Ebb and Flow

Ebb and Flow

This is a detailed description of how it felt to be sick over the last five days.  It’s for my own memory.  My recommendation to the blog subscribers:  skip this one.  🙂

It was always the middle of the night, somewhere between 3 or 4 AM when I would wake up.  I would have the irrefutable image of a high tide approaching.  My blood would start to pulse and eventually my skin would feel too tight to house this growing amount of liquid and both my hands and feet would hurt as they got pricked by a thousand little needles, as if caused by a sandstorm.  That was the time the sweating and the chills would start.  That was the time when the IBUs from the night before were wearing off.

When you try to lift your notebook and it feels like a load of bricks, when the thermometer shows 30C/86F but you are shivering, and when you can feel every muscle and joint ache even if you don’t move, you don’t need a thermometer to know that you are running a fever.  I wasn’t delirious so I am guessing the fever was no higher than 39C/102F.   But it was enough.

I could have taken two more IBUs and gone back to sleep, but I did  not for two reasons: first, my pills are limited and I don’t know how many more I will need.  Of course, there are pharmacies in Myanmar, but as every travel guide warns you, you have no idea what you are getting.  Has the medicine you are buying been properly stored?  Is it a cheap generic product that may not even contain what it promises?  In other words, you are best off to rely on what you brought.

But perhaps more importantly, I wanted to know exactly which symptoms I had.  Was it the old set, or were new ones developing?  And so I spent the next few hours listening to my body, following the sandy waves of blood crashing against the shores of feet and ankles, hands and wrists.  If I got lucky I could drift off into no-man’s land for a few moments resisting the temptation to move.  The aching was the worst.  The pain embodied itself in dozens of little devils gnawing at every body part.  Infallibly the illusion would manifest that if I would just turn or stretch, the pain could be alleviated.  Less and less I succumbed to those temptations as all the devils would awake and bite, leaving me wincing.  Around 7:30 I allowed myself the day’s ration of IBUs, 400 mg.

I lay as still as I could, savoring every minute as the tide slowly subsided, inch by inch.  Ebb follows flow in its age-old ways.  One little devil after another would dissolve itself into space.  I would fit into my body comfortably again, and by 8 AM I could slowly move my head.  It was my daily miracle.  400 mg.  I had no new symptoms.  I had not gotten worse.  For a few hours I could go out and explore the world now until this dose would wear off and the afternoon in bed would repeat the ritual of the morning until at 8PM I would allow myself my night dose of IBUs.

But today, the fifth day into this ordeal, there was another miracle!  When I woke up, I heard the jingles of silverware clatter against porcelain plates.  I heard the chatter of voices outside my room.  It was not 3 or 4 AM.  It was 7:30 AM.  There was no tide.  There was no devil.  I had slept in.  The fever had broken!  I was getting better.  Thanks, Bhaiṣajyaguru!