By: Shannon Shull
Since I started teaching school full time in August, I literally have not stopped. My schedule has stayed consistently full. Between the busy-ness, life’s stresses and not being able to shut my brain off, I can count on one hand how many nights I’ve actually slept well. In addition, my normally great regimen of working out has gone down the tubes. Several times I’ve caught myself (or my mother) saying, “I don’t know how you’ve stayed well with such a nonstop schedule!” I had moments in which even I was shocked and knocking on wood at the fact that I had stayed so overworked and under-slept and had managed to avoid sickness.
However, I recently had a reality check as I battled with illness…
Day One: Life has a funny way of making a person slow down. And unfortunately for me, it tends to be sickness that knocks me down and forces me to chill in order to finally get the rest my body demands. I’m feeling pretty darn rough, but am I’m hoping that rest and meds will quickly get me back into gear. The substitute has been scheduled, my lessons have been lined up and I know a trip to the doctor is required.
Day Two: This is NOT fun. My throat freakin’ HURTS. The visit to the Minute Clinic helped ZERO – won’t know for another 24 hours if I’ve tested positive for Strep or Flu. The quickie tests in the clinic room came out negative. Though I have a fever of 101, the Minute Clinic cannot prescribe antibiotics unless you test positive for something. I know my body. I need antibiotics. L
Day 3: I’m worse, as expected. I can hardly speak my throat hurts so bad. My mother convinces me to go to my childhood family doctor. Fortunately, my new house is right down the road from the doctor’s office. My awesome doc, who gets the pleasure of seeing me look absolutely AWFUL after not seeing each other for probably a good 15 or more years, takes one look at my throat, literally winces and says, oh yes, I don’t even have to swab you, it’s Strep. And get this, no lie, as I’m sitting in the room, waiting for the nurse to return to give me a hardcore antibiotic SHOT in my rear, the Minute Clinic calls and says my test came back positive for Strep! Ya think!? Argh…. I’m given a shot and an antibiotic to start taking. I’m told that thanks to the shot, I should start feeling much better within 12 hours. Upon leaving the doctor’s office, I get the shakes. I haveave no clue why, but I can’t stop shaking. It’s weird & kind of scary. Maybe it’s the fever? The shot? The infection in general? Who knows… My fever spikes when I get home and I literally feel as if fire could shoot out of my cheeks.
Day 4: It’s been well over 12 hours…. I’m still not better. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m worse. I don’t know how much longer I can take this. 😦
Day 5: At this point, five days into my illness, I sit here on my couch at 4am in the morning because the intense pain in my throat, ears and neck keep me from sleep. I know I will have to contact the doctor as soon as the office opens and I fear I may have to make a trip to the hospital. After a high-powered antibiotic shot and two different other antibiotics, I’m still not better. I’m worse, actually. The infection seems to intensify. Just when I think it can’t get worse, it inevitably does. I’m honestly trying not to lose my mind. I usually pride myself on having a high tolerance for pain, but a tough goddess can only take so much. I’m scared.
Will I ever be able to swallow again without the feeling of razor blades slicing my throat and shooting pain into my ears and neck? Will I ever be able to speak again without sounding like there’s something stuck in my throat? It’s kind of like when you lose your voice and you have those moments when you wonder if you’ll ever be heard again.
My mind races – do I have something worse? Will I ever be normal again? What will happen? Am I being over-dramatic? God, I hope so.
As I pace the floors, I promise to take better care of my overworked self. I have visions of eating healthier, being stricter about getting more sleep, getting more exercise. The only thing that keeps me strong and makes me suck it up is the mantra I say to myself…”If you survived the indescribable pain of childbirth twice, you can handle this!” Shut up, suck it up and take action to find a solution to the pain. I push forward with a determination that this coming weekend I have to be able to enjoy every precious moment with my children. I have to be the healthy, present me.
2 ½ more hours until the doctor’s office opens…
My precious mother shows up to take me to the doctor. I can hardly see straight, I’m so uncomfortable. Infection literally coats my throat. The nurse cannot believe I’m back and worse. My doctor takes a look at me and does a double take. I have a severe case of Strep. I’m given a steroid shot. Now both bum cheeks are sore on top of everything else! But I don’t care, I’ll tolerate whatever it takes to get rid of this infection and feel better. The doc doubles my antibiotics, prescribes a magic mouthwash solution to help with healing and to help numb my mess of a throat, and (thank God) prescribes a pain medicine.
Day 6: I think I’m getting better. Am I? It’s honestly hard to tell. At this point, I wonder if I’m getting used to the pain or if I’m finally getting better. I’m going to assume I’m getting better. I’m going to tell myself I AM getting better, daggomit!
Day 7: I’m fever free, the meds are strong in my system and I can finally swallow without wanting to cry. Thank you God and the heavens above! I can get my babies for the holiday break and though I am so very weak, I have a renewed sense of being due to the fact that I can actually eat, speak and swallow without feeling the razor blade pain. Of course, now my stomach is a wreck thanks to all the strong meds, but I will tolerate it and be thankful that the intensity of the illness is hopefully over!
Day 8: Gradually getting better and better. Still have spots of infection on my throat but I’m definitely on the up and up. Though some of this positive energy may just be due to the excitement of precious time off with my children and the spirit of the holidays, I will continue to take good care of myself and stay positive that I will eventually get back to my normal self.
I tell ya folks, when I say I have a new appreciation for health, I really mean it. To be healthy is such a blessing!
In closing, I hope that you all will count your many blessings and never take good health for granted! Take good care of yourselves and attempt to actually rest over the holidays. We’re all so guilty of overworking ourselves. Take deep breaths; leave the busy-ness aside long enough to just “be.” Allow yourself to have quality time with your family. Allow yourself to get personal time to reflect and be thankful. Rest. Live. I certainly know that I will try my best to do so over this much needed break!