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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The "It's not exactly swine, and it's not exactly flu" flu

I had started to feel the effects late Friday evening. I was having a great time at Texas Hold'em at a friends house. I've been playing with the same guys for years and I've changed my style quite a bit recently, so much so that one person grumbled, "last year I would have known he was bluffing, but this year I can't take the chance." It didn't matter, a few hands later I had his chips and he could only wait for the eventual cash game. It wasn't until my pocket aces met a pair of pocket kings that I slowed down. A king on the River ended my night (curses!) Normally I would shoot pool for the rest of the evening, but I suddenly didn't feel myself. I headed home early and went to bed long before I normally would have.

Saturday morning, I woke and felt like someone had taken a pool cue to me (not that I know what the feels like, I'm just imagining). My body ached, my throat hurt, and my chest was full of something disgusting. To top it off I had a 102.5 fever. The wife immediately wanted me to go the the local immediate care, but I'm not that fond of doctors in general, much less the poor slob who got stuck on a Saturday handling the really sick. I told her I would, but I really had no intention of going. 2 hours later when I still couldn't shake the headache that came with it, I grudgingly drove to the clinic.

Most times I've been in immediate care clinics were with my children. And typically, I've found that the children's version tends to be cleaner and all over more fun (hey, they have video games for the kids [which is another great way to spread disease, thus keeping those places rolling in the dough, but that is a topic for another day]). Adult versions tend to be dark office spaces with gloomy people sitting around. They always make me feel worse than I already feel. And they are always over crowded, with too many sick people for the few doctors on duty. Sit back and enjoy your swim in the sick soup, because if you weren't sick before, plan to be now. "Hey doc, I may be fine, but give me a prescription for the last 4 people you saw..."

Imagine my surprise when this clinic was not only bright and cheery. It was empty. With the exception of one young woman who, judging by the expressions on her face, was about to die (not really, but she was in some serious pain). Even with the lack of crowd, it still took them 45 minutes to see me. By then my headache had finally subsided, but the rattle in the chest had become more severe. I explained my symptoms to the nurse: headache, congestion, 102 fever, body aches, weakness, etc. "Let's test you for strep," she said. First, let me clue you in on something, there is a "just short of epidemic" occurance of the Swine Flu locally. Three kids on my block have already had it, a couple of colleagues have had it (one still has it). It's all you hear on the news each night. You would think with that much exposure, her first instinct would be to test for that, just to alleviate the patients already preconceived notions, right?

Have you ever had the strep test? They take a cotton swab on a stick and shove it down your throat until you gag up any germs that may reside there. I almost bit the stick in two with my automatic reaction. That was extremely unpleasant. 30 minutes later - No Strep. "Let's test for the flu." Really? Are you sure?

I thought the first test was unpleasant. Holy crap! For the flu, they stick a smaller version of the swab on a stick up your nose and swirl it around. You can't gag with that! Remember that scene in Total Recal where Arnold pulls out the tracking device from his nose? Imagine how that would feel. Trust me, it feels just like you think it does. Another 30 minutes of waiting and then I finally get to see the doctor. In walks a short, obviously pregnant, and obviously paranoid about it, doctor. She was wearing a mask to keep people like me from harming her future progeny, but she at least drew a cute cat face on it, complete with whiskers. Why is it that when you go to these clinics, you have to tell everyone exactly the same thing. The doctor asked, "so what brings you here today?" My first instinct was to reply, "well, I told the receptionist I had the clap, and I told the nurse that I have Lou Gerigh's disease, but for you I've currently got Baron Munchausen's Syndrome." Don't they compare notes at all? Why is it that I have to repeat the same damn thing over and over again. I had already been at the clinic for 1:30 minutes, 30 of that just relating the same story over. But I didn't, because I'm really a nice guy. Really!

"Well, you don't have strep, and we don't see any signs of that nasty flu. You've picked up some virus and there isn't anything we can do for you except to let it run its course." Great! A wasted morning. At least the wife was relieved that I wasn't about to start the mother of all plagues.

It may have not been the flu, but it kicked my ass worse than any flu ever has. I slept off and on all day Saturday while drinking plenty of fluids. Saturday night, I ended up with a chill that rocked my body so bad that I was violently shaking to the point that even going to the bathroom was impossible (and yes the wife made me clean up the next day). Sunday and Monday came and went with me sleeping an average of 18 hours a day. Today I feel fine and I've got that after party sexy voice going on (at least it sounds that way in my head). This was so bad that I've got to give it a name. From henceforth, this no name virus is called the Run Amok Virus (because that is what it did to me). Aptly named! Regardless, I'm back and feeling only a little under the weather for all my trials.

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