I hate being sick. I know that in theory everyone hates being sick, but given my time in triage night after night I'd have to say that many people actually aspire to it. But I don't. I have a crappy immune system, so I often don't feel WELL. I get sniffles or aches and pains or a little hack-hack cough. I'm used to that. What I don't like is the kind of raging disintegration of mind and body that happens when I'M FUCKING SICK. I almost feel insulted by the whole thing. I have to stay in BED? I'm at the mercy of ANTIBIOTICS? No. So given that I hate being sick and am insulted by it, I make really stupid decisions.
Example. I was Sick (vs Not-Sick) on Tuesday, so I called in sick and went to the doctor, who said, "Huh. You have exudative strep. THAT looks painful." You think? But whatever, all things considered, strep is a good horrible thing to have because 24 hours later and you're good to go. Right? Wrong. I've spent the whole week pathetically going from bed to couch dragging my blankie behind me like Linus.
Yesterday I developed a Bad Cough. Not a hack-hack cough, but an "I may see my toenails come up with this junk, and if I do I will not be surprised" cough. I peered into my throat and noted giant white pockets of goo (naturally I took a picture of them to gross people out with). I rummaged through my fairly extensive home pharmacy and took my prescribed Lortab and Albuterol plus Tessalon and Mucinex (along with Motrin obviously) and hot tea (is it just me, or are all ER nurses secretly convinced that Tylenol and Motrin will fix almost anything?). No cough should be able to stand up to that onslaught. Mine did. My cough and I finally fell into a fitful sleep around 4AM this morning---a not-unusual time for me to fall asleep. I know now what "fitful sleep" entails. It means you wake up every few friggin' minutes hacking up a lung and there's zero chance of getting any useful sleep. Also my apartment got intolerably cold. I found this odd because spring has come and it's been really warm outside, yet I was shaking under my blankets to the point my teeth actually chattered. Teeth chatter! I found out the meanings of all kinds of clichés this morning.
So the brilliant NNR ended up in bed zipped into her winter coat. Not the fleece I-can-wear-this-indoors coat, but the I-could-ski-in-subzero-weather coat. Still coughing. And inexplicably thinking, "It's only 8AM. By the time I sleep all day, I'll probably be FINE for work tonight!" Yeah. I woke up a few hours later in increased misery, and a flash of insight drilled through my layers of stupidity: I might have a fever! Yes! So I began the task of Finding the Thermometer. If you're a nurse you don't need to be told about this, but to outsiders: there is a fact of life which dictates that nurses can never ever find thermometers or Band-Aids. Many of us cease to even try to own either unless we have children. I think there is a God of Nursing who, like Kokopelli, is mischievous and dedicated to stuff like hiding our thermometers and whisking away our stethoscopes once laid down on the counter at work. I emerged victorious with my thermometer (which was under my pile of cleaning rags in the back of my hall closet, far away from the medicine cabinet…obviously) and, shockingly, had a high fever. Which can, of course, be fixed by Tylenol and Motrin, like most things. So I took the magical gram of Tylenol and 800 mg of Motrin and went back to bed. In my coat.
And woke up 2 hours later drenched in sweat. DRENCHED. Because I failed to recall that normal people with functioning hypothalamic thermostats do not sleep in ski coats when it's 70 degrees outside. Yes. I do have an IQ in the Mensa range. Also, I was coughing even worse because I failed to repeat all my cough medicines. It was at that point that I admitted defeat and called off work tonight. Which makes me feel guilty. Why? Because I'm a presenteeist.
You would think that nurses would be smarter than this about being sick, but you'd be wrong. I think we're all idiots when we ourselves are sick. If anyone needs me, I'll be on the couch with my blankie.