Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Fever break

I haven't been this sick in years. In fact, in the midst of my 39 degree fevers, I formed this vague hypothesis that I get a really bad bout of fever in 10 year cycles. For example, I remember a bad bout around '84, a fever that would not break until these words of wisdom floated to the front of my brain:

Drink lots of fluids


I drank water 2-liter bottles at a time, and the fever finally broke. In 1991, while on my school's Geography field trip, I got the same bad fever again. Drinking lots of water was again the solution - except that when you're stuck on a coach with no toilet going at 3 hour stretches between stops, my bladder nearly gave up on me. The same thing happened in '93 or '94 - on a trip to Israel (or was it Turkey?) - fell sick, drank lots of water, stuck on long coach rides. Ruins your appreciation of the landscape really - instead of admiring the beauty of the land, you end up with a toilet-centric view of the world - "I could go there. I couldn't go there. That bush looks ok. That rock doesn't. Oh look, a Roman amphitheatre - nope, not good, no cover at all " etc - when your bladder speaks louder than your sense of aesthetics. I'm also fairly certain I must have had a bad bout of fever when I was 1 (though my mom assures me I had fevers every month up to the age of one - perhaps a consequence of my name. Apparently, when I was born, the sinseh told my parents that I had too much water in my system - to balance it out, a name with fire in it would have to be chosen. Hence the last character in my chinese name, two "fires" on top of each other.

They obviously overdid it)

Interestingly, my dentist (well, one of my many dentists) told me that four of my molars were what he called "mulberry molars", deformed and lacking the enamel coating, most likely due to a severe illness at the point in life when they were forming. More forensic evidence of childhood illnesses, perhaps?

So, looking back at my life, there seems to be a predictable pattern, in the same way one can predict volcanic eruptions, or tsunamis - major bouts of fever erupt in roughly 10 year cycles, with lower grade illnesses occuring more frequently. Better look out for 2014 then.

Incidentally, drinking lots of fluids is about the only reliable means I've found of combating these fevers. I've rationalised it thus: water goes into your body at room temperature (say, 29 degrees) and leaves it at body temperature (for a fevered person, say 38 degrees). Where does all the extra heat come from? Bingo - and, unlike cold showers or towels, the heat is taken from the body core where it matters, not from the body surface.

Saturday and Sunday were horrible days: I couldn't do anything, couldn't break the fever, it just kept getting worse. Still managed to watch Troy on Saturday night, but that was the only outing for the whole weekend - the rest was spent on my back. Thank god my wife was there to look after me. Bless her dear heart, I could almost forgive her for all the swooning comments about Brad Pitt (and his back ... and his thighs ... and his butt ...) after Troy. =)

I have also learned, via this illness, what a Hess test is. It's something they use to test for Dengue fever - my friend assures me it's named after Rudolph Hess, who invented it as a means of torture. While I can't attest to its origin, I can attest to the torture bit. The doctor straps a pressure cuff on your arm, and adjusts the pressure such that blood can flow in, but not out (the veins are nearer the surface, see). He then leaves it on for an excruciating 5 minutes, where your arm feels like pins and needles, numb, and about to explode, all at once. Apparently, the presence of little red spots after release means dengue. The only red spots on my arm where in the crook of my elbow - the test brought out every spot where I had blood drawn from before. I counted six. Might be an interesting project one day to see if I can track down exactly which one was for what.

After this little taste of Nazi torture, which verified that it wasn't dengue, the doctor gave me an injection to bring down the fever. The first time in my life I've been jabbed in the butt, but it worked like a miracle - within minutes, the fever broke, and I felt normal again. I'm still down with sniffles, coughs, and a low-grade fever that is mostly suppressed by the medicine, but thank god the worst is over. Back at work today, trying to clear up two days of backlog, but I couldn't be happier - another day stuck at home and I would've gone nuts.

1 comment:

Ondine said...

Staying at home does tend to drive one insane. Especially when you have to combat the heat, the marking and a wooly head. I was quite happy to go back to work after 4 days. :)