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April 2016



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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.


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.