On Sore Throats
by V. Buritsch-Tompkins
My brother had Mono when I was in college. He was home from school for weeks on end, barely able to eat or drink, boiling hot or freezing cold and unable to get comfortable. It was an uncomfortable year for him.
To this day, I cringe at the thought of an extended sore throat.
This week was a test of my patience. To be honest, I’m in the general habit of self-diagnosing. Usually, I can figure it out – if a cold develops, then it makes sense: a runny nose, and a cough. If it was because I sleep with my mouth open, sleep on my side, try something different the next night, maybe it was a one-off.
Not this time.
The first morning was waking up an hour before my alarm, throat afire with pain. Ice water. Tea. Ice water. Nothing worked initially. Voice wasn’t impacted, no runny nose. No cough.
Slightly better by the end of the day. Not really, though. Hm. Take an allergy pill and a glass of ice water. In two hours, it feels like a small burr has buried itself in the back inside of my throat, and I utterly fail to get more than two hours of sleep at a time that night. No fever, just restlessness and WEIRD pain. pRiCkLy in its weirdness.
The next day was a full assault on the pain. I tried again with antihistamines (because it’s allergy season), combined with Tylenol. The gaps where the antihistamines wore off completely failed to have any cold symptoms, and the gaps where the Tylenol wore off would feature a small ramp up to pain.
The third day had me taking pictures of the back of my throat in case I could see something. To be honest, the only thing I saw was that I needed to brush my teeth better. So I did. My throat looked a little raw, too, but that made sense: I had a sore throat.
By the end of the fourth day, I had tried Day-quil to varying impact, read everything online that suggested a sore throat is usually a cold, and I should get it checked out if it doesn’t disappear by the end of the third day.
On day five, I took my stubborn self to the doctor. One of my close friends, someone I’d trust with my life, asked me, “Exactly what are going to tell the doctor was wrong with you”. I told him, “Sore throat, sore throat, sore throat, sore throat, stuffy nose and sore throat.” With the exception of treating it symptomatically, I didn’t feel any closer to knowing what it was.
The rapid strep test is a bit different than I remembered as a kid. I also remember it being wildly inaccurate, but they don’t do the “send it off and find out later” test anymore, so the diagnosis of Strep Throat it was.
After the diagnosis, I’ve really only got one thing to say: Thank GOD it’s not Mono.