One morning last week, our head mechanic came in with a cough. By closing time, he was looking a bit cadaverous; the next day, he called in sick. That same day -- Friday, in the morning, to be exact -- I developed a curious itchy sensation in my throat.
I worked all of Friday with an itchy throat and an ever-growing sinus-headachy, wheezy, puny feeling, but went home feeling optimistic about the lovely weekend forecasters were promising. By bedtime on Friday, however, I was feeling pretty bad, though still not so bad that heading to the doc-in-the-box was a foregone conclusion. Saturday morning, I woke up feeling just a little worse; by around 11:00, I had decided that I didn't feel up to riding even though it was absolutely beautiful out, and also that it was probably a good idea to head over to the nearby Take Care Clinic 'just to be safe.'
I arrived at the clinic with a temperature of 98.4 Since my normal temperature is rarely over 97.5, I was a little concerned, but not terribly so. The nurse-practitioner on duty checked me out, diagnosed a sinus infection, noted that my lungs sounded a little rough as well, prescribed some doxycycline, and sent me on my way to the pharmacy, reminding me to call if things either got worse or if I wasn't starting to feel better within 48 hours.
By the time I got home, I was feeling rather bedraggled. I went to bed with a temperature of 99.1, slept like the dead -- and awoke on Sunday feeling like the inside of a dry-rotted tire. In the rain. Or something like that. By then I was running a fever of 100.3, and I felt like I was breathing through a straw.
Later that morning, my temperature was hovering close to 102 degrees Fahrenheit, and I felt thirsty enough to drink the Great Lakes dry. Within the course of the day, I took a really long nap, then downed basically an entire half-gallon bottle of Gatorade, plus assorted glasses of water, iced tea, and lemonade. Since my fever showed no sign of abating, and indeed seemed determined to keep on climbing, DD and I both began to worry.
After some debate (more in the vein of 'should we call, or just go straight to the ER?') DD and I started trying to call the Take Care Clinic, which actually proved to be rather a challenge. When we finally managed to get through to them, it was around 4:00 in the afternoon. The nurse-practitioner sounded pretty concerned, decided to prescribe a steroid, and debated switching my antibiotic prescription to Levaquin. She was concerned that I might have pneumonia (again) and said that I should head to the ER if the initial steroid dose didn't start improving things in pretty short order.
DD went out and picked up the methylprednisolone dose-pack for me, which I greatly appreciated. While he was out, my temperature peaked at just over 102, and I started sweating like crazy -- like, hard-sprint-in-July crazy. I was extremely happy when DD came back, owing both to the simple comfort of having someone you love near when you're sick, and to past experience, which has dictated that in situations like this, steroids are extremely effective in getting my lungs to straighten up and fly right, so to speak.
After much sweating and a ridiculously-hot bath, my fever broke, dropping my temperature back to a more tolerable 99.6, though it climbed back up to 100.9 by bedtime. I slept pretty well, though several coughing fits woke me up during the night.
This morning, I woke up with a temperature of 97.1, and it has been no higher than 98.4 all day, which is a vast improvement over yesterday.
So why am I writing about all this? Partly, I suppose, to satisfy a kind of morbid interest in human disease modeling. I was really surprised by how fast this thing came on -- though it's possible that it had some kind of 'incubation' period -- and even more surprised at how aggressively it progressed. I'm curious how B, our head mechanic, is doing (I actually *GASP* called in sick to work!).
Partly, though, I'm writing about this because it's worth noting that, while I'm still more prone than most to respiratory infections, it does seem that cycling has done my immune system a world of good. The last time I ran into an aggressive infection like this one, given almost exactly the same course of treatment, it took nearly a week before I felt semi-human again.
At the moment, I'm still subject to violent coughing fits -- though I also think that cycling has improved the function of my respiratory system in such a way that those coughing fits are doing their job, clearing stuff from my lungs, instead of just nearly breaking my ribs for no good reason -- and I still feel pretty puny (I almost washed a dish this afternoon, then realized I actually wasn't up to doing that much just yet, LOL). However, I feel about 60% normal right now, which is really pretty surprising. I'm hoping by tomorrow I'll make it up to around 80%, so I can get my butt back on the bike. (Sidebar: If I continue at this projected rate of 20% gain, I can expect to feel about 160% normal by Saturday, whereupon I will find a nearby race and dominate the by-our-lady out of it.) In reality, that might be asking a bit much, but we'll see.
Perhaps just as importantly, the fact that I'm now used to feeling pretty darned good, physically, made it pretty easy to tell when things had reached that 'better safe than sorry' break-point. I've found riding provides handy little reference-points -- I knew on Friday that things weren't quite right when I was feeling a bit washed out and wheezy during the afternoon scheduled runs that I ride pretty much every day. Moreover, the moment I realized that I didn't feel up to taking a ride with DD on a mind blowingly-beautiful day in late January was the same moment I realized I needed to go to the doctor.
I may be conflating correlation and causation, here, but I can say that both my health and my awareness of said health, not to mention my fitness, have improved dramatically over the course of the past year, during which time my bike-usage has also increased dramatically (as has the population of my bike-stable, LOL, which now consists of three bikes that I actually own -- though only one of them counts as a fully-operational road-worthy bike at the moment, while one is still an embryonic, wheel-less frameset -- and, by extension, DD's assorted machines).
I'm currently deciding whether to try to work tomorrow or to play it safe and stay home. I guess that will ultimately depend on my ability to breathe at around 4:45 PM today, which is as late as I can safely call up JP at work and say, "Ohai, I can haz nuthor sick dai pleez?" We shall see.
I guess the whole point is that, at least from my perspective, cycling is paying some very measurable dividends (beyond being tons of fun and a good way to spend all that extra money we all have lying around right now ;D).
I think I have now used up my coherent-thought quota for the day, so back to reading the internets...