Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Sickness Denial

I like to think I have a pretty good immune system. However, I should note that biology is to me what math is to most everyone else; I have no aptitude for the subject, and my efforts to study it have only led to frustration. So, heads up that if I ever offer medical advice you should take it with a grain of salt.

That said, I don't get sick very often as far as I can tell, the key words there being "as far as I can tell." I'm currently suffering from strep throat, though, and I'm amused by my actions leading up to this realization.

When I say I don't get sick often, I think it would be more accurate to say that I don't acknowledge sickness for what it is. There are certainly times I've developed a cough for a few days or a week without giving it much thought, and several times when I've simply felt a little woozy for a few days or had a mild, persistent headache. In those instances, I was probably sick with something and simply refused to let it effect my life. I'm stubborn and tend to power through discomfort, refusing to let it influence my productivity. Basically, I feel I don't have time to get sick.

So, when real sickness comes--the kind that won't simply go away on its own after a few days of discomfort--it takes me a while to actually accept what's happening. I don't like lying, but when someone asks me if something's wrong I reflexively deny it, even as the question forces me to re-examine my well-being in a way I wouldn't if left to my own devices.

That's pretty much what happened yesterday, after one of my co-workers noticed I had been coughing a lot and asked me if I was sick. I immediately denied it and brushed it off, but the question sparked some introspection.

Late last week my sinus had begun to drain, causing some dryness in my throat and some coughing. This is a seasonal occurrence, and I'm used to it. Sometimes these draining sinuses just cause some discomfort for a few days, and sometimes it leads to mild infection. Over the weekend, the dryness in my throat got more painful and pronounced, but only when I woke up. It was distractingly uncomfortable all day Sunday, though, and grew worse yesterday.

After my co-worker inquired about it, I decided that this was just some kind of sinus infection. I resolved that, if it was still a problem by the end of the week, I'd go visit a doctor to get it checked out.

Last night, though, the throat pain had become really bad. I had trouble getting to sleep, and at some point I needed to get up and take some pain medication. I almost never take pain medication for anything, and I'm pretty sure that was the moment I decided to go see a doctor as soon as possible.

I was still planning to go in to work today once I was done with the doctor visit, but once I learned the problem was strep throat I knew that wouldn't be a good idea. Strep is infectious, and the doctor recommended I stay away from people for 24 hours. As a self-described idiot in the field of medicine, I'm inclined to follow the advice of an expert.

I'm on antibiotics now. Swallowing is still pretty painful, though. Any sickness that takes the joy out of eating has my ire, and currently every bite of food fills me with dread, anticipating the moment I have to swallow.

I bought my first-ever bottle of liquor today, though: a small bottle of Fireball whiskey, which I bought in the desperate hope that alcohol might disinfect my throat a bit on the way down. I don't know how medically sound of an idea that was, but it sure seems to work in practice. A shot of that stuff seems to give me about an hour's worth of relief, which seems worth dealing with the taste of alcohol for a moment. It allows me to drink water in relative peace, at least.

Anyway, sick days suck. I don't recommend them.

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