Influenza A: My Story of Survival Part #1

Posted on January 18, 2014

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UN-Be-LIVABLE. Seriously. I am still reeling from the fact that it has been FOURTEEN days since the hacky little cough started.

It is safe to say I walked through the shadow of death this week. On Thursday, I thought I was going to have to go to the hospital. That day, I barely ate. I was so tired. But I was so thirsty. But my stomach hurt so much, no matter what I tried to eat or drink. I was talking to Mom and she reminded me about being hydrated. So I drank 3 big glasses of water. That seemed to help, because Friday I woke up feeling more energetic and hungry (which is relative).

So here is the run down of how this thing came and went.

Sunday January 5th, 2014: I got up with a hacky little cough. A tickle that would not go away. As the day went by, I started feeling “weird”. Nothing I could put my finger on, just not right, weird (more than usual). About 6:00 p.m., I got the feeling I had fever. I took it and sure enough, a slight fever, almost 100. Strange. Went to bed. About midnight, I wake up and my stomach is on fire. It is the most upset it has ever been, ever. I took Tums, honey, ginger, water. Over and over. I thought I might throw-up, but I did not. Not because I was queasy, because, my stomach felt like it was coming up out of my throat. My chest was hurting so badly that if I had not had any experience, I would have thought I was having a heart attack. I did not sleep at all. As this was going on, my cough was getting worse and the more I coughed, the more my stomach burned and churned. By 5:00 a.m., I was running a 101 degree fever and knew I would not be working that day. Luckily (ish) for me, we had a very bad winter storm that night, so no one was really making it to work that day. ( I have since determined that the virus “burned the lining of my lungs”. Also of my digestive system.

Monday January 6th, 2014 I spent sleeping, trying to eat soup and pudding (my stomach was so raw I could hardly stand to eat at all). Mom insisted that Gregg take me to the doctor the next day (in the coldest weather we have had in Indiana in 20 years). I was so exhausted I thought I should go. I must have known in my gut I was more than “just sick”, because typically, I will work through being sick. But this just felt more serious. I managed to stand up long enough to get a shower and get my hair dry so I would not go out with a wet head Tuesday.  Coughing, sweating, aching, fever, full sinus, tender skin, headache, super tired. When I laid down in bed that night, I felt like I could not lift my arms again.

Tuesday January 7th, 2014  I drug myself out of bed. Put on several layers of clothes, in case something happened. With the temps and wind chill, freezing to death was a real possibility were something to happen to the truck. It took us a long time, like almost an hour to make a ten minute trip, but we got there. I got into see the doctor, who ordered a flu test. Anyone out there ever had one? If so, it is club I wish I had never gotten to join. They call it a swab. I call it a hot skewer to the brain via nostril. It was a HORRIBLE, AWFUL thing! They say, relax, this will be uncomfortable. Then they stick a sharp poker deep into your sinus cavity. I think it touched my brain, seriously. The nurse holds the arm that is on the same side as she is jabbing…I am sure to keep you from grabbing or punching her/him. This caused me to revert to a six year old little girl, stomping my feet and saying “no, no, no!”. Then, to my horror, she says she has to do the other side. WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!! WHY!!!!!!!! One is not enough?!?!?!?!?!?????? “Relax”, she says as she grabs my other wrist, holding my reflex away from her. Riiiight. More stomping, crying and screaming. I can only imagine what people outside of my room must have thought. (For the record, they do not send out those swabs to find out what strain it is. They will of you want to pay $300 AND go back and have another torture performed. Um…never mind.)  They prescribed Tamiflu, Histussin cough syrup (the best) a week off work, rest and fluids. The doctor said I looked exhausted. They gave me a lung x-ray to see oit I had pneumonia. Thankfully no. We go to the pharmacy. My cost for Tamiflu…after my insurance pays is….drum-roll, please: $111.00. Really. Really. I had a feeling in my gut this stuff was gonna be over the top but come on. Wanna talk about gouging. A girl I know works at the local low-income hospital and clinic in Indianapolis, cost to those who have no income source or are on aid $4.00. Stick it Tamiflu, insurance and pharmaceutical companies. I did not get it. The rest of that day was much like Monday: Sleep, sweat, drink, cough, be sick to my stomach, diarrhea (the total kind, like when you were a kid), ache. My skin was so sensitive I could not stand to feel that air on it. I had to have some kind of clothes on all the time, even when sleeping.

Wednesday January 8th, 2014: I woke up, coughing, even with the cough med. The only other thing I took was ibuprofen for the fever when I had one. I ran one, it would break, then come back. I ate when I woke up, drank when I woke up. Stomach, lungs, esophagus, stomach on fire. Couch changed from searing, burning to more rattly. Pneumonia is a high risk when this flu takes hold, so I made an effort to breathe deep and cough from the bottom of my lungs, no matter how much it hurt. The reason is to get air UNDER the infection mucus and expel it. This helps to prevent the pneumonia. I also boiled water and had a cup of tea with lemon, honey and whiskey. (I had one of those on Monday, Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday. That was the last day I did that.) I really does help to get the mucus moving in the lungs somehow. The same conditions as the other days; Sweat, cough, fever, aches, sensitive skin, diarrhea, burning throat, stomach, sharp pain whenever I ate or drank, no appetite, headache, exhausted.

Thursday January 9th, 2014: Woke up and felt the fever was gone. All the other symptoms were the same. I slept off and on. Most of these days about 18 hours out of 24. I would just get so tired I had to sleep. Exhausted. I was uncomfortable. I had laid so much. It was restless. As the day went by, I felt more and more weak. I was talking to my Mom and talking about hydration. I had not been able to eat but I had been drinking. But the sweating, I should tell you was profuse. as a matter of fact, we changed the sheets on our bed every three sleep. That is how badly I was sweating. And Gregg said the same thing. All this time he was having the same symptoms, except the stomach issue. He was able to eat, although he did lose his appetite for a couple of days. He did not feel like any heavy food either, so soup, jello, pudding, yogurt and orange juice were the main menu items. Gregg did eat toast and some cake, things I could not even think about. Anyway, I got to thinking about how you could die from this influenza. You get pneumonia and cannot breathe. You have to go on a ventilator. And if you are lucky, you get to come off of it. OR you dehydrate and your veins collapse, along with your kidneys, heart and liver malfunction. So you have to get IV fluids and hope you are not too far gone to bounce back. That got me to thinking I should drink. Even if it felt like someone is cutting my stomach from the inside out, Sharknado style. I drank three 16 ounce glasses of water in two hours. about an hour later, I started going to the bathroom. My kidneys kicked in. I kept water by the bed overnight. And when I awoke Friday, I felt like I need to eat. I needed nourishment, badly

 

Me today, day 14 of influenza A

Me today, day 14 of influenza A

 

***Okay, I have to go to bed and WOW is this a long story!!! So I will close for now (Jan. 18, 2014) and say this. I am still not 100%, not even close. And it could still go the wrong way, with the lung issue being the thing we have to watch now. Tired, weak, dizzy head and rattly cough are still with me. I will finish the tale, up to date tomorrow. Please be careful!!! Keep your hands off your face, wash them all the time. Keep hand sanitizer with you and avoid shaking hands, hugging and sharing cups, utensils and eating after others.****

 

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Me on Day #5, feeling like death was sitting on my chest

Me on Day #5, feeling like death was sitting on my chest

 

 

Me on Day #7, finally feeling like I might just live through this nightmare.

Me on Day #7, finally feeling like I might just live through this nightmare.

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