Shortly after the 2017 Fall pollen season ended, California went up in flames. It seemed like the majority of the state was on fire at the same time. I was fortunate that there were no fires near me, but the smoke from other fires filled the air.
I assumed that the unexpected sore throat I had was due to the fires. Then, I figured it must be a strange sort of sinus infection. It turned out to be tonsillitis – something I’ve never had before.
When I thought I had a sinus infection, I started taking an herbal remedy that has helped me fight sinus infections in the past. This time, it didn’t seem to be working, and I couldn’t understand why. By now, I’d had a sore throat for about a week or so.
One day, I realized that I was struggling to swallow the herbal medications that I take daily. The smaller ones hurt to swallow. The larger ones became impossible to swallow. I couldn’t understand why. I’ve never had this odd symptom happen as a result of a sinus infection before. Maybe my throat was sore from all the smoke in the air?
I started crushing up the larger herbal remedy that I take. Both it, and the smaller one, reduce the inflammation and pain that my rheumatoid arthritis causes (for lack of a better description). Being unable to take it eventually resulted in the pain in my hands and feet returning.
It turns out, putting the big, bright yellow, curaphen tablet into a plastic bag, and hitting it with a meat tenderizer, works quite well to break it up into smaller pieces. I was able to swallow the pieces without too much difficulty. But later, even the little pieces started to hurt too much to swallow.
After about two weeks or so of confusing symptoms, I made a doctor’s appointment. I still have health insurance coverage through “Obamacare”, so I could afford to go. The doctor that I saw a long time ago, when I had Medi-Cal coverage (the name California gives to their Medicaid program), was still at “the clinic for the poor people”.
I struggled through making an appointment with an incredibly kind receptionist. I was exhausted, and had trouble giving her the information I needed. She noticed that my Medi-Cal was no longer active, and I updated my record with my “Obamacare” insurance. She asked why I wanted to see the doctor, and I told her I had a sore throat and, probably, a sinus infection.
Three weeks or so after I noticed that I had a sore throat, I was in the doctor’s office. It was Halloween, and the nurse was wearing a headband that had a cartoon-looking spider on it. The nurse had me step on a scale, which is standard procedure, and it turned out I’d lost an two pounds since the last time I weighed myself. I attribute this to my inability to eat much due to having a sore throat.
The nurse tested me for strep, which came up negative. I’d been tested for strep before, years ago, and forgot how icky an experience that is. Why is it that when a person goes to see a doctor about some body part that is sore – the first thing they do is poke it with something?
I wasn’t sure how long I would have to wait for the doctor, so I filled the time by playing Pokémon GO. Their Halloween event was going on, and I was trying to catch Pokémon that were related to the event.
The doctor was wearing the type of mask that protects people from catching airborne viruses. It made sense. He quickly checked my sinuses and throat, and diagnosed me with…. acute bacterial tonsillitis. I’ve never had that before, so this was unexpected.
My “Obamacare” insurance covered enough of the cost of the antibiotic for me to be able to afford it. The pharmacist didn’t know whether or not the antibiotic was gluten free. She was very understanding, and brought me as much information as she could find about the medication. After sifting through teeny-tiny print on a large piece of paper, we found the part that listed the inactive ingredients.
The antibiotic turned out to be gluten free, which meant it was safe for me to take.
Shawn and I walked home from the pharmacy, in part because I had just enough energy to do it that day, and also because I wasn’t sure how sick the antibiotic would make me (or for how long). There was no way to know how many days I’d be stuck inside, too sick to leave the house.
Somewhere along the way, I realized that I probably wasn’t taking my acute bacterial tonsillitis very seriously.
There are times when one or more of my chronic illnesses are symptomatic and I try and push through it in order to do something fun. Honestly, if I waited to do things until I feel good – nothing would ever get done. I think this is true for many people with chronic illnesses. But, tonsillitis was different… this one is curable. I’m going to have to take it easy until I’m cured.
Immediately upon returning home, I took a look at the antibiotic. They are HUGE, and I have to take all of them (two a day). Let’s review: I had a sore throat that was getting worse. I couldn’t swallow some of my medications due to the sore throat. The doctor confirms that my throat is sore due to tonsillitis…. and prescribes me gigantic antibiotics that I cannot possibly swallow.
My husband, Shawn, cut each one in half for me. The pills had an indentation across the middle, which I think means that many people have to break them up in order to take them. For the first few days, I could swallow the half-pills. Yesterday, my sore throat rebelled, and I nearly choked. I’m reduced to chewing these awful tasting half-pills.
Five days after I went to the doctor, I weighed myself. I’d lost half a pound. This is both good and bad. I’m overweight, so losing half a pound in five days meant I was heading in the right direction. The bad news is that the weight loss is likely coming from my inability to eat as much as I should be because my throat is sore. I’ll have to pay close attention to this because when I lose weight too fast I end up anemic.
Nothing is ever easy, and I am exhausted.