Monday, October 12, 2009

Oh, crap!

Forget it, I can't take anti-biotics. I guess I can't ever get any infections unless they are major enough that the reaction is worth it. On Day 7 of taking the sulfa I had a massive migraine style headache. Day 8 I had fever, chills, nausea, headache and general achy-ness. That afternoon I broke out in a rash. Not hives, like last month, a totally different kind of animal on my arms and legs. By dinner time I was in bad shape, everything was pulling towards the right. Walking to the bathroom was like walking on a ferry in a storm and even after several hours of sleep and warm blankets I was still freezing so I had my Mom take me to the Emergency room. My heart rate was 120 and my temperature was 103.2. The doctor thought I had swine flu, but the blood they took out of my arm said otherwise. So what was it?

Serum Sickness! Not an allergic reaction, but an immunilogical reaction. In an allergic reaction you release histamine and a bunch of other chemicals from your mast cells to combat something your body has decided is an evil invader. That's what causes the hives and the itching and the stuffy sinuses etc. etc. This new reaction, however, is caused by your white blood cells making anti-bodies against whatever your body has decided is bad and they catch the molecules of whatever it it and then hook onto cell walls. I'm simplifying here, but you get the idea. It's kind of annoying to realize just how much of "being sick" has nothing to do with the virus or bacteria and is, in fact, your own body reacting to them that causes you to feel so lousy.

Serum sickness is when your body decides that proteins in your bloodstream are really viruses and attacks them with antibodies. It is mostly experienced by people who get anti-venom for snake or spider bites and people who need rabies shots but it can, on rare occasions, be caused by anti-biotics. Mostly Penicillin but Sulfa drugs can cause it too. It feels like you have the flu until your system manages to flush out the offending proteins and stops the reaction. Eight days I had a high fever and was taking delightful cocktails of Advil, Tylenol, Antihistamine/anti-nausea medicine and Orange Gatorade. For days I couldn't stomache anything but popsicles, saltine crackers and poached eggs. Even chicken soup made me sick. Hot turkey dinner sandwiches ended the fast and they tasted so good!

Now I'm just waiting. The first anti-biotic I took knocked the infection down, but it came back five weeks later. It's been three weeks since I stopped the Sulfa and hopefully this time it's gone. I'm hoping whatever the Sulfa didn't kill the fever did.

1 comment:

The Moody Minstrel said...

That brings up the real question:

Which is worse, the sickness or the cure?

(Wait a minute...did I just see Robert Smith look in the window?)