Friday, June 8, 2007

Wednesday Night Fever

Well...I didn't think much of the shaking at first. I was shivering for no apparent reason, and had a sick feeling in my stomach, but since I'd never had a fever before that I could remember, I wasn't too worried about it. I concentrated more on bundling myself under the duvet and trying not to wake Tiff up. My main thought, and after careful review I realize that it was a ridiculous one, was that I'd eaten the bag of chips too close to bedtime. I'd been trying not to snack too late in the evening, so I was figuring that by going back to it, I'd made myself feel a little under the weather. I was hoping for one of two things to happen: that I'd have to vomit and get rid of whatever was causing my discomfort, or that I'd fall asleep and wake up feeling just fine, albeit a little tired after missing some sleep. I didn't think that were any other options for what could happen next.

It turns out that I eventually fell asleep, although I was awakened shortly thereafter by the alarm clock. Tiff and her mother had taken to going to the gym at 5:30 or something ridiculous like that for the previous week or so, and on occasion I'd get up with them to work on an article or fiddle around with writing. It wasn't working so well for me. 5:30 is a time my body's not made to experience unless I'm still awake from the night before and watching a Fat Actress marathon on TV. Anyway, I digress. When the alarm went off, I knew pretty much right away that I couldn't get up, and after a bit of discussion, Tiff decided to stay home from the gym since we didn't think it would be good for me to be with Gabby if she woke up, since we didn't want her to get sick. Tiff, who is much smarter than me, knew right away when I told her of my experience from a couple hours earlier that I had a fever. We found Gabby's thermometer, and it confirmed what she knew. My temp was 104ish, if memory serves. Apparently, although I didn't really realize it at the time, 104 is pretty high for a temperature.

Tiff made it clear that she didn't want me to go to work that day. I protested a little(although I have no idea why, maybe my delusional brain was already showing itself?) but finally agreed to take the day off. She made sure to put some Ginger Ale in the fridge, and to bring me a bottle of water, and she was off to work.

The next couple of days are a bit hazy,(in fact the next week entirely is a bit hazy) but I do remember watching Thirteen Days on that first day off. This becomes important later on in the story...well...maybe not important, but at least something of interest. I didn't eat anything at all that day, and even had trouble swallowing the Ginger Ale, which was really unfortunate since it had been quite an ordeal walking to the fridge to get it. My dry mouth and achy stomach were telling me that the Canada Dry was my salvation, but with every step I felt like I was going to vomit on the floor.

At some point that first evening, Tiff tried to force me to eat some toast. I managed to push and hold down 6 or 7 pieces...for about 15 seconds before throwing them back up into the basin next to the bed. Tiff had also started suggesting I go to a walk-in clinic or the ER, but I scoffed at these ideas. I was invincible, remember. There was no way in hell I was going to the hospital. Strangely, after throwing up the toast I felt much better, and my fever had gone down. I went to bed that night thinking I'd be going to work the next day.

Going to work didn't quite work out for me. When my temperature was back up in the morning, Tiff again insisted I take the day off. I again protested, since for some reason I didn't want to miss 2 straight days of work. We should have known then that there was something seriously wrong, possibly with my brain, but neither of us clicked in on my apparent lunacy.

So I skipped work again, and Tiff even stayed home to watch over me. I remember even less of this day than the one before, but I do remember her suggesting I try taking a bath to see if it would make me feel better. In reality, she was probably just suggesting this since I hadn't showered in a couple days, but it was nice of her to give another reason. I was wary, but I finally agreed and lazed in bed while she got the water running, set out some towels, and placed a basin next to the tub for vomitting puposes. When it was ready, I stumbled my way across our apartment to the bathroom, got undressed, and sunk into the nice warm suds. It felt nice...very nice...for about a minute or so. Luckily Tiff had brought that basin, because I was soon puking up the soup I'd tried eating a little while before. The only other thing I remember is waking up at some point with a searing pain in my left forearm, just below my elbow. I assumed I'd just slept on it wrong, but it was pretty excruciating. The only thing I could do to even slightly alleviate the pain was to hold my arm at a 90 degree angle right up against my body. This was by no means comfortable, but kept the pain to a 9 on a scale of 10, as opposed to an 11 or 12.

Throughout the day Tiff kept talking about going to the doctor's, and I kept sloughing her off. I kept telling her I'd sweat it out and get over it, but she insisted. Finally I'd agreed to go to the walk-in clinic, but I didn't want to go to the ER, because this wasn't an "emergency". I figured I'd just get some anti-biotics and I'd be on my way home.

Tiff's mom had picked up Gabby from day care before coming to get us for the walk-in. She kept the car running while I got into clothes that were not pyjamas for the first time in days, and made my way up the stairs. About halfway up, my vision started faltering. Black spots started encroaching from the corners of my eyes, and I felt dizzy. I managed to make it a few more steps, and I slumped down at the top of the stairs for a rest.

