Friday, November 18, 2005

Be Careful What You Wish For

(or "Not Just Another Pretty Face")

Early last week--the week of November 7-11, that is--I was in the heat of crunch time at work, faced with a flurry of activity brought on by yet another deadline, and I was allowing myself to indulge in a little bit of wishful thinking. Wouldn't it be nice, I thought, if somehow I could manage to get away from work for a few days? Not to go anywhere or to do anything specific, but just to have a few days away, to wind down, to get recharged for another busy month.


The deadline was on Wednesday. I got through that with no problem. All day on Thursday, though, I felt pretty rough. I hadn't slept very well the night before, though, so I figured I was just tired. I took a short nap when I got home that evening, and that didn't really help. I had a hard time waking up, and Brandi thought I had a fever. I went to bed early that night, hoping to nip whatever it was in the bud and get through the week.

That didn't happen. I woke up early Friday morning with an excruciating headache, a bit of a sore throat, and just a crappy feeling in general. I called off work and went back to bed, sleeping well into the afternoon. I felt a little better when I woke up, but still, Brandi and I decided to spend a quiet evening at home instead of going to the football game we had planned on attending.

I had another headache when I woke up on Saturday, and I was just stiff and sore in general. At this point I thought I was probably still throwing off whatever mild illness that was bothering me, so I didn't think too much of it. As the day wore on, though, I started noticing that blisters were forming on my forehead and on my neck and shoulders. I still didn't think too much of it, though. There were only a few, and I assumed they were just a weird side effect and would pass with everything else.

When I woke up on Sunday, my face, neck, shoulders, back, chest, and arms were all fairly covered in blisters. A quick check of WebMD confirmed it: I had come down with a case of the chicken pox. I somehow missed it as a kid, despite being exposed to it at least a couple of times. It got me this time, though. I have no clue where it came from, and I suppose it really doesn't matter.

Needless to say, I got the time off from work that I had wished for. You can rest assured that this was not the way I wanted to spend it, though. The rash didn't really itch until late Sunday night, and then it kicked into an incredibly high gear. It was so intense that I couldn't sleep that night. The word "itching" doesn't even do it justice. It was like itching, searing pain, and being poked with fire, all at the same time. The worst of it was on my scalp, and there was nothing I could do to make it better.

Brandi had to work and go to class on Monday, and in her absence I suffered. I hesitate to use that word in most circumstances, but I can't think of a better one for this. I was in bad shape. She had left behind some prescription itching medication she had left over from a few weeks ago, and I tried taking some of that despite the fact that I don't swallow pills very well (stemming from several traumatic childhood events). It didn't help. I tried to sleep, which wasn't happening, no matter where or how I positioned myself. I tried covering myself in sheets; I tried lying under and on wet towels; I tried aloe. I took two showers (the itching eased while I was in, but immediately resumed when I came out) and an oatmeal bath (the same). Nothing was helping, and I was really ready to go crazy. When Brandi got home that evening, she was gracious enough to go immediately back out and get some Benadryl I could take. When she returned, I embraced the medication, swallowing four tablespoons of liquid Benadryl and two tablets on top of that. Then I settled myself on the couch to watch Monday Night Football and wait for the itching to cease.

I remember nothing of Monday Night Football. I had been awake for well over twenty-four hours at that point, hadn't eaten anything other than various medications all day, and when the Benadryl hit my system, it hit hard. My mom called at that point...I remember talking to her, I even remember some of the things we talked about, but I have no idea how I managed to hold a cogent conversation. Stuff was making either too much or not enough sense. Once I got off the phone, I think I was awake for approximately 0.04 seconds.

I slept almost entirely through Tuesday and Wednesday. I did manage to stay awake to see most of Bowling Green's win over the Miami Redhawks on ESPN2 on Tuesday night; other than that, it was just patches of consciousness here and there. When I was awake, it was mostly unpleasant. Of foremost concern to me was that the itching had faded back to a minor irritation, easily ignored, but beyond that I just felt like crap. I was tired, I was sore, I couldn't get comfortable, and I couldn't tell if I was running a fever or not.

When I woke up on Thursday, I felt a whole lot better. Not 100%, but better. I actually got up off the couch and did some minor stuff. As the day wore on, I realized that I was hungry for the first time in days. To celebrate, Brandi ordered pizza for us when she got home. I wasn't ready to eat a whole lot of it, but what I did eat was awesome.

Today, I'm nearly back to normal, at long last. I'm still taking things easy, and I still can't go anywhere for right now because I'm technically still contagious until the rest of these blisters get crusty and gross like the rest, but at least I'm back to feeling like myself. Of course, the fact that I still have all these crusty blisters, mostly on my face, means that I don't look like myself yet. I look like the Wrath of God is being visited upon me, to be honest. That'll come, though. I'm just glad the worst is over, and things can start getting back to normal.

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