Tag Archives: chronic pain

Ouch! Killing a Killer Sinus Attack.

Only a few days ago, I was jubilantly chirping about finding my happy feet. Well, I should’ve held onto that thought. Stuck it onto my forehead with superglue, although it would need to be written backwards so I could read it in the mirror. “Life is Great”. However, please don’t ask me to actually write that backwards at the moment, as I’m not thinking clearly. I was simply being dramatic.

For those of you who’ve been following my trials and tribulations, you might recall that I was fighting off Fergus the Omnipresent Operatic Cough for about 6 months and it was getting me down. He was so darn persistent that he could’ve taught Calvin Cooledge a thing or two about persistence.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Calvin Coolidge

Well, I managed to have a good couple of weeks, but then Fergus decided to get sneaky. Or, perhaps like me, he has no sense of direction and he was actually heading back down to my lungs, but ended up in my sinuses by mistake. I don’t know. Either way, the results are the same. I’ve been in excruciating pain and my entire head felt like it was being compressed in a vice and the evil Fergus was turning the handle and laughing, of course and his evil eyes glowing like Christmas lights.

Actually, that shouldn’t be written in the past tense. That’s because Fergus is still at it and flaunting his malevolence. Nothing makes Fergus happier than a bit of torture.

Anyway, I’d been having these intense headaches for a few days, and wondering why my eyes were aching and was getting a bit concerned. Other than having Fergus is my sinuses, I have hydrocephalus and a shunt in my head and these were all the kind of symptoms associated with a block shunt and a trip back to the brain surgeon. With my daughter’s birthday tomorrow, slumber party and associated comings and goings, brain surgery wasn’t exactly on my list.

So, I was starting to get concerned. Just a little concerned. Nothing approaching a major, full-on panic attack with all the bells and whistles. However, then I blew my nose, and I swear a real, living breathing alien jumped out. It was freaky, weird and almost terrifying. I’m not going to thrill you with a graphic description or photographic evidence, but let’s just say this thing was a cross between a Killer python and a jelly rat. The sort of thing that has the infection control Police out in their lab coats, masks, rubber gloves and buckets of Domestos. It’s Quarantine.

Fortunately, I was booked in for an appointment with my rheumatologist at Royal North Shore Hospital. This is one of Australia’s top public and research hospital and home to weird and wonderful conditions like my dermatomyositis. My husband, offering whatever encouragement he could to his embattled soldier, said I was going to the right place for the day. True! Why would I want to go to a tropical island when I could be at the hospital? Well, when you’re feeling that crook and concerned your brain’s being devoured by infection, the deserted island can wait. I was looking forward to going back to my familiar stomping ground where there’s enough expertise from rheumatology, lungs, brain, exploding sinuses to handle whatever Fergus was going to dish up this time.

Well, much to my relief, they let me go and I left with a script for more industrial strength antibiotics, and I actually managed to have an extended coffee with my best friend from school at a cafe near the station.(I perk up well).

I should also mention that I was reading Markus Zusak’s: The Book Thief on the train and in the waiting room. It’s a funny book to be reading when you’re feeling really crook and wondering if your number’s about to come up, but it’s beautifully written. I loved the film and started reading the book and got distracted, but wanted to have another go.

Train trips are always a good way for me to really get stuck into a book as it takes about 90 minutes to get to the hospital. Moreover, it’s uninterrupted time and not that jerky stop start reading you have when you’re going off to sleep. Have you read The Book Thief? It’s just brilliant and the language is so poetic and beautiful. It’s also very philosophical, which I love as well. So, after a day of train trips and waiting rooms, I’m now up to page 164 and I take my time to absorb the prose as well. It hasn’t been an express read. I like to let the words and the magic settle like Autumn leaves in the snow (not that we have either here).

Anyway, I woke up at midday today after my husband handled the morning run. I can’t begin to describe the throbbing pain. However,  even walking a metre or so to the bathroom was a huge agononizing effort and I had a glass of water hoping that would help. It was a separate trip to get some Panadol out of my husband’s drawer. I have never experienced pain like this. I had to let those process before I could even ring my husband to tell him how sick I was. That was very humbling, scary. Nobody wants to be that vulnerable. So stuck in a dreadful situation and unable to respond.

Fortunately, for me it was temporary. I rang my husband which perked me up a bit and the Panadol and water were starting to work. With a huge blow on my nose, there was also more relief. I’ll be heading off to pick the kids up from school soon and I’ll be back on my feet in my usual style. Rowena is fine.

I’m glad I’m feeling better and finding ways to keep going, get back on my feet and not let chronic health control my life. Yet, on the other hand, I could use some TLC and my own private nurse to take care of me. Peel me grapes. I know I need to rest.

