Sunday, September 28, 2008
What Just Happened???
So I just missed the second half of September. Yeah, I missed the whole freaking last half of the month. What just happened?? On Wednesday, 9/17/08, I started experiencing lower back pain. I didn't think too much of it at first, until I couldn't find any position or pain reliever that would minimize the discomfort. I tried a pill specifically for back pain and laid down on the couch, hoping to take a nap. Two hours later I woke up with the chills. I was covered in a blanket, but I was shaking from head to toe. I found our thermometer and my temperature was 99.6. Hmm. That's higher than normal, but not too high. So I went to sleep for the night, thinking I'd either wake up feeling better or wake up with a better idea of what was wrong. It was a rough night and my back pain made me toss and turn. At 6am I took my temperature again and it was 101.3. Okay, something was wrong. I woke Jer up and asked him to take me to the ER. I wasn't familiar with these symptoms, so I wanted to get some answers sooner than later. We went in and the nurses and doctor all thought it sounded like a kidney infection. They drew some blood to find out for sure, but went ahead and put me on an IV and gave me some pain medicine. I thought it was weird that I didn't experience any of the bladder problems usually associated with kidney infections (painful, frequent urination), but I'm not a doctor so I didn't give it a second thought. They got the blood work back and confirmed the kidney infection. So they wrote me a prescription for an antibiotic and a pain killer and sent me on my way. Thursday afternoon I threw up my lunch, but I figured that was the effect of the pain killer. They usually make me nauseated. That afternoon I started to feel pretty badly again. Now I had a killer migraine and my back pain was coming back. I took another pain pill and the back pain subsided. But the migraine was stronger than ever and I could feel another fever coming on. They had told me I could also take Motrin, so I tried that as well. No luck. I hopped into bed and hoped that sleep would bring relief. Friday brought more of the same. Fever, chills, no appetite and killer migraines. The back pain only came back when the pain pills wore off, so that was manageable. I just kept telling myself, "You've only been on the prescription for a day, so give it time to work." I thought for sure I would start to get better by Saturday. I was so frustrated when there was no relief. I had never had a migraine for this long, and I didn't have the energy to leave the bed. The lack of food coupled with the pain pills was making me incredibly dizzy and tired. On Sunday morning I checked my temperature and it was 103. I told Jer it was time to go back to the ER. We went in and they took another urine and blood sample. My headaches were just unbearable, so I asked if there was anything stronger they could give me. The nurse injected me with some narcotic (wish I could remember the name), that I could actually feel going through my arm and into my head. It provided relief for about an hour. In the meantime, the doctor came back in with a pretty serious face. He told us that both my samples were a lot worse than the previous Thursday and that I needed to be admitted for a couple days. What??? My white blood cell count and platelets were low, which is the opposite of what they'd expect from someone with an infection. This concerned them. I thought we were dealing with a kidney infection, but they obviously had the diagnosis wrong the first time around. I couldn't believe that I had to be admitted to the hospital. I'm not sure I've ever stayed in a hospital overnight before this time, to be honest. I was pretty hesitant, but I also knew that I hadn't functioned at all over the past couple of days, so it was necessary. I got checked into a room and they started me on some antibiotics. Unfortunately they had no clue what they were fighting, so I think there was a lot of guesswork going on. The headaches were back, but they just kept giving me Hydrocodone and Tylenol. I told them over and over again that those weren't helping my headaches, because I'd been taking them at home over the past couple of days to no avail, but it didn't seem to matter. Finally someone listened to me and I was given Morphine. It wasn't so much that it decreased my headache, as it made me not care so much about what was going on. It was a weird feeling. I had to wait 4 hours between doses though, and that was an eternity. On Sunday night I started to get hot at one point, so I moved the covers off my legs. Hmmm. There was a rash all over them. It wasn't anywhere else on my body, but this was still a troubling discovery. We showed the doctor and he was stumped. He said they were testing me for everything they could think of, but still didn't have a diagnosis. So I waited...headaches, fever, rash, and all. Things hadn't gotten any better on