Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Because the tsetse fly is large, brown, and stealthy, you just never know. . .

Yesterday I was pretty sure I either had something dire, like meningitis or trypanosomiasis (also called sleeping sickness). Because I was so endlessly tired.

Not to be all dramatic or anything.

On a tangent (because you know I love to tange) the tsetse fly, which spreads trypanosomiasis, is really interesting. The tsetse fly is described as "large, brown, and stealthy" - how great a description is that? This fascination fits right in with all the other parasites by which I'm endlessly fascinated.

But in a horrified, I sure hope that doesn't happen to me, kind of way.

Sunday night I went to bed at 10 pm and barely managed to crawl out at 10 am. I promptly went back to sleep and slept almost all day. I felt like crap, but mostly I was just tired, so very tired.

On Monday I accomplished only two things: a blog post, and the painting of my toenails. Orange. Both from bed. And that was all.

If you live in the DC area you know that Monday was one of the most exquisite days of the year. I felt like one of those consumptive 19th century heroines, confined to bed, gazing longingly out the window, putting out a wan hand to draw the shades.

Can you tell I was feeling very sorry for myself?

I wanted to get up and out. But frankly, I just couldn't move.

Tuesday morning Nick woke me up, and the minute I stood up, I thought my head was going to explode. Seriously. My brain felt too big for my skull. I broke into a sweat, felt dizzy, nauseous, and had to sit down.

He wanted me to stay home, but I figured I only had a half day, as I had a physical scheduled for the afternoon. I could make it that long.

So in the car I had the AC blasting on my sweaty face, and I was trying very hard to concentrate and not throw up in the car. Which prompted Nick to drive me straight home and order me to bed.

This is the point at which I became certain that it was something calamitous and fatal. And then I started thinking, with trypanosomiasis, it may be fatal, but you have time. Meningitis? I think that's pretty swift. Naturally, I was worried.

I considered calling all my loved ones, just in case, the way I do when I'm going to get on a plane, but I was just too tired.

Nick didn't seem as concerned as I, and said he'd check in later.

He called to wake me up around noon and I was still alive, so that part was good. I popped some Advil and had some tea and tottered feebly off to the doctor.

I was there for a routine physical. But I started off with my current ailment. Which, as anyone could plainly see, was grim. I waited to see what she'd say, because of course I didn't want to make the diagnosis for her.

Also, I didn't want her to think I was an alarmist. I try to perpetuate the illusion of normalcy for as long as possible, you know?

I listed my symptoms.

"It's probably a virus."

"A virus?"

"Yes. Or it could be allergies. This has been a terrible season."


"I think it's allergies or a virus."

"Allergies or a virus?"

By this point I'm fairly certain she was beginning to wonder if the main problem was that I was simple, since I didn't seem to be able to do much beyond repeat what she'd said.

The good thing was, I'd made a list of issues to discuss. Her nurse had suggested it last week, when I'd gone in to do blood work and give a urine specimen (which, actually, I'd like to discuss at a later time). It was really helpful, because I can never remember these things in the moment.

She assuaged my fears on a number of issues. So later I went through the list with Nick all of the things that we'd discussed.

"So, did you ask her about your boobs?"


"Did you ask her why she thinks your boobs are enormous lately?"

"Um, no, I didn't think to."

"Too bad."

"You think it's a problem?"

"No, but I was just thinking that then you could've asked her what you can do to keep them this way."

Unhelpful. Trypanosoma. Is the look I gave him.

I'm back at work today, so she was probably right. A virus. Or allergies.


  1. i'm in VA and allergies knocked the crap out of me a couple weeks ago. i didn't eat for at least a day and a half (but i can button my pants better now : )
    my man convinced me that it was allergies and i wasn't in fact dying. i'm taking a generic claritin now and i feel back to normal. i highly recommend testing it out.

    hope you feel better soon

  2. I'm chronically afflicted with "the vapors", as I call my allergies when I feel particularly melodramatic. And I have about one weekend per year where my body just shuts down and mandates sleep for 48 hours or so.

    I hope you just needed some rest, and are recovered quickly. :o)

  3. Exhaustion, nausea, and enormous boobs? I'm just sayin'....

  4. Sleep! It does the body good...

    Glad you're feeling better. :-)

  5. I'm with pronoia! Yippee!

  6. notsojenny - I believe it could be allergies. This has been the worst year ever. I didn't eat for the last couple days and I think I dropped a little weight, too, actually!

    Dagny - I like calling them "the vapors" - excellent! And I do believe you can just overload and shut down.

    Pronoia - Ohhh. Noooooo, no no no. Really, no.

    VVK - Sleep can just be the best thing.

    Anonymous - Yippee, but no. Yippee in a few months would be perfect.

  7. Ha! I just got health insurance last week (aren't you SO PROUD??) and I will be scheduling my first physical in years sometime soon!

