After my earlier panicked message, I should post something calmer.
I managed to take care of myself through the day.
When Lori got home, I was lucid. We still felt it was a good idea to go to an urgent care center for a double-check, and then the urgent care center referred me to the ER for a more complete check. So I'm in the ER now, and I've been lucid all evening.
My own guess (I haven't seen test results yet) is that I have a minor sickness (cold, flu, or something else too minor to be precise about)--with one freaky, alarming symptom. If the tests don't say anything surprising, I'll take tomorrow off work and focus on lots of rest and liquids, on the theory that I really want to beat this thing.
I want to post more about yesterday's delirium while I still remember it. I remember with my rational (or at least rationalizing) brain, so details are already starting to slide away.
A brief rundown on the illness I've had this week: The first symptom was diarrhea on Sunday morning. This was accompanied with some mild stomach upset. In the afternoon, I felt drained and tired; I felt that I had to nap and forfeit the work that I needed to do for the evening's WoW raid. (I went to the raid anyway because I ended up being needed, but I was very slow of brain and didn't notice perils quickly.) When we went to bed, I was chilled and feverish. We didn't get out of bed to take my temperature, but it was qualitatively noticeable. On Monday, I stayed home from work, though I felt mostly all right. I had a headache in the evening. Tuesday, I went in to work, which was a mistake. I watched the MacWorld Keynote in a bit of a fog, then got befogged enough that I didn't feel safe to drive home, so took the bus instead. Wednesday, I worked from home because of the hassle of walking down to the bus in the rain. Though I had a headache, I felt well enough to go to a company party in the evening.
When I woke up on Thursday, I couldn't untangle my thoughts. It was like the experience of falling asleep and realizing that my train of thought made no sense--but I was awake. I always get a fair amount of random thoughts coming through my mind and derailing a train of thought--but this was an order of magnitude worse than I normally get. I tried to fall asleep for a while, but my brain was buzzing too much to do the relaxation exercises that normally help me fall asleep. I considered chemical sleep aids, but I didn't feel that I could trust myself to use any chemical sleep aid safely.
I can't tell how long it took me to post my anguished entry, but it was a struggle; it felt as if each word had to be plucked out of a tornado. After I posted it, I broke down crying helplessly for some time, because I felt I couldn't trust my brain and I was so terrified about that.
After my crying stopped, I pushed my way through the chaos a bit to try to establish priorities for what to use my limited reserves of focus on. They went something like this: - I need to be drinking water. I should get a big glass of water nearby, so that it will remind me to drink. - I need to make sure I have a phone nearby, so that I can call for help if things get worse. (If they get worse, I'm not sure I'll be able to dial the phone, but...) - Food... not a priority. A human can survive a long time without eating; if I don't eat until Lori returns home, it'll suck, but it won't be too bad. - Excretion will probably remind me about itself enough for me to carry it through.
(Note for the future: If I'm in a situation where I'm not confident of my ability to feed myself, it is reasonable to call for help then, not just plan to call if things get worse.)
I flopped on the couch with a glass of water and my phone nearby. After an unknown while, I hoarded enough focus to put in a DVD of cartoons in hopes that that would focus and calm down my mind. It more or less worked--I had just about enough focus to handle a Looney Tunes cartoon.
It's a sign of just how much I use my rationality as a tool for handling the rest of the world that I ended up trying to be rational about how to compensate for my brain being so awhirl. I ended up being super-cautious for the rest of the day--for every action, I would ask myself "can I be confident that this is safe? If it's safe, it's okay if it turns out to be a stupid action." This checking made me stay off the Internet all day, and nearly led me to eating cold soup instead of risking the microwave.
I slept for a big hunk of the afternoon (soundly enough to miss Lori's call although the phone was right next to me). When I woke, I felt tired but lucid. (I also felt clammy then, so I may have been feverish earlier.) Still, the day had been frightening enough that I agreed when Lori suggested an urgent care facility.
The urgent care center and the hospital they referred me to were boring--I was fairly lucid and not in pain the whole time. I got blood tests, urine tests, and a CT scan--nothing came up on any of the tests to indicate anything unusual that would explain these problems.
I'm proceeding on the working hypothesis that I have some sort of minor sickness with one really scary symptom, and the normal treatment of lots of rest and fluid will fix everything, even that scary symptom.