PDR Update: Oh yeah, I should do an update.

It occurs to me that, as far as my website knows, I never got better from my illness. Well, I am here to say that on June 15th I was told that I appeared to be healthy and had the PICC Line removed from my arm. In the almost-a-month since then, I have been trying to regain the strength that I lost during my downtime, and I have been working a lot to make up for the time I had not been working.

At the start of 2017 I made a list of things I planned to get done this year. We’ve recently passed the halfway point, and I do think I am more than halfway through the list even with the time my illness lost me. The only problem is that I did all the easiest stuff on the list, and now I have to focus on the harder stuff. And, of course, life is a constant parade of things that want me to not be doing what I want to do. More than anything, what I need is time to work on my things, but something always comes up to chisel away at that time.

Naturally, the first and hardest thing on the list is to finish SecGov. I fully intend to finish it this year, but there is so much drawing left to do, and that is the part of the process that I least enjoy. I said, going into this last story, that I didn’t want to cut anything because I didn’t feel up to drawing it. That woulda been nice, but it is an unrealistic goal. If I want to finish the story at all, I’m going to have to dial back from my plans. Ah well.

In any case, time permitting, I will continue busting through my goals and the fact I was sick for three months won’t end up mattering. Time permitting.

PDR Update: The Re-Return of the Illness

Picking up where my last report on my health left off, let’s see how my month has been going.

Friday April 28

This was, overall, a typical day until my daily antibiotics treatment, during which the nurse was unable to get anything to move through the PICC line, so I had to go to the ER to get my treatment. There was a wait of a few hours at the waiting room, but once I got in it took almost no time for them to get me going. I was out once I had my stuff pumped into me.

It was, however, this day that I had to admit to myself that I was coughing a lot. More than I ought to be considering I was supposed to be getting better.

Saturday April 29

I woke up this Saturday with a distinct taste of blood in my mouth and the coughing continued. Considering my medical history of the last few months, I thought maybe I ought to get that looked at. I went back to ER. It seems that the triage people didn’t think it was all that important, because even though I had the symptoms that had left me hospitalized weeks earlier, with the addition of the tastebloods, I was the last person to get in. Every person who had been in the waiting room before me, as well as every person who came in while I was waiting, got in until I was the last person in the waiting room. When I did finally get in, they did an x-ray that showed my lung had fluid in it again! That was annoying. They arranged for my next clinic appointment to be pushed up to…

Thursday May 4

I went to an appointment at a busy clinic where my doctor told me they would push up my next scheduled CT scan to check on the fluid. It seemed like a good plan, so I went home with that knowledge. Meanwhile, the cough continued to worsen.

Saturday May 6

I don’t know if voiding the contents of my stomach because I am coughing too much is actually the same as regular vomitting. I mean, I admit that it probably still counts as vomitting, but it felt different to me when it happened this night. Still, I guess I need to count this as the new marker when measuring my next vomitless streak. I feel like I’m not going to get another decade-long one of those any time soon. Anyway, the cough continued to worsen.

Tuesday May 9 to Saturday May 13

The cough reached a point where it was as bad as, or possible worse than it was when I first got hospitalized. Being me, I was just waiting for the call about that CT scan, but enough people finally convinced me I needed to get looked at more urgently that I was soon back to the ER. This time, though, triage determined that I had a fever I was not even aware of, so I got in pretty quick. As they gave me my daily antibiotics (I had left home before getting them) and treated my fever, it was soon determined I would be staying in hospital again. Indeed, I was soon transferred* back to the very room I had stayed in before (though not the same bed). The news I got was that the fluid in my lungs had actually receded since the last x-rays that told me they were refilling. That was good. The bad news was that my immune system was in terrible shape, with white blood cells about as low as possible. They ran a whole battery of tests on my blood and found not much. As they treated me, the white blood cells started coming back and eventually I was allowed back out, though now I have to get weekly blood tests and the length of time for which I will be getting daily antibiotics has been lengthened by a couple weeks after which they will decide if it will go further or not.

*This transfer was my first ambulance ride in my life. Any enjoyment I got from that was mitigated by the fact I had an extreme coughing fit that last pretty much the entire five-minute trip. I have no idea if this fit was triggered by the ride, or if it was a coincidence, but it sure happened.

Tuesday May 16

After a few days back on the regular antibiotics routine, I noticed that I am actually breathing better. I had barely noticed when I was breathing worse, but today I could tell that I was breathing better. And the cough was lessened as well. Let’s hope this trend continues.