    I don't think I'll need to ask about my enlarging boobs though, because I know it's just from the weight gain that opening a cookie shop comes with. :)

  8. Pronoia may be onto something- the boob thing is kinda-- hmm. Of course I had a friend who took a pregnancy test a couple weeks ago because her boobs hurt (no pregnancy, but I think being around me made her paraniod). I told her if she got knocked up soon I could pass on my maternity clothes and save her money, but she wasn't falling for it. I'd make you the same offer, but I think you'd be a size smaller- and you don't wear black all of the time.

  9. Nicole - You know I am doing a little happy relief! dance for you. Yes, I AM proud of you! As for the opening of KK, that's a great reason for weight gain! Yum!

    Mary - You know, I have a feeling it has something to do with being around pregnant women, actually. Two of my colleagues are pregant and I feel like I'm hormonally susceptible. And than you for the offer :)

  10. I hope it isn't mono (which is a virus) but the blood test will show it if it is. And then the cure is restrestrest.

  11. My first thought was also the p-word. But ok, not yet. Not when you've picked a dress and all. But isn't it just too insulting, to feel like you have the plague, but be told that it's likely allergies? It just negates all the ick and blagh symptoms you have.

  12. lacochran - Yikes! I really hope it isn't!

    Susan - I know! I want to look fabulous in the dress. And yes, it's not that you *hope* for something more severe, but it does feel like a little let down!

  13. I'm glad that it might just be allergies or a virus. It occurred to me, though, when you mentioned the boob thing that living with Nick might be messing with your hormones. I can't remember where I read it or if it was even true, but I remember reading/hearing that when you move in with someone - man or woman - it can affect your hormones.

    I like your pregnant coworker theory, too.


    "large, brown, and stealthy"

    I can't believe nobody said,

    "Like my POOP!"

    It's just SITTING OUT THERE!


  15. Damn stealthy parasites, always getting the best of us obvious people.

    You sound like you'd fit in easily with the microbiology community--we never have mundane things like a cold, but always manage to diagnose ourselves with something much worse based on what we study. Fun fun.

    Glad you don't have meningitis OR trypanosomes!!

  16. if it keeps up, get your thyroid checked. i've been on thyroid replacement therapy for fourteen years, and if i stop my meds, even for a couple of days, i crash. NATURALLY i had to diagnose myself, but fortunately i have a pretty open-minded doctor, and when i suggested i thought i might be hypothyroid, she said "yeah, we can check you for that." when the blood work came back positive, i like to think she was impressed by my diagnostic capabilities, but maybe she was just surprised that my complaints were not "somatic" (the new term for psychosomatic, donchaknow)

    also - i see from earlier posts that you've lived overseas, so don't rule out trypanosomiasis just yet - ha! (I still have an enlarged spleen probably due to childhood malaria i acquired in Pakistan)


  17. DCup - I think there is a lot to other people's hormones affecting yours. Men and women. I really do.

    Rich - I heart you! Poo!

    Sarah - I don't have a scientific enough mind, but yes, the microbiology community would fascinate me. Why have something ordinary when you most likely have something obscure and creepy? :)

    LJ - Oh, wow. That is definitely something to consider. I really like my new doctor, so if it keeps up, I feel totally comfortable calling and discussing it.

    As for malaria - I feel lucky I never got it. If you see this - what years were you in Pakistan, and where? We might people in common!

  18. hello! my family was in Quetta (then "West" Pakistan) from 1962 through 1964 (i went to first and second grades there, permanently screwing me up, no doubt - i still want to use british spelling sometimes). my dad was a mining and metallurgical engineer with the Agency for International Development (AID = confusing acronym these days), trying to jumpstart a copper mining industry in Pakistan.

    so we were kinda neighbors - where else were you other than India? i venture to say i'm quite a bit older than you are (i'm 51). it is interesting how living overseas during your formative years completely molds (or "moulds") your personality. i pretty much feel like an outsider anywhere and anyplace, but i think that finally, i like it that way. were you guys with the state dept.?


  19. Hey! My dad was with AID as well! We were in India, Bangladesh, Egypt, and India again for my high school. I'm 38, so yah, we're different ages, but I wonder if you know the Cools? Their sons would be about your age and I think they were in Islamabad then, although I could be wrong...

  20. don't know the Cools (but i'm sure they're cool - harhar). . . that's wild that your dad with AID too - most people have never heard of it. what was his specialty?

    where did you go to school in India? My older siblings went to Lahore American School for part of the time, and also the dreaded Murree Christian School ( the foothills of the Himalayas (ironic cuz we were completely areligious as a family, but that's another story). My older sisters have fond heathenistic memories of teaching the other kids "the twist" even though dancing was forbidden. as the youngest, and most cherished, child - HA! - i stayed home alone with my alcoholic parents, and the various servants. do you find that having servants as a child (as i assume you did) makes you kind of retarded when it comes to "keeping house"? maybe it's just me!

  21. Oh, wow. This is such fun coincidence! Email me if you'd like: and we can continue this conversation!


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