If You’re Not A Bottle Of 7-Up, Then I Don’t Hang With You

I have been fortunate to have had good health throughout my life.  I’ve never broken a bone nor had surgery or had to stay in the hospital overnight.  Friends have described me as “hale, hearty, and healthy.”  My sick days at work equal two months.  Doctors visits find me “normal”, and I can count on having a head cold and losing my voice once a year.  On the survey at doctor’s offices where they ask about past problems, I draw a straight line through the column of “None”.  I don’t smoke, do drugs, and only have one glass of wine when I drink.  I’m sickeningly healthy.

That is until recently.  A couple of weeks ago I wrote about getting sick before my trip to New York and the grilled cheese that brought me back to life.  When I wrote that post I was confident that it was a random case of food poisoning or the stomach flu.  What I didn’t count on was for it to come back the next day after I hit “publish”.  Again I was sick and waylaid on the couch. I had the exact same symptoms as before: sore throat, nausea, vomiting (and other stuff that is really TMI).  The next day I recovered and felt fine.  Another fluke, right?

I woke up the following day with the sore throat again.  My stomach felt heavy and nausea rolled over me in waves.  I called the advice nurse and followed her advice: urgent care.  With Steve by my side, the doctors took my vitals, swabbed my throat, and tested my blood.  In the meantime I grew progressively worse– to the point where they gave me my own room, a bucket, and my very first anti-nausea injection.  My tests came back normal except for the CBC; my white cells were elevated.  They determined that I needed more services than they could offer and packed me off to the ER.  They let me keep the bucket.

At the ER they performed more blood tests, gave me another dose of anti-nausea meds (the first had done little to ease it), and hooked me up to an IV, another first.  Instead of a private room, I had a bed in the hallway that allowed me to watch the parade of patients going here and going there.  Again my tests only revealed elevated white cells.  This suggested an inflammation or infection, and they sent me for a CT scan (another first).  I learned how painful it was to try to move around with an IV hooked up to my arm.  The CT scan revealed nothing, and the ER doctor basically said, “Your body’s fighting something somewhere.”  He wrote me a prescription for anti-nausea pills and released me.

A day later I was back at work teaching, not knowing what I had or when it would it attack again.  Anxiety shadowed me whispering “what if, what if, what if…” in my ear.  Over the course of the week I lost three pounds.  The only thing I could do once I got home was sleep.  However, I made it through the week without an incident and by Friday gained my appetite back.  Saturday broke sunny and clear, and I felt great.  I  took a brisk two mile walk, went to the foothills with Steve, my sister-in-law Lisa, and some friends, and fed my growing appetite.

The next day I woke with a sore throat– the precursor to hugging the toilet– but I didn’t feel sick and ate breakfast.  Around ten in the morning, it started.  This shattered my confidence.  Normally the sickness would begin around six or seven in the morning, but this time was later.  It couldn’t be counted on.  So when I woke up this past Wednesday with the worst sore throat yet, I really had no idea what was going to happen.  I drove to work visualizing what I would do if for some reason I had to run out of class.  My contingency plan was to give the principal’s secretary’s extension to a responsible student in each class with the instructions that if I were to run out to call her.  During one class I had to step outside to talk to a student who was having personal issues, and when I came back in my designated student was on her way to the phone, seeing that I had stepped outside.

But whatever it is attacking my stomach took a more sinister turn that day: it attacked my joints.  My ankles, hips, shoulders, elbows, the back of my neck, and my jaw were all sensitive and tender.  Each move agony.  But all of them combined did not equal the pain I felt in my knees.  Walking was laborious and taking the stairs near impossible.  I went from someone who usually skips down the stairs to clutching the railing and using my arm strength to guide me up and down.  I normally avoid the elevator, but this time I used it.  By the time I got home from work yesterday,  I had to lift my left leg out of the car.  Last night using a can opener was a herculean effort.  It crossed my mind that I might wake up this morning as a board.  Fortunately it didn’t happen, I was still stiff and sore, and my knees still screamed, but somewhere along the day most of the pain eased off.

My doctor thinks I have an inflamed stomach lining (she doesn’t know about the joint pain), but Steve and I think I have a virus.  Whatever it is, it gave me much more empathy for those who are chronically ill and who have severe (or any) arthritis.  These past few weeks have been full of uncertainty, have chipped away at my confidence, and depleted my energy.  Those who have to work consistently through pain– especially those who work with others and have maintain a positive and chipper attitude– have to rely on physical resources that are often just not there.   This has been a real mental exercise that required me to put my positive attitude and patience to the test.  The joint pain was worse than the stomach ailments.  Eventually that would go away and life would be “normal” again, but the joint pain prohibits me from doing what I love: walking.  The ramifications of not getting enough exercise and relieving stress reverberate far beyond a stomach ailment.  It showed me the frustration and disappointment that people who have rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia or any other kind of pain must go through.

