“So what exactly hurts?” Mykala asked, trying to get at the root of my non-specific complaints.
“Well, the joints in my hands and feet feel really sore… like from a virus.”
I took 400mg ibuprofen, which got me through yesterday evening’s delicious and exciting visits to Marvel and Masu — then, around 8:30pm, I called Nils to confirm our Big Bike Ride™ to Stillwater tomorrow. After that, bad things began to happen.

I frequently treat my extraction patients to this little lecture: “Don’t take your pain medication when you need it; instead, take it by the clock; that maintains the necessary serum concentrations of the drug and keeps you from experiencing big swings in pain.” Obviously, I hadn’t taken my own advice, and the soreness that resulted took my breath away. I call this the ol’ “hurts to exist” pain, where your best hope is to move your limbs constantly to distract them from the fact that all the muscles in them are screaming.

Then came nausea and fever shivers. 600mg of ibuprofen, sweatpants, sweatshirt, and two comforters were the last I remember of last night. Woke up at quarter to 3 and sent Nils a text which basically said I think my limbs are going to fall off, which will prevent me from biking.

All I could think about was a protein whose name I couldn’t remember and which I have since looked up: collagenase. Elevated production of specific cytokines occur during the immune response, which can result in production of a lot of collagenase… which means your body is chewing through its own tissue in order to make space to fight the infection. Hence, the aches.

At some point last night, the fever finally broke, and after 13 hours of sleep, I’m starting to feel human again. The whole thing seems to coincide with me receiving my license — these severe, short-lived illnesses used to happen when I got my final exam results. Now, it seems my mind finally relaxed when I got my dental license number (I’ve definitively put dental school in my past!), and I quickly got sick. When I was really stressed in dental school, the constant elevated cortisol meant I never got symptoms… I think it’s healthier to be relaxed enough now to have a normal (symptomatic) response to common viruses. It is, however, dumb and I would’ve liked nothing more than to go biking today.

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