A week past Friday I had a cold. Well, I thought it was a cold. My throat ached. I felt a bit lethargic. I had a dry cough.
A week past Saturday. The throat ached more. I didn’t leave the house. I felt like a wreck. Late on Saturday the dry cough became productive. A couple of Strepsils and VapoRub on the chest would see that right.
Wrong. Through the night noises started in my chest I had never heard before, not in my own chest anyway. Whistling. Bubbling. Gurgling. I am sure there are more technical terms for them. I am sure I should know them. I’m sure all I was concentrating on was the noises. I could hardly breathe. A shift in position meant a ten minute or less respite for breathing.
Sunday. I decided that the doctor had to be called. I couldn’t relieve my breathing for any more than a few minutes. I could feel my pulse racing. Heart concentrating on keeping the lungs going. I couldn’t catch a breath.
The doctor phoned back. Not happy with my breathing, deciding I was definitely labouring, hospital please. A choice though. Western General or Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
I picked the WGH. A quieter hospital. No ED, should be easier to be seen. I was right. Plus closer to home.
Diagnosis: A chest infection. Tonsillitis.
No wonder I was feeling so bad, they said. Pretty ill. Don’t work.
You are not fit to work – they said – not for a while.
Your BP, pulse, they aren’t right. Could be the illness, we’ll see.
Handed a 14 day course of antibiotics. Don’t work. Reiterated.
What do you do with that when you’re a person who really can’t handle being ill for more than a couple of days at time?
You absolutely struggle to begin with. You think that sleep, the antibiotics, the paracetamol will help.
A visit to the doctor a few days later says my BP and pulse isn’t lowering. GP isn’t happy with my chest, signed off. Come back and see the nurse before the decision to recommence work is made. We’ll work from there.
I’m a week into a two week antibiotic course.
Do I have any energy?
Do I fuck. I have left the house precisely 3 times since this all started. Once to visit the hospital, once to visit the GP (slept for 6+ hours after), once to the supermarket ten minutes away. It took me an hour to recover enough to be able to go for a recovery snooze after that. (3 hours zonked sleep after). By recover I mean, catching your breath enough to allow yourself to relax in a breathing system that doesn’t make you feel like you’re gasping for breath.
People tell me that a chest infection is nothing. Is it? I’ll give you mine then. I have known lethargy like this before only once. When I was in primary school and I had Scarlatina and Glandular Fever at the same time and I was off for 6 weeks.
This lethargy, owed to a chest infection, has claimed 90% of my last 7 days. Two hours awake, doing nothing, means I owe my body at least 6 hours sleep.
You want this? I’m happy for you to have it. I don’t do lethargy or being unable to breath very easily.