Posted by: Kate | March 9, 2008

What’s in Your Nightmare?

night·mare (nīt’mâr’) , n.

  1. A dream arousing feelings of intense fear, horror, and distress.
  2. An event or experience that is intensely distressing.
  3. A demon or spirit once thought to plague sleeping people.

I got to combine parts 1 and 2 today.  And perhaps 3, though I’ve always been a bit more concerned about the demons plaguing the awake people than the sleeping ones.

The dream part are the old standbys, the ones where you suddenly realize you’ve shown up to work in your pajamas or are walking upstream through a crowd of strangers who don’t look at you.  Perhaps the one where you’re falling and wake up just before you land, or you have a lascivious dream about some random person you’ve never even given a conscious thought.  Freud and friends had things to say about each, and that’s all well and good, I suppose.  I’ve always been more of the mind that dreams are the brain’s way of shaking out and refolding its laundry, getting everything back into decent shape again.  Sometimes dryer sheets fall to the ground or a string is left hanging and needs to be snipped, and what better time to do housework when no one else is wandering around, getting in the way and making new messes?  It’s a strange analogy, I grant you, but it’s my strange analogy.

But those first two came true, a bit, today, so that I got my very own made-to-order waking nightmare.

I’d been feeling better the past few days, after what initially was diagnosed as a bladder infection was upgraded to the new and improved e. coli infestation, because apparently I don’t do normal illnesses.  Yesterday, I woke up feeling nauseous and dizzy, but indulged in a frenzy of preparation for overnight houseguests, and once I started moving around I felt human again.

So when I woke up this morning, again nauseous and dizzy, after a night of very poor sleep and a fever, I again planned to just push through it in hopes of a repeat of yesterday, healthwise.  We’d had a good meal and after-the-kids-are-in-bed conversation, and it was just a successful night.

But those plans?  Not so successful.  We got the van packed up, and I started driving them down toward Boston; normally a 60-75 minute drive.  I made it about 45 minutes in, and was suddenly in a cold sweat, vertigo like I’d been on the Teacups ride in DisneyWorld a week before arriving, a desperate need to empty myself of every morsel of food that I had not been able to eat before leaving.  I was not successful; I couldn’t even manage a good dry heave.  There was an intense and wretched pain in my upper abdomen, as well, which managed to be both dull and intense at the same time.  I had to ask my guests to drive my minivan the rest of the way to the airport, because I was not going to allow my illness to interrupt their vacation.

I had to stop several times after dropping them off, to pause and try to convince my body that, really, sometimes retching is a good thing.  One of those stops was at the Museum of Science, on the dual criteria that I knew where it was and I thought perhaps they cleaned the bathrooms more often than your average gas station.  Turns out, I was correct on the first criterion and very much not so on the second.  Ye gods, this is a family establishment!  And I’d chosen the bathrooms near the Food Court; I can’t imagine what sorts of science experiments were happening elsewhere.

I’d never been at the Science Museum ill, and never been there without my kids.  It’s an odd experience; suddenly, you are invisible, or perhaps you were always invisible but paying attention to the children allowed you to be unaware of it.  The illness turns individual conversations into a roaring din, with a few snippets of parenting, both good and not so good, permeating through.  Extremely dreamlike, and not in the least bit pleasant.

It took two and a half hours for me to get back into the county, and another two and a half hours to actually get home, because as soon as I was close enough for transportation not to be an issue, I went to the Emergency Department.  The moment I got out of the car, I felt less horrible, and briefly entertained the idea of napping on the couch in my office there before continuing home.  Then I decided I’d already done enough damage to my husband’s psyche by repeated, pathetic phone calls, and if something was really wrong, I needed to find out what.

Enter nightmare #2: Wear Your Jammies to Work Day.  I know these people; I’ve argued with some, laughed with others, and generally treat them with respect and receive the same.  And all of that remained largely constant, except that today I wasn’t wearing pants.

After a bunch of labwork and questions, I’ve been told that I seem to have reached a toxic level of Bactrim, the antibiotic I was prescribed for last week’s fun and games.  It’s an unusual but not unheard of side effect of some antibiotics, and of course I got it.  I seem to have a gift for accidentally learning about the weird side effects and reactions.  I’d rather be able to turn a cartwheel.

The good news is, my white blood cell count is back to normal and I’ve had no ongoing symptoms of infection, so I can just discontinue the Bactrim and wait for the inner ear to stop freaking out, which it should do, if my coworker doctor is accurate, within a day or so.  Rumor has it that the stomach pain I was having was essentially an internal dry heave, a spasm of the stomach or esophagus in an attempt to do something about the spinning.  It should fade, too, but just in case I’ve been given two antinausea medications, instructions to use Prilosec for the next two weeks, and an appointment for a followup ultrasound of the gallbladder.

So I’m decidedly low on piss-and-vinegar today, and heavily embarrassed for not only going to work in my pajamas but being sent home with something as unexotic and nonthreatening as an ear infection.  But I’m striving toward optimism, because all the labwork made sense and I have a decent plan that should place me in Florida by the end of the week.  And I might even be able to make it all the way to the airport without stopping.


  1. Oh how awful! Feel better.

  2. ye gods,Kate! enough already! Feel better, and let me know if you need more germanchocolatecake to fix things.

  3. I hope you’re feeling better Kate. Some sunshine will do you good!!

  4. I wonder if reading this last night before I went to bed had anything to do with this…
    I had a horrible nightmare and slept the worst I have in some time. Derek was in the hospital because he got dirty? I did not take good enough care of him. We were staying in a hotel across the street and arguing Monet got out of the room unnoticed went down 5 flights and walked into a busy street and got hit…it was gruesome. They were at different hospitals and to top it off I went shopping instead of being by her or Derek’s sides!!! I woke up really off today.

  5. Holy cats, Kate. Hope you’re feeling much better now!

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