When I went to bed Wednesday night I felt a little sick, but was sure I’d just sleep it off. I woke up Thursday morning feeling about the same, but with a swollen gland on the left side of my neck and my cheek was swollen too. I didn’t really feel that sick so I decided to go to work. As the day went on my face got puffier and puffier and I felt sicker and sicker so I called in sick for Friday. Living alone and being sick is incredibly boring so I decided to spend the weekend with my parents. They pampered me and it was wonderful. I mostly slept and watched HGTV.
On Friday I went to the doctor because something was really wrong with me. My face felt incredibly tender and shaving was painful. I couldn’t even floss because it hurt so much to open my mouth. Eating was accompanied by throbbing pains. My face had swollen so much that it looked like I’d gained 40 pounds, but only on the left side of my face. I no longer had a jaw line on my left side. I was eager for the doctor to fix me.
I hadn’t been to a doctor for an illness since 2007 and the guy I saw on Friday was a new doctor for me. My mom went in to the check up room with me and was present when the nurse asked me all the usual intake questions. Her presence was invaluable when I was asked if there was any history of heart disease in my family because my answer was, “Uhh…..?” I was then asked if I smoke. No. Drink alcohol? No. Use recreational drugs? No. Sexually active? No. The nurse then gave me a look that I interpreted as, “Are you lying because your mother’s in here?” so I said, “Don’t worry, I’m good Mormon boy,” and she smiled with understanding.
The doctor came in and poked at my tender face for awhile then sent me down to get some blood work done. I was extremely disappointed when I learned that my white blood cell count was normal meaning that I didn’t have an infection. I was rooting for an infection so that I could take some antibiotics and be done with it, but no, it had to be something viral. And a virus is only cured by lots of rest and inordinate amounts of fluids. My doctor brought in a second doctor to get another opinion. They had three ideas: the mumps, mono, or tuberculosis. All three of those possibilities were shocking. I’ve been vaccinated for the mumps and I thought that that was one of those diseases like polio that no one got any more. I really didn’t want to have mono because it’s often spread through kissing and I haven’t kissed anyone for while so it would have been really lame to get mono without the funsies. And tuberculosis just made me feel dirty. Having lived in Mexico I’ve been tested for TB a few times and never had it so it didn’t make sense to get it now since I haven’t been back for three years. The results came back and I thankfully had none of the three. I just had some random virus that would have to be waited out.
The swelling started to go down yesterday and it’s nearly gone today. I shaved today for the first time in four days. That’s the longest I’ve ever gone without shaving as an adult. I’ve never grown facial hair because I feel like it looks bad on most people. There are, of course, exceptions like my uncle, Robert Downing Jr. and Charlie Chaplin. Four days allowed for a large amount of hair to emerge and I was surprised to see a fair number of white hairs in my sprouting beard. While it’s disappointing to be going grey already, I resigned myself to that reality years ago. And now if I decide to become a pirate I will go by the name Speckle Beard. It’s fearsome sounding and accurate.