Thursday, May 10, 2007

Back From The Dead

(sorry for the really long post. It’s about two weeks’ worth of my life so please bear with me.)

My idea of a summer vacation definitely does not include spending a week in a hospital.

But there you have it – I just spent last week lying not in an outdoor hammock but in a bed at the UST Hospital, with my right arm hooked to an IV instead of it holding a glass of ripe mango shake. Well, you couldn’t blame me – I asked that I be brought to the hospital because I was having a really tough time dealing with my sickness.

As it turned out, I was down with typhoid fever. Ever heard the term “na-tipus”? It seems that it’s not just some “kanto” term, and typhoid fever, when not treated immediately and properly, could do things to one’s sanity. Fortunately for me, I had the right sense at the right time to have myself admitted to the hospital, or I would have lost my marbles because of my stubbornness and lack of concern for my health.

You know how it began – I started having chills Sunday night of April 22 but continued to go to work for the next two days. I started losing my appetite Tuesday that week. Wednesday I took a sick leave; I continue to lose my appetite and managed to eat a few mouthfuls of rice and Sky Flakes. My fever worsened the following day; my temperature climbed to 39.5 degrees, and I started having stomachache because I haven’t been eating and I’m taking medicines on an empty stomach. Friday I had to report to work because there are no traders at the office (my boss and one of my officemates have to attend a convention). I also started vomiting whatever I ate. I went to a clinic later that day for a checkup. The doctor requested for a complete blood count test because she suspected I might be afflicted with dengue fever. The results of the test turned out fine, but the doctor asked that I return on Monday for another CBC test to check if my platelet count would drop. She advised me to drink lots of fluids and to eat, for goodness’ sake.

That weekend was my worse ever in recent memory. I tried to eat and drink, but I ended up vomiting whatever I took in. It was so frustrating and depressing. I’ve never felt so miserable for my inability to eat enough, and for my tendency to puke whatever I did manage to eat. I can understand what I went through before when I couldn’t eat because I was depressed, but it’s different when I was feeling depressed because I couldn’t eat. I was so tempted to text my friends to tell them I’m having a miserable time but it seems childish and selfish to make them worry over me so I decided to tough it out. I was still having chills, and my temperature was hovering between 38.5 to 39.8 degrees. The last time I puked was Sunday night – I puked the only thing I’ve taken that night, which was Gatorade, and then I vomited air. It was just me making stupid retching sounds and much as I want to stop, I couldn’t, because even on an empty stomach my body was acting like I have something to vomit and I just couldn’t control it. I wish to God I was puking something, anything instead of making myself hurt for nothing. I started crying then dahil ang hirap hirap sumuka ng wala namang isusuka. I felt I was trying too hard, but failing spectacularly. I think it was right then when I decided that I wanted to check myself in at a hospital; I wanted to do something to stop the pain.

It did stop for a while because my mom asked me to take another medicine that will stop the vomiting. While I don’t really want to introduce another drug to my system (since I’m already taking three different medicines that time), I had to because I needed to eat something. I still wasn’t comfortable, but at least I was getting nutrients.

On Monday morning, I decided not to return to the clinic. We instead went directly to the emergency room of UST Hospital. I was relieved when they took my temperature there and it read 37.8 degrees; I thought I was getting better. But while waiting for the results of my CBC and urine tests, I started having chills again, and by the time we got the results, my temperature shoot up again to 39 degrees. The results were again okay; although my platelet count dropped, it was still within normal levels. The doctors were flummoxed because while my tests results were okay, I was clearly not. They decided to admit me for further observations. The next doctor to check on me specializes on infectious diseases and she suspected right at the beginning that I might be sick with typhoid fever. She asked questions on where I usually eat, if I have eaten anything not fully cooked lately, the source of my drinking water, and she poked my stomach when I told her that I have stomach pains. She requested for a blood culture to determine if their suspicions were correct (the med tech who came in later that day took a lot of blood from both my arms; so for that day alone, about three needles were injected on me just to get blood. Until now the areas where the needles were injected are still greenish.). For the meantime, she advised me to drink plenty of fluids and eat. If only things were that easy.

Being stuck in a hospital is definitely not fun. For one, hospital food sucks. Or maybe it’s because I really don’t have an appetite and taste for food. Whatever, I still have trouble eating. But they’ve given me a medicine for my stomach (or something) so I was not puking anymore. My mom kept asking me what food I want to eat and she was obviously keen on making sure I eat better this time. Even if I was really struggling, I don’t want to be a brat and I tried to eat whatever food there is and to drink lots and lots of water and juices.

Another thing, I was still having chills. I was trying not to be a brat, and I wanted my visitors to be at least comfortable, but I really couldn’t stand it when the airconditioner is turned on. So for the first two days, everyone endured the heat in my room – until a certain nurse commented on the heat and turned on the aircon. I didn’t get her explanation about how it is better for me to be cold than comfortable (something about the heat or fever in my body getting out of my system faster on a cold environment, or whatever) my mind was busy thinking ways to torture her when I get better. They made me take off my sweater on the first day, wasn’t that enough? Am I not paying them to make me feel better? So everybody else was comfortable except me. The patient. The one who is sick to the bone. Clearly there’s no justice in this world.

