Still alive ☺

Posted on October 28, 2018 with tags life. See the previous or next posts.


The story so far

I’m finally back alive and functioning after a really bad outage. The worst I can remember in probably the last 20 years if not more…

A week and a half ago I wake up, go to work, everything normal. By early afternoon I feel a bit exhausted, and by about 5pm I feel tired enough to call it an early day and head home.

Evening comes and I start having fever, much higher than just for a cold, and it continues to grow until I cave in and take some medication. Night like hell, and by 3am I knew I won’t make it in to work the next day, so I write an email “I’ll be out tomorrow, need a day to recover”. Hah, if I only knew!

Next day I spend in bed—tired enough to not want to go to the doctor, since I was sure it’ll pass in a day or at most two. What can I say, I was definitely not thinking straight. But the evening and night are again crazy, so the next day I’m at the doctor at 7:30.

I was fully expecting the usual “just a viral infection, take it easy for a few days and you’ll be fine”, and instead after having blood taken and analysed, I’m met with “Oh, it’s good you came to us. I wonder what’s best action plan, send you to hospital right now or try to see how EMERGENCY INTRAVENOUS ANTIBIOTICS will work… Hmm…”.

It was good I felt like, and had the mental capacity of a zombie because the severity of the situation was not immediately clear to me right then. Apparently (but not very sure here), I had almost 20× over the limit for declaring a bacterial infection (and when you start taking antibiotics). So doing intravenous antibiotics was a good way forward, and to my great pleasure they also gave me some painkillers before the antibiotics. Which means the next ~45 minutes with a needle in my arm were, at least after the painkillers started, the best half hour I had in the last 3 days. Yay for modern medicine!

The next day was not much better from a subjective point of view, I was close to taking a taxi to the emergency room during the night. But slowly it got better…

After two days of antibiotics “the value” decreased by half, and in 3 more days it went back to “almost normal”. After 8 days I finally felt fully fine, and stopped all medications (as planned).


So, what the heck happened? I had a cold a week before but that went away fine on its own, manage to do an intervals training two days before the fever started, and nothing special happened in those 48 hours. So “?”

I do have a couple of suspicions (about let’s say sub-optimal schedule planning), and I’ll see if fixing those will help my immune system. But the more interesting part came up as I was looking at my Garmin Connect statistics—I have a Fenix watch that tracks all-day heart rate and supposedly “stress levels”, although the only things I’ve seen is:

  • after a hard training, this stress level goes up for a few hours before it recovers, although it keeps baseline up for a while
  • a stressfull work day does indeed reflect in a bit higher values

I’ve never seen it give much more clear data than that, so I was surprised to see what it showed over this sickness.

First, baseline, the day before I was sick:

A normal day
A normal day

Wake up after a restful sleep, go to work, have a good morning, a bit of stress in the afternoon, go home, ups and downs, but nothing special. Overall stress level as computed by Garmin: 19/100.

The day I got sick:

Uh-oh, here it goes
Uh-oh, here it goes

This is strange. As soon as I got to work, my stress level was high (and I don’t remember anything stressful, work-related, on the contrary), and it increased throughout the day with no “blue” (25%) segments. At all. This I haven’t seen before (OK, I wasn’t checking this every day). And from when I went to bed early and stopped moving so the heart rate tracking was more stable, this hovers at 80+ which is crazy. Overall stress level: 45/100, since the night was still OK-ish.

If I had checked my stress level during the day, I would have known something’s amiss, since that graph is not normal. Not sure what I would have done with this data, but… ☺

OK, so next day, when I stayed at home and thought I’m “recovering” (hah):

Yeah, “recovery”
Yeah, “recovery”

I slept very, very late, but despite that, I wasn’t getting any better. A bit of moving around in the afternoon, which neither helped nor made things worse. Overall stress level: 69/100—a personal record of sorts ☺

If I would have checked my graphs then, I would have probably went to doctor a day early, and started medication a day early, which would have been safer.

So next day:

Yay medication!
Yay medication!

Not able to sleep due to fever/pain/headache/head exploding (despite the Ibuprofen…), went to the doctor. And finally, the first “blue” segments soon after I got the painkillers/antibiotics. Things were still up-and-down during the day, but definitely much better than before. Overall stress level reducing, 50/100.

And the situation continued to improve, until a few days later when I had this gem:


Very sound sleep, and stress levels during the day as I normally get during a normal night! Overall: 4/100, beating even vacations.

So while I don’t know what triggered my sickness, and only some vague ideas on how to improve my immune system, one clear take-away lesson is that Garmin’s “stress level” actually has a relation to how stressed my body is, and that I should pay some more attention to it; both for avoiding stressful situations and knowing when/how hard to train, and also to decide when going to a doctor is important and when not.

Now, do I think my watch is a serious medical device? No, but that’s beside the point. It just can help with a bit of external input versus the internal perception of “how well I feel”.

And while I was sick, a project I supported a long while ago on Kickstarter finally delivered, so I have another tool to monitor my health. It is funny that I started to take readings with it while I was sick, which was not a good baseline, and now numbers are looking like heavily improving ☺ I wish it was so simple during normal times.

So, until we get medical tricorders, at least we can have a signal “all ok”, “somewhat bad”, “go to the doctor, now!” provided simply by measuring heart rate, via your watch. We don’t live in the Star Trek future, but we clearly live in the future!