Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I figured out what was wrong with me.

The house is killing me.

Here's how it works. Do you remember the incident last October, shortly after we moved in, when the whole left side of my face ballooned up and my eye was swollen shut for 3 days and the doctors (yes, plural) never did figure out what caused it? They couldn't figure out if it was bacterial, viral, or an allergic reaction to some environmental factor, and it was getting worse so rapidly there wasn't time to try different medications in succession (also, I was half blind and itching like i had fleas in my eyeballs), so they put me on antibiotics, antivirals, AND antihistemines all at once. One of them worked because I began to get better shortly thereafter, but it's still a medical mystery.

Now bear in mind that we moved in here on September 20, I immediately got a head cold, and then the eye thing started on October 5.

Please also bear in mind that all last autumn I had one head cold after another, such that we estimate I've been sick about 50% of the time since we got married.

Except for the 6 weeks I was stuck in Michigan waiting on my spousal visa. For those 6 weeks I was completely fine; not a sniffle.

I got back home to Cornwall at the end of January, and within two weeks I had another mysterious illness. This is the short version:

Friday: sore throat

Early Saturday morning: most painful sore throat in history of humanity, body aches all over, throbbing pounding headache. Essentially pain. Ultimately, the only symptom I had was pain. Conspicuously absent: fever, congestion, sneezing, coughing, runny nose, or ANYTHING that might indicate a viral or bacterial infection.

Sunday: Body ache gone, throat still sore but sufficiently better that I can eat solid food again, headache more bearable but still present.

Today (Monday): Sore throat all but gone, headache back with a vengeance, accompanied by mild nausea.

This morning I walked to the pharmacy to buy some of the effervescent cocodamo*l tablets the nurse on the NHS helpline told me about on sunday morning. My throat was better, but i'm not convinced it won't happen again, so i decide it's a good idea to have some in the house.

My head was throbbing. It didn't hurt more if i bent over or looked down, but as soon as i straightened up again it felt like someone was driving a railroad spike into my brain stem. I thought my brain would explode from the pressure. The ferocity of the pain was such that I actually cried out loud a couple of times while walking home. I wasn't sure I would make it. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and eventually I got home. (It's only one bloody mile.)

I decided to take one dose of the cocodamol for the headache. It helped the headache, but gave me a mild psychotic reaction. I was utterly convinced for 3 hours that there was someone else in the room with me, and i was being WATCHED. I can't tell you how freaky this is. Thankfully about 3% of my brain was holding down the sanity fort and constantly reminding me that I was alone, in no danger, and this was clearly a reaction to the drug.

So what the fuck caused me to have an incredibly sore, swollen, inflamed throat and migraine-level headache pain with no other sign of infection? The House.

Think about it. Shortly after we move in i get some weird, undiagnosable condition. I am sick on and off the entire autumn. I leave for Christmas and enjoy 6 weeks of perfect health. I return and within 2 weeks (roughly the same amount of time between moving in last September and the first medical crisis) I have some other weird, undiagnosable condition. Unless someone else out there has had a bout of tonsilitis that lasted 2 days and went away on its own, my leading theory right now is that there is some environmental factor in the house that's making me ill.

Am I crazy? It just seems unlikely that this is a coincidence.

Pirate is not affected by it, but I'm in the house ALL THE TIME, whereas he only comes here to eat, shag, and sleep. He's out for 12 hours a day at work. I'm not. I'm here, dying by inches.

I've dismissed CO, as we have a dector that says there's no CO in the house.
I've dismissed radon, even though Cornwall is full of it, because radon toxicity takes years of exposure to produce symptoms.
Right now I'm thinking some kind of mold or fungus. I shall begin to investigate and see what I turn up.

*Tylenol 3 with codeine, and it's available over the counter here. Take that, you sorry Americans!


Timorous Beastie said...

Several people I know have been struck down by mysterious bacterial illnesses in the last week. Maybe it'll be bacteria (and not jellyfish after all) that will get us in the end.

Geosomin said...

Hmmm...i is rather suspicious.
Have you ever had allergy tests done?

Is there a place locally that would do air quality testing in your house for relatively cheap?? It's worth it...if you have central heating or steam heat you can get all sorts of crap in a house to make you sick...

Good luck.

hendrix said...

I did have tonsilitis (white spots on the tonsils and all!) for 2 days last week which then cleared up as if by magic but I didn't have any of your other symptoms so it doesn't sound like we've had the same illness!

Def agree with the suggestion for air quality testing.

Also, have you seen an osteopath recently? I just ask, because every time my back goes, even if I don't get back pain I get symptoms (especially the razor blade headache that hurts when you straighten up)almost exactly the same as you've described. Usually mine are caused by spending far too long (in excess of 14 hours a day) at the computer.

The only other suggestion I have is to check your bedding, the face ballooning thing sounds like impetigo (probably not how you spell it) to me.

Whatever it is - feel better soon! hx

The Pixy Princess said...

Not that I want to tempt fate or anything, but I've been wondering if your back is better now.