability to snuggle me. I am quarantined to my room. I have to cancel dinner with my dad. I am so angry. Flu. Really? Unnecessary…
Wednesday: I am not better. Another fever. More aches. My throat feels worse. Halfway through the day I get a phone call. “Hi, is this Mrs. Sweet?” Yes. “Hi, I just wanted to call and tell you that your strep test came back positive.” Seriously? “Yes. I put in a prescription for penicillin. Make sure you throw out your tooth brush after 24 hours. It likes to linger.” Um, what? 1. Strep?! I NEVER get strep! 2. I literally JUST replaced my damn toothbrush. 3. Strep? Flu? Overkill? If I have even the slightest gastrointestinal upset, I’m going to break something expensive. I have to cancel dinner with Diane too…
Thursday: I am not better. But I have extra medicine. By now I have missed 6 of the 10 class sessions I take weekly. Lame. And Little kid has a fever, because one unruly body isn’t enough. I feel hungry but I don’t want to swallow. I feel tired but I can’t sleep. I find myself contemplating how much it would hurt by comparison to remove my own tonsils. If I sleep, I snore so loud I wake myself. I keep drooling on my pillow which is both gross and annoying. My room has this sick smell. I have this sick smell. When did I shower last? I want to leave the house but our mini Target trip for fresh air and Jell-O totally backfires when I think I might pass out in the aisle. I’m feeling stir crazy. My uncompleted assignments are piling up. Little kid won’t sleep, and I can’t sleep…
Friday: I don’t wake up, because I never fell asleep. The boys go to the doctor, both test positive for strep. Three out of four people in this house are on some kind of penicillin concoction. Thomas goes back to work. The three of us bumble around the house. Big kid sounds like a prepubescent teenager and whines that his throat hurts. Little kid just whines. I whine. I feel better than I have been, but not better. I feel like I have no control. No control over my body or the persistent throb in my throat. No control over the exhaustion I’m consumed by. No control over the contraction and spread of illness in my home. I don’t even seem to have control over my annoyance when the kids have more energy than I think a sick person deserves. It’s Friday. I have a whole weekend of recovering to do. I have a whole week of school work to catch up on. My body has been unruly, and subsequently so have I. I want to feel better. I want to be better. I’ve cancelled all my plans. No dinners, no birthdays, no IKEA. I’m here, with the same soup I’ve been sipping all week. I think I’m finally making a turn around. Maybe I’m finally regaining control. My throat is still terrible, but I haven’t had a fever today. I think I’m on the mend. But I swear, if Thomas tells me his throat hurts…