monday came and i hit the wall. as i struggled to get my limbs to respond to what my brain was telling them to do the pain washed over me. i got scared. very scared. this isn't right. this does not feel right. something is wrong with my body. all of my body. there was not one joint that had been spared from this intense pain.
my husband sprang into action. "in sickness and in health," - boy, they weren't kidding. he had to physically help me out of bed. help me to the bathroom. get me into the shower. wash me, dry me and dress me in my clothes. every movement made my body scream.
right away my children were aware something was wrong with mommy. "you don't feel good?" my daughter asked looking up at me. my son softly kissed me and rubbed my arm. "does that make you feel better?" he asked. i felt my heart break in two when i recognized the worry on their sweet little faces. they should not be worrying about me. i am the mom. it is my job to worry about them.
thankfully we have amazing neighbors and our kids went to stay across the street. my husband drove me straight back to my doctor's office and we waited until the front doors were unlocked. no appointment. no warning. we just showed up. his staff was visibly surprised to see me back; it had only been a few days since i was there last. the doctor even gave me a funny look when he walked into the exam room and saw me sitting there again. i tried hard to hold back the tears but they came anyway while i explained to the doctor why i had returned.
"it's like she turned 90 years old over night" my husband told him in disbelief.
my general practitioner talked a little more about the results of what would be my first blood test. he advised me the diabetic reading was high. "now, i'm not saying you are a diabetic but i don't want you to have problems with that in the future. so let's do some preventative maintenance right now by loosing 5-10 pounds. even i could afford to do that." he chuckled. not funny, mister doctor. i am not in the mood for humor.
he continued: "you need to drink lots of water. your kidneys look like they are having some trouble and i want to make sure we are flushing them out real good. your liver too."
so.... you want me to loose weight, drink 3 gallons of water a day and i'll feel better?
i could tell the doctor was still a little skeptical until he saw me try to get down off the exam table. my husband wrapped his arm around my waist and lowered me onto the ground. he continued to support my weight as we made our way toward the door. the problem with this connective tissue disease is that ALL of the tissues that connect every flexing joint in your body hurt like an s.o.b.
the doctor's eyes grew wide and his mouth opened.
"do you always walk like that? you didn't look like this last week." he stammered.
"that is what i've been trying to tell you." i cried. "this isn't me. my body is not doing what i tell it to do." i sounded like a toddler whining to him.
my doctor referred us to a rheumatologist. you see, i was under the impression that a rheumatologist studied rheumatoid arthritis. yes and no. i had tested positive for a connective tissue disease. there are several diseases within this connective tissue disease family. rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are only some of them. my doctor ordered additional blood tests to investigate the connective tissue disease, gave me a prescription for tramadol (a pain medication) and encouraged me to go home and rest.
there was no going home yet. we had things to do. first call was to the rheumatologist for an appointment. the first office did not have an available appointment for over 2 months. that's not going to work. the next doctor we called had an available appointment, but of course it would be several weeks before he would be able to see me. "i'll take it." then i vowed to call his office every day to see if an earlier appointment became available. yes, i can be very annoying like that.
next stop: the lab for more blood work.
"hello again" the technician said when i shuffled in. since i had turned 90 years old overnight, it's not like i was moving very fast. "more tests?" he asked.
i used to be afraid of needles. we didn't get along - needles and i. but today was different.
i was scared of what was happening to my body and i was determined to find out what was causing this craziness and get it fixed.
after the lab we hit the pharmacy for those pain meds. yes, give me pills. if they make me feel better, give them to me now. while my husband went in to the pharmacy and took care of business, i sat in the car. what else could i be doing to better my situation? i can't just sit here and wait around for something to happen. i knew i could only control certain aspects of my situation. one of them was my diet. "loose 5-10 pounds" played over in my mind. ugh.... but he kind of had a point. if i ate healthy; if i ate "clean" my body might operate more efficiently and therefore be able to heal itself better. right?
another light bulb went on: acupuncture. hmm? i had never done acupuncture before. remember what i said about me and needles? yeah, well this time things are different. i would have set my hair on fire and run down the street if it meant i would get some relief from the pain.
i called my chiropractor's office and promptly made an acupuncture appointment for later that afternoon. scared, sore, anxious and in pain i shuffled into the chiropractic office. once again, the office staff and patients in the waiting room turned to look at the 90 year old shuffling through the door. i was quickly escorted to a private room and my consultation began.
"i don't know what's going on with you, but i am very worried. are you nervous?" she asked.
"yes. very." i filled her in on all of the events leading up to me coming to see her. she diligently took notes and nodded appropriately. i also presented her with a copy of my first blood test. she read them thoroughly and shook her head.
"it looks like your body basically exploded and you have inflammation everywhere."
i asked her if she could recommend any type of nutrition or dietary restrictions for me. she encouraged a cleanse diet - not to loose weight, but more to rid my body of all the processed foods and ick that might be deterring it from performing its normal duties. (kidneys? liver?? are you listening this?) ok, i can do that. another vow for the day: eat fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meats and plenty of protein. stay away from crap.
for the next two hours i laid on the bed in that private room. the lights were dim. soft, soothing music played in the background and i realized as she stuck needles into my body that i was finally pain free. could it really be? or am i hallucinating? no, it was really happening. occasionally i would feel a pinch when she put a needle in place but the sensation quickly went away. i felt at peace. most of all, i felt like she was listening to me and hearing what my body was saying.
my first acupuncture treatment was strictly to help manage my pain. when she finished the 2 hour treatment, she encouraged me to go home and take an epsom salt bath then get some rest. i did just that. while relaxing i was hit with the reality that i needed to ask for help. this might not be a big deal for some people, but it was a huge deal for me. i prided myself on being fiercely independent and now i was going to have to swallow my pride. i stared at the fact i would not be able to care for myself and my 2 kids when my husband went off to work early the next morning. i picked up the phone and dialed a number.
my husband had to assist me with walking out of the chiropractic office, getting into the car and moving up the stairs. but when the time came to go to bed i felt a little better. i had some slight relief. the day's events had drained me - mentally, physically and emotionally. i was hopeful the next day would be even better. or maybe i was just naive that i would wake up and be magically cured. oh to be so lucky...