Thursday, 2 November 2006

In a Twilight World

Hans and Liz have been staying with us. Liz worked with me in the garden, whilst Hans went off searching for mushrooms and collecting nuts. Since they left on 17 October, I have been only half here. During their stay Liz and I did huge amounts of physical work in the garden and my opinion is that this, combined with the cumulative effect of far too much alcohol, lowered my resistance to infection. The day they left I caught a flu-like bug and was wiped out for two or three days with fevers and shivering, which was followed by a cough. I was in bed unable to do a thing. Hans had had a cough since he arrived and I thought that I had belatedly succumbed. This confused me when I then caught bronchitis.

Although this has happened before, I didn’t recognise it and after some days of denying that this was what was wrong, Christiane took me to a médecin who prescribed the usual carrier bag full of medicines (including the hire of a nebuliser with three medicaments) AND daily injections of a cephalosporin antibiotic by a visiting nurse. I started to improve, but after 4/5 days I was going backwards again. This sort of infection is extremely debilitating. I was completely exhausted and hacking away, so that for the last 6/7 days I have lost my voice completely. I was spending the days either collapsed in a chair or in bed. Breakfast meant an hour to recover, and food in general since the beginning has been very difficult. I have lost more than 5kgs in weight. Unfortunately, half of it seems to be the muscles that I grew earlier whilst gardening!

It has been like living in a twilight world. The closest comparison is when I was having chemotherapy 20 years ago and often spent days recovering from the treatments unable to do anything.

We called another doctor to the house and she prescribed good, old fashioned, Ampicillin! (It always worked for me in the UK). That was two days ago and at last I am getting on top of the infection, although I am still as weak as a kitten. I am beginning to feel almost human again, but I think it will be some time before I regain any strength.

The current policy in the Anglo-Saxon medical world is not to prescribe antibiotics because 90% of bronchitis cases are usually viral in origin as it says in this article .
Thankfully French doctors don't subscribe to this way of thinking. If you get as ill as I was, tell your doctor that you think you have a secondary bacterial infection and if he or she is still reluctant to give antibiotics then ask for a test.


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