Chronicles Of Being Sick and Getting Better

This was originally posted on my WoW blog, but since it has nothing to do with WoW, I get to post it here too. It was written lightheartedly and is meant to be read lightheartedly. I’m a terrible patient- you’ll never meet a whinier, crankier, more agitated sick person than me. But on the bright side, and I always look on the bright side eventually, being such a nuisance of a patient makes for better stories.

They say that when really bad things happen, you sort of change your view on stuff. I guess that’s kind of true. For example, I now view 5pm as a perfectly acceptable bedtime. And I view 16 hours as a reasonable, good night of sleep.

Mostly, though, its everyone else who changes. People talk louder, have more off key voices, smack their gum more, have more loud colds, make more noise when they turn book pages, have this annoying habit of existing… At the hospital, they ask about suicidal ideation but, really, its homicidal ideation they should worry about.

There’s always an ambiguous feeling when you’re sick. Part of you is all “NO! I WANT TO DO THIS MYSELF! I CANT ACCEPT RIDES TO CLASS OR ANYTHING I HAVE TO DO IT MYSELF ME ME ME!“. The rest of you is overwhelmed with despair at the thought of having to wipe your own arse at the toilet (not that I have that problem right now, bowels were among the first functions to shut down) or to chew your own food. Chewing is srz bzn, I assure you.

I’ve always criticized other MS patients I meet in the hospital about their whining, but now I kind of relate. I’ve been providing anyone within shouting distance of my progress: “Well, today I can flex my legs a bit more and my left foot is slightly less tingly, but my hands are still very tingly and my back feels sprained from about the fourth vertebrae down, and it hurts when I lean slightly to the left and- Hey!
why are you walking so fast! I can’t keep up! Stop running away from meeeeeeee!

The FIX ME NAO Moment

I went to Emerg for the first time on Wednesday. Several classmates, bless them, offered to stay with me. In case you’ve never been to the ER in Newfoundland, I’ll point out that offering to wait with someone there is a generous, generous gesture. (I complain about a lot, but I can’t complain about my classmates- I am very fortunate to have such wonderful people in my life.) Not wanting anyone to suffer from malnutrition or hypothermia, I gently refused their offer. To me, it wasn’t a big deal: alone and uncomfortable at home, alone and uncomfortable at the hospital, same difference. At least in the hospital, you eventually get meds.

I bravely announced my presence to the triage nurse and provided her with my complete health history.

Ok I lie- in between sobs, I whimpered something about tingling, muscles refusing to obey and constipation and omg it hurts make it stop. Then I collapsed in a corner where I stayed huddled for the next 5 hours.

At least I felt at home in the hospital waiting room. In school, I was the only person slowly shuffling around like an 80 year old. In the hospital, everyone moved just like me! Lots of other people were also crying and thrashing around in agony, so for the first time since my body gave me the finger, I wasn’t embarrassed. I then had a talk with myself.

Myself: You don’t like the idea of feeling as if you have progressed Parkinsons?
Me: NOOOOO I’m so ashaaaaaamed! (As if diseases affecting movement were something to be ashamed of…I don’t get my own logic.)
Myself: Well, these people move like you and they were probably in car accidents. Maybe you could feel like you were in a car accident?
Me: A bad car accident?
Myself: Horrific!
Me: With lots of blood and broken windows?
Myself: Blood and broken windows everywhere!
Me: HELL YEAH!

From then on, I saw myself looking like a horrific car accident survivor and not someone aged before their time. As odd and disturbing as it was, I felt much better.

The hospital team that helped me when I finally got a bed was simply fantastic. Being a somewhat of a thrill-seeker (Jackass is actually a documentary on my childhood), I hang out in ERs a lot. I’d never been treated so well. As I was settling into my sexy hospital nighty (and cursing the fact that my legs hurt too much for shaving, a girl has her pride!) the nurse came in, extracted some blood (I’ve developed a reflex of extending an arm whenever I see a nurse). As she was leaving, the doctor walked in, took some notes. As he was leaving, the porter came in, took me to X-Ray where there was no wait at all, then I was returned to my unit. The doctor was waiting, saying they’ll give me steroids for my MS flare-up and take care of my, um, digestive issues.

Treating digestive issues is the best! I went from about a 7 on the pain scale to being relatively pain free in the span of 10 minutes. If I had been able to move my legs properly, I would have danced like those guys in Viagra commercials.

Also interesting fact: the neurologist on duty that night was the instructor who taught my class on MS treatment in school. Newfoundland’s a small world.

