Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Blowfish, Emergency Rooms and Hope

It's been several months since I've written anything here. I've pretty much made myself scarce on most social media. I'm sick of all the negativity and vitriol which increased tenfold leading up to the elections. It permeated both sides of the political spectrum. Even Tom has withdrawn from some social media by deleting the Facebook app from his phone.

I read an article this morning in the Business Insider, Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down To 2 Basic Traits, those being kindness and generosity. Unlike Ebola apparently, there's clearly not a lot of that going around.

We are about to embark on winter. Tom had The Bea$t winterized yesterday in anticipation of some freezing temperatures. When I got up this morning it was 64 degrees and within the last two hours the temperature has dropped 10 degrees. You know how I hate winter. Meteorologists aren't calling it a Polar Vortex this year, or at least not yet. My Weather app refers to it as "Relentless Arctic Outbreak." Sounds like an ominous case of acne.

On the up side, today is my fourth day without pain and meds. Whoo Hoo! It's been a rough couple of weeks. First with a severe allergic reaction to some unknown allergen that caused by lips to swell up like a blowfish and the skin around them turn bright red. I was mortified and there wasn't a lot of sensitivity going on at my doctor's office that afternoon. The most the nurse practitioner could muster was, "Whoa!" and "If you start to have trouble breathing, come on back." Yeah, okay.

After the steroid shot, I headed to the pharmacy in the huge Kroger monstrosity in my backyard. I used the entrance closest to the drug counter so I wouldn't frighten everyone shopping for milk, eggs and bread, or worse yet, terrify the store manager, who would then call the fire department Ebola isolation team to have me quarantined.

I grabbed a box of Benedryl from the shelf and took it to the pharmacy check out, where I encountered the pharmacy tech and pharmacist, both of whom oozed sensitivity and concern. It was a nice change of pace, but I wasn't in the mood to linger in a public place for any length of time.

"Are you okay?"

"No." I wanted to add, Obviously not, but I wisely refrained.

"Have you seen your doctor?"

"Yes, just came from there and had a steroid shot."

"Do you know what you're allergic to? Did they do an allergy panel?"

"No and no."

"Well are they going to do an allergy panel?"

"No, that would mean they actually cared." Yes, I did say that. I wasn't feeling quite like myself... or maybe I was feeling exactly like myself. It was hard to tell.

"You've taken Bendryl before, right?"

"Nope. Never have. I gave it to my kids periodically when they were growing up, but I've never taken it myself."

"Did your doctor give you any instructions for taking it?"

"That would be a hell no." Yes, I said that, too.

As the pharmacy tech rang up my purchase, the pharmacist proceeded to educate me on proper dosage, then said, "You've had a pretty severe allergic reaction. If you start feeling like your throat or tongue is swelling or closing up or you start feeling like it's hard to breathe, go to the emergency room right away, okay?"

"Yes, I will. Thank you."

The swelling went down considerably within a day or so, but the red rashy skin around my lips lingered and peeled and lingered and peeled and lingered and peeled. It was disgusting.

Just a few days after the Blowfish Incident, I got a spasm in my back. I've had them periodically over the last 30 years or so, but this was the worst it's ever been. I didn't have any pain pills left, but I had plenty of muscle relaxers so I started taking those. They didn't help. At all. I sat with my back against a massage cushion for hours on end until the skin on my back was rubbed raw. And I couldn't sleep through the pain. Finally after two days of pain and no sleep for 24 hours, at 2:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, unable to tolerate any further misery or massaging, I asked Tom to take me to the Emergency Room.

Two hours later, with a shot of Demerol in my hip and a prescription for painkillers in my hand, we headed for home. The Demerol did little to relieve the pain, but it eased it somewhat and made me sleepy. But as soon as the pharmacy opened, I headed over to have my painkiller prescription filled. I dropped it off at the drop off window, then settled into a chair in the small waiting area to rest while it was being filled. The rash around my mouth was still bright red and peeling in places so I kept my head tilted down feigning deep interest in Facebook and Twitter on my phone.

The pharmacy tech who checked me out was the same one from the Blowfish Incident. He recognized me (hard not to....not too many old women running around with what looks like a nasty and highly contagious disease).

"Wow. You are really having trouble with that. Has your doctor determined what it is you're allergic to?"

"Nope. They haven't tried."

He just shook his head.

I paid for my pills and headed to my car. I had taken a muscle relaxer just before I left home and I had a bottle of water in my car, so I immediately took a pain pill. It took all of 120 seconds to get home, pull into the garage and walk through the house to the living room couch. Within 45 minutes I was sound asleep. Thank God!

But as I mentioned, this one was a bad one. And a very stubborn one. For a week and a half, it would seemingly go away, then come back, then go away, then come back. Just when I was ready to go to the doctor and plead for a steroid or Botox shot in my back, it finally healed. Today is the fourth day with no pain without meds. Yay me!

And last Thursday I went back to my doctor for my "wellness" visit. The nurse practitioner actually noticing the lingering redness around my lips, "Hmmmm. Do you know what you're allergic to?"

"No. I have no idea."

"Well, we'll probably never know."

"Nope." And taking a que from the pharmacist, I added, "Not unless we do an allergy panel."

"Yeah, well, it could be anything. Obviously it's something you're ingesting," she said, completely dismissing my remark.

At the end of my visit, she said she would call in a prescription for a steroid cream.

When I paid for my pain pills for my back, I also bought a tube of Vaseline Lip Therapy and began using it consistently for about a week and it seemed to work really well so by the time I picked up the steroid cream I only used it once. So now I am pain-free and rash-free.

So that's my couple of months in a nutshell.

Oh wait. One more thing. We got a dog. Her name is Hope and she is a rescue from Arkansas Paws in Prison. She's a black German shepherd that was supposedly trained as a service dog, however, we're finding out that she's pretty independent and that's why she wasn't placed with someone who is confined to a wheelchair.

I'm sure I'll have plenty to write about her.

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