Things That Keep Me Awake At Night: Brain-Eating Amoebae

I was going to entitle this “Things That Keep Me Awake At Night: Part 1”, because this happens often enough that I could make it a weekly thing. But what was keeping me up last night was the fear I wouldn’t be alive next week, so I thought that would be terribly presumptuous, not to mention, a jinx.

It began with a swim in Lake Ontario Saturday and Sunday. Mostly Sunday, because the water was warmer and I actually swam. Face-in-the-water, goggles up, swam. Showing off for the kids, somersaults and handstands, sinuses-full-of-lake-water swimming. Tuesday I swam again, this time laps in the pool at the Y. Supposedly cleaner, but still managed to inhale water as I always do. Shortly after my swim, I began coming down with a headache.

Naturally, NATURALLY, my first thought was not a cold, or sinus infection, but a brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri. Of course. Wouldn’t yours be? It was just a passing thought, at the time, enough that I Googled it and found this article. I was somewhat reassured by the fact that the amoeba likes warm water. Lake Ontario was pretty darn frigid this weekend. And the thought left my mind as quickly as it came, I popped some probiotics and vitamin D and Zicam, and went to bed.

Then I was awakened at 1:30 a.m. by a massive growl from my stomach. Which was not hunger to my middle-of-the-night, sleep-deprived mind. Oh, no. It was nausea, in combination with the headache that had come back, to be the initial symptoms of meningitis. Confusion is another one, and I very nearly woke up my husband to warn him that if I began to show neurological symptoms, he should take me to the hospital straightaway to be tested by our local infectious disease specialist. Primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) is almost always fatal, but if they were to catch it in time, perhaps I could be saved.

At the very least, I thought I should make sure our will, recently updated, is notarized before I am no longer of sound mind.

Then, Oh God, I realized my husband had been swimming with us. Also showing off and doing flips underwater. What if he inhaled it too? My brother and sister-in-law are lined up and willing to be guardians of our children in case something happens to us, but who expects that to occur, really? Perhaps I should warn them. I thought of fetching my cell phone, then realized a text at 3 a.m., for by this point a good 90 minutes had gone by, was ridiculous.

8 a.m. would be just fine.

Somehow I managed to fall back to sleep for a few minutes, but then the power went out. And we’re in the midst of a heat wave, so the thought occurred to me that now we might suffocate under the oppressive heat and humidity (I never claimed to be sane in the middle of the night; far from it). Fortunately, it was only out for a few minutes. But the damage was done. I lay awake until after 4:30. Since I was awake, it was apparently time to obsess again about the amoeba. Perhaps I should stop doing triathlons; it’s much more likely that I would encounter one of these in the stagnant water in which my annual Iron Girl race takes place.

I woke up in the morning feeling somewhat more sane. It’s amazing how my mind runs away from me when I can’t sleep. At the very least, I got a fun blog post out of it.

And please, if I don’t blog again in the next few days, contact my husband and tell him to bring me to an infectious disease specialist.


About Kerrie Strong

Years ago, I chose to suppress my creative side in favor of a career (or two, or three) in science. This blog is filled with exercises intended to reverse the atrophy of my right brain. I hope you enjoy my ramblings.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s