PDR Update: What of the Illness?

Last time on PDR Update: I had been released from the hospital and was healing up after some lung stuff.

Phase Wherever I Was

After getting out of the hospital, I went through a week or so of days that blur together almost as much as the hospital stay. I got back to the apartment, sure, but I was pretty limited in what I could do. Eventually I finally got the dressing on my back changed to one that allowed me to shower. That was a really big deal for me. I missed showering. I got shaved, I got a haircut, I got new shoes. Many things that made me feel more human again. I still needed (and still do as of this writing) to be home every day for a time period so I can get my antibiotics injections, but mostly I have freedom. Because I still couldn’t do much, the days were still long and boring.

Sunday April 23

This was the first night when I tried to work It was a busier night than I was hoping it would be. Students are still in town. When they are gone, things’ll slow down. Unfortunately, as a delivery person, part of my job involves lifting things and I have been warned that, for three more weeks, I am not supposed to lift more than ten pounds at a time. I don’t actually know how much ten pounds is, but it doesn’t sound like much. I probably did lift more than that on a couple occasions during the night, but you know who can’t afford three more weeks of not working? The guy who has already missed about a month’s worth of shifts because of this crap.

Monday April 24

Well, when I woke up on Monday I sure did have fresh blood around the base of my PICC Line. It wasn’t a lot, but it did make me more nervous about lifting things. The warning about weight, I thought, was supposed to be about not wanting to open the tube-hole in my back that goes to my lungs, but I guess I have to worry about the tube in my arm that travels through my veins to my heart as well. Figures.

Tuesday April 25

I can’t remember if anything in particular happened on Tuesday. But since I can’t remember what day I started thinking “Being sick involves more running errands than I would have thought,” so I’ll put it in the Tuesday section. Doing things like picking up more antibiotics forces me out in the daytime hours and has complicated my efforts to put myself back on my proper nocturnal schedule. Adding to the problem is that I have to be home for the antibiotics treatments, so I’ve only got the windows between my waking up and the treatment and between my treatment and when things close to get out there. Oh well. I am pro-antibiotics if they are what is killing my infection.

Wednesday April 26

This night, I also worked. I am told that it was the last day for students to be in town, so it may be easier from this point on, but it was still decently busy. I did at one point ask a cook to help me carry my bag to the car, so I was probably being more sensible. That may be why I did not wake up with any new blood having leaked from my arm the next day.

Thursday April 27

Today being two weeks from my release from the hospital, I had to go to a walk-in clinic for a visit to the waiting room, followed by a brief checkup with a doctor. I was told that I am “on the road to recovery” which is certainly good to know. I was less happy to learn that my left lung is still not getting the air it should be. I had been living under the assumption that as soon as I was drained and released from hospital, I was back in the ol’ two-lung club, but I guess it is going to take some time. Basically that means that all the extra energy I thought I had now and had attributed to getting more oxygen or whatever was a placebo effect. I am still not getting that extra oxygen. Gimme that oxygen!

But anyway, I am still getting those daily antibiotics. They’ll kill the infection and I’ll get that lung open for me. Sure they will.

PDR Update: I Had Still Been Ill

When last I PDR Updated, I thought I had gotten better and just had a minor lingering cough. As suggested by the fact I am doing another post about it, I was not back to full health.

Phase Four: March 22 to April 3

This is the period in which I thought I was on the mend. I was working and, though I was lethargic, was mostly living as normal. The only suspicion I had of the cough that wouldn’t go away was that, at least once a day, I would go into a serious coughing fit wherein my body would try for about ten minutes at a time to get something to come up, but nothing ever would. It was annoying, and even occasionally painful, but I just assumed it was a quirk of the cough that would go away with the rest of it.

The Weekend O’ Healing

On Monday and Tuesday the third and fourth of April, I did not work for two nights. I decided this was the weekend I was going to get rid of the cough. I bought various things from the pharmacy that either looked like they might help (such as this vaporizer thing that is supposed to throw out healthy fumes), or which I had been recommended by people (Epsom salts, I was told, might make a bath more healthy). And I continued all the healthy stuff I had been trying for weeks (as an example, Google had told me that pineapple juice was good for breaking up phlegm, so I had drunk tons of the stuff. Those examples are the tip of the iceberg, but I did all that and also slept as much as possible. I figured that, if all of that couldn’t get rid of the cough, nothing could.

Wednesday April 5

I worked again this night. The cough was still there.

