In the grand scheme of things, I’m not sure that it mattered that I wasn’t tested for strep. I’m not allergic to penicillin, thank god, so the only averse effects of my prognosis were mild side effects like nausea. No big deal. In hindsight, I’m not even sure that the doctor would have done anything for me had I been tested and pronounced negative. Really, it seemed like my body needed time to degrade before anything could have really been done. Later on, a second doctor would inform me that yeah, I probably did have strep, but it was just masked by what developed next.
I read that, once diagnosed, strep throat can be cleared up in twenty-four to forty-eight hours with medication. Sometimes it’s not just the medication that eases pain, but the knowledge that someone figured out what was going on and that it would all be fine in a short while. I held fast to this little bit of information over the next thirty-six hours or so while my body did everything it could to convince me that no, I wasn’t going to be all right.
Fever dreams are interesting. Every single one I’ve had seemed to be a manifestation of the agony I was going through, even while sleeping. Flashes of my bones melting and reforming, inching closer and closer to punching through my skin from he inside ebb and warp in mingled variances. My creaking flesh twists and splinters while, in the corporeal, I am soaked in ever cooling sweat. They go on continuously, seemingly for far longer than I ever sleep. When I finally break from my restless sleep to dim morning light, I am exhausted but relieved; a child tormented by night terrors forcing his eyelids agape.
Imagine, if you will, a full night of fever dreams. Then imagine, the next day, between the restless sleep of the night before and the plaguing illness, you are unable to stay awake for more than a half-hour before submitting again to the fever-sleep. This was my Saturday. I propped myself up in bed and watched TV while Kali worked away on the computer (and did well to make sure I didn’t pass out and die). I set a pillow immediately next to me and alternated between equal minutes of delirious consciousness and terrifying fever dreams. Although I continued taking my medication, the looming threat of a second misdiagnosis crept closer to the forefront of my mind as the hours ticked by and my condition exacerbated. Saturday may have been the longest day of my life.
As midnight neared, I realized that I was going to have to return to the hospital at some point. My fever waxed and waned throughout the day, but the evening brought on the sickening menace of a second extended bout of fever swept sleep. This was an intolerable thought. Thankfully, my roommate and my girlfriend were able to escort me to the hospital as Saturday drew to a close.
Although the ER was packed as always, my advanced condition alleviated my wait to some degree. After registration, there is a small room where a nurse records your symptoms and does minor diagnostic tests including checking temperature. In my previous visit, I was in between what I thought was a fever, and my temperature barely registered above normal, dulling my priority among the waiting throng. I was concerned that this time would be no different, as it seemed as though my fever has subsided for the time being. When the thermometer was finally withdrawn after an inordinately long respite under my tongue, the digits “103.3” glared malevolently on the blue LCD. I would not be waiting any longer, and unbeknownst to me at the time, I would not be going home any time soon.
I apologize for the brevity of these posts, and how many I am forced to write to log the whole ordeal. I originally intended for this to be in two parts, then four. It looks like it may hit five in the end. Perhaps six. Thank you for your patience and your concern in what has been a terrifying time in my life.