Painful Truth

Most people get colds about two to three times a year.

Well, I had a good run. I’m currently huddled over my computer, sniffling and snuffling and checking the clock to see if it’s time for me to take another dose of over-the-counter remedies.

Before this year, it had been about two years since I had suffered through a cold of any description. This was despite brushes with the common cold that included sick co-workers, family members, and friends, who kindly shared their germs with me by being within sneezing range.

I started joking that when I did get sick, it would definitely be a doozy. I’d been lucky for too long.

Oh, how right I was. But it wasn’t a cold that took me down early last summer. It was a nasty little ear infection.

I started feeling a little off on a Monday night. Nothing odd about that. Monday’s a busy day, surely I was just tired. I went to bed as usual.

When I got up the next day, I was slightly dizzy. I could stand up and walk around, but it felt like I was standing on a deck of a BC Ferry in some light chop.

During the course of the day, that chop increased to pounding, storm-driven waves. I headed off to an interview and came out of the building reeling like I was drunk, glad there was no one around to ask why I appeared to be hammered in the middle of the day.

By the time I drove home, I felt awful.

And yes, that’s when the throwing up began.

I’m not going to regale you with the details. Just let me say that the human digestive system is capable of holding a whole lot more matter than you’d think was possible. It is also capable of returning all of that matter very efficiently.

It certainly alarmed my cat, who started following me around, clearly worried that the guy who filled his food bowl was going to croak.

I didn’t go to work the next day. I went to the emergency room, because the dizziness had not gotten any better and I hadn’t kept down any food or water in, by the time I was seen by a doctor, almost 24 hours.

I don’t begrudge my wait in the ER. The people in ahead of me were clearly pretty miserable, or in serious suffering, or a lot younger an therefore less able to put up with it. (The decision to immediately treat a three year old who had shoved a whole pebble up his nose was clearly a good one. That’s gotta come out!)

Finally the doctor informed me that I had what’s called labyrinthitis (which is not a disease in which David Bowie and a bunch of muppets dance for you, more’s the pity). I had a virus or bacteria that was messing up my inner ear on one side. So not only was my sense of balance out of whack with what my eyes were telling me, those little tubes in my ears were sending contradictory information to my brain.

Right side: Everything seems fine.

Left side: We’re falling! We’re falling! Someone do something!

This lead to the permanent dizziness.

I got some meds and was sent home with an order not to drive for about five days, and between my immune system and some Gravol and a bowl of soup I was feeling a lot better over the next few days.

This cold I’ve got right now is pretty minor. I’m sniffling, but there’s no chance I’m going to be away from work (and my cat hasn’t even noticed). It’s nice to have my wimpy little virus put in perspective by a simple, but nasty, disease that really knocked the tar out of me.