This illness has also shown me how lucky I am.  I have friends who have checked up on me.  The staff at my school has been wonderfully supportive– their care and concern has made it easier to be at work knowing that if I did get sick, everything would be taken care of.  Then there’s my husband who has made numerous runs to the store to pick up 7-Up, crackers, and chicken noodle soup and then comes home to prepare it for me.  He stayed by my side through my visit to urgent care and the ER, making sure I was comfortable.  He’s picked up the slack on the nights when I’m too tired or sick to cook.  He has also been making me really good grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup.  I know that this is what husbands are supposed to do, but it doesn’t stop me from being blown away by it.

Right now, I have no idea what tomorrow or the next day will bring, but if I’ve made through the recent bouts, I will make it through whatever my body throws at me next.

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17 thoughts on “If You’re Not A Bottle Of 7-Up, Then I Don’t Hang With You

    1. Thank you. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. This has been one of the most befuddling problems in my life. Plus, I’ve never realized just how important our knees are– I’ve been taking them for granted! I lucked out in the husband department for sure.

      Make sure you and your wife stay well! BTW– I’m rooting for the Tigers, even though it’s wildly unpopular to do so out here.

  1. Oh My I am so sorry to read you have been ill and dealing with all this! Agree with above and so glad your hubby,friends and coworkers are there for you! I’ve missed your awesome blogs but had had just thought this years students were taking up all your time. Hugs and prayers it is resolved soon! Wish I could send some homemade chicken noodle soup to you through the blogosphere.

    1. Thank you! I bet you make good chicken noodle soup. The kids have kept me busy, plus I’m teaching a class I’ve never taught before. Fortunately, my kids are pleasant and funny. I don’t have to deal with any attitude. But I’ve felt disconnected this year– it’s been hard to write about my students and my job, and this recent illness just makes me want to hunker down. But if I am going to have an illness, I am fortunate enough to have good kids, excellent TAs who keep me organized (and are voluntarily following along with the unit on Pride and Prejudice and share their thoughts with me), and supportive staff members and admin. My husband has been amazing.

      How are you and your family? Is your son doing well in school or has senioritis set in? Are you all geared up for Halloween?

  2. I’m sorry you’re feeling so rotten. Make the doctors rule everything out–especially the bad scary stuff. But it does sound like some kind of virus. 7 Up is your best friend right now, although I find that apple juice is okay, too.

    1. Thank you! This has really been the pits. I’ve been writing down everything I eat and how I feel, so when I go in for my next appt. I can hopefully get some answers. Today was a stronger day, and I’m hoping tomorrow is stronger.

    1. Feeling much better today, thank you! It was the first time in over two weeks that I actually felt like myself. I still have some joint pain, but at this rate I should be 100% in a couple of days. I don’t like to post negative things, but it really felt like if I wrote about it, it would be a way to get it out of me. Thank you for your good wishes.

  3. Based on my own experience of a few years ago, I would suggest you ask your doctor about Fifth Disease. In kids, it can be as simple as a runny nose and red cheeks. In adults, it can make you feel like you’re dying. One of the common symptoms is joint pain, that usually starts a few days after the other symptoms. And that can go on for a while, but it does resolve eventually. When I had it, it was like a bad case of arthritis for a couple of weeks, and then a milder case of arthritis for a couple of months. And then it was gone. I wish you well on finding an answer and recovering your health.

    1. Thank you for the tip. I have another appointment on Friday and have been writing everything I feel down. Last week it did feel like I was dying– like my body went into the turbo-aging zone. Today is better. Hopefully, I will get an answer from my doctor. Thank you for your kind thoughts.

    1. Your first comment ended up in my spam box… I don’t know why. That’s so tough to be sick and away from home– what a lonely feeling. I hope you feel better soon. I’m doing better, and my doctor and I are trying some things out. We’ll see how it goes.

  4. How are u now dear Amy??? Your entire post had me worried! You had quite a bunch of unrelated symptoms…..initially it did seem like food-poisoning. But joint-pain is unrelated. Didn’t your doctor come to a final diagnosis after examining you? Perhaps more tests may be needed. I really hope it blows off and you feel healthy and hearty soon.
    Please do write how you are doing and get well soon.

      1. I am so glad to hear that you are better and ofcourse i pray that you stay well my friend. Take care! 🙂

  5. Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry!!! Hearing describe a visit to the ER where you were given nausea meds reminds me of my friends recent hospital stay. It was horrible watching her go through that and I’m picturing you in the same state right now. How scary not knowing what’s wrong! That’s probably the worst part. I hope things are better now. Ugh, this is awful. I’m so so sorry.

    1. Thanks. I am better now, but it was really quite something and definitely no fun. It was like I had a sneak peek of what it was like to be really old. I was really fortunate to have a lot of caring people around who made my life easier.

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