After a good night (and day) of sleep I’ve gathered all my superpowers for a long post – so here’s the story: August has an incredibly busy month up at Cardrona Alpine Resort where I work. Busy to an extent that probably nobody really expected so our team was slightly short on instructors. Sooner or later everybody had to sacrifice their days off and while everybody was clever enough to make good use of their rare days off by just sleeping all day or getting fit again I decided to put even more training and activities in. So it happened that I went on a three-day Teaching Kids Certification Course at Coronet Peak (one of the ski fields in Queenstown), met up with friends, went on road trips or had the fabulous idea of volunteering at the Winter Games. Plus, my sore tooth was giving me a hard time and sucked all my good powers out of me.
Looking back now it seems so obvious that this couldn’t have gone alright in the long run but I apparently needed to learn it the hard way one more time. So one day I woke up with this sore throat – nothing special really that happened so many times during this season that I didn’t pay much attention. It got worse though – a lot worse but it was unlucky that exactly that weekend every instructor was needed so badly that we were not allowed to call in sick. Tired and hurting I dragged my aching body into the staff van and the trip up the mountain felt like an explosion in my ears. Luckily, Cardrona has a Medical Center on the mountain and after checking ears and throat I was diagnosed with Tonsillitis (Angina) and ear infection.
The thing with a New Zealand style ski field is that the lifts only start half way up the mountain – so we don’t take the cable car to get to work, we drive up there in little staff vans. And it happens that staff transport goes up at 7 am in the morning and down at 4 pm in the afternoon when the ski field closes. Before that it’s kind of a challenge to get down – so I knew I was going to spend the day on the mountain. Being needed really hard I took the dose of antibiotics & painkillers the doc gave me, dragged my skis out onto the snow and was really lucky that somebody else took my lesson that morning. That meant two more hours of recovery before the next line-up – time I wanted to spend on one of the couches in the staff room… if only I made it there! I just wanted to take my helmet off and put it into my locker – next thing I wake up on the locker room floor, with helmet and goggles (!) on, ski boots and in my uniform. Scary – and embarrassing if somebody saw me! But after two hours of sleep I felt a bit better and a couple of hours later I finally found somebody that drove down the mountain and took me home. Apparently I am really bad at learning lessons because that next day I reckoned the antibiotics will do their job so I can do my job. Wrong decision! I had the hardest and worst day I ever had on my skis, conditions were harsh that day and I struggled a lot to not faint or fall asleep. The sore throat didn’t get better – only worse and was literally fell asleep when and wherever I could. The next two days were my days off but although I slept 90 percent of the time I didn’t get better – only worse. The doctor I went to see on friday was convinced the antibiotics just needed a bit more time and sent me home again, when I couldn’t swallow any more on saturday I was back and one of the other doctors put me on fluids and a different antibiotic.
Unfortunately things still didn’t improve and I was back at the Medical Center a couple of times – just to get some more fluids in and stay hydrated while I couldn’t drink. That was probably the worst part of all – sitting in front of a glass of water, being so thirsty but there was no way I could get it down. Not to speak of eating… I was craving for food but just the thought of food hitting my tonsils was too painful to let it happen. When I looked into my mouth disgusting white & green stuff was growing everywhere and just spitting out my saliva was a project of pain and tears. So when days passed and nothing improved the doctors raised the concern that it might be a virus that does not react to antibiotics. With the hydration problem and getting weaker and weaker I was quite delighted when they finally proposed to take me to hospital to just get me hydrated again and maybe even fed.
I don’t remember much of the ambulance ride because I passed out so many times but once I was in hospital, got the IV started and the painkillers things started to improve. It was just such a relief to be able to fall asleep when I wanted, to not worry about dehydrating any more, to feel safe and taken care of. It turned out that the virus I have is Glandular Fever (also known as Pfeiffer’sches Drüsenfieber or infectious mononucleosis) – something that indeed doesn’t react to antibiotics and is self-limiting, so just waiting until it is over. The next day I was even able to eat for the first time – and although it was hospital lasagne it felt like the best lasagne I ever had (would have been an insult to that Italian friends though). It was a painful dish still but hunger and joy of eating were just bigger than the pain.
Fed & hydrated I could leave hospital that same day and since then things have been improving dramatically – which can be seen in what I can eat now: Friday I had a massive Kiwi burger, Saturday was Schnitzel night and since today I can even eat TimTams again. Hooray to an almost healthy throat and appetite being back! Oh, and the joy of a glass of water…. I get such a happiness out of simply having a whole bottle of it or sipping away a cup of coffee with friends. Amazing when the small things in life get so big and exciting!
The bad news about Glandular Fever is that it limits you for a while though – the effects can range from days to weeks or even months where you feel very tired and exhausted. I get a glimpse of it every morning when I have to go back to bed after my shower – just because I get so tired. Or I have to do the dishes in lots of small steps – because I can’t stand that long. Or I fall asleep in the middle of a conversation because it just gets too exhausting. And all those times where I have to nap during the day. Weird feeling when your body overrules your mind but it’s time to just listen carefully to my body and obey what it tells me.
Those were not necessarily the best weeks of my life but probably the most valuable and instructive ones: I got so many lessons out of it… just like how important your social network becomes when you are sick and rely on others. My ski instructor friends here in Wanaka have just been sublime and amazing with providing me with their support and helpfulness over the last days. Oh, and my family – although they were all traveling over Europe while I was really sick they were practically there for me and connected with me during all those difficult hours, giving me advice and encouraging me to drive to the doctor and get some fluids in. Listen to your parents – sometimes they actually do know better. And most important: When your body tells you it’s enough, just listen to it instead of being stubborn and pushing yourself even further.
Right now my body tells me it’s time for a proper sleep again so I’ll be happy to just snuggle up in my layers of blankets, hold my hot water bottle real close and fall asleep while I listen to the massive rain pouring down on our house. Thanks for reading, lovely people and have a fantastic Sunday.