Committing to Christ, didn’t make my life easier, but yet it did. I was able to recognize that there are bigger forces at work and that I didn’t have to be alone.
But yet my treatment and it’s problems continued. Over the next 2 months I would be hospitalized 3 more times. Fever, pain, fever, pain, fever, pain- repeat, repeat, repeat.
I had been complaining of pain in my right hip for a couple of weeks. It wasn’t excruciating, but nagging and persistent and I couldn’t attribute it to anything. It would spasm and it was starting to affect the way that I walked. And then one night, I couldn’t walk anymore. Literally. I felt the pain worsening throughout the evening and I was hoping that it would lessen… it didn’t. I was hoping to be able to wait until morning, but when Greg was dragging me back and forth from the bathroom and my temp was 101… we figured it was time to go back to Vanderbilt ER. Poor Greg I don’t think he slept at all that night and trust me I was of no help. The only thing that I could do was help keep him awake with my groaning and moaning in pain. I was expedited through the triage area (a bald head and complaints of fever and pain will do that for you) and taken back to the main ER. As any good nurse does, she assess my pain on the 1-10/10 scale, to which I thought and replied “8.” “Really?” Greg replied, “she’s a 10. You can’t walk, go to the bathroom, or lay down. I think that is a 10.” To which I replied, “well, I figured if I ever woke up during an operation, and didn’t have pain medication, that would be the worse pain I could imagine…” Oi. Being a nurse. I would have preferred to get there and yell, “give me Dilaudid!!!” But that usually doesn’t sit well… anyways, you now know that I consider 10/10 pain to be cut open while awake. Seems ridiculous now. I was admitted. Surprise, surprise.
After 2 excruciating MRI’s- showing a gathering of fluid in my hip joints and a fine needle aspirate showing some crystals, and a lot of Dilaudid later – diagnosis gout. Now gout is a disorder that is characterized by elevated uric acid. The uric acid crystalizes in joints causing exquisite pain, redness and swelling. It usually presents in older men who like beer and rich foods. Also it usually is in a distant joint (foot, ankle, wrist). It can also present in chemo therapy patients due to the rapid cellular destruction associated with the drugs. It rarely presents as I have, it very rarely is in the hips. Ah, the unicorn motif continues. Cannot I not just present normally? I was sent home with a walker (?!?!) and gout and pain medication. Fevers were attributed to the inflammatory process. Chemo continued- yay! Because I just had to get through chemo and everything would be fine.
Fever, pain, fever, pain, repeat, repeat, repeat.
I wasn’t home long. Persisting fever. I was hoping that I could just ignore it, but it nagged at me. So back to the ER. We decided we were tired of traveling in the middle of the night, so this time we went during the day. I wasn’t as sick, it wasn’t as emergent, so we waited with the rest of the ER 2 hours. Ugh, but fair I suppose. I was still admitted. I have probably had 11teen million blood cultures drawn. One finally grew something. Strep viridans (perhaps). It was a common bacteria. Finally something common! I was given an antibiotic. This time they wanted to check a few other things because bacteremia (bacteria in the blood) can get nasty. the checked an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) and I had a small pericardial effusion. Not too concerning, but they would watch it. The PA I was working with at the time stated that my immune response to infection was like a med student, “robust and somewhat inappropriate.” It (the immune system/med student) really wanted to help, but it was going above and beyond with the inflammatory response. The next set of blood cultures were negative. This supported that the infection was cleared and I could continue to use my port (implanted devices like a port can harbor infections). Yay! last chemo was scheduled for July 5. My new independence from this disease was just around the corner. I was released and I went to chemo.
It was done. We had rallied and finished chemo. Now we have the journey of recovery, or so we thought.