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bear by san

March 2017



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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.


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.