Filling Up On Them Steroids

Steroid treatments… Most MS patients will tell you steroid treatments are terrible and painful, causing depression and irritability… I suspect they’re lying to cover up how awesome steroid treatment is. It’s almost as joyful as constipation relief. Me, when I get steroids, I go from my usual state of

to a state of

They also cleared up my acne and these lingering hives. (Speaking of hives, wouldn’t it be hilarious if this whole thing turned out not to be MS but shingles?)

Coming off steroids is another story. I didn’t bother with a taper and, um, remember what I said about everyone becoming more irritating? I’ll leave the outcome of that to your imagination. But the energy boost along with some of the symptoms getting better is well worth it. Plus the nurses give me candy.

(The candy is for a side effect of bad taste- like bad taste in your mouth, not bad taste as in suddenly wanting to watch Gossip Girls. The nurses say that when they’re giving steroid treatments to men and there are other men in the room, the other men demand to have candy too. Apparently other women in the room do not demand candy.)

The FIX ME AGAIN NAO Moment

I was less whiny for a bit, but was delivered by a classmate to the Emerg triage nurse again on Saturday. This time I was a bit more… or a bit less…. First there was a line up for the triage nurse. I couldn’t stand up, so I sat on the floor until some security guards found me a chair. If you want to skip ahead of a triage line, just sit on the floor.

The triage nurse himself also had MS. He wanted to make conversation and normally I would have loved to chat, but his timing was off.

Nurse: Oh, I’ve had MS for 4 years, how long have you had MS?
Me: OMG I DONT KNOW IT HURTSSSS
Nurse: What kind of symptoms have you had in the past?
Me: MAKE IT STOP HURTING!!!!11
Nurse: What do you think of the new stent treatment.
Me: I DONT CARE IT HURTS IT HURTS IT HURTS OWWWWWWW

On the bright side, my incoherence won me the isolation room. I love the isolation room. It’s a bit on the chilly side (its designed for people drowning in their own sweat from fevers), but you get a couch and some privacy. Somehow I also discovered that sitting with my elbows on my knees and rocking back and forth would lessen the pressure on my ribcage (abdominal muscles trying to break my ribcage was what landed me in the ER) so I did that. For the entire, 4 hour, wait. (Though the waiting room looked full, there must have been less heart attacks and car accidents because the wait was an hour shorter than usual.)

The hospital team that night was pretty good too. But I did discover that when you’re almost a pharmacist, you get treated somewhat differently than the average patient.

Doctor: I see you’re a pharmacist. What should I give you?
Me: SOMETHING TO MAKE MY MUSCLES STOP TRYING TO KILL ME
Doctor: Would you like another course of steroid treatments while you’re here?
Me: I DONT KNOOOOWWWWW IT HUUUUURTSSSSSS
Doctor: Do you still have tingling in your legs?
Me: YES BUT I DONT CAAAAAARE MY RIBS HUUUUUURT MY RIBS MY RIBS
Doctor: Can you take codeine?
Me: JUST MAKE IT STAWWWWP!

In retrospective, I probably should have asked for the steroid treatment and the codeine but my judgment wasn’t at its best. (Granted my lack of working bowels might be an issue with the codeine since codeine = constipation.) Honestly, pharmacy students in pain are not patients to be intimidated by.

I left with a muscle relaxant, which is what I had in mind from the start. It ended up not working. Bummer.

Well, actually, it did wonders for my legs. After my first dose kicked in, they became very, very light! I walked around like I was on the moon. Then I toppled over and slept for 16 hours.

Which brings us to now. My muscles are still trying to break my ribcage, but the extra rest seems to be helping. The excruciating bruised feeling in my sides I had over the weekend is gone, mostly it just feels like a combination of wearing a belt too tight and a really bad back sprain.

I’m still having trouble walking, but stubborn girl that I am I’ve started using stairs again and I’ll be able to walk decent distances very soon. I managed to shave my legs which would be cause for celebration if it weren’t the middle of winter. (The neurology resident who examined me last week found it amusing that all her female MS patients ask for their hairy legs to be excused.)

My hands are still pretty tingly and I whined while typing this post, but, as they say, internet before comfort.

And hey! Why are you walking so fast? I’m not finished! Wait up! Stop running away from meeeee!

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2 Responses to Chronicles Of Being Sick and Getting Better

  1. Brangwen says:

    yeah, I had an attack over the weekend while I was away in Sydney on a conference. So. Annoying.

    Nothing much to be done – I was just really physically tired and my legs went all floppy. Skeptics are REALLY nice, did you know that?

    Also, on a(n un)related note, looks like I might be getting a skeptical group together to try to help people with MS fight the woo and the false hope so many people pedal to us. o.O

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