Until this week, I thought only old guys got pneumonia. They go to the hospital, get cut on a bit, then develop pneumonia while their frail, whithered bodies are trying to recover.
Then I got it myself at the buffet line.
I was supposed to eat at a steakhouse Saturday night, so I opted for a lunch of soup, salad and fish off the buffet at a restaurant not far from here. In trying to make a healthy choice, I ran afoul of some miserable bastard who not only couldn’t be bothered to keep his sick ass home, he had to go to a restaurant and put his germ-ridden hands all over someone else’s food.
“But Mike,” you might be thinking, “maybe they didn’t know they had it.”
Trust me, you know you’re sick when this gets a grip on you. The aches and chills started Monday morning, and by Monday night the thermometer hit 101.9 degrees (that’s Fahrenheit, of course) but I was so cold my teeth were chattering out the Morse code version of the short story I should have been working on.
Tuesday morning brought on 102.9 and I felt like I hadn’t had anything to drink for a week. I got out of bed and swore the Wife left a window open, so I threw a sweatshirt on over my t-shirt and crawled to the computer. Ten minutes later I ran shivering to bed and piled another blanket on top of the sheet, blanket, and comforter already there.
Like I said, you know you’re frickin’ sick, and if you have half a brain in your head you know you don’t go out and about when this stuff gets its hands on you, much less go around touching food someone else is going to eat. If there is any justice at all on this miserable planet, the guy who carried it to the restaurant coughed up a lung, choked on it, and died.
When I hit 103.6 I realized it probably wasn’t a good choice to catch up on the last five issues of Fall of Cthulhu. Talk about strange fever dreams…
That night? Diarrhea. Yeah. It really weirded me out, too, until I realized the greenish hue probably came from the knock-off NyQuil I’d been sucking down like maple syrup. I thought if I mixed in some cherry cough syrup I could at least be festively sick, but the Wife disagreed. She also refused to assist in any way, shape or form with my mad experiments and stashed away all the kids’ cough medicines.
I threw in the towel on Wednesday and went to the doctor. The local guy’s name is Dr. Stoecker, and I thought maybe it was a good omen that it’s pronounced “Stoker.” I filled out a half-inch thick stack of paperwork, then waited. And waited some more. Then I was escorted to a room where the nurse took my vitals and asked to wait for the doctor. So I waited.
And waited some more.
While I was waiting I got a phone call. This particular individual’s assigned ringtone is the bagpipe portion of “Amazing Grace” as played by the Dropkick Murphys. I honestly thought I was at my own funeral for the first ten seconds, and a minute later I was still giggling like an idiot when the doctor walked in. This is what I get for deciding it would be a good idea to hold off on the ibuprofen so the doctor could get an accurate picture of my symptoms. In a more lucid moment later that day, I realized this is like refusing a tourniquet for a severed arm so the doctor can find the arteries.
The doc prescribed some heavy-duty prescription cough syrup and set me up for some chest x-rays. I was rather disappointed to discover the cough syrup was clear. Later, during the x-rays, I refrained from making Bruce Banner jokes. The nurse wrangling the nuclear isotopes was rather hot, see, so I thought of two things:
- Any nerdy comic book references from a chubby dude sweating steadily and radiating his excessive fever heat to a distance of five feet will probably have come off as significantly less than clever.
- Hot young nurses aren’t within the comic book demographic, so the joke would have been lost on her and will probably have come off as significantly less than clever.
Lose-lose situations mean keep your mouth shut. While I’m sure it would have been a great story to tell had I ripped off my shirt and screamed “Hulk smash!” in the middle of the radiology department, I’m sure mace would not have contributed in any positive way to my pneumonia.
That night I looked at the side effects for my two new drugs. In the left hand, diarrhea. In the right, constipation. Safe! Then I read a later section in the pamphlet that came with the antibiotic, a section labeled PRECAUTIONS:
General: Quinolones may cause central nervous system (CNS) events, including: nervousness, agitation, insomnia, anxiety, nightmares, or paranoia.
And I have seven more doses to go.
This Christmas is going to rock!
I’ll give the antibiotic credit, though — it knocked the fever out yesterday. By that evening I was ready to eat again, and today I was back at work. Not that it did a lot of good; we had early dismissal today and the two-week winter break starts Monday. I guess I just have to wait at home for the nightmares and paranoia to kick in.
I asked the Wife if she noticed any anxiety or agitation in me yet.
“Oh, yeah,” she said. “It started about eleven years ago.”
About Mike Oliveri
Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.