Perhaps you may have noticed that I’ve been absent from the blog since March. The only way I know to recap what has happened since then is a list (and even so, one with only the main events, as this became a months-long extravaganza), so here goes:
- In March, after starting that miracle medication, my skin looked great, but my body was clearly upset about something. I started having some, shall we say, gastrointestinal issues (i.e. the worst kind of sickness to have to try to communicate without saying too much and grossing people out). All in all, it wasn’t too bad (I can now say in comparison to what was to come), but I decided (along with my doctor) to stop the medication.
- That didn’t help. Instead, things got worse. Keep in mind: that medication was an immunosuppressant (since psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder).
- I did the whole “I held in my emotions for weeks so when I tried to have a conversation with my boss I sobbed” thing. Hint: do not recommend. I took a week off work, because that sickness was present and led to some other complications. I came back. I felt awful. I was anxious all the time and afraid to eat, because it didn’t matter what I ate—I would still be sick. My body didn’t like anything, it seemed. Side note: it is April now.
- I went to the emergency room in the middle of the night one Saturday after/during the most intense stomach pain I have ever felt. I had a CT scan. I had a gazillion tests. I had a husband looking at me trying not to show his fear. I had a lot of fear. I felt like something was very, very wrong at this point. We left with no real answers (I could’ve told them my intestines were irritated, y’all) and some medication. Side note: it is May now.
- Then a test came back positive. They called at 6:00 in the morning with a changed prescription and a name for this ordeal: C-diff. I’ll let you zip over to Google and grab some details there.
- This actually helped. I had a diagnosis, a medication, and, I hoped, a light at the end of the tunnel. LOL, self.
- As I took the medication for a week, things did get slightly better. No more tummy pain that woke me up in the middle of the night. The huge downside was the diet change: I ate a gluten-free dairy-free BRAT diet for a week, and let me tell you, that is NOT FUN. I still have not eaten bananas since then. When all you can eat is a banana, you do not want to eat them ever again.
- Meanwhile, I’m seeing a gastroenterologist I am less than pleased with. She insists on treating this like the common cold, whereas I am terrified. I’ve also lost about 10 pounds at this point. She decides that I need to take the meds for a week, wait two days, have a test again, then see if I’m all clear. Well.
- It’s been a week, and I know we’re not in the clear. I suddenly become very excited about being like IT IS MY BODY AND I KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON. Since I am wracked with fear about stopping a medication when I am definitely not well, I spend another afternoon crying on the phone with my mom. By the next morning, she is in Nashville.
- We pester a lot of on-call doctors, break a lot of HIPAA laws, and Mom does her Mom thing and convinces them that This Is Serious. We head to the emergency room, again.
- More tests. I was right; we are not in the clear by any means. We leave with a prescription for C-diff treatment Plan B. 10 more days. Mom heads home but not before calling in reinforcements: MAMAW IS ON THE MOVE.
- I should also add the tiny detail of the double ear infection I contracted in the middle of all this. I am talking painkillers-needed-level pain. I went to my primary care doctor and she immediately referred me to an ear, nose, and throat doctor, at which appointment I had hearing tests done and a wick put in my ear. So for a week I was on ear drops, I couldn’t hear out of either ear, and took painkillers so I could sleep.
- A brief interruption for some Things I Have Learned: I could’ve gotten this delightful bug anywhere. Usually, they tell me, it’s fought off from the good things in your stomach that take care of whatever shouldn’t be there. But because my immune system was compromised (thanks, immunosuppressant skin medication) and I’d been on antibiotics (which I had no idea truly mess up your gut), I couldn’t fight it off. The ENT also asked me a bunch of questions and concluded, “I have no idea why you have this ear infection,” which is exactly what a person who has been sick since March wants to hear. Well, sort of hear. It was pretty muffled at that point.
- The new medicine begins to work. I am noticing improvement and expanding my diet. I have lost almost 20 pounds at this point. Since they weigh you at every doctor’s appointment, I am noticing the pounds fly off. We’re talking the “I lost 3 pounds in as many days” type of weight loss here.
