The Random Fever Turned Infection: Getting Better while Being Immunocompromised

Last month, I talked about how a random fever waltzed its way into my life. After traveling to a conference, preparing for a different conference, and heading right back to work immediately after, my body was under considerable stress. I came home from the first conference, collapsed on the bed, and immediately felt like I had a fever, complete with body aches and pains.

Taking my temperature confirmed what I was feeling; and yet, when I woke up the next morning, the fever had completely subsided. I felt normal and like my old self. And given that, I just went about my daily business again.

That was a mistake.

Getting diagnosed with a viral infection

A week later, I was stuck in bed with a nasty and red sore throat, extremely swollen tonsils, post-nasal drip, and more. I rushed over to urgent care because I didn’t have time to get into my PCP. At urgent care, they tested me for strep and the flu, both of which came back negative.

A longer recovery due to Humira

I did inform them of the fever that I had had a week prior but since I had not had a consistent fever since then—and have not to the date of my writing this—urgent care did not even consider that I had coronavirus (COVID-19).

They just told me I had acute pharyngitis (sore throat) caused by some type of viral infection (probably a cold or some other virus) and that it would heal on its own, just with a longer recovery time because I’m on Humira. With no medications prescribed and a trip to buy ice cream in mind, I went home expecting to feel better soon.

The infection got much worse

That did not happen. In fact, I got so much worse. My throat felt like it was on fire, I could barely swallow, sleeping was out of the question, and ice cream was the only thing that helped soothe the fire in my throat.

Was this a respiratory infection or allergies?

It got to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore, prompting me to head back to urgent care three days later, where they told me, once again, that I was just working through something—although, this time they told me that it was probably related to allergies since I live down in Tallahassee and notice that my car sustains a new coat of pollen every morning when I leave my house for work. And, once again, because I did not have a fever at the office nor at any point since February, coronavirus was not brought up.

Treatment with prednisone and lidocaine

This time, however, I implored them for some medication and was happy to pick-up a prescription of prednisone and lidocaine numbing solution, which both helped me get back on my feet and feeling better quickly. As I’m writing this, it’s been exactly a week since I went to urgent care the first time, and I’ve made a marked improvement and am feeling much better.

The fever and infection reminded me to slow down

This particular bout of illness has been rather poignant for me. Instead of taking the time to relax and let my body repair after the stress it endured, I continued going in my everyday life, acting as if everything was okay and not recognizing my body’s condition. The fever that I had in February was a warning sign telling me, glaringly, to slow down.

And because I did not pay attention to that red flag, I got even more sick. I’m taking this as a stark reminder to always pay attention to my body and to take care of myself more, to listen to and respond to how my body is feeling.

Getting a fever did not ease my health anxieties

What makes this even more troubling is that we are currently living in a time where the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is now a pandemic and where my work—a large research university—has effectively shut down for three weeks. Getting sick during this time was not necessarily ideal for my own health anxieties nor to the general (and understandable) paranoia surrounding this pandemic.

What I can definitively say at this point is that this recent experience with falling so ill really came into my life to both remind me to not deny my condition and to prepare me for this moment in my life where I’m having to be careful with this infection spreading around. Particularly for those of us who are immunocompromised, I hope this story highlights the importance of staying vigilant about your health, your condition, and most importantly, yourself.

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