September 2nd, 2010


Good new: bronchitis responds to antibiotics. Bad news: falling over ;-(

When I realised I'd been ill for over three weeks and wasn't actually getting any better any more, I used the NHS Direct Web site to find out if I had anything a doctor could help with. Goodness, the site said, once I'd got past the meningitis questions, very likely - can we call and take you through all the same questions in a nice friendly human way and then tell you to make an appointment? I'd been ruling out a chest infection because I hadn't been wheezing, but I think that's more pneumonia - infection down in the lungs; my vividly green phlegm and the obstruction in my upper chest, in the bronchial tubes indicate bronchitis. This is why I've been getting dizzy when I cough and seeing spots before my eyes (well, really more like fast-moving glitter). I'd been blaming the congestion in my sinuses for my poor balance; in the last couple of weeks I've fallen off a stool and stopped myself falling downstairs at least twice. I think I just trod on the soap getting into the shower this morning, and that's actually the most painful fall - so just as I was feeling better from the antibiotics I end up feeling all shaken and wanting to curl up.

My mental processes are picking up and I'm capable of much more complex thoughts but I forget what I was doing if I stop - I can't rewind the threads in the stack and do the context switches the way I usually do, I still can't hold an entire argument in my head at once and my vocabulary is - what's the word - not as good as usual; I say 'thing' a lot... if I was with it enough to feel more Flowers for Algernon about it I'd be more horrified. Mind body duality and the way illness depresses the mental functions; I want to say something cleverer about it. Also the admiration I feel for friends with debilitating conditions who get this kind of effect longer term.

Also gratitude for modern pharmaceuticals and for a balanced medical system that tells me to use steam as well as pills. I came across a fantastic essay about the journalist responsibilities of writing about vaccination, from a journalist who got death threats after covering the vaccination 'debate' for Wired (I found it from twitter and I can't currently think of the right search terms to find it again). I could never be as respectful as the writer about idiots who don't understand the concept of herd immunity and while I have sympathy for parents who are worried about doing the wrong thing or whose children have been diagnosed autistic I think it's a far greater tragedy that whooping cough, measles and mumps are now diseases that once again kill children. Science journalism has a hard path to tread between not accepting claims of pharmaceutical developers without challenge and making wingnuts think that the whole medical industry is out to make money by charging patients to kill themselves with new drugs. Insert more sophisticated analysis here (I might come back and do that when I have a brain; today I shall stick to something less challenging).