Out Sick

If you’re wondering why I haven’t written in awhile, I’ve been out sick. Not sore throat, fluish symptoms sick, but really goddamn sick. Even now, as I sit here writing after waking up at 5am, unable to get to sleep again, I’m hardly in the mood for writing. I need a few weeks off. I need a day where I don’t feel like I’m dying.

I had one of my glorious “flare ups” sometime in July. I hadn’t had one for years. I have a bag of tricks not to have them. Sometimes it’s as simple as getting more rest. Often, it’s upping my intake of Miralax to titan proportions. I have heart medications, antifungals, antibiotics. And I’ve been known, on accession, to have a two or four shots of whiskey which puts the symptoms on mute, sometimes for the day after. But no luck this time. I kept getting worse and one day, while I was trying to get a normal workday, the dizziness, the sense of confusion, the random heart palpitations, the endless litany of symptoms which haven’t hit me all at once for many, many years, hit me all at once. Next thing I know I’m testing my wife (who was out grocery shopping) to come get me, take me in to urgent care.

Now, you have to understand I’ve avoided doctors for years now. Ten years with Lyme convinced me they couldn’t diagnose a gun shot victim. So to be clear: I was that bad. So I go in, they run a few tests, my heart is running perfectly, so it’s probably not a heart attack, but to be sure they send me to the ER where I end up for a $1,000 bill and for wait? Waiting hours to see anyone and then, when I do, all they do is quickly rule out a heart episode then send me home without taking the time to do any tests regarding my shortness of breath, the pressure in my chest, my related GI issues (which are ever present and not easily ignored before and during one of these episodes). I finally get in to see my new primary, who I have a good conversation with, but she orders all the typical panels, which I know from experience will show my body is in perfect condition for a 49 year old. No treatment plan otherwise other than getting me into several specialists who don’t have openings until late in the year. So meanwhile I’m spending every day feeling like I’m on the verge of death. Dizzy spells. Spells of confusion. Fatigue. Sleeping too much (sometimes 12+ hours at a time) followed by bouts of insomnia (only got 4 or 5 hours last night). I feel like the walking dead so head into urgent care again where I’m quickly diagnosed with a severe case of bronchitis. I’m prescribed several heavy antihistamines and steroids and for a few days I start to get significantly better before quickly degrading. I spend my weekend largely in bed or on the couch, feeling too shitty and weak to do about anything else, and despite trying my best I only got in about four hours of work this week. Every time I forced myself to sit at the computer I quickly discovered my ability to make sense of anything on the computer screen—well, it just wasn’t there. I could sit but I couldn’t put together ideas. And now, mysteriously and for no apparent reason, I’m up early and able to write a coherent blog.

What the flying fuck?

I suspect a lot of this has to do with bouts of candida overgrowth, a largely ignored disease but one that’s quite easy to come by as an American surrounded by foods replete with simple sugars. Hell, you can’t even buy bread in America that isn’t made with sugar. And it explains a lot. When I travel to Europe I’m able to eat whatever I want, as much as I want. I tend to get better. I don’t have candida symptoms. I never develop thrush. But in America? I can spend my entire life watching everything I eat before realizing, a day or two after the candida starts doing its thing, that oh yeah, I had that as part of a meal yesterday, and had this today, and oh shit, I’m worse again.

Of course, all this is speculation. Outside of the world of naturopaths, normal doctors don’t know much about candida nor how to test for it. Most people’s immune systems handle the infection quite well. Mine doesn’t. And my vitals, my normal blood panels, don’t come up screaming, “Hey, he’s got a compromised immune system. Normal infections might do hell on his body!”

I’ve had more moments thinking about writing my will than I’ve ever had in my life. That’s just how bad I am. And I don’t know how to get that across to me doctors without being labeled a hypochondriac or a troublemaker.

Anyway, so I’d like to get writing again. Hell, I’d like to just feel half way normal again. But unlike previous bouts, where I would simply take a few days or a week off from work to focus on rest and health in general, this time around it’s been well over a month and despite these rare moments of feeling almost human, it’s a random cluster fuck of ups and downs. Even just sitting here when I don’t need to be sitting behind a goddamn computer console might trigger my symptoms. And that’s the other thing, while they tend to come in waves, they tend to sneak up slowly. The triggers for sitting at a desk, for example, could be that I’m cutting blood flow in my lower boy. It could be that by having my lower body at an angle (i.e. sitting) I’m causing pressure on my GI that’s going to exacerbate things. But I won’t start to notice going downhill for at least 15 minutes at the desk so, given I have a standing desk, I’ll move it into the standing position, and then other triggers, like accidentally locking my knees, triggers my symptoms (and to be frank, it’s goddamn frustrating given that using the keyboard and flexing my legs at the same time is akin to patting my head and rubbing my stomach at the same time—yes, it can be done, but it’s damn distracting).

Fingers crossed. Going to do a few things, take a shower, then log into work. Hoping at worst I’ll just need a short nap this afternoon; hoping I’ll be able to get out for another walk (I’ve only felt well enough to hit the gym once since the E.R. visit).

Until next time.


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