blowing hot and cold

My wife runs cold; she turns the central heating back on during August whereas I run hot and wear a T-shirt for 12 months of the year.

In hospital, after the operation, laid in bed for long periods, I tended to get rather hot and sweaty. It was May and on a hot day, my pillow would be soaked with sweat. On one occasion, a nurse noticed this as she was fluffing the pillows and offered to change the bed linen – ‘That’s strange you’re sweating so much because you haven’t got a temperature’.

After 3 days in the Critical Care Unit, I was deemed well enough to return to the normal ward which was nice as there were slightly less observations and all my visitors could enter my room at once.

I continued my slow but gradual recovery and was gently coerced by the nurses to walk to the bathroom and take a shower. This was also great; psychologically there’s something very positive about getting a proper wash.

All was going well until on Friday afternoon (a week after surgery), a routine temperature check caused all hell to break loose. ‘Hmm – 38.6. I’ll need to get a doctor as that’s too high’. I did feel hot but not unduly unwell so I assumed the paracetamol would soon bring my temperature down below the 38 threshold.

Only it didn’t. Next thing I knew, I had six doctors and nurses surrounding my bed as my core temperature increased further to 39.4. My wife was visiting and looked quite worried. This worried me. My angst increased further and my core temperature broke 40 ! Now I did feel poorly with extreme flu like symptoms – aching limbs, face feeling hot, sweating.

My wife still looked worried as she listened to the ongoing discussions. While everyone fiddled, she got some flannels soaked in cold water and slung them over my face and chest.

Suddenly something changed. But not for the better. I felt cold and shivery. So shivery, my teeth started to chatter. Bizarre – temperature of over 40 and now I felt freezing.

I tried to clamp my mouth shut to stop my teeth chattering and was horrified to find I couldn’t. I now had ‘rigours‘ (uncontrollable shakes) and I seriously thought I was going to sever my own tongue unless someone did something. Quickly.

A nurse helpfully offered ‘ I know a drug that stops rigours within seconds. But it can’t be combined with morphine’.

As yet another doctor was summoned, my wife got a blanket and hugged me which eventually did the trick.

‘It’s no good – he’s going to have to go back to CCU so we can keep an eye on him’.