Kate Goes Viral

My childhood was no stranger to the unwelcome guest that is strep throat. I have not-so-fond memories of missing school, gargling salt water, and adhering to the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.) My overwhelming memory, though, was the feeling of being helpless. Luckily as a child, I had a wonderful mom who could coordinate doctor’s appointments, remind me when to take my medicine, and cook 20 different foods until I found one I could stomach. Unfortunately, adulthood doesn’t come with such perks.

Last week, I was chugging along at work on Monday afternoon when I noticed some discomfort in my throat. It felt like a piece of food had gotten lodged behind my tonsil (I actually had them removed as a child but one partially grew back!) and swallowing didn’t feel as natural as it should. I brushed it off as a weird body issue that would resolve over time.

As the afternoon drew on, I started getting cold. I was wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt, but I was shivering! I went on errands outside just so I could stand in the sunshine and try to warm up. I cancelled my fitness class and planned to go home and sleep.

I woke up at 9pm in a cold sweat. My body was burning up and my throat had caught fire. It hurt to swallow. It hurt to even exist. I texted my boss and asked for Tuesday off. It was only my third week, but there was no way I could go into work. I could barely text.

I scheduled a doctor’s appointment as soon as I woke up. They squeezed me in that morning and I thought I would be fine to drive. As soon as I parked and walked up the stairs to the office, I felt woozy. As the receptionist was checking me in, my vision started to go blurry and I knew I needed to sit down. Of course, this put everyone on high alert and they treated me like a fragile snowflake the rest of the appointment! Not surprisingly, my blood pressure was low and my white blood cells were at 0. We awaited the results of the strep and mono tests.

Both came back negative. Without a culprit, I couldn’t be prescribed any medication. I was told to alternate Advil and Tylenol and to try to eat soft foods like macaroni and cheese. When was the last time a doctor recommended junk food!? I would have been excited if I wasn’t in so much pain. My tonsils were swollen and it hurt to breathe, let alone swallow solid food!

I was referred to my regular hematologist who wanted to take a second look at my white blood cells to make sure everything was normal. After a viral infection, it’s normal for white blood cells to take a hit. They ruled out any funny business and I was sent home with strict instructions for bedrest.

Taking care of my body was a priority, but so was making a good impression at my new job! I felt horrible asking for 3 days off, especially since I already had approved vacation time in 2 weeks for my brother’s wedding. What does it say about an employee when she misses 6 business days in the first month?! I’m not sure if cool millennial tech companies are always this lax about vacation or if they just really like me!

I don’t have a TV in my apartment, so I spent most of my time sleeping. I could barely stay awake, anyway! Luckily I got better and was able to make it into the office on Friday to catch up on work. Everyone was so supportive! Even my friends offered to bring me soup and throat drops!

What caused the virus? I’ll never know. My habit of adopting abandoned drinks at bars certainly didn’t help. And here I thought I was building my immune system! I am grateful for one result of this sickness – I dropped a couple pounds and now my bridesmaid dress fits much more comfortably! Silver linings.

Now I am back in the office and gearing up to leave next week for Brent’s wedding. I fly out on Tuesday and return Sunday. I can’t wait to be part of the ceremony and see all of work that Alicia has done to plan everything! Knowing my brother, the food and drink will be great… but the after party will be better!

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