Thursday, July 18, 2013

Crash and Burn


Thursday, July 18, 2013—Kato Zagros, Crete, Greece
What a difference a few days makes. I don't feel like writing (again—you'll see) about what's been going on, so I've decided to just cut-and-paste from an email I wrote my sister and a few close friends.

I'm writing a joint email because I'm hoping one of you might have some useful info for me. Something truly scary happened to me starting yesterday morning and I'm still trying to piece it all together. Yesterday I woke up with a rash on a big chunk of my body. It was especially bad on pelvis and the back of my thighs. It looked just like the reaction I get when I've run into poison oak (though it wasn't as itchy—at first). I've never noticed any poison oak here and the day before I was just at the beach with some friends of mine I met here two years ago—I was no where near any plants that could have done this to me.

I noticed, though, that the lower sheet on the bed I'd been sleeping on had pulled up and about half the mattress was exposed. I concluded that there must have been something in the mattress that had produced this reaction. This seemed to make sense for two reasons. In the cheap places in which I usually stay the beds are old and have had God knows how many people sleep on them; they could harbor all sorts of things I could have reaction to. Also the rash, though worst where I previously stated, also was found on patches of my arms, hands, etc., as if only the parts of my body that had touched the mattress had been affected. Thinking I'd figured things out, I took a hot shower to get off whatever it was that was messing me up and went on with my day. A few hours later it appeared my guess was right—the rash seemed to be going away.

Later I got on a bus heading south. Other than the rash I felt fine (I was actually feeling a touch run down, but I'd been feeling that way for several days). Later that afternoon, though, I noticed that the rash seemed to be coming back, on other parts of my body. Then that evening, while I was sitting in the room I'd just gotten, I started feeling feverish. By the time I'd made it back from getting something to eat a few hours later the rash had spread to about 75% of my body, was incredibly itchy, and my fever was raging. Soon I couldn't stand up without feeling like I was going to both heave and fall down. I also couldn't eat or drink anything, even water—I knew it would come back up.

It's very hard for me to describe the rest of the night, mainly because I've never felt so bad before and I've never felt bad at all in this particular way. I don't know how high my fever was, but it had to be way up there. It was also a weird fever, in that it was dry as hell--I couldn't perspire at all. The only way I can think of to describe how I was feeling is to say it felt like my body was going explode into dust and blow away. Added to this was an exponential increase in how itchy I was. I know I can sometimes be a bit of a wus when I get sick, but this was of an entirely different order to anything I've ever experienced. For several hours straight last night I really thought I was going to die by myself in a little room in eastern Crete. I couldn't have even crawled for help if I'd had to ...

This morning at about five the fever finally broke (though it hasn't left me completely) and the rash has be slowly diminishing, though it still covers at least 40% of my body. By about nine I could finally walk short distances without feeling like was going to throw up or land on my face. I've slowly been feeling better since then, though I still feel l worse than I've ever felt in my life outside of last night.

The question I've been asking myself and now you folks is what the hell happened to me! My only symptoms were the high and very strange fever and the rash (the off stomach is probably just a byproduct of the fever), so I think this rules out any kind of virus or bacterial cause. The only thing I can think of that could cause this would be a severe allergic reaction, probably to something like a bug bite. I've been researching on-line, though, and Crete is very benign in this area--there are no spiders or insects I can track down that would likely to be able to do this, nor anything else I can find (there aren't even any poisonous snakes here—plus I think I’d  remember if I got bit by snake). Does any of this ring any bells with any of you? Any insight you can give me would be greatly appreciated. I need to do whatever I can to make sure this doesn't happen again: I honestly don't think I could make it thru a second night like last one.

My recovery turned out to not quite be as abrupt as this letter made it sound: the fever came back strong the next night and throughout the day the rash came back and spread, to many parts of my body untouched before, like my lips and face. Last night, though, was different than the previous one, in that I could feel myself healing. This morning I woke up and 98% of the rash was gone and so was most of the fever (though I still feel ferverish). I'm still week and I have the chills, but I know I’m moving passed it, whatever it was …

            What happened between my last entry and my illness? A lovely day and a half hanging out with my friends from Paris. But that seems hardly worth reporting at the moment: this illness has so scrambled me, so thrown me off stride that nothing else seems all that important. Going to stay here until the late morning bus to Sitia comes tomorrow. I've hardly seen any of this place and Xerokambos down the road will have to be skipped (it's a 10km hike there and that is not going to happen in my present condition). I'll probably head down to Myrtos and heal for a few days. Then I'll try and put the pieces back together and finish out the last couple of weeks of my trip at least somewhat as I'd planned …

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Have you asked any of the locals where you're staying about it? It might be something they've seen before or at least can recommend a Dr. to take a look at you. It mostly sounds like an alergic reaction to something, maybe something as simple as the soap they use for laundry. Buy 2 bottles of Ouzo, drink one and find a cute girl to rub the other one all over the rash areas!!!! Wiki

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you are on the mend. If at all possible I hope you will try and see a doctor. We hope to hear more about beaches than rashes in the near future :). Lotsa love,
kiley

helicopter steve (Estabrook) said...

Yeah for sure glad to hear you're on the mend.

Allegra Auduraud said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Allegra Auduraud said...

!!!!!!! How are you today ??????

Rob Woodard said...

Doing a lot better. Mostly i just feel very run down. What's really pissing me off is that this totally took the wind out of my sails - the wonder of discovery has kind of left me for the time being. What was a really cool trip has suddenly become a bit of a grind ... Thanks for your concern.