It's been a while, so I thought I'd update you on how I'm feeling after Sickfest 12/13... You may recall, 8 months ago I contracted pertussis.
I'm happy to report that all acute symptoms are gone. I can breathe. I can sleep. I can eat. (Trust me, this one's not a problem.) I no longer cough from the pertussis. The ulcers on the back of my throat are gone. I don't look sick anymore.
But I'm not quite myself.
For starters, I won't touch anything (that isn't in my own sphere) without using some kind of barrier (gloves, clothes, paper towels). Yeah, I have become a crazy lady in this way. As I have no idea how on earth I contracted such a hideous sickness, given that I was in good health, I'm very anxious about - well - catching everything.
Now, many of you know that I am not the most sanguine of creatures at the best of times. Pretty classic-case germ-phobia is an ongoing thing for me. But this is a new kind of anxious - and mercifully one which I do feel slowly receding - accompanied by my utter horror to be around illness of any kind. Colds freak me out. Sick children, ditto. People who wear masks on the street almost do me in. I don't know if they're afraid of me or if I should be afraid of them.
I still have occasional challenges with throat mucous and "choking". My trachea is obviously still on a healing-curve. But it's like nothing compared with the serious phase of the illness.
Mouth ulcers are more prevalent. In truth, these were a challenge for me from childhood, as I used to get rounds of cluster canker sores for just about any reason. Then I had a baby, at which point they mysteriously went away and barely ever return. Mind you, they've been worse in the last while than they have been for years.
Then there's fatigue. I need a good 10 hours of sleep to function these days. I've always been an 8-9 hr person, but this is really off the charts. How does one accomplish anything?? I do sense that the summer, with its additional light, is going to be critical to my long-term return to total health.
In terms of my ability to focus, this is slowly but surely returning. Thank God. I really couldn't fix on anything there for a while. Thinking was tough. Acting on thoughts was tougher. Fatigue then inserted itself into the equation and made things tougher still. On a related note: depression, caused by a term of Prednisone to keep my trachea from closing, and by intense sickness that sucked the will out of me, is happily a thing of the past. Alas, see above, anxiety, she lingers (well, she knows she's got a place at the table).
The final thing I've really noted is that my level of fitness has taken a huge hit. I'm a fairly fit person, though with ebbs and flows. I walk at least one way to work each day (40 minutes), I do yoga (though ever less frequently and intently, it would seem), I garden, I cycle. I'm one of those "real world" fit people - not one of those TV-fit people.
Mind you, having struggled to find the energy to walk some days, and having just tortured my body with a few hours of gardening I might formerly have taken for granted, I can say I have experienced notable waning of residual fitness (those youth points are wearing off) and even less motivation.
I intend to make this summer about rediscovering my body's strength, flexibility and focus. I must reconnect with that and, while I'm at it, I've got to stop eating sweets. As I started to get better, my palate changed. Protein is of little interest. All I want is carbs (preferably sweet ones). I can't stand certain foods I used to eat constantly, pre-sickness. For the last 3 months, I've surrendered to this urge. Partly, my sense of discipline - formerly very developed - has gone on a long vacation. Partly, I've been enjoying my appetite. Partly, I refuse to get fussed about something as stupid as food composition when the world is fleeting. However, I've returned to my former weight and my shape, usually toned at any weight, is rather dull and, well, unfit. So gotta get on that bandwagon. Sigh.
Since I got sick (beginning of Sept. 2012), I experienced a month of bad illness, 6 weeks of acute illness followed by another 2 months of feeling hideous constantly. Two months after that were about improvement, but in a phase of tremendous cold and dark. It's hard to return to yourself in a time of hibernation. The last 6 weeks have seen improvements on the energy and focus fronts (the other physical symptoms having largely abated) but I know I need more sun and warmth to complete the metamorphosis.
Anyway, that's an 8-month experience I could have done without. And yet, I am grateful DAILY to have had such a good healing-process, in the scheme of things. I haven't met many people who've had pertussis, but I suspect I'll be meeting more as children are vaccinated less frequently and, as adults with reduced immunity (given that their childhood vaccinations have waned) come into contact with them. Everyone I've met, though, having formerly experienced the illness, has physically shuddered while they described the intensity and length of the illness.
Don't get the vaccination for yourself - though, really, if you're even vaguely sickly at the best of times and moving towards your last third of life, it could kill you I suppose. Get it for the tiny, perfect baby who belongs newly to the person you sit next to at work. Get if for your grandmother, who's always been incredibly healthful but is now pushing 90. Get it for the person you sit next to on the subway, currently on radiation therapy though you'd have no way to know. Those are the people it's rather likely to kill. And then be very glad to know that you will never experience what I can tell you is a horrible thing. It's like a bonus.