And yeah, I was hooked on an IV and that, more than anything else, made my hospital stay dreary. At least the needle was just plastic and not the metal type like it was before, but the insertion still hurt. Having a foreign object stuck to your vein for a period of time is not the best feeling in the world. And, oh my God! It hurt a lot worse when they injected antibiotics through the IV! I can feel the fluid coursing through my veins – and they just had to inject the medicine at around 7 in the evening! My nights at the hospital were really uncomfortable, what with the nurses continually checking on my pulse, temperature and blood pressure and making me take biogesic at ungodly hours, and the stupid dextrose which, aside from being a pain in the arms because of all the fluids doing excursions around my veins, is preventing me from sleeping on my side. I (carefully) tossed and turned to find the perfect sleeping position, but even if I can find it, there’s no way I could shut out the throbbing in my right arm because of the IV. Not to mention that I have a hard time eating, changing clothes, and doing my uh, daily rituals. Basically, it hinder my movements and make me feel like I’m really, really sick and inutile because I needed assistance in doing just about everything.

Between worrying about the work I left behind, whether the Dallas Mavericks will make it to the semifinals (they didn’t. grr.), and wondering how on earth Daisy Siete is still being shown on TV with the kind of (non)acting going around, I keep asking myself: how did I get typhoid fever? I know I’m not picky when it comes to food, it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten street food, and I eat in places that I’m pretty sure has good sanitary practices in terms of food preparation, so how come I suddenly got afflicted with this disease? Okay, fine. Medyo maarte ako sa pagkain. But only in the sense that I’ll never ever eat under any circumstances certain foods (like raisins, ensaimada, apple, to name a few), that I’ll never eat spaghetti from fast foods, and that hindi mo mapapaubos sa akin ang pagkain kapag talagang ayoko na. Other than that, I’m not a difficult person when it comes to food. Which possibly makes me a good candidate for typhoid fever. Sigh. Ewan ko ba. All I know is that I was a lot susceptible to get typhoid (and hepa) when I was still in school (in UST, incidentally) than now because I tend to eat food with shady origins (read: mga pagkaing nabibili sa kalye o mga pagkain sa mga karinderya sa tabi tabi) back then. My immune system is probably stronger then than it was now. God, I miss my youth. Ganito pala pag tumatanda. Hahaha.

By Wednesday night, my fever was slowly going down. Thursday morning, the doctor told me officially that I have typhoid fever but based on my chart, my body is reacting well to the medicines. They no longer have to inject the antibiotics and I can just take the medicine orally. They removed the IV that night (yehey!) but I still had fever around 2am. But when they told me that I can choose to go home the following day, I did not hesitate. (The doctor told me I can go home Saturday. No way, honey) I don’t think I can stay there for another day. I ended my tenure at the hospital Friday afternoon – still feeling a bit dizzy and weak and with a bit of sinat, but I was happier than I’ve even been for that week. I am going home, I finally know what’s wrong with me, and I can do something about it.

While at the hospital, I had two simple wishes: number one, that I could eat, not just because I needed to, but because I wanted to. You know what I mean? I wanted to really taste the food, to really appreciate good food. Number two, that I could get a restful, comfortable sleep. I finally got number two and I’m on my way to getting number one. It doesn’t help that I am fussier now when it comes to food (since I cannot eat food that aren’t cooked and I can only drink bottled or canned drinks) and just this afternoon , I was feeling sort of resentful when we had a lunch out and I couldn’t eat caesar’s salad. But at least I can eat now. And to think that things could have been worse… I’m lucky to be back.

I used to be real stubborn when I’m sick. I keep thinking that it will go away if I just ignore it. I normally forget on purpose to take my medicines, and I still insist on going about my business even if I’m not feeling well. Maybe this is my body’s way of saying it had enough of my stubborn ways. If you’re as stubborn as I’ve been, well, it’s time to change our habits! I never wanted to feel again the way I did when I was sick, and I sure as hell don’t want to lose my sanity!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my friends who continually checked on my status and well-being, who texted or called to make sure I’m okay. Thank you to everybody who wished and prayed for my speedy recovery. Thanks to everyone who visited me and insisted that I eat and drink more and who didn’t complain to my face that the heat sucks and who make sure that I won’t get too bored at the hospital. Thanks to my tita who stayed with me at the hospital and subbed for my mom to make sure she could also get a rest. But thank you most especially to my mom, the greatest ever, who make sure I eat and drink (to the point na siya na ang nagsusubo sa akin) even if I was being bratty about it, who continually apply cold compress on me to lower my temperature, who was always close by when I was puking my guts out to make sure I didn’t pass out, who basically took care of me when I was so, so sick. Some of the things you did, you didn’t have to, especially since I’m old enough to take care of myself. But you were always there, not just for me, but also for my siblings, and that’s how we know how much you love us. We love you, too. You’re the best.

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