Do you live with anything ongoing, which is challenges you? Please share in the comments and upload your inner Fergus.

xx Rowena

Caring for Mum.

Yesterday, I shared about finding out my brother’s cat, Archie had passed away. What I didn’t mention, was that my Mum’s in hospital with acute back pain. Although we initially joked about it being like a holiday with a room to herself and meals arriving like magic, the reality is different. Even with a brilliant imagination, you can’t keep pretend that you’re lying by the pool when you’re in agony, in hospital and you don’t know why or how it happened. One day, you were you and the next day, your back seizes up and you’re in excruciating pain and you’ve become someone else. What happened?

Except for me, these questions are being asked in the third person. What’s happened to Mum?

 

 

If you asked me to describe my Mum, I’d tell you that she loves the beach and looks great in a bikini. Because when I immediately picture my Mum as my Mum, she must be about 30 and she’s wearing a bikini and she’s full of beans. She’s playing tennis, swimming at the beach and driving us all over the countryside to piano, violin, ballet and she’s nowhere near a hospital. Indeed, even my grandmother running round the shops needing some kind of harness to keep her under control. She was getting around with the same speed as my toddler son whose now 13 and attached to electronics most of the time these days and now much, much easier to catch.

I’ve shared about this weird sensation about time before. That just because we’ve aged, it doesn’t mean that our idea of who were are or those close to us, has aged along with the physical body. I know for me there’s definitely a huge disparity and I remember my grandmother telling me that she didn’t recognise the old lady staring back at her. That was someone else and her true reflection was simply hiding somewhere behind the glass.

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I haven’t been prepared for Mum to grow old.

 

Mum has been our rock through my health crises taking in the kids for 7 weeks when I was first diagnosed with dermatomyositis. She had two traumatized, very active kids and it was very intense for Mum, Dad and my brother.Yet, they were there. They were my strength when I clearly had none…physically or emotionally.

So, it’s hard to come around to the idea that Mum, indeed my parents, are drifting into the elderly category. Where it won’t be Mum taking me or the kids shopping, and we could well be taking her. That instead of her visiting me in hospital, it’s us visiting her. As much as I’m glad to be well away from hospital these days, that doesn’t give her permission to sign up. Moreover,  it definitely doesn’t give The Patron Saint of Hospital Admissions permission to come after her. It can well and truly leave all of us alone thank you very much!!

I guess what I wanted to write about and tap into is this sense of unfolding grief we often experience these days when older family members and friends have protracted medical treatments. We watch their strength, personality and even memory get chipped away, chipped away ever so slowly and you and they both know that they’re not how they used to be, and yet they’re still here. Indeed, I had two grandparents live with long term Alzheimers and by the time they died, I had almost run out of tears. My grief had been used up along the way.

That’s because there is grief along this journey, even though there’s also that gratitude and relief that they’re still here.

So, now while I’m feeling rotten about Mum being in hospital and knowing how much pain she’s experiencing, I still feel in a sense that I have no right to grieve. She’s not dying. She’s “fine” only she’s actually along way from being fine and we have no crystal ball about what this means. My son still expected Mama to pick him up from school this afternoon. After all, that’s what Mama does and has been doing on Wednesdays ever since he’s been born almost 13 years ago. She’s been here…an hour’s drive away hail, rain or shine because she loves us. Moreover, given my health problems and uncertainty over the years, she has been their rock. The net that catches my kids when everything’s falling apart and there’s no ground to land on. She hasn’t been there only support but she’s definitely been there.

I had to remind him that Mama is in hospital.

Mum and I didn’t get on for many years and we’re very different people. Being an extreme extrovert, she often tried to reign me in…something I didn’t understand until I was doing the same with our very extroverted son. Obviously, nobody explains all of this to you when you’re a kid. Yet, the yin and yang between introverts and extroverts is something I need to understand with family. After all, opposites attract and it’s understandable that there’d be a mix throughout the family. Having that understanding has been critical for better relations.

So, even though Mum doesn’t let me write about her, I needed to share my anguish, my gratitude that she’s not worse and to provide a space for you to share these complex and challenging emotions. I am very lucky to be 47 and to have both my parents alive but I also can’t imagine a world without them in it. They’ve been here forever just like the air I breathe in and out.

Not that I need to think about that now but at the same time, I feel the need to acknowledge this partial grief and concern for my mother being in so much pain. It’s very hard to think about her suffering, but being there for her, means embracing it head on and being her daughter…not a coward.

I would like to open up the comments section for people to share their feelings and reflections about parents getting old, losing a parent and please link to your posts. I am thinking of you and send you my love and prayers!

xx Rowena

PS Despite the seriousness of Mum’s situation, there’s still opportunity for humour. When we told our son that Mama was going for a bone density scan, he asked if she was getting carbon dated. Well, at least I was laughing!