Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sympathy Pains?

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.

I'm still planning on posting those notes, I just haven't gotten around to typing them up quite yet. They're still where I left them on Saturday, right next to my laptop. I was home all day Monday, and I didn't even touch my laptop, not even to check my e-mail. Yes, something was wrong with me. Very wrong.

Sunday night I was swing dancing. I had a Lindy lesson at 8:00, and then a billion high-schoolers arrived at 9:00 and stood around the edges of the dance floor, effectively halving its square footage for those of us who come there to actually dance. I was there until about 12:15. It was hot, and I don't say that because of all the underage girls. Well, I'm sure they contribute, but only by virtue of their exothermic metabolisms. Anyway, from what I heard there was a line outside the door from pretty early on, which means that the room was filled to maximum capacity with moving bodies. It's not a very well ventilated room. Did I mention it was really hot?

They have this racket at the dance hall, wherein you aren't allowed to bring your own water, and if they see a bottle there that they didn't sell you, they take it. Also, the girls' bathroom has stalls, but the guys doesn't: it's single-occupancy, not that I think that's unfair: it's just that guys don't have ready access to a sink. It's difficult to stay hydrated when your only source of water is a 500mL bottle, and you almost always have to wait in a line to get it refilled (though I must say, Seattle tap water isn't half bad).

So anyway, as I said, something was wrong with me. I'm still not exactly sure what, but I have some theories.

I got home around 12:45, hit the shower, and went to bed. I noticed that my heels were a bit swollen, but hey, I had been dancing for four hours straight: not exactly bizarre. They would be fine in the morning. Even though there are no dancing teenagers in my room, it's still a hot night: just too hot for my blanket, but still to cool for a body that's trying to cool itself off from being mostly covered in a blanket. The next hour or so is spent in some weird dream wherein parts of my body are scorching hot, while the others are freezing cold, and my mind makes up some crazy conspiracy theory that only makes sense on the other side of the REM cycle. But it did make sense: I remember that much.

3:00AM: I am awakened by pain. Gradually, mind you: at least the awakening part. My mind has a funny way of incorporating repetitive sensory stimuli into my dreams: you know, like alarm clocks, etc.; anything but sunlight, and we get lots of that here in Seattle. Somewhere in my abdomen some organ is screaming out in the most inarticulate way, yet very much to the point. Gradually, my brain engages and I come to the realization that what I am feeling right now could be bad. Very bad. My brother almost died after he unknowingly ruptured his spleen not long after he got married. What is this? Maybe it comes from watching too many episodes of House, M.D. in the past month (okay, it was all of them). Ever the pattern-finder, even in sleep, my mind comes up with a possible answer: dehydration. I get up and get glass of water. Then I get another. Sitting up helps with the pain, but only a little. The only thing I can do now is wait for my body to absorb the water and get it to that especially noisy organ. Is it my liver? Kidneys? I minored in physics, not anatomy. If this doesn't work in half an hour, I'm going to the emergency room.

It works, I go to sleep, and I wake up. Early. It's 8:00 (that's early for me). This is odd. I'm not in pain: this is good. I roll over and go back to sleep. I wake up at my usual time after hitting the snooze at least once, and get up. My hands are puffy. My fingers are swollen like sausages. I stand up, and am immediately treated a sensation that the balls and heels of my feet are each one big blister: not the painful about-to-pop kind: the squishy, deep kind that take a few days to reach the surface after that ill-advised game of basketball in the wrong pair of shoes. The skin on my arms and legs is also splotchy. "Well great," I think, "there goes the last vestige of my California tan." Kidding. It's long gone.

Great: first cramps, now I'm retaining water.

To top it all off, my knees hurt when I use them. Not only can I not comfortably step on my own feet, I can't bend my legs either without pain. I hobble over to the bathroom and brush my teeth. Rinsing my mouth with cold water I discover another surprise about this morning: my teeth have become hyper-sensitive, so, you guessed it: cold water = pain. I call my doctor's office, and ask for an appointment. On the way I call my boss and let him know where I'm going, and that I might not be coming in for the day, and I stop by a grocery store to pick up a bottle of water, which in my haste I had neglected to bring with me: non-refrigerated of course.

I hobble in and out of the store, trying as hard as I can not to look like an 80-year-old arthritic who lost his cane after someone took it and beat his fingers with it so bad he can barely get his club card out to save 25 cents on the water. Why does everyone need a database on all their customers' spending habits? Did you hear about AOL accidentally having a bunch of their users search histories posted online? Now Google is making moves to unify the Blogger login with the already-combined Gmail and search engine logins. Before they bought Lucky, Albertsons swore they would never use club cards. Google's motto is, "Don't be evil." I hear Amazon has no such qualms, though. But I digress.

It still hurts to have the marginally cool water touch my teeth, but I master the technique of pouring it down my tongue into the back of my throat and swallowing it. Well, "master" might be too strong of a word. After my appointment, I went home and slept until 2, then I lay on the couch for the rest of the day.

I'm doing much better. Monday was bad, but the symptoms are going away. I went to work today (Tuesday) just fine. My hands still feel puffy, especially when I make a fist. My heels still have that stepping-on-a-blister feeling around the edges, and I'm still getting pain in my knees when I go to sit down or stand up, but that too is going away. They took some blood and urine samples, and apparently there's a virus of some kind going around.

Anyway, suffice to say that I did not make it to Softball on Monday night.

Hopefully my knees will stop hurting by Wednesday night and I can go dancing again.


  1. Thaaaaaat explains where you've been! I was starting to get worried yesterday after I never heard back from you when I e-mailed you.

    When you get dehydrated it is better to drink things like gatorade instead of drinking lots of water because you can actually get water intoxication and while you do need the liquid, drinking a really lot of water ends up diluting the electrolytes (like salt) in your body (which you need). Your body also loses salt when you sweat, so combine the two and it can be very unhealthy. Gatorade and other sports drinks help keep it balanced. (It's even better to drink the gatorade before dancing because it helps prevent that from happening, or eat salty snacks.) Or you could get a block of salt and lick it regularly while you're there. I don't think you're disallowed from bringing salt blocks in. BUT I don't know all the symptoms of what happens with water intoxication, but it seems not unlikely that that could have happened, all things considered.

    As for the water bottles -- always ask a girl to go fill it up for you. Most girls won't ever have a problem with that. I've filled water bottles for plenty of guys I didn't know 'cause we all know that you need that water and don't have much of a sink! Just stand by the restroom when you need it filled and ask a girl going in to fill it for you.

    I left the dance after a little less than an hour. It was WAY too warm and crowded for me. Yuck. My forehead is kinda rashy from the heat. :-(

    Hope you continue to feel a whole lot better quickly! See you at lunch?

  2. Oh yeah, and you definitely want to be better by tonight. There's a live band!

  3. Tim, dehydration is inadvisable. I highly recommend that you don't try it again. Scary stuff! Glad you sought prompt medical attention!

  4. Let us know when your belly button pops out.