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July 2014

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bad girls firefighters

All about West Nile virus, and what they don't tell you on TV.

So last summer, between 4th Street and ConVergence, I got fucking sick.

I was at scott_lynch's place, far from home, and I started having lower GI pain.

...it felt like gas. Bad gas. Really, really hurty, incapacitating gas.

Okay, says I. I can deal with gas.

Then it started to really hurt. I mean, really hurt. For reference, over the years, I have had chronic kidney infections, giardiasis, and dry sockets after my wisdom teeth were extracted. This did not hurt as much as those things did.

But it was one tier down. 

We wondered if it was appendicitis, and if I should go to the E.R. (For your amusement, this was after I had enrolled in Romneycare, after moving to Massachusetts, but before it kicked in, so going to the E.R. was nontrivial.) But I had no fever. And the pain came and went in waves.

So it probably wasn't appendicitis, or nephritis... and the pain didn't localize... which admittedly it didn't when I had nephritis as a kid either, until the very end.... but I was only somewhat nauseated. And when I had nephritis... well.

You have never seen such puking. And I was running a fever of 103, which was not the case now.

Back then, I could not keep down water. Ginger ale. Last summer, I could keep food down. I just didn't want to eat anything.

And I remember that pain from when I was a kid. And this was nothing close. I could do things other than whimper, for example.

(Incapacitating pain is really dehumanizing, by the way.)

So this was not that bad, and we decided to ride it out and see what happened, and be ready to go to the E.R. on a moment's notice.

And then I started having shaking chills. Rigors. Little House on the Prairie style agues. Fucking medieval shit, shaking so hard I could not talk, could not crawl to the bathroom. I had muscle aches, weakness, loss of appetite...

...at that point, Scott figured out what was going on. He wandered into the bedroom and said triumphantly, "You have West Nile!"

Reader, I was enlightened. I'd looked at the differential on a couple of sites, but most of them leave out the fucking GI symptoms. Which were primary with me until the shaking started.

It turns out that most cases are subclinical, and the vast majority of those that aren't mirror my experience. Although usually, there is a fever to go between the rigors. (They hurt. If I ever have to write one, I Know Things now.)

Well, we could have gone to the ER, but both Scott and I have some medical knowledge, and in the absence of symptoms of encephalitis and meningitis, there was really no point. So we determined to watch for those, or a dangerous fever, and ride it out at home.

***

And now I have health insurance, for which I pay about $250.00/month. And I also have a limited immunity to West Nile, which I paid for the hard way.

And you know, if you wind up catching it this summer, maybe you'll figure it out faster than I did.

And this is why I think Obamacare is awesome, and a single payer system would be even better, and why I hope you, too, will have access to decent health care soon if you do not already.
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My then-GF got WNV the year it was everywhere, and was basically a month's worth of mononucleosis condensed in to a week and a half... she got off easy, relative to some of her coworkers (hospitalization, complications to pregnancy) and the animals for which she was caring (death, and lots of it; it more or less decimated 3/4 of that year's Mississippi Sand-Hill Crane restorative program's chicks). I, fortunately, missed out on the fun, and instead spent several days warming up soup and making tea and generally being nearby and quiet.

But I still really want single-payer health care for this country.
That's what that boy I like did for me. That and holding me down while I shook like a leaf.

It was appreciated.
Thanks for the heads-up, and Oh, Yes, on the Obamacare. Please.
Given what I heard about West Nile in horses, I'm rather paranoid about West Nile (some breeders I know on the East Coast were talking about three-times daily examinations of all the mares and foals, running them through the arena to give them the hairy eyeball, pulling out any critters with the faintest of neurological signs...and extreme treatment options). The horse gets vaccinated yearly--no need for more here yet, we've only had a few cases--and I'm obsessive about dumping water and refilling things like bird baths, etc.

And I am really, really wanting single-payer healthcare. Lost a friend to lung cancer last summer--no medical insurance--and the son had a major Crohn's flare which involved three weeks of hospitalization and gut surgery. We wants health care in this household, yes we do. The DH has a not-so-paranoid theory that the Powers That Be are well aware that healthcare is their only hold over a lot of people they're trying to work to death.....
Yeah. Sometimes I wonder too.
One major advantage to having been an expat: any time people tell me about the evils of "socialism", I get to say, "Have you experienced nationalized health care personally? Then shut up." Hasn't happened yet, but I'm kind of looking forward to it.

Thank you for sharing this. Bodies are so weird, as are diseases, and learning more about what can happen is always useful.

Edited at 2013-03-20 03:33 am (UTC)
Glad you survived. Having had them myself, I agree that rigors are a total bummer. Not West Nile, though. Scarlet fever. At age 21. 104F temp. Got some joint damage, but no heart valve damage, though, which was my main fear. That boy you like sounds more and more like a real keeper.
I'm one state north of you, and as of the end of this month I can no longer pay for Elric and my health insurance ($1800/month -- that's the cheapest we can get from the only insurance offered to individuals in NH).

We can't wait for Obamacare, though I guess that's moot. What scares me is he's a cancer survivor, has to take medicine for his now missing adrenal gland or he'll quite literally die, and I have lupus and Sjogrens. And take 16 different meds a day to stay alive.

The next few weeks will be interesting as we both have to stop all medical and prescription coverage cold turkey.
Ooof. I'm really sorry. I wish New Hampshire was being better about this. :-(
Sounds remarkably similar in presentation to my bouts with Malaria and Dengue. Both of which saw me hospitalized and semi-delirious.

Just so you know, you didn't need to go the "Method" route to acquire that knowledge. I'd have been happy to share my experiences with you, so next time you might wish to decline the offer of a new disease and just inquire of your readers if they have appropriate experiences to share.
Tropical diseases. WHY????
Because the universe is perverse and hates us by default.

Why else would there be so many large (And not so large) Predators that enjoy the taste of human?

Why else would there be so many diseases that seem to exist for the sole reason of increasing the sum of human suffering?

Why else would there be professional politicians?

I'd never heard of West Nile Virus - sounds hideous.

We moan about the NHS but I have never had to worry about whether or not I can afford a doctor. I am always grateful for that.