Hello my Zebras and Spoonies! Thanks for coming and visiting with me today. I’m glad that you’re here.
Just wanted to check in today and talk about how things have been going with my life. I am recovering from an upper respiratory infection and am in the middle of an interstitial cystitis (IC) flare. So, I have been feeling less than awesome as of late with the expectation that my bladder will continue to feel angry for a while yet. Because I have not been feeling well, my sleep has been more unstable which just makes things more difficult for me. This has also greatly effected my diet which also has a major impact on how I am feeling.
The upper respiratory infection started on the 8th of this month as just a touch of a sore throat an occasional cough. It felt like allergy stuff that day, so I didn’t think much of it. Then I woke up on Sunday and knew that there was something more going on then my allergies. When I swallowed, it felt like broken glass was grating down my throat. So, I took a look at my throat. Sure enough, there was the classic redness, swelling and white sores that indicate an infection. For me, this is usually a strep infection. Since I’m a nurse, I had to go get checked out. That meant going in to the walk in clinic since it was a weekend. They were very through. I was lucky and got the FNP that I once had as a PCP. She is very good and is familiar with my case.
She swabbed me for everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. I got the triad nasopharyngeal swab that checks for RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), flu (influenza A and B) and COVID. I got the rapid strep because that’s what we thought it was. When that came back negative, I also got the throat culture swab that looks for bacterial growth in general. They did a finger stick test to check for EBV (Epstein-Barr virus) which is the most common cause of Mononucleosis (aka mono). After all this testing, I got the diagnosis of an upper respiratory infection with an unidentified virus because all of these tests came back negative.
The really important thing that I learned during the walk in clinic appointment is that the omicron COVID strain is presenting as an upper respiratory infection. That means if you are getting cold symptoms you should get tested for COVID. This was always the case, but it is even more important now than before since those cold symptoms are much more likely to be COVID then they were before. This suggestions to me that there are many cases of COVID going undiagnosed and the rates of infection are even higher than currently being reported. Ok, enough said on that because this isn’t a COVID post!
I missed only a day of work while I waited for the COVID test to come back. Once that returned as negative I was given the green light to return to work with the condition that I had to wear an N95 the entire time I was at work until my other tests came back. This is because the N95 would keep me from spreading the other infections. Now, that being said, my employer was not saying that I had to work sick. They would have allowed me to call out sick if I was feeling too unwell to work. But since I wasn’t feeling that ill and there was a way to keep me from sharing what I had, I continued to work while I’ve had this infection. I have also continued to wear the N95 the entire time I am at work because I learned that was the only effective way to protect myself from COVID in addition to being sure I wasn’t sharing this unnamed virus.
My throat symptoms actually got worse over the first week and it got really painful. It got to where I was pretty limited on what I could tolerate eating even when using the throat numbing medications before I ate. This is what lead to my diet being so completely shifted from my usual. That, of course, lead into my stomach and guts being unhappy. They are never happy with any changes in my diet even if they are changes where I simply am eating more of “safe” foods. I feel this is most likely because of the Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) because with that it’s more about not meeting the histamine threshold than avoiding trigger foods. It can be a complex dance where you can safely eat some of a food without problems but cannot eat it with another food or over a certain amount. And you can’t eat any of that food if your body is under stress. So, yeah. It can suck to try to keep my intestinal system happy when I am sick.
Today, my throat is feeling normal. The redness, swelling and white sores have all healed up. The only symptoms that are left are the ones that I started with that made me think that my allergies were triggered by something. I have some mild nasal congestion, post nasal drip that it leading to an occasional cough and a runny nose. I am thankful that the symptoms are improving and will be glad when it has completely gone along its way.
Unfortunately, whenever I get an infection there is a high possibility that I will also get a flare in one of my chronic conditions due to the stress that my body is under. Stress is the most common trigger for flares in any chronic illness. This time around, it has been my IC that has flared up. It started to flare on the 20th while I was at work. The timing sucks because it meant that I could do nothing about it in an immediate fashion. Luckily, the pharmacy is open late enough that I was able to pick up some urine test strips on the way home. Whenever I have an IC flare, I test my urine to make sure that it is not an infection. Delaying the treatment of a urinary infection because I was treating it like a IC flare could lead to serious consequences. So, I feel it is important to rule out an infection before anything else.
Now that I know this is an IC flare and not an infection I have moved into flare management mode. This looks really different for everyone. For me, it means doing my best to increase my fluid intake even though I know that doing that will make my Gastroparesis (GP) unhappy. But it is important to flush the bladder. Doing it comes with the risk of a GP flare though and that’s always a challenge when trying to balance multiple chronic illnesses. It really is about balance and when one it flaring getting things back into balance is hard. I did end up with a day of my GP flaring and I spent a morning vomiting uncontrollably despite having taken my nausea medications. Then I was wiped out and had no more spoons which resulted in me going back to bed to sleep. This has lead to further disturbance in my sleep cycle which puts me a risk for other chronic conditions flaring, my Ocular Migraines being the most likely. But this time I was lucky and the 11 hours of sleep didn’t trigger a migraine.
Back to the IC management. I’ve been trying to drink more fluids to flush out my bladder. I have also been eating bladder calming foods which has resulted in another major change in my diet pattern that my intestinal system has not been happy about. The result is that I am definitely not constipated at this point. I was not looking for a bowel cleanse, but that’s what I got. Which also lead to me being really tired and needing to rest. This time I didn’t need to sleep. I was able to rest by playing some video games. This restores my spoons because it is something that doesn’t require much physical energy but also makes me feel really happy. Thus, on Friday the 21st, after getting an extra 5 hours of sleep (for the total of 11 hours) I spent several hours playing Seven Days to Die. There is nothing more therapeutic in life then killing zombies with a rocket launcher. I highly recommend that this be included in your self care.
The last thing that I do for my IC flare management is take Pyridium as it reduces the pain to a tolerable level. Also makes my urine the color of Tang. Good times. Then it is just a matter of waiting this flare out. There isn’t a good way to know how long it’s going to last. Could be a couple days or it might be a couple weeks. I myself will check in with my urologist if it last more than two weeks. That means it’s time for more aggressive management and I need the urologist for that.
Well, I think that’s about where I am at with things. Keeping my fingers crossed that none of my other conditions decide to also flare up. I’ve had enough flaring. I am glad that I have had the last few days off. It has allowed me to really rest and focus on self care. As much of a challenge as working while in a flare is, I cannot afford to call out every time something acts up. I wouldn’t keep my job that way. With my recent extension, I’m on this contract for six months and I have called out three times already. That’s still in the realm of being acceptable, but is hitting the number that they don’t like it. The reality is that when you work in health care there isn’t much room for self care. It is a sad reality. One that I could fill a whole post ranting about so I am not going to talk about that any further.
Thanks for coming to visit me today. I look forward to seeing you again. Until then, you take care of yourselves and be well.