I just finished listening to an audio book set in medieval England, right around the time of the Black Death. The best cure for a sick person was to lie on a straw pallet near the front of the monastery hospital, near the altar, where the saint's bones could give you the most benefit while you recovered from the physician monk's "treatment" of bleeding the bad humours out of your veins.
I am remarkably thankful for modern medicine.
Thursday night I developed a bit of a stuffy head ... nothing really unusual or surprising, it's winter, and colds are common. I rinsed my nose with the neti pot and that brought considerable relief, as did the Advil I took to ease the discomfort at the back of my throat. Friday morning, during the drive to work, my left ear started to plug up. At the office, it felt like I had water stuck in my ear, like after swimming. I had body aches and a stubbornly plugged ear, but I was managing with lots of Advil, and finally a Tylenol Sinus tablet. By the time I got home, though, the ear pain was quite a bit worse. I lay on a Warm Thing (the family term for a barley bag heated in the microwave), and hoped for relief. Then the shivers started. I got into bed, and The Boy heated every warm thing we have and packed them around me. After about an hour of this, I decided perhaps I was actually sick.
I asked The Reluctant Farmer to call the local health hotline and see what the nurses thought. This is a wonderful service provided by our health region: you can phone in 24 hours a day and reach a health nurse who will ask questions about the symptoms and let you know what you can do for at-home treatment, if you need to see a doctor right now, or if it can wait until morning. The very nice nurse on the other end of the line walked us through a list of questions, and recommended that we head up to the nearest emergency room rather than wait for morning. This wasn't really what I was hoping to hear, but as the pain kept ramping up and the tears started coming to my eyes, I figured it was probably the right thing to do.
In the emergency room they found my fever was up to 39C, and my ear drum close to rupturing. Okay, I suppose that's why I didn't feel so great. They shot me up with Demerol (mental note: never take Demerol without an antinauseant ...), gave me Tylenol 3s for when that wore off, and some heavy duty antibiotics. The remainder of Friday passed in a rather uncomfortable blur (mostly due to the queasiness), Saturday was spent passed out in bed while my mom and The Boy cleaned the house (The Reluctant Farmer was away at a course), and by this morning, I am able to eat some of the Jello and custard my mom made for me yesterday. I can actually stay upright for a few minutes at a time, which seems to be a significant improvement, but it's still easy to get exhausted.
So, it's back to bed for me, with more prayers of thanks that we no longer bleed people to get rid of the 'evil humours in the blood' ... and that we have drugs to control fever and infection.