Second, the name-brand official diagnosis of acute tonsillitis is now just as miserable as every mystery bug I've ever suffered alone. I'd like to be well now, please.
Here's the thing: the doctor was really nice, excellent manner, and seemed very knowledgeable. However, I didn't understand a good 30% of what she was saying. What is it with all the Indian doctors? Aren't they all supposed to have crisply precise British accents that make me feel unwashed? Why must the stereotypes abandon me in this miserable hour?!
I was impressed that she could see "something was draining" just by checking in my left ear with that conical nub on a stick. I didn't know that's something you could see by looking in the ear. I always thought that little ear exam was just a traditional opening ritual, like the way in Bharatanatya (Indian classical dance - sp) when you apologize to the earth for the stomping you are about to do on it. (See, I'm hip to the Kali/Shiva set.)
Anyway, at one point she said that if the pain moved into my jaw, I needed to go to the emergency room. I got that part because I repeated it back to her a few times and she provided several pantomines that would still make me laugh if laughing weren't so painful right now. I didn't understand everything she said about strep (do I have it? don't I?) or gargling (lemonade and salt water or either/or?), but I did get this part.
Now hold that thought for a moment.
I've been reading up on tonsillitis and it seems that most of it is viral, so I'm not sure why I'm on antibiotics. (It's hard to say whether the nose-blowing I've done in the past 24 hours - a sign of viral rather than bacterial tonsillitis - is due to this or due to the lingering cold/bug from a few weeks ago, or both.) Which means I've lost some faith in the magic pills, but I figure I've got plenty of other residual crap wrong with me that will give the little amoxies something to do.
Here's what I was told to do: take the amoxicillin, gargle with salt water/lemonade, and use Chloraseptic spray for pain. And, as mentioned, go to the emergency room if my jaw hurt because that would be an indicator of an abcess.
You people - by which I mean everyone on the planet except for me, poor me - are always going on about the salt water gargle. Oh, it's sooooo amazing! Oh, it's the best! You people are liars and I hate you.
The salt gargle, be it Chloraseptic-brand or homemade, works for about four seconds before the intense pain returns. Sure, it's killing off the nasties, but I spent all last night waking up every 30 minutes to gargle and stagger around in agony, grabbing and crushing sturdy objects as I braced myself to swallow, with each swallow being accompanied by a small wail that prompted Mike to ask, "what are you doing when you make that noise?" I'm sure he thought that, in my delirium, I was using soft hamsters to pad my sore mouth, their captured shrieks escaping whenever I accidentally chomped down.
Chloraseptic? Numbing? Sure, if you have a cold. Nothing could numb the feeling of gloved killer hands around my neck, of a hot, coin-sized weight sitting on my throat. And "drink plenty of fluids" when you can't swallow is advice that I'd balefire across the room if I had any special powers, which I didn't, for everything good in this world fell to the greater strengths of "freezing with the heater up to 90" and "oh, check it out, my skull is cracking open, I'm pretty sure."
So, screw you people who are clearly in the pockets of the salt gargle lobby, probably out enjoying your weekend on your sailboat graft as it preens across the salty ocean. Bring me the PAINKILLERS.
But I was afraid they might counteract the antibiotics. The antibiotics that may be absolutely pointless if this is viral tonsillitis. (It's weird the way my copy of the medical record is all blacked out except for the end-result diagnosis, the recommended prescription, and where I signed. I don't get to know my own blood pressure?)
By five o'clock this morning, after moving from bed to sofa to bed to sofa and so on not less than ten times, as the pain roared in my unswallowing mouth like all of my teeth were trying to erupt through an inch of skin, as I thought fondly of ice skates and Tom Hanks (because I have a nasty suspicion that those wisdom teeth I've let be impacted for years have a hand behind the curtain in this dark play), I gave up. I downed a couple of drugstore-brand extra-strength Tylenols and, through clenched jaw and a lazy river of unswallowed sputum, said goodbye to Mike. Farewell. Farewell.
An hourish later, I woke up. I woke up! Which means I slept! For an hour!
I was sweaty with the broken fever. My jaw, for so many hours held extra taut to fight any urge to swallow, was relaxed. After a long night of restless misery, peace surrounded me like an extra-sparkly cloud. Sure, I had rapid heartbeat and a sense of sleepy speediness, but at least now I could relax my mouth enough to let the salt gargle get further into my throat. (Buying an extra 3-5 seconds of possible relief; the gargling is still crap.)
But now back to an important issue.
The way I was holding my mouth all night was exactly the way the doctor said I would hold it if I needed to go to the emergency room. Am I only masking my symptoms with the acetaminophen? I just took another two gelcaps but I still have an awareness of my jaw that I don't like. Should I go to the emergency room, or should I go with my instict that all of this stems from long-impacted wisdom teeth, and since I really can't do anything about them until this summer (recovery time and all that), the last thing I should do is go to an emergency room, which is probably just cautionary alarmist advice, anyway?
(It's a good thing comments are currently disabled; I doubt I'd like the replies.)
But to come back around to the main topic, why didn't anyone tell me I could have painkillers? Or did the doctor tell me, but I just didn't know what she said? In the end, I fear I broke my no-doctor streak only to find out I had the magic pills with me all along. The magic pills that don't seem to be working as well as they were this morning, and that's why I'm trying to get a sub for tomorrow, but ten hours later and no one has stepped forward. (Want to become a power-sub? Come to Las Vegas! You'll work every day!)
My head hurts and my jaw hurts and I'm rambling and, oh yes, swallowing still hurts, although not as bad as before, and I'm still rambling and sharing for the sake of documentation and I'm still tired and I'm just going to let you turn out the lights on your way out and [CLICK].
20 March 2006 | Permalink