Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Brush with Swine Flu

Or, A Brush with Traditional Chinese Medicine. Sorry i've been off the radar again, but this time, i have a note from my doctor.

We'll start with a rough quote from him:
If you had presented with these symptoms in December, I would have told you with 90% certainty that you have Swine Flu. However, now I can only presume. The peak season has already ended and we're in the lull before the second wave hits in late february. Of course, people will continue to get sick, otherwise the virus would just die. And unfortunately, the government will not allow any more tests for Swine Flu because the magnitude performed over the peak was so great.
That was Monday afternoon. I had already been sick since Thursday, January 28th. Today is Wednesday (in Beijing), and i've officially been sick for a week. It started with some routine stomach pains, like i had swallowed something large and didn't chew it enough, leaving it stuck in my upper gut. That took me home from work on Thursday, and was my sole symptom until Friday afternoon. That's when everything started going horribly wrong.

I was back on solid foods again with no diarrhea, vomiting, or stomach pains. But now, i had a fever of 102F (38.8C) and a sore throat. My back, especially my lower back, was so sore i couldn't walk, lie down, or sleep. I took Aleve to dull the pain, and it got me to Saturday.

Therese had also been dealing with a sinus cold, the normal sniffly kind. I had none of her symptoms. She convinced me to join her for acupuncture, which she now does 3-4x per week at a Traditional Chinese Medicine clinic nearby. Terrified of needles, i declined the full actupuncture, but allowed some serious cupping which i've described before. They also poked me in the base of my neck about ten times and placed cup over it to draw the bad blood out. And it was indeed bad; a black glob of thick blood came out right away, followed by some cleaner red blood. That was all followed by the actual cupping procedure. As a result of all this, Sunday was much easier. By nighttime, my back was basically better, and i had some extra energy i wasn't expecting.

By Monday though, i'd had enough. The fever had been causing intense night-sweats. I was soaking my side of the bed every night, waking up from vivid, confusing, frustrating, sometimes traumatic, dreams. I've been a chronic sufferer of canker sores as well, since i was a kid. It's generally believed there's no cure and no understanding of what causes them. But anyone who suffers from them, knows they are utterly debilitating. I was (and still am as of this post) suffering from the worst bout of my life, combined with gum pains that prevent me from eating foods that require chewing or provide enjoyment. I eat applesauce, smoothies, and blended minestrone soup. All very painfully.

I went to Beijing United, the best hospital in town. His quote is above, and he said not to worry, it's probably just the flu. That night, we returned to acupuncture and i agreed to endure the real thing. Which, honestly, was not bad at all. Proof below. On Tuesday, my fever had dropped to below 100F (37.7C) consistently and i was no longer sweating or getting the chills.

So now we're on Day 7 of the worst illness i've had since "The Arthritis Thing" about 7 years ago, which is a crazy story by itself. My remaining symptoms are a very slight fever and crippling mouth pains. And fatigue, probably due to the liquid and soft-food diet. I will say, i think the acupuncture and cupping worked a small miracle on the flu part of the illness, and so i will keep it in my repertoire. I'll probably even make it a regular thing.

More about other stuff when i'm feeling motivated.



Anonymous said...

Nathan would like to know if the needles tickled.

The Tao said...

I get cankersores too. They ARE debilitating. God, WHY!

Anonymous said...

you need to get a tan :)