Monday or Tuesday, and my family tells me I pretty much looked like death those days. I didn't want to open my eyes or talk much because having had a migraine 24 hours a day for five days straight can make you feel that way. I was also incredibly exhausted after having eaten MAYBE two bites of food a day over the past week. I had to be escorted to the bathroom and back to make sure I didn't fall. That was the only time I got out of bed. The doctors ordered a head CT, a chest CT, a stomach CT, and an EKG. Nothing fruitful came from those. I still had fevers every day (up to 104.5 on two different occasions), so they decided they better check for meningitis. How is this done? Through a spinal tap. I'm cringing right now just thinking about it. It's not so much that it hurts, but it's uncomfortable and when the needle touches certain parts near your spine that you don't think should be touched, it really makes you want to vomit. So that was a little scary. Of course there were no helpful results from it though. In the meantime, I also developed thrush. Awesome. I already had little desire to eat before that, and this just made it even smaller. Every bite hurt and if I managed to get it down, it was followed by this painful acid reflux feeling. By Wednesday I didn't think it could get any worse. Little did I know what was in store!! Apparently there's a fine line between the amount of fluids/antibiotics that should be given to a patient, before you can evoke pneumonia, and my nurses/doctors crossed it. My dad came to visit me on Wednesday during lunch. It was a really bad day and he says I barely opened my eyes when he entered. I think we might've said a few words to each other before I said, "I think I'm having trouble breathing." I pushed the nurse's button and told them. They came in and measured my pulse ox and it was 60, which is REALLY BAD. Normal levels are between 90 and 100. I remember seeing my blood pressure at something like 90/30 which couldn't be good either. They put me on oxygen immediately and worked at getting my levels back up. Turns out I had double pneumonia and needed to go to the ICU. So I spent the next couple of days hooked up to a lot of machines, having a tube in my nose, and getting additional breathing treatments every 4 hours. It was exhausting. Every time I would try to get up or walk, my sats would drop and I'd have to lay back down again. It was frustrating to want to get up and move around, but not have the breath to do it. Apparently whatever antibiotics they had been giving me were actually working though (even though they didn't know what they were fighting). So my headaches were gone by Friday and I was actually feeling alive to the world again! I started to get a little of my appetite back along the way too, meaning I could take about four bites of food every day! haha. I was improving all around, so they moved me out of the ICU. I still had to do breathing treatments every four hours (which makes it hard to sleep), but I didn't have to have the oxygen hooked up to me at all times. There was still hourly monitoring of my blood pressure and temperature, and daily blood draws. On Saturday I was really ready to leave the hospital. I was feeling much better, and so many days without sleep in a row was starting to make me cranky. Sunday rolled around and the doctor told me he wanted to keep me for an extra day to monitor an enzyme in my liver (or something like that). I nearly broke down and begged him to let me go home. He could see how restless I was and how much I had improved since last Sunday, so he agreed. I'll have to go back in on Tuesday to get my blood drawn again, but at least I get to recuperate at home in the meantime. I really want a good night's sleep, in my own bed. I'm also so happy to be back with Jer and my doggies, who keep me sane and definitely help me feel better. So after seven days in the hospital, three of which were in the ICU, there's still no explanation for my initial infection. The best the doctors could come up with was that I possibly had Rickettsia bacteria. This is responsible for things like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, rickettsialpox, typhus, etc. They think I might've caught something through a bug bite when we went camping at Lake GreenBelt and hiking at Palo Duro Canyon a couple of weeks ago and its incubation period was a couple of weeks. Who knows? I wish I could know so that I could definitely avoid the situation in the future, but I guess I have to settle for just being healed right now. I just wanted to say thanks to everybody for the comments, emails, phone calls, and flowers. They were SUCH a nice pick-me-up as I was going through these last ten days of hell. So today is 9/28/08 and I'm back to life. I can honestly say the period from 9/17 to 9/27 were the worst days of my life and I really wish I could get them back. I guess it's best to move forward though and just hope it never happens again.