Monday, January 19, 2009

Never-Ending Illness, Avelox, Deafness, and Dreams

Image from Infectious Wearables. I thought Giant Microbes were cool (so do my kids), but Infectious Wearables make really cool ties. Who would have thought that mold/fungi could look so beautiful?

But as usual, I digress. Ever since I got back from Walt Disney World, I've been coughing and feeling ill. I wasn't so sick that I missed any work until this month. A week and a half ago, I was hit with a high fever which finally prompted me to see a doctor. Here's the rundown of my illness so far...
  • December 5: Cough starts.
  • December 6: Flew back from Florida. As expected, my ears clog on the plane and I had an extremely painful descent. Every time that happens, it feels like my ears are bleeding.
  • December 11: My ears unclog and I can hear again! Cough continues though.
  • December 25: Coughing continues through Christmas. I cancel a trip to visit my mom for the holidays and plan to go during New Years. Instead I blog about coughing and pantyliners.
  • December 28: I miss a get together with Doug's family. I was probably fine to go, but Dova had a fever and was vomiting, so I stayed home with her.
  • January 1: Fever around 101F, we obviously didn't visit my mom again for this long weekend.
  • January 2: Sinuses hurt badly.
  • January 4: Fever finally going down on my birthday. I forewent a New Year's party which the rest of my family attended. Instead I filed lots and lots of papers. Apparently, this is what obsessive organizational people do for fun on their birthday.
  • January 5: Finally took a sick day and fever went away.
  • January 10: Fever over 102F and vomiting. This time I really feel like hell, but can't get to the doctor because Doug was out and I didn't want to lug the kids with me to the doctor's office. That night I added an raging ear infection to the mix too.
  • January 11: Finally drive myself to the doctor after Doug shoveled the snow after yet another snowstorm. Doctor said there was crackling in my lungs (pneumonia) as well as an ear infection. Got a nice strong prescription of Avelox. Threw up a half hour after my first dose, but luckily the pill made it down into my small intestines already. Chronicled my dreams while on this medication.
  • January 12: Took another sick day. Fever was gone, but I was still extremely weak.
  • January 19: Course of Avelox is almost over. Cough and fever are finally gone, but my left ear continues to be clogged, somewhat painful and nearly deaf. I ought to call the doctor about it...
So during this time where I managed to get almost every possible ailment, I formulated some theories about the cavities in my head. Not cavities in my teeth, but those darn spaces like ears and sinuses which I seem to have so much trouble with.

Whenever I'm sick and I get on a plane (which unfortunately occurs much more often than I like), I always have trouble during the descent, but not during the ascent. It's as if my Eustachian tubes have check valves in them. They will let pressure out, but not in. So the negative pressure forming behind my ear drums turns into extreme pain. When my ears finally start to unclog a few days later, the tubes finally let air in (pop!) and I can suddenly hear again. During the day, the air slowly escapes through the check valves, building up negative pressure again (and deafness), until I open my mouth wide and pop! I can hear again. When the check valves finally stop the one way air exchange, my ears are finally back to normal. The same goes for the sinuses. When I'm sick, all the openings to my sinuses have check valves that let air out but not in. It is the negative pressure that is so painful. I know this is totally a mechanical engineer's point of view, but I can't help but overanalyze everything around me.

This latest ear infection has lasted nearly ten days and has not had much improvement from the antibiotics. It's only on one side, but I'm constantly shifting myself to hear out of my good ear. I have to sit on the floor to watch TV so that the volume isn't way to loud for the rest of my family. I've had to work at our customer's site and deduce what the heck they are saying. I just want to pop a hole in my eardrum, drain the gunk out and finally equalize the pressure. I can't take the deafness any longer! The pain and irritation goes all down my Eustachian tube. I can even feel the spot where it opens into my throat. Yes, I know, time to visit the doctor again...

In terms of the dreams, I haven't had too many that were way out of the ordinary. I usually have vivid dreams with some anxiety about whatever is going on in my life, turned into an irrational saga. By the second night, I was having anxiety about having interesting enough dreams! So I stopped writing them down. The only dream of note lately was a couple nights ago. I was walking down the streets of Cambridge, MA waiting for the parade for President Obama. He was out in the open on top of a huge float, and I felt that he wasn't being protected enough. Then later, he was walking on the same sidewalk and he passed me and walked into a building. He was within three feet of me! I just held my breath in awe and didn't say anything as he passed. Later I walked into another building and signed up for a writing class. The other students in the class just laughed at me and said that engineers couldn't be writers. I think I'm having anxiety about writing for BlogHer (did I mention that I'm now a contributing editor?) but so far, my posts seem to be doing fine. And oh, to be so close to Barack Obama, the thrill! Too bad, I won't be seeing the real parade tomorrow.

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