So apparently I almost certainly have Cat Scratch Fever. And apparently my level is off-the-charts high and I may have had it for a really, really long time. It can cause fatigue, headache, sore throat, swollen glands, and such. As my doctor asked me about contact with felines, I asked him what this find meant for me. I was away at school when I had my first crash of what at the time was called “mystery illness” and I now call ME, and at that time I hadn’t been in contact with any cats at all. Did he think this could be responsible for my condition? He sort of laughed and said that, no, I have this in addition to whatever else is wrong with me. Joy.
As a side note, I can’t even type Cat Scratch Fever with a straight face. It sounds like I’ve gone into heat. Or like a dance craze or something. They might as well have told me I had Saturday Night Fever instead.
On the down side, something clearly weird is probably going on with my immune system, given that most people clear this up all on their own within a month or two. On the plus side, the right antibiotics should get rid of the infection with or without my body’s assistance, which could result in some mystery amount of improvement in some of the related symptoms. I’m trying not to get my hopes up too high, but surely carrying around an active bacterial infection for years has got to take a toll, right? Or at least, not carrying around an active bacterial infection has got to feel better. What if they give me antibiotics and suddenly I’m 60% improved?? Or 20% improved? Or the same, except with an intoxicating banana aroma that follows me around?
It’s been a bit of a confidence shaker, though. I’ve often joked that I’ll be totally screwed if any serious health complication ever finds me, because I have so many severe symptoms that I’ve long ago stopped even mentioning them. This seems pretty common with ME patients. At the beginning, I would take my concerns to the doctor, but I’ve discovered that most doctors don’t like investigating symptoms once you pass a certain number. A mystery number. The Crazy Number. So it’s okay to have one, or two, or three debilitating symptoms, but once you reach the Crazy Number, they all just get lumped into one basket and nothing ever gets investigated again.
It would be nice to feel like somebody would look into the major ones, just in case. I’m sure I still might keep the less severe but doubly strange ones to myself. Crazy Number or not, I’m sure some of them would sound a little nuts. Generally I find just about all of my symptoms nuts, and I’m the one living through them. Hours and hours of daily hic-ups for a month straight for no reason, body? Really? Now you’re just trying to mess with me.
Anyway, I have severe mystery ripping pains, and severe nausea, and severe chills, and severe vertigo, and severe you-name-it very frequently. And not in a nice, predictable way where I can get used to what to expect and easily identify anything new. It’s raging night sweats one week and then horrible sudden chest pains the next. I’ve accepted that my body apparently does strange things for a long time now. It’s so common for me to involuntarily cry out in pain in our house that my husband barely even looks up anymore when it happens. We’ve adjusted, and go on with life as we’re able. And none of it even gets mentioned to my doctors.
The point being that every month something happens to me that feels like a crisis easily worthy of the emergency room. And I brush off every one. If ever my appendix burst, or I had a heart attack, or I picked up a touch of leprosy, or my intestines tied themselves into balloon poodles, I would be at home, calmly trying to go on about my business, or waiting in a heap on the floor for it to pass.
Because agony, or nausea, or shaking, or weakness, or chills, or skin that falls off, or bloating in the shape of balloon poodles is a part of my normal life. Plus, really, if I went to the ER for everything that felt worthy of the ER, I’d be there constantly. And I’m sure that the same doctors who would reprimand me for letting such severe symptoms go on without seeking medical treatment would roll their eyes if I came in to tell them about them now.
But finding out I have an ongoing infection is a reminder that other things can still happen to me, and that I will be totally blind to the symptoms of anything that does. It will have the chance to do it’s thing unhindered for ages and ages before anybody notices something wrong.
And that’s a damned unpleasant thing to be reminded of.
Good thing I’m immortal.
[Note: I may not actually be immortal. I think that may have passed after my teenage years. ...But I also no longer wear a walkman. Fair trade.]
[...Not that I wore a walkman, like, all the time or anything. Just at the appropriate moments. I don't want to colour that into your mental picture of my high school years. But still. Any walkman is too much walkman.]