Living in Phoenix, and surviving Valley Fever
If you live in Phoenix, you've survived Valley Fever. Luckily, you only get it once, and once you've survived it, you'll be fine. And chances are that you never even noticed it, it probably felt like a mild cold, or maybe even a bad one. So, congratulations on surviving!
Valley Fever (I have to Google this, hang on) is a fungal infection caused by coccidioides (kok-sid-e-OY-deze) organisms. I got that from the Mayo Clinic site. You get it by breathing in the spores that live in the desert dust. OK, that's as technical as I'm gonna get. You can go read more if you want to, but I'd rather not.
I survived Valley Fever was I was 19, and got to spend some time at the State Hospital at 24th Street and Van Buren (no, not the insane asylum, the hospital that's just north of that). I had a neighbor drive me there, and he and I had no idea where to go, and it was kind of an emergency. I later found out that I was covered, as a college student, under my parents' insurance, and I could have gone to any hospital, but at the time I didn't know. And they took good care of me there.
I reacted with spots, and pneumonia. The spots were interesting, and since the State Hospital is a place for doctors to learn, I got many visits and requests to show off my spots, which went away in a few weeks. I also got my back pounded on, which I guess helps to clear up lungs that get congested. I don't remember much about it, but I do remember asking the nurse if people die from this, and she just quietly said, "yes."
In the hospital room, I remember thinking how beautiful Phoenix was, and how much I wanted to see the blue skies and the palm trees again. I did, and I survived. And if you lived in Phoenix, you survived, too. Congratulations! Now go out there and enjoy the blue skies and palm trees!
Image at the top of this post: the Palo Verde trees in bloom in the spring by the Superstition Mountains, Apache Junction, Arizona.
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Posted by Brad Hall