- I start reading. In two days, I fly through Lauren Graham’s book about her life but mostly what it was like to film Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life and Simone Biles’ book because hi, I love the Olympics. After watching literally every episode of every show I like over the past two months spent on the couch, I love the non-screen.
- Mamaw stays for three days and helps lift my spirits immensely. She cooks and cleans for us even though we try to stop her from doing too much and Ben finally gets to rest for the first time in months.
- When the 10 days are up, I stop the medication and wait. And wait. The tests take a full week longer than expected to come back. I become close personal friends with the GI nurse, Stephanie, who always has a game plan and always takes my calls.
- Finally—the test is negative. After one minor might-have-been relapse which led to a morning spent at the doctor’s office and another test in which Stephanie graciously fast-tracked the results through the hospital lab, we have two negative tests and I am, theoretically, healed. I am skeptical at this point because I can’t remember what life was like before I was using Lysol on the house every day to combat the germs. And, as I have read, this particular bug comes back very easily.
Here’s where I am now:
- I have adopted an essentially gluten-free, dairy-free diet. Not only is it easier on the digestion situation, it’s fairly easy to eat gluten-free, and it makes me feel better overall. Plus, eating gluten-free helps keep my autoimmune issues (psoriasis) calm and comfortable. Win-win. Though let me tell you, what I wouldn’t give for Mac-n-cheese with a side of ranch and ice cream. I also take a probiotic daily, but ain’t nothin’ gonna touch a meal like that.
- I don’t drink caffeine any more. This isn’t entirely necessary, but I’m staying off it so that it doesn’t mess anything up. It’s not the best for you, and I’ve been off it so long that I don’t miss it.
- So long, Diet Coke. While I can have the occasional caffeine-free nectar of the gods, it doesn’t sit well with me. Turns out all this water I’m drinking makes me feel better too.
- All foods are a go. I’m back to a regular diet (with the above restrictions). Back to salads, Mexican food, spicy food, you name it—we’re good to go. Now the issue is keeping the weight off, because I hated the reason I lost it but man, I’ll take it.
- I’m back at work! After three straight weeks, I came back and am relishing the routine. I have energy and everything. And it was comforting to see the faces I’ve come to count on day to day.
Here’s what I
- My husband and family are the reason I made it through. They dealt with all my hopelessness and pain and frustration, kept track of my medication, cooked meals, sent texts, did everything I couldn’t, and didn’t ever complain about waking up in the middle of the night to get me a Jell-O so I could take my medication. (I like to refer to this as “when Ben had to force-feed me Jell-O,” but he doesn’t think that is funny. I’ve no idea why.)
- Seasons like this aren’t fodder for blogs. They’re just painful. That’s why these aren’t things I learned. I didn’t go through this to tie it neatly in a bow. I went through this to know things deep down, probably only to re-know them next time something’s hard. As life tends to go.
- God isn’t afraid of your anger. He draws closer to you in it, but He waits. He does not push. He just sits beside you in your pain. When I had nothing to give, He did not ask for anything. Probably because He doesn’t need anything. He already is all. And that’s a quiet truth, y’all.
- I didn’t know a lot about medicine and all that. I know a lot now. And I know how important it is to have a place to go and someone to call when you need a doctor. Here’s to being an established patient.
- It now takes me about .2 seconds to get angry about prescriptions, insurance, or doctor’s appointments. I think I’ll allow myself that one.
- There are companies like Tessemae’s who make dairy-free ranch dressing, and they are the real heroes.
- For the first time, I was thankful for the Nashville sun and warmth so early in the year. After being inside for so long that I forgot the last time I drove my car, I wanted sun on my shoulders. When I got it, it was glorious.
- When you need it, ask for help.
- Take the moments of joy when you can. Even when they’re fleeting. Because there will be times when they’re very, very fleeting. One such moment: Ben’s mom crocheted me a stuffed beagle made to look like our dog Dolly. After I was done freaking out because I loved it so much, I asked him what made him think of it. He said, “I thought about what would actually make you happy, and I knew you wanted to see your dog.” I’ll remember that moment forever.
- My husband and I will look back on the greater part of our first six months of marriage being difficult. And we will be better for it.