The cold January air coming from the open doorway next to me was invogorating. After sweating away down in the bedroom for the past 36 hours or so, it felt like new life was breathing into me. I could do anything at that point. The air puffed away the black spots, opened up my sinuses, and blew away the creakiness in my joints and muscles. I stood up and walked to the car, no black spots, no stumbling, no feeling like vomitting. I got into the passenger seat, closed the door, and unrolled to window. I wasn't even sure I needed to go to the doctor's at all.

Tiff had a different idea though. She'd seen me struggle on the stairs, and told her mom to take us to the ER. I was about to argue, but then I felt the cold air coming through the open window. It was no longer invigorating. "I'm freezing" I said, as I rolled up the window and cradled my arm.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The saga begins...

I’d been invincible for almost 9 years before this past January. I’d lost my health card in August of ’98 and never had a reason to use it. Considering that during those years I’d totaled a car, fallen off another one and nearly gotten crushed (thanks, 3-pack), spent about a hundred Friday nights at the Kingdom, gotten into a car with my brother, eaten copious amounts of fast food, and hung out with my friend Ana, it’s really quite a miracle that I never once had to reach into (or had someone else reach into) my wallet to use the little white and red card. For whatever reason, on January 16th of 2007, I had decided to bite the bullet and sign up for a new one. Why this day, you ask? Maybe subconsciously I felt like I was pushing my luck, maybe I have some sort of ESP, or maybe, just maybe, I didn’t want Tiff bugging me about it anymore. Whatever the reason, on that day, I finally went out to get a new one. Did you know they have your picture on them now? It’s pretty cool stuff.
I had the day off that Tuesday, and after the 3-minute drive, the 4-minute wait, and the 10-minute discussion with the ornery lady behind the counter, I was all set to go and in possession of a temporary card to use until my cool new picture one arrived by mail. The rest of the day I had to myself…and to that relentless, evil-minded, and ridiculously cute 25-pound Tasmanian devil commonly known as our daughter, Gabby.
I had plans though, and I was pretty sure I’d be able to get through the day without suffering from exhaustion. First off, it was lunch time by the time I’d gotten back. Lunch is usually good for killing around a half-hour or so. After eating, she usually napped, then by the time she woke up, it would only be a couple hours of playtime shenanigans to get through before it was time to strap her into the car and pick up my wife Tiffany. I didn’t know the reason at the time, but recently I’d been having trouble keeping up with the Gabs, and a whole day with her would often leave me with a headache and an early bedtime (for the record, around that time, just about everything left me with a headache and the need to hit the sack early). I chalked it up to her getting older, and me getting old.
Lunch was good stuff. I decided to stretch out my budding culinary skills by eschewing the usual Kraft dinner and going for the chicken nuggets. I managed to not overcook the nuggets, and I only slightly overcooked the fries. The Nesquik, however, was perfectly mixed. I felt I was growing as a chef.
After the meal, I surveyed the immediate area around the high chair. We’d been watching the end of Evil Dead II with our meal, so I’d placed it in the TV room (or, more accurately for our apartment, the TV “area”). Noticing that most of the chicken was on the floor, and most of the fries were still sitting on the plate, I deduced that Gabby was too busy saying “Hi” to the Candarian demons on the screen to pay much attention to eating her lunch. And yes, you’d be right if you pointed out that I apparently was paying too much attention to the movie and not enough to Gabby’s diet. Does this make me a bad father? Not necessarily. I believe that we have to expose our children to the arts at a very young age, and that’s all I was trying to do.
It was in this spirit that I scooped up what was left of the fries, shoved them in my mouth, decided that Gabby desperately needed a nap as soon as possible (which meant that cleaning up would have to come later) and plunked Gabby down in our bed with a bottle. I slapped Army of Darkness, the third movie in the Evil Dead trilogy, into the DVD player (this kid’s gonna be a genius with all the culture I’m feeding her) put my arm under her head, and snuggled up for some serious daddy-daughter napping/TV time. She finished her bottle in record time, and while it took her a little bit longer since she still felt she had to say hello to a few of the zombies, she soon fell fast asleep in my arms.
Luckily for me, she slept right through the explosions (both of the flesh and fire varieties), the screaming, the adventurous music, and the snappy dialogue (“gimme some sugar, baby”) and literally woke up while the credits were rolling. This might have been because I poked her in the ribs and said “Gabby” in her ear, but you never know. Unlike her parents, Gabs is quick to rouse, and we were soon over in her room, playing with a train set and pretending to read books. By the time we had to leave to go get Tiff, I was exhausted and ready for a nap of my own, but happy nonetheless. I felt good, no headaches, and since I often worked evenings, I loved the nights that we were all home together.
I don’t remember what we had for dinner that night, although for some reason chicken rings a bell. I also don’t remember whether it was the Leafs or the Raptors on TV that night. I do remember watching a game while Tiffany was on the phone, and I remember consuming almost an entire bag of all-dressed chips, washed down with some more Nesquik. Life was fantastic. It was about 3am when I woke up shaking.