Sunday, February 21, 2010

Abscess makes the heart grow fonder

You would think that the amount of free time I had during our snow week would have resulted in more writing, but I got distracted.

Wednesday, I was tired for reasons I couldn't quite explain, especially since I had gotten to sleep in.

Thursday, my sinuses and throat hurt, and the glands under one side of my jaw were swelling. So apparently I was tired Wednesday because I was getting sick. I assumed I was in for a bad cold, since that's usually what it means when my glands swell.

Friday, the glands under my jaw were insanely swollen, but my nose was only mildly sniffly, making me wonder what was up. My research turned up the panicking possibility of a tooth abscess, but I dismissed it because of the many parts of my head that hurt at that point, my teeth were not among them.

Saturday, B went to work because I thought I was okay. Then I made the mistake of attempting to chew my breakfast, sending pain through my entire head and realized that there was swelling under my tongue, which made me start to think this was bacterial, not viral. So I called him home so I could seek out medical help. My doctor recommended a Minute Clinic, so off we went (capsule review of the Minute Clinic: pretty good. Quick service for a reasonable price, and while I wouldn't go for a complex medical problem, if you have a weekend bladder infection or suchlike I would definitely recommend them). My sinuses hurt, but not when the nurse pressed on them, so a sinus infection was ruled out. The rapid strep test was negative as well, so while she took another swab to send to the lab, she said it was probably a virus, sending me away with the usual useless advice for salt water gargling and ibuprofen or Tylenol. Meanwhile, I spent the evening researching how much ibuprofen was considered an overdose and finally took some of the leftover painkiller from my c-section so I could get some sleep.

Sunday, things finally came to a head quite literally when a boil suddenly swelled up on my gum and then popped, draining quite a bit of nasty stuff and giving me almost instant relief. Aha! Not a tooth abscess but a gum abscess, where a pocket of infection decides to take up residence in your gums. I suppose I should have realized that sooner, because the inside of my mouth and my jaw did hurt, but everything hurt at that point. It was hard to distinguish what might be caused by an infection in my mouth versus what pain was coming from the sheer bulk of swollen, painful glands under my jaw putting pressure on everything else. And of course, there was the sore throat, which didn't seem to jibe with anything else.

So Monday, I went to the dentist and the gum abscess was confirmed, which was a relief because the best-case scenario treatment for a tooth abscess is a root canal, but for a gum abscess that was draining on its own, I got antibiotics. And on Tuesday, I got a call from the Minute Clinic telling me my strep test was positive, slotting the other piece of the puzzle in place. That would explain the sore throat and the fact that gum abscesses often come along with gum disease, which I don't have. I guess the bacteria from my throat travelled into an opportune place in my gum and decided to party.

So almost a week later, I'm mostly better. It's really astonishing how much misery one small spot of infection can cause, but there's nothing like an infection to let you know just how connected all of the nerves in your face are. I've lost nearly ten pounds because of how much moving my jaw has hurt.* Right now, I'm down to ibuprofen every eight hours, a bit of a sore throat and one last swollen sore spot under my jaw. And thankfully, I can mostly eat things that require at least some chewing, instead of my previous staple diet of soup and pudding. However, I only have one day of antibiotics left, which makes me worry that it's all going to come galloping back as soon as they're done, so I'm calling the doctor on Monday.

So that's my sick note for the week. I had been planning to try and write every day as an exercise for Lent and I will try to actually start that tomorrow, but the first few days of Lent were hopeless, since I was fasting instead.

*It's not like this is really a surprise to me, but it's such a sad sign of how screwed up our society is about weight that I should get so much admiration for losing weight by being too sick to eat for a week, even when people know how I lost the weight. Yeesh, people. But thinner is healthier, right? Because starvation is so very healthy.

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