Thursday April 6

I finally caved in to the advice of family and friends that I should go into a clinic and get the cough looked at. I was certain I would be told that it was just a normal cough and not to worry about it and it would be a waste of everyone’s time. Instead, about five minutes after I got there, I was on my way to get x-rays at the hospital. About five minutes after I got the results of the x-rays, I was being booked for surgery.

Phase Five: The Hospital

I was brought to a room in the thoracic section of the hospital. Time was meaningless for me there, so I can no longer go chronologically with my notes. The medical situation first: I apparently had a lung that was sealed off, full of fluid, and collapsed. Because I looked healthy and was walking under my own power and stuff, the doctor figured it probably wasn’t infected. That is, until we got a tube in my back and began draining it and found out that it was VERY infected. I believe that I was told that if they knew how infected it was, I would not have been given the slow draining tube surgery, but would have been brought in for a proper cut-me-open surgery. But we were draining, and the fluid was coming out of me, slowly. They would, once a day, put a chemical into the tube to break up the gunk sealing the lung, and the rest of the time, the tube was used to drain whatever comes out. That was my life for that time. The tube in my back did, of course, make it hard to find a sitting/sleeping position that wasn’t incredibly awkward. I went for x-rays and ct scans multiple times, the latter including radioactive dye being put in my blood. I got a “PICC Line” stuck in my arm, which is another tube (I am an expert at getting tubes in me by this point) that goes in my arm straight to my heart. I am certain I have forgotten things about my stay, but… I kind of want to.

Mentally, the stay was worse. As I said, I felt mostly fine. I certainly wasn’t in a state of mind where I thought I needed to be stuck there, so the fact that I actually needed to be stuck there was pretty galling. I got pretty restless in there.

Thursday April 13

This was the day I got out of the hospital! And then had a nap! And then went back to the hospital!

In the morning, the tube in my back was removed and I actually got freed from the hospital not much later. It was pretty great. Because my infection is so bad, I am going to, for six-weeks, be visited daily by nurses who will administer an antibiotic through my PICC Line. I basically slept until it was time for that only to be told by the nurse who arrived that my PICC Line was clogged and I had to go to the ER to get it unclogged. That meant I spent six hours of my “first night out of the hospital” back in the hospital. And given that the PICC Line is already giving problems, I am imagining the worst. I don’t even know what kind of surgery I’ll require if the PICC Line clog turns out to be a daily thing. It’s going to be annoying to find out…

Update From Later That Night

Friday April 14

Well, I made it through today’s visit with the nurse who uses my PICC Line without finding out that it had re-clogged. I made it through today. That gives me a little more confidence, if a temporary kind of confidence.

PDR Update: I Have Been Ill

I don’t get sick very often, this is true. I am very lucky in that respect. I did note that in the years I was going back to school, I was a lot more likely to get a cold or whatever, but even that just lasted a day or two. And I’m not in school right now. But these last three weeks are, as far as I can remember, the sickest I have ever been in my life. If that isn’t something I should document here on my website, I don’t know what is. So here are the gross details:

Phase One: February 26 to March 4

This was the point when I just felt like it was the usual kind of sickness that comes up every year or two. I had a cough, but I was just going to tough it out until it was over, as I usually do. Although I did note that I had a very sore back, which was making it hard to sleep, but for all I knew, I had pulled a muscle. I couldn’t even be sure the sore back was connected to the cough. There was, I admit, one night while, after making a delivery for work, I drove back to my apartment because I thought I might vomit. I didn’t vomit, though, so I figured it was probably okay. I mean, I had my flu shot. How bad could this be?

Saturday March 4

This was the night when the pain got to be too much even for my patented “ignore it until it goes away” technique. There was a sharp, stabbing pain with any inhalation deep enough to actually fill my lungs, and when I inhaled for a cough, it could cause me to fall over. I not only decided to take the night off of work, but actually went to the hospital for the first time that didn’t involve blood or broken bits in at least fifteen years. I am the sort who hates to burden a hospital with my presence (aka, who feels guilty when a hospital has to do its purpose for me), but I still went in, my pain was that bad. They took me in, did the x-rays, examined me with the various things they have. They gave me pills. In the end I don’t remember exactly what they said I had (there was some pneumonia in there and some other stuff), but the phrase “chest is full of viruses” was part of it. They recommended a kind of anti-inflammatory medicine for me to pick up. I was in and out in under five hours, which seemed good from my understanding of hospital wait times. I admit that getting to the pharmacy to pick up the pills wasn’t fun, but I did it and got home. (As a side-note that I am not about to give its own post, during the Phase One week I witnessed a car accident and while I was in the waiting room this night, a police officer came to take my statement. Made the time go more quickly. I recommend this when you plan hospital visits.)

