May 4, 2010
31 years ago six weeks of high fever and an inability to swallow anything from water to bread left me lying in a state of utter exhaustion, emaciated, between this and the multiple other worlds of our Universe.
Before that event I had been known to read, enjoy and commit to memory 700 pages in less than four sittings, now I found it impossible to assemble even a headline in a newspaper.
Performance, in every aspect of my life, dropped and I began to count the stairs to my third floor apartment which took me for ever; taking two steps – it was more like climbing two steps – sufficed to produce a racy heart and a lack of breath. In conclusion: At 19 years of age I was only slightly less than dead having barely crossed the golden gate into adult life.
The Gates of Hell: ”La Porte de l’Enfer” by Auguste Rodin, inspired by Dante Alighieri’s Inferno
Premedical abilities to diagnose my extraordinary and sudden make over, from a swift and haughty intelligence to a point nil stand still, had the doctor look at what he supposed to be another hypochondriac; me.
I can still remember his quizzical looks and suggestive comments. Blood works showed no known markers; they didn’t know what they were looking for nor how I felt. I had sprung out in winter only to wither.
Gloom and a sense of doom accompanied my next semester at school and all through the following summer. How I graduated is an absolute mystery to me. Long term memory seemed intact but my short term memory, responsible for any new cognitive intake and uptake, had become a dead end, a dysfunctional and dangling reference.
It took me about ten years to get back to a reasonable and well working cognitive state. What a furnace of fever can do to you.
By then I suspect my brain had wound itself over and around whatever had happened during my bout of cerebral heat. I was back, but different.
One thing that happened was a change in my capacity to recover and store energy. The electric potential, built up with ion flux between intra and extra cellular fluid divided by the cell membrane, was excruciatingly slow to form – picture this: A week to recover from a little fun with your girlfriend – and, taking a comparison from rechargeable batteries, I perceived myself, and performed, physically as if changed from a high performance 3500 mAh to a leaky 1800 mAh. The ion pump for sodium and potassium was not working well.
Slow motion; small steps, short distances and reading snippets. A rather embarrassing comparison to my class mates. A sail with no wind and tied to port.
Did I stay that way?
No, thankfully not. I got drafted into the army for a welcome cerebral rest while practicing the obligatory trench digging. You also do not need to think while marching. Push ups, breathing and the timely suspension of any noticeable cognitive effort during 18 months, paired with natural medicine and a vegetarian dietary regimen, eventually led me back to The Brothers Karamazov and my personal library.
It takes a while but you can beat chronic fatigue.
I’m going to take a break now.