Symptom Sorting 

Even Jack has a headache….

Ironically,  I once promised myself I would never be the kind of blogger who bored the internet with posts on what I had for breakfast or every time I had a headache. I guess I didn’t ever anticipate writing this sort of blog, where posting about things like that kind if makes sense….

As I read to my littlest the other night from The Silver Chair, it all, “just shows how little anyone knows about what is going to happen to them next. ”

I’ve been on the antibiotics for a little less than a week and it is increasingly clear why they’re called anti-biotics. I waiver between feeling decent and feeling awful. The worst so far is the headache. It’s moved from the right rear quadrant, to the front right, and has now settled in above my left eye.

(I’m not complaining. I’ve friends who suffer with real migraines for whom this little one would be a relief. Whenever I’m tempted to whine, it always helps to remember those who have it worse than me. It keeps it all in perspective, and makes it easier to tell myself,  “Suck it up!”)

I do understand that, most likely, what I’m experiencing is the infamous “Herxheimer” reaction. The antibiotics are killing off the “bugs” and, as that happens, my body is flooded with toxins from the process. I just have to wait awhile until my body purges it all (including the drugs themselves).

It is interesting that the headache pain started and was worst right where the Bells Palsy from my initial infection was situated. It could be coincidence, but, if not, it is a hopeful sign that the drugs are killing something that doesn’t belong there.

The more annoying issue, for an analytical soul like myself, is sorting out the meaning of the various symptoms. All the signs of herxing are vague enough that they resemble the early stages of potential serious side effects from the medicines themselves. Is this a normal headache or the beginning of intracranial hypertension, where the blood pressure around the brain ramps up and can explode vessels? That stomach pain: just a little gas or a severe reaction in the intestines? I feel little dizzy now. Is that my heart kicking into afib?

If you give way to your imagination, you’ll catch it supplying “facts” that are really wild guesses, and those guesses (invariably worst case scenario) quickly transform “imagination” into paranoia. It’s easy to see why ERs are flooded with people who don’t need to be there.

There are several ways to deal with this, I think. At least,  this is what I’m trying:

  • Make sure to talk to our doctors and to ask for clear explanations of what should worry us.  Don’t just assume we know. Ask him/her to describe what each problem should feel like and what course we should take if it happens. Not every problem will land us in the ER.
  • Look up those medicines and, if we see something that worries us, decide on some clear, specific tests we can perform or standards we can apply. For example, one of the medicines I’ve been given can cause a rare side effect that cause a the heart to race uncontrollably.  In my case,  that’s a real concern.  So, if I feel light headed, I check my pulse with an app on my phone. If it ever breaks into the 100s (when I’m not working out) I’ll know to be worried. Otherwise, get on with life!
  • Distract yourself. Go for a walk. Take a nap. Play a game. Read a book. Binge watch something. Obsessing over things like this is not only unhealthy, it can become a self fulfilling prophecy. We stress ourselves  out over the possibility of our bodies  freaking out, and so our body freaks out because of the stress!
  • Oddly enough, it is worth remembering we also have a positive opportunity here to focus on trust and to meditate on God’s Truths. It is very easy to talk about trusting Him when things are going well. It is also easy to throw ourselves upon Him when we are in desperate need. The grey area times, like the one I’m facing now, offer a unique chance to really apply trust when the outcome has yet to be determined. We aren’t forced into His arms neither are we blissfully unaware of the need. We have the best opportunity to be intentional about it.

Of course, if you’re really, really nervous, if you really think something may be wrong, trust your instinct. Get checked out. It’s always better to be told you’re overreacting than to find out later you weren’t….

But now I’m going to follow my own advice. Bed is calling, and with it a good book!