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By Staff | Jan 7, 2011

It all began innocuously enough. I had acquired habitual, late-day headaches.

Along with these – I’m man enough to admit this – came some crankiness. I chalked it up to job-related stress and poor sleep habits and told myself that I would likely shake it off in a few days. This is how we guys handle virtually every health-related issue.

Then came the body aches. It felt as if I had been tossed, along with some rocks, into a cement mixer and thoroughly tumbled. My belief was that I simply needed to “tough it out” a while longer and things would soon return to normal.

The body aches made it increasingly difficult to rise from a sitting or squatting position. In addition, I noticed a marked increase in the effort it took to “make water.” I made a mental note: Old Age had officially arrived.

And so things progressed for about a week. Then came the chills.

I pride myself on my Nordic resistance to cold. During the winter, my wife and I engage in a covert war wherein she’ll sneak the thermostat upwards while I’m not looking and I’ll sneak it back down when she’s not looking.

No more. It was suddenly freezing in the house no matter how high the thermostat was cranked. I swaddled in a blanket and snuggled up to a portable electric heater, but still couldn’t get warm.

The thought of venturing outside into the actual cold of winter was absurd beyond imagination.

The chills came with the gift of continuous and thunderous headaches. It was as if someone were inside my skull and using a sledgehammer to try to bust out.

My wife suggested that I see my doctor. She also recommended that I drink more water. Drink more water! What a silly idea!

Making water had become increasingly difficult and even somewhat uncomfortable. Why would a guy intentionally add to his discomfort level?

The turning point came one day as I lay shivering on the recliner. Teeth chattering and head pounding, I ruefully noted that the TV clicker was clear over there! “There” was just an arm’s length away, but the amount of effort needed to retrieve it seemed overwhelming.

That did it. I broke down and made an appointment to see my doctor, even though I was violating the first Guy Rule of Medicine, namely: you don’t visit a physician unless something is obviously broken or is spurting blood.

In an effort to better quantify my condition, I decided to take my temperature. It’s a sign of how little we’re ill at our house that a good amount of time and effort was required to locate a thermometer. And when found, said thermometer was dysfunctional.

The little digital readout displayed what seemed to be three lower case letter “u’s”. It was as if the thermometer was accusingly saying “you, you, you!” This would prove to be prophetic.

As I prepared to see my doc, it occurred that I hadn’t taken a shower in some time. Taking a shower, I knew, would be torture. Not the shower itself, which I could make nice and hot. It was the getting out of the shower and stepping into the frigid air of the steamy bathroom that might finish me off.

My doctor had a fully functional thermometer and quickly determined that I was febrile. I was eventually told that I was afflicted with a UTI. And no, that does not mean a Unitarian Trombone Instructor.

I had a urinary tract infection, and my Fluid Management System was likely to blame.

The principles of my FMS are simple: less fluid intake equals less fluid output. This leads to fewer bathroom breaks and more things getting done.

This also means that the pipes aren’t flushed as often as they should be, which can allow bacteria to set up shop and cause chills, headache and many other unfun symptoms.

I was prescribed a powerful antibiotic and sent home. I would like to say that I took one pill and felt instantly better, but that actually didn’t happen until after the second pill had been absorbed.

It was nothing less than a miracle! The fever went away, the headaches disappeared and my joints no longer ached. Making water returned to its former painless and fire hose-like status.

Three lessons can be taken from this experience:

1. Contrary to one of my most cherished beliefs, UTI’s are NOT just for females.

2. Powerful antibiotics might be the fountain of youth.

3. A non-drinking habit can be just as unhealthful as a drinking habit.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my medicinal dosage of dihydrogen monoxide. On the rocks, and with just a splash of water.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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