Sick in a Foreign Land

Diana and Lisa will be visiting me next week, so I’ve been working alot lately on my paper (which is shaping up quite nicely now!)  In addition to that, I got sick … so, that is why I haven’t posted in a while.

I woke up on Tuesday feeling awful.  It was hard to get out of bed, I was hot and cold at the same time.  In general, all movements were painful and I had a horrible headache on top of it all.  After an extremely slow and forced process of getting ready in the morning, I made it out of my bedroom presentable.  And, I managed to go to lunch (where I just had soup) and teach my topology seminar.  Later in the afternoon, the headache reappeared, so I had to retreat to my bedroom for a mid-afternoon nap.  I woke up not feeling so well, so I just tried to rest for the remainder of the evening.

Then, on Wednesday, the headache came back with a vengeance.  It also brought along it’s comrades, sore throat and runny nose.  Luckily (or maybe unluckily), the occupational physician happened to be at IST that morning.  She comes only twice a month, so it seemed to be too convenient with my timing of falling ill.  I walked over to her “office,” which happened to be the hotel room almost next-door to mine.  She told me to take Aspirin-C.  I looked it up online and it is, as you would guess, Aspirin plus vitamin-C.

I did not have the energy to go to the pharmacy, so I rooted through the drugs in my stash.  I have 3 types of eyedrops thanks to Dave’s father.  One type of medicine that would probably have been good, but was expired.  I had Tylenol PM, allergy medicine, and plenty of Benadryl.  Needless to say, I usually don’t take medicine.  I took one of the allergy pills thinking it might help, and went to take a nap.

I woke up from the nap (although I never really fell asleep), with the realization that I probably needed a better medicine and maybe the doctor was right.  So, I sent a text message to Michaela to see if she was free to go to the Pharmacy for me.  Luckily, she was. The Aspirin-C came in dissolvable tablets.  I dropped one in a glass of water (without reading the directions) and drank my medicine.  After resting for another 20 minutes, I was able to go back down to my office.  There, Olga and I parsed through the directions of the Aspirin-C to find out that I could have taken 2 tablets at once, and my next dose was to be in 3 hours.

Olga and I then went to grab a cup of tea on the Bridge.  Turns out, we had to refill the water tank of the hot water dispenser and wait for it to heat up again.  Upon returning, my face felt tingly.  I stop in the bathroom to find that I am breaking out in hives.

So, back to my room I go.  I brought 2 Benadryl with me, but wanted to confirm with my doctor first that it was ok to take.  (I usually don’t take any medicine, so multiple medicines in one day was a bit scary to me).  I attempt to call Duke Student health.  As luck wasn’t on my side that day, they were having phone issues.  I search around and found another phone number to try.  This one rang for a while, then eventually forwarded to UNC’s answering service.  When someone was finally on the other side of the line, they asked me why I called them and not Duke.  After explaining how I reached them, they had to first investigate why Duke did not answer.  (As I am impatiently waiting on the phone, worrying that they would tell me to go to the hospital).  Finally, they discover that they can’t get through to Duke student health and put me on the line with one of the UNC nurses.

The nurse confirmed my suspicion that I was having an allergic reaction to the Aspirin.  (Good thing I didn’t take both tablets like the directions said!)  She gave me explicit direction to never take Aspirin again.  She allowed me to take the Benadryl, but warned if the hives did not go away that I had to go to the hospital.

After I took the Benadryl, I ate some dinner (clear soup, bread, and home-made chips).  The hives were disappearing, but not entirely gone.  Just in case, I researched nearby hospitals (maybe here?).  Then, I took a nap & then a shower.  My inability to do work for most of the day made me go back to my office to work on my paper for a little while.  Luckily, by the time I went to bed, there was no longer any sign of having hives.

Today, I woke up without the headache but still with a sore throat and runny nose.  But, overall I am much better 🙂  Hopefully tomorrow will be better yet.

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3 Responses to “Sick in a Foreign Land”

  1. Cryptic Message « Brittany's Blog Says:

    […] Brittany's Blog my life as a graduate student in a foreign country « Sick in a Foreign Land […]

  2. Laura Says:

    ugh!! bummer! but I am surprised you haven’t had aspirin yet to know you’re allergic to it…

    • bfasy Says:

      I usually don’t get sick, and when I do .. I don’t take medicine unless I have to. So, I’m not surprised. lol. I also read that people who have a history of hives (that’s me) have something like a 75% chance of being allergic to aspirin. Wonderful.

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