This morning as I journaled I began a timeline of events that happened two years ago. It wasn’t incredibly detailed, in fact, it left most details out, but it was good for me to write and remember. Just like the moment I had last year, I’m having another now. In even shorter form, here is my timeline:
5 March 08: sneezed & felt twinge of pain in back.
6 March 08: Woke up with pins and needles sensation in right foot and pain along outside of right leg. Had test. Failed test. Went to UHS, told by MD is was sciatica, limped home.
7 March 08: pain in leg is so bad upon waking that I can hardly walk. Skipped first class of day, went to second for part of the class, took test in last class of day. Finished test in record time because I could no longer concentrate on anything but pain. Failed second test of the week. Went back to UHS. Sent to ER. Given shot for pain relief – no x-ray or scan or any sort- and rx for vicodin. No relief from either. Developed fever of 103 and muscle spasms in back and legs.
8 March 08: parents drove to Austin to pick me up and take me home. Wheeled out to car in my desk chair b/c walking was not really an option. Fell asleep lying in back seat of car out of sheer exhaustion. Miserable all day.
9 March 08: felt somewhat better, able to walk somewhat, but embarrassed to do so because of horrific limp. Still had off and on fever.
10 March 08: Had appt with MD in downtown Houston – orthopedic specialist. MD can’t explain back pain, muscle spasms (full body now) or pain and lack of movement in shoulders. Had consultation with shoulder expert. Lots of x-rays. No answers.
11 March 08: Worse again. One of the doctors in family medicine practice worked me in last minute. Strep screen as possible cause – result: negative. The concern and puzzlement on his face finally has me extremely worried that it will continue to worsen, kill me and they’ll never know what happened.
Admitted to hospital.
Things got worse.
After having blood drawn and morphine administered every hour or as soon as either was allowed, my fever spiked again, my pulse continued to race at 146 bpm and I committed my spirit to God and asked for his mercy and my timely exit because I could no longer fight this battle. If this was the end, I was ready, let’s not drag it out. I lost consciousness.
12 March 08: I don’t remember.
13 March 08: I don’t remember.
14 March 08: I don’t remember.
15 March 08: I woke up with a migraine. The doctors didn’t believe me because I had been on synthetic opiates for pain. Dilaudid I think. Sent for head CT. Turned out I wasn’t a liar. The mother of all migraines lived in my right frontal lobe. The dilaudid made my hands do weird things on their own. They fidgeted a lot with the tag on the hospital blanket. A lot. It was weird. Developed pneumonia. Downgraded one level from ICU.
16 March 08: Forced to walk around the hospital floor by nurses so blood clots wouldn’t form in my legs. Had a shower for the first time in a week. Or I was showered I guess, since I couldn’t move my own arms to feed myself or put on my own chapstick. Miserable.
17 March: After much pleading and insistence, I was discharged, with a PICC line – my new constant companion. I remember it being put in during one of the hazy days (12-14) because the veins in my arms had collapsed from the four IVs I’d had.
The rest of March: flew by too fast. I don’t remember much.
1 April 08: Met with Dr. Cubbage for the first time. He found a lot of fluid in my pelvic region on one of the MRI’s. Ordered another. Several days later that MRI revealed the source of the staph to be in my SI (sacroiliac) joint and the surrounding bone.
April 08: Started physical therapy for frozen shoulders with John Youngblood, who with his colleagues and through much work made me laugh and smile again.
CT-guided aspiration: Think 18 gauge needle, my naked hiney exposed to the room and not enough drugs to cover the pain of a needle long enough penetrate my SI joint through my buttock. Think “ouch.” Not enough fluid was withdrawn to be analyzed, but the pouch of infection in the joint was reduced enough that I could feel a difference and walked normally for a few hours before the pain caught back up with me again.
Throughout the end of March, all of April and most of May, I met weekly with Dr. Diwan (my infectious disease doctor) and tri-weekly with John for PT.
29 May 08: My PICC line is removed.
In the end, I saw 20 doctors, had 16 MRI’s (30+ hours), 5 full months of antibiotics, hundreds of tears, and one broken body. But God is faithful…