Taking a detour

I wasn’t sure I would ever publish this post. Yet I felt the need to document the events of the last few months. I didn’t really know what I expected to accomplish other than to get it all out of my head. When I start to think about my journey, it all gets jumbled up. Telling my story is even more challenging. I lose track of the order of events or forget critical details. Yet the words demand to be written. The story must be told even if there is never an audience.


I wish I had better news

detour2I wish I could tell you that I’ve been enjoying a  life for the first time in years. Thanks to Botox, I finally have good headache disorder management. Just when I was ready to start celebrating, life took a sharp detour I didn’t see coming. I missed the turn and landed in a ditch. Most of wreck still a blur.

Week #1 — It’s allergy season

I ran out of allergy medicine and started getting what I thought were allergy symptoms. About a week after I restarted the medicine, the symptoms suddenly disappeared one morning. Relieved, I went about my day as though nothing were wrong.

Week #3 — Maybe not

Unfortunately, my relief didn’t last long.  The very next day a deep, croupy cough appeared that continued to get worse.

Week #5 — It hurts to breathe

I was so sick that I ended up in the ER with a 104° fever, chest pain, and shortness of breath. I now know those symptoms were the early phase of a respiratory infection. Because I believed the symptoms were allergy-related, they were not treated properly. The infection took hold, ultimately resulting in pneumonia. The ER doc started me on a round of antibiotics and sent me on my way with instructions to follow up with my own doctor if I didn’t improve.

Week #7 — I’m still not getting better

So I took the medicine, rested a lot, and waited. A week after I finished the antibiotics, I was still the same. I couldn’t get in to see my own doctor, so I went to the UC where the doctor confirmed the pneumonia diagnosis and explained that the pain was due to pleurisy. I was given another round of antibiotics and a course of prednisone. Slowly I improved each day.

Week #10 – I feel almost normal

By the time May rolled around, I was ready to start walking on the treadmill again. So I started off with 30 minutes, three times a week. Everything seemed fine that first week. I had renewed energy and stamina.

Week #11 – Payback hits

By Monday both of my legs were swollen. I decided to rest for the week and see if the swelling improved. Unfortunately it only got worse. My weekend was busy with birthday and graduation plans, so I tried to put off seeing the doctor until the next Monday. My legs had other plans. By Sunday the pain was as intense as some of my worst migraine attacks and the swelling was worse. A quick call to the on-call doctor sent me back to the ER with suspected blood clots.

Week #12 – It all goes to hell.

The ER doctor ran a bunch of tests to see if he could find the cause of the swelling. After an EKG, UA, ultrasound, and blood tests for liver, heart, and kidney function, he reported that he could find nothing to explain the swelling. He prescribed a week’s worth of a diuretic and instructed me to follow up with my doctor within the week. Relieved to know that nothing serious was going on, I accepted the prescription.

Turning around

My doctor is well-loved so his schedule is often booked up for many weeks in advance. Initially I was told that I would have to wait a month to get an appointment. I threw a little fit and insisted on speaking with his nurse. She helped me get in within just a few days. I guess some would call that self-advocacy. I call it “being-a-relentless-pain-in-the-butt-until-I-get-my-way”.

It was such a relief to finally see my own doctor. I’ve been sick for so long, not once getting to see him. After a good cry and lots of reassurance, I walked out with a month’s prescription of diuretics, a rehab exercise plan, and recommendations for support stockings, a cane, low-salt diet, frequent ice packs, and keeping my feet elevated. I really appreciated that he was able to offer me more than just a bottle of pills.

Finally, I have some clear direction on how to get back on track. Frankly, this detour hasn’t been much fun.

I’m still in a lot of pain and can’t walk far before I have to stop to rest. When I sit down my legs must be elevated to prevent even more pain. The cane helps a lot when climbing stairs or walking more than a few feet. My house is a split-level, so I’m always walking up or down a few stairs. I get tired a lot and need naps. Getting out to run errands will cost me at least two days of recovery so I try to delegate whenever possible.

Unfortunately, finding my way home from this little detour means sacrifice.

I realized yesterday that I am going to have to give up babysitting my granddaughter for the duration of this rehab. On a good day, I am fine, but not every day is a good day for either one of us. She’s a year old, walking, climbing, and naturally getting in to everything. It just takes too much to run after her. I love her so much and want the best for her. Right now, that’s not me. Plus, I hate to put the added pressure on my daughter. Yet I have to put my own health first. Now I just have to build up the courage to have that conversation with my daughter. I know she will understand. I just never wanted any of this.

We’ll see what happens on Week #16.

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