End of Phase One: March 5

On Sunday the 5th, I just took it easy. I didn’t go into work, and I just lay in bed, in pain, unable to sleep. I was mildly confident that my pills would fix me up, if I could just get some sleep, which is how I usually deal with sickness. But sleep is not coming. I can not stay down for more than an hour at a time, and each session of sleep is full of strange dreams. In one of my dreams I was some sort of starfish-like blob that was part of a hivemind. In another I was a rhino-like animal that was being mutated with some kind of biological modifications and moving in a convoy with other similar animals to some strange goal. If I were told that I was dreaming the viruses’ dreams, I would believe it. It was all very strange and very tiring.

Monday March 6

At about four in the morning I awoke with extreme pain, the worst yet. I considered calling for an ambulance, it was so bad, but instead I made it to the bathroom, where I would be spending a lot of time in the coming days. At this point I began keeping notes on my phone of what was happening. I guess I wanted to be sure that if I died, my last hours would be described. I spend a lot of Monday in the bathroom.

Tuesday March 7

Tuesday is a similar day to Monday (in fact, with the lack of sleep it was essentially the same day) with lots of pain and lots of sitting on the bathroom floor. At one point I did sleep for an hour or so and have a dream in which I had a HUD display on my vision that gave me details about my health. I was disappointed to learn this was not true when I woke up. This is, for the record, the day I start spitting down the drain almost more often than I swallow my own saliva, in the hopes that I will be getting some of the infection out of me every time. Who knows if it helped any.

Wednesday March 8

Wednesday started off in the same way, but at about 9:40 in the morning, something good happened: I vomitted! A reading of my various illnesses catalogued on this site will reveal that I don’t generally consider it good to vomit, but I do consider the vomit here to have been a turning point toward getting better. And, as always, I have marked the date so I will be able to calculate how long my next vomitless streak is. Anyway, having puked, I feel a little better. My notes say that I am starting to find it more possible to lay comfortably in bed. Also this afternoon I go to the grocery store to get some supplies, though I note that the trip leaves me sweating and out of breath. I also noted that four times on Wednesday my body tried to sneeze, but at the sudden inhalation, my lungs felt the great pain and panicked and I was unable to sneeze. Four times.

Phase Three Begins: Thursday March 9 to Saturday March 11

By Thursday the pain in my back was basically gone. The pain in my lung was better, but still present. I could not breathe deeply, but I was definitely improved. I was essentially over the worst of it. But it was still bad. I still could not sleep for any amount of time. And my lungs were still problematic. You know when you suddenly become aware of your breathing and you have to consciously control it for a while until you can forget it and it goes back on the unconscious controls. By this point, I was realizing that I felt like I had been on conscious control of my lungs for a week. It was exhausting. Also during this phase I began trying to cleanse my lungs by initiating deep coughing fits in the hopes that it will bring up what is in my lungs. I do this until I am slumped on the floor, aching in muscles I didn’t even know were involved with coughing. At no point does this ever work, but it feels like the only thing to do, so I keep trying.

Sunday March 12

On Sunday, I got a call from the doctor I had seen a week earlier. They had reviewed my x-rays from my visit and decided to check up on me, and to give me a prescription for anti-biotics. I start taking these pills immediately thinking this time I am for sure going to get better.

The Rest of Phase Three

And so that’s how it was for the second week. I wasn’t in pain anymore, so in my mind I should be better and able to walk around and do things, but nope. I was still dizzy and short of breath. I still went into coughing fits that never seemed to clear my lungs. It wasn’t until Saturday the 18th that I was well enough that I could work (I missed eight shifts in total, and am therefore broker even than usual). Even now I am not at 100%. My prescription has run out, but I went to the pharmacist and was recommended some gross syrup medicine that will hopefully help me chase away the remains of the cough.

Anyway, as I am sure I have already said, this is the most sick I have ever been. I feel like other people probably deal with this sort of thing more often and I am a weakling for buckling under so thoroughly, but I couldn’t help it. This has also been my least productive month in years. Keeping in mind that all the posts that have gone up in this time were scheduled months ago, so this post is the first real writing I have done since February. Even reading was too much for me for most of the month. But I am back on track. Now let’s hope I never ever get sick again.