Monday, May 4, 2015

Microblog Mondays 36: Medical Mystery Edition

[READING BACK OVER THIS POST, IT'S WAY TOO LONG TO BE A "MICROBLOG," BUT I'M GOING TO POST IT ANYWAY.  TOTALLY UNRELATED TO INFERTILITY OR PARENTING.]

A week ago today, while I was sitting at my computer at work in the middle of the afternoon, I had a pain on the right side of my neck that radiated up to the base of my skull.  Initially, this pain was little more than a mild annoyance, and I chalked it up to having sat too long in a bad position.

Over the course of the next couple of days, the pain continued, became more severe and began to spread to the top of my head and to the left side of my head as well.  It was unlike anything I had ever experienced, and was so severe on Wednesday that I spent the day on the couch and in bed, taking high doses of ibu.pro.fen and icing various parts of my head.  Nothing helped.

Wednesday night MM mentioned that he thought I felt feverish.  However, I didn't feel sick.  I just had such awful pain that I wanted to die.  I could hardly sleep at nights because just placing my head on a pillow caused an increase in the pain.  I also had no appetite, very unlike me.

Thursday morning I was no better--perhaps worse--and so we agreed that, although I would go to the office, because I had deadlines and a couple of pressing matters I needed to take care of that day (having stayed home the previous day), I would then go to the doctor.  As planned, I went to work for about 45 minutes--enough time to take care of the things I had to--and then drove straight to the emergency room of the Mayo Cl.inic Hosp.ital.

I actually thought I might have a long wait because I was "misusing" the ER to get treatment just for a muscle strain.  I really thought that was what I had.  Even when I noticed that I had developed some sort of odd discoloration on my forehead since waking up that morning that I couldn't really explain.  I thought maybe I'd fallen asleep with an ice pack on my forehead and it marked my skin.  In retrospect, maybe I wasn't thinking very clearly.

When I arrived at the ER, instead it turned out that I had sepsis.  I had a fever of 39.8 degrees Celsius (103.6F).  (My usual temp runs around 97.8; I run low.)  The mark on my forehead had grown more red and swollen and had also spread to the right side of my face.

For over a day, doctors did not know exactly what was wrong with me.  They administered treatment for an infection, since that was the presumptive diagnosis, given my high fever and the results of some lab tests, but they were unsure.  They ran what seemed like every test known to G-d or man.

It is a scary thing to have a doctor in a preeminent hospital tell you "I'm not really sure what is going on with you."  At one point, I jokingly compared myself to an episode of House, M.D., and the resident physician said "We were just saying on rounds that your case is like an episode of House!"  When you are sick and in pain, you want answers.

Notwithstanding their inability to immediately diagnose me, I believe I received excellent care throughout my hospital stay, and I began to respond to treatment.  The results of the many tests performed gradually started to rule out more serious and/or chronic diagnoses.  Finally, on Saturday, the redness and swelling on my face and right ear (which had eventually swollen so much it looked like I'd been in a boxing match) began to subside, as did the pain all over my head.

Ultimately, I was diagnosed with cellulitis of the head and face, with an atypical presentation.  Based on the appearance of the rash on my face, and on my response to certain antibiotics, the infectious disease physician believes that the most likely organism responsible is group A streptococcus.  However, a source of the infection was never identified and probably will not be.

My condition is/was complicated by myositis (inflammation of the muscles of the scalp) and by collection of fluid under the muscles of the scalp.  The myositis and fluid were what were causing the tremendous pain I was in (and continue to be in, but to a much lesser degree).

I came home on Saturday afternoon and have been focusing on resting and trying to get back to normal.  There is so much I want to do to get caught up, but am finding I have very little stamina and can only work at anything physical for 10-15 minutes before having to sit down and rest.  I am also sleeping more than usual.

I am also still processing the experience emotionally.  Apart from the hospitalization associated with my pregnancy complications with my sons (which you can read about in the January 2012 archives, if you weren't a follower of this blog then and are interested), I had never before spent a night in the hospital.  I've never been sick.  I've never even had another surgery besides my c-section.

For the first 24-36 hours, while the redness and swelling on my face continued to spread (although other parts of my condition improved), I did not know what was going on, and it seemed my doctors didn't either.  I was very scared and wasn't sure what would happen to me.

Well, all's well that ends well, they say.  I am home now and definitely on the mend, albeit at a slightly slower pace than I'd like.  I guess I will have to wait and see if any greater insights come to me out of this experience.

10 comments:

  1. I'm in total shock reading this! Thank God you went to the ER! Holy shit, that is scary!

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  2. Ugh, what a nightmare! Glad you're on the mend!

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  3. It is very scary when you don't know what's going on. I remember hearing a doctor telling me that scientists knew more about the surface of the moon that something I was going through at the time. Argh. I just wanted to be common-as-mud normal! I'm sure you did too. Glad you're recovering now though. Take it easy - don't do too much too soon.

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  4. Wow, I was completely surprised by this. I'm so glad you're feeling better. I second what others said - take it easy! Rest as much as you need.

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  5. So scary! I'm glad you're on the mend.

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  6. That is so scary. I'm so glad you are doing better and I hope you heal 100% soon.

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  7. Being a medical mystery would be so frustrating!!! I'm glad things are looking up and you are out of the hospital. I hope you can find the time to rest so your body can heal. I'm so sorry you had to go through this!!

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  8. Holy cow, that's scary!! Glad they (eventually) figured things out and I hope you are feeling a whole lot better soon. (((hugs)))

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  9. OMG, S. I am just reading this, how scary! I am so glad you took yourself to the hospital and that you are on the mend. What an unnerving experience. I hope this finds you feeling better.

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  10. holy shit, I just read this! That must have been SO scary, and I imagine some of the tests were no-so-fun. I really hope you are feeling better now!

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