28.10.03

I'm a person who thrives on reading. If there's one thing I do from the moment I'm done with morning ablutions till I hit the sack at night, it's read. I read books, news reports, webpages, advertisements, signboards, SMSes on my cellphone. I even read subtitles when I'm watching TV, so long as the subtitles are in a language that I actually read. It's gotten so bad that I can't help but read Chinese subtitles for an English program, so that I'm frequently 'spoilered' for a couple of seconds before the actor actually says his/her line --- or sometimes cackle at the inadvertent humor of a flawed translation.

This morning, I had trouble reading.

To be fair, I had other issues too. I couldn't stand for more than a couple of minutes tops, before the room started spinning and I had to sit or lie down again. I felt a constant nausea, the kind I usually get from riding in a poorly driven vehicle, especially one that's jerking from lane to lane or following a winding route up to Cameron Highlands or Fraser's Hill. The rest of me was fine, but the fact that I couldn't stand for very long without feeling like I was going to faint pretty much eliminated any possibilities of traversing any distances further than from one room of our small apartment to the next.

The first thing I did, naturally, was to send SMSes asking for help. That's when I knew I was in trouble. Staring at the tiny SMS screen with its flickering characters that appeared with every punch of a button, I was starting to feel even more nauseous. It's a good thing I SMS so much that, like typing. I can pretty much do it without looking at the screen.

A suggested remedy was a cup of strong tea without milk, so I nuked some water to make the tea. While waiting for the microwave to ping, I tried to finish the last four pages of a chapter of Rushdie's The Ground Beneath Her Feet. I'm about one-third through the book and T's taking it to India, so I thought it'd be easier for me to pick it up again if I'm at the end of a chapter rather than in the middle of one.

I didn't make it beyond the first two lines from where I'd stopped. Nausea --- again.

Fortified by tea, I tried to watch a bit of TV to kill time (and also to test the extent of nausea). TV didn't pass the test, either.

So basically, though the dizziness had waned, unless I sat still and didn't try to look at anything that had the slightest hint of movement about it, I felt sick. This was clearly a job for our neighborhood doctor.

I popped down to the clinic and drew lucky number 13. The nurse told me the doc had just started seeing patient number 1, so I bought the newspapers and read them practically cover to cover in the waiting room. That induced nausea too, but by this point I was getting used to the default feeling of queasiness.

The doctor's eventual verdict? Stress and/or strain. She blames it on work, though I kept blinking uncompehendingly, because work hasn't been awful lately and I really don't feel stressed. Clearly my body knows something I don't.*

Anyway, I got some pills to alleviate the cursed nausea and was stable enough to read some of last month's National Geographic issue before I fell asleep. Now I'm testing myself by surfing the web while MTV's on in the background. Is that hunger I feel or is the dreaded nausea about to strike once more?

Oh, to be able to read without fear or trepidation...

* Fyi, the other possible diagnoses were gastric and an inner ear imbalance. The former was dismissed because I didn't have any other symptoms; the latter because if I really had it, I'd feel sick even when lying down. So the next time you have inexplicable nausea/dizziness with no other symptoms, you know what you might have.

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