Allow me to preface this post by saying that I am fully aware the following story has a “first world problems” vibe, but sometimes, I just want to complain. Thus, I’m going to. This post will also contain descriptions of some rather gross medical conditions, but no pictures, so here is a trigger warning for that.
I was fortunate to be on vacation last week, and even more fortunate to be able to visit my parents for the third time since they moved to Florida this past winter. This time, the rest of my immediate family – sister, brother-in-law, and both nephews – got to come as well, which was exciting for all of us.
The first time I went to visit, I was plagued first by the stomach flu, and then by a nasty cold which persisted for two weeks, even after I returned to PA. I also turned thirty during that trip, so, you know… it was fun, but there were drawbacks.
This time, I was determined to have a fun, stress-free vacation with my whole family, away from all the current trials and tribulations of my life at home. There was a bit of a scare a few days before my flight, as I developed rather severe cold symptoms (and, since calling out of work is not really an option for me most days, I had to suffer through the symptoms while working) though I fortunately tested negative for COVID three times over those few days. Thanks to copious amounts of cold medicine, vitamin c, and four boxes of Vicks-infused tissues, by the morning of my flight, I had a couple of sniffles, and a tickle in my throat, but nothing serious.
Vacation itself started fine – the plane ride was great, we got there at a reasonable time, the kiddos got to play in the pool, we had a delicious first dinner of artisan pizza, and then we called it a day. It was wonderful to have the whole family together.
Trouble brewed on the horizon the following morning, when I awoke with a bit of a sore throat. I tried to ignore it, thinking it was a fluke, just a tiny remainder of the cold I had the week before. Spoiler alert, this tale miraculously does not end up with me getting covid, but it was all downhill from there.
A couple of days in, I went to a movie with my sister, mom, and a family friend. My physical health was drifting into ~not great~ territory by this point, but I masked up, and made it through the movie with no issues, but several tissues. Though, at lunch afterward, I struggled to finish my meal, as my appetite was almost completely gone. I began to realize that something was definitely amiss, and, at the very least, my cold had not run its course prior to the start of my vacation, as I had hoped.
I began to wear a mask at all times, even around my family, because I also developed a deep, nasty cough that actually caused back pain. Sunday we had plans to go to a family friend’s home for dinner, and I opted out, since one of our friends is older and was slated to have surgery the following week and I did not want to spread any germs. Shortly before my family left, my eyes began to hurt. I said to my sister, “I really hope I’m not getting pink eye,” curled up on the couch under a fleece blanket (in Fla, in July), and started watching the new Are You Afraid of the Dark? limited series. My family left me alone, and I hoped for a relaxing evening.
The eye pain did not go away, and my vision started to get… cloudy. I doused a paper towel in warm water and wiped my eyes carefully, but it did not help the problem. I went to the mirror to look at myself, and was horrified. A gross, yellow mucous was leaking out of my eyes.
Now, I had pink eye as a kid, but I didn’t remember it being so… gross.
And it was gnarly, my dudes. I almost wish I took pictures because it went from 0 to 10 in like, an hour. It got steadily worse, to the point where I could barely see, because as soon as I wiped the gunk away, more came to replace it, coating my eyelids and eyelashes in white/yellow grime. During a small window where my vision wasn’t severely impaired, I managed to text my sister, “I definitely have conjunctivitis,” and she told me my mother would come to pick me up and take me to urgent care. I knew it was bad when my poor mother saw me get into the car and had to do a double take. My eyes were oozing.
We got to the urgent care around 7:48, and they close at 8. I never like to be that person, but initially putting it off because I did not want to have to pay for an urgent care visit, and having to wait for a ride – and the fact that my mom wanted to finish dinner first, which is fair, because I did not really convey how bad the situation was in my text – did make it so I cut it close. But I was seen swiftly, and, to make a long story short, I was diagnosed with acute conjunctivitis, AND a respiratory infection, AND second-stage hypertension, which was a surprise. I mean they took my blood pressure and asked me if high blood pressure ran in my family, which should have been a clue, but I didn’t find out until I read my discharge papers.
I wasn’t able to get my prescriptions until the morning, so the night was not fun. I had a heated towel wrapped around a sinus pillow over my face for most of the night. I stayed away from my family as much as possible. The morning after, my eyes were swollen (and crusty) to the point where I looked like an alien insect. and I could still barely see anything. Did I mention that we were supposed to have family pictures taken that evening? Yeah. I spent the morning laying sideways in a wicker chair on the lanai, away from everyone else, sinus pillow/wet towel over my eyes, listening to a murder podcast.
Fortunately, my mom and sister picked up my scripts as soon as the pharmacy opened, and, because even when you’re thirty, you’re never too old to be taken care of by your mother, she helped me put the eyedrops in. I took my antibiotics. The swelling went down over the course of the day, though I discovered, once my eyes were visible again, that I had also somehow popped a blood vessel in one eye, making me look like a demon. It was probably from coughing too hard, but I don’t have an official reason for how it happened.
Over the next several hours, my condition improved enough so I could make it to the pictures. Not sure how they will turn out, but hey, I didn’t look like an alien insect, at least. The meds helped so I was able to participate in most of the remaining vacation activities, for the next couple of days, so the whole week wasn’t a total loss. Any week I get to spend away from work and with my family, even if I am physically suffering, is better than most. So, other than the respiratory infection, conjunctivitis, constant coughing, and demonic red eye, some highlights from the trip included….
It wasn’t the vacation I wanted. Heck, I’ve been back for a couple of days, my cough remains, I’m still on antibiotics, and my eye is still demonically red, but it isn’t leaking mucous anymore, so that’s a plus. But I have another one coming up in October, a trip back to FLA with my sister and one nephew, and all I can do is look forward to having a better – and hopefully pink-eye free – time.