I was standing out by one of Debbie's flowerbeds thinking I really needed to help her clean it up. I could trim along here, pull that out....and that's when it hit me. I felt the world start to spin. Then the world stopped spinning but I kept on. I turned to go inside and fell to the ground and lay there for a moment thinking, "Never even saw that bus coming..". I worked my way back up on wobbly knees and tried to walk. Three steps later I fell again. I thought this is where I'm going to die. My strong will alone made it back up only to fall a third time. I lay in the grass until my breathing slowed down and made it to my feet once more. I staggered into the door before collapsing a fourth time. Debbie ran over and helped me to a chair.
Debbie began washing my face and neck down with a wet towel while I drank water. I was soaked with sweat yet trembling from the cold. It took nearly an hour for some sense of normalcy to return. I was left with weak, sore muscles and a terrible headache. I spent the rest of the evening in my chair drinking water and changing back and forth from shivering cold to searing heat. Finally Debbie helped me to bed where I slept thirteen hours. When I woke up my head felt like it could explode and my whole body ached. Debbie checked my temperature and it was 103. She called Cody and he sent me straight to the ER since "sixty-six year old men shouldn't have 103 temperature".
The emergency room was busy but I didn't have to wait too long. As I lay there answering questions and watching an amazing team worked to make me feel better, I wondered just how long this was going to take. I wanted to go back home and sit in my chair. As it turns out, I had to give up on an early release. The more the doctors conferred, the faster the nurses worked. They couldn't come up with an easy answer and suggested I stay overnight "for observation". Before assigning me to a room they needed to run just one more test....a spinal tap. Before they could do the procedure I needed to provide a small urine sample. I was obviously dehydrated. A simple little sample was going to be difficult. They left me alone with a weird looking plastic jug and waited....and waited...for over half an hour. Eventually the nurse came in and told me if I didn't get with the program he would need to introduce me to Mr. Catheter. That did nothing to speed the process. An hour later I managed to provide the needed sample. As the relief flowed I noticed a dampness on my feet. The plastic jug had a hole in the bottom. I ran to the door and yelled. This is an emergency room at a large hospital. There was absolutely no one there. I sat the jug on the floor and laid back down. When the nurse finally returned, he had to scramble to salvage enough of a sample. I had nothing more to give. (As a side note, Debbie had left to charge her phone during all this. As I related the story to her later she asked what it was I had yelled. I answered "Help, because Pee didn't sound appropriate".)
After I got to my room I found out I was being tested for several spooky scenarios, the worst of which was bacterial meningitis. They were also treating my dehydration with bag after bag of saline solution which would rebuild my internal water supply. I would need to make several bathroom breaks during the night "so we brought you a plastic jug". They needed to measure my intake and....pee..how else can I say it? And to make the evening more entertaining, I would need to have a nurse with me each time I peed. Did you know when your body is force-fed water it insists on getting rid of it without warning? I would hit the little red button and the nurse would come help me to the restroom, wait outside the door, then help me back to my bed. If she was even a minute late I was forced to go on our date without her...no waiting, no grace factor. On the first solo trip my original weakness had returned and my hands shook. I filled the little jug and promptly dropped it on the floor. I was too weak to bend over so I did what I did best...went back to bed. The same thing happened two more times that night. They were very sorry for not being there to help me.....very sorry indeed.
What started out as an overnight observation turned into a five night ordeal. My temperature was continuing, my headache couldn't be relieved and all my muscles were sore and weak. I had confusion, memory loss, and constant dizziness. As more and more blood was drawn to test other possible diseases I began to worry I would never leave the hospital. These things do happen. On Friday afternoon it was determined I was definitely sick....but no one had any idea why. They had enough blood drawn to keep the lab busy for several days and meningitis had been ruled out so.....I could go home the next morning and be miserable there for free. The next morning I anxiously waited for my release. As a nurse checked my blood pressure she looked down at my legs. They were covered in a rash. She checked my arms, back, neck and yes, a new symptom had come along. My trip home was cancelled. Luckily, they could draw more blood and start over on my problem. Yea!! An infectious disease doctor was called in. He went through all the previous tests and added others to cover every known infectious disease. He quickly ruled them all out and started asking about insect bites. He immediately started an antibiotic IV drip even though I couldn't remember any insect bites of any kind. Within hours my headache was gone and I was beginning to feel less "flu like". I stayed on the antibiotic while they tested for a culprit. Although no exact insect was found to blame the doctor agreed to let me come home late Sunday afternoon. He would continue to research while I rested. I am to meet with him in a week or so.
I'm feeling much better now. The headache comes and goes but the severity isn't what it had been. My strength is slowly returning so I can begin my "no, I am not too old to take care of the lawn" campaign soon. The only test result we're still waiting to hear about is for West Nile Virus. Maybe that will be the one. Whatever it turns out to be, it's awful. I hope no one else is bitten by a similar evil culprit.