I feel like I have been neglecting my duties as a blogger all winter. Yes, I have been doing lots of things behind the scenes here, but I haven’t been as chatty or as informative as I usually am. Like, last winter I posted lots of pics of places we went and told all about things we did and who we saw and met and stuff like that. I did the weekly budget thing and posted menus and recipes and all that kind of stuff.
But this winter, we really haven’t gone anywhere or done anything exciting. It seems like all we have done is go to doctor appointments, either for me or for FabGrandpa, and I really don’t think those kinds of trips are real interesting or exciting–more like boring and bleh! And though I haven’t really been sick, I have not been feeling well. It could be because of all the rain and the very cold weather, but my joints and bones have been hurting a lot. So, yesterday I went to the doctor for the second time in ten years.
But the trip to the doctor for me yesterday got me thinking, and the thinking kept me awake half the night, and so now I have to write out all that stuff I thought about.
I know I told you about that little catfish restaurant down the road, which has become our favorite spot–we eat there about four times a week, and have come to know the people who work there really well. One of the waitresses there, Anne, told us about her husband. He had a heart attack and then he had to have stents put in, and because he has had a kidney transplant, the hospital in Tuscaloosa refused to do the stent surgery. I had never heard of a hospital refusing care, but that is another story.(He did get the stints done, in Birmingham)
In the course of talking about Anne’s husband, I asked her how old he was. I was thinking he was maybe in his 70’s or older, because of all the problems he was having, so when she told me he was 62 I was really surprised. I asked her how he had come to need a kidney transplant, and that was the biggest surprise of all! She said they used to live in Indiana. One day, her husband was working underneath the house, and when he came out from under the house, his leg was itching. He went inside and dropped his pants, and found that he had been bitten 11 times by what they later learned were brown recluse spiders!!!
He spent something like three months in the hospital, and nearly lost both legs, but eventually he recovered. But, the venom from those spider bites killed his kidneys, and damaged his heart. He was written up in the local newspapers in Indiana because it was unheard of for anyone to survive being bitten so many times by those spiders.
And, the reason I was thinking about that, is because one day when I was about 12 years old, I was playing on the side of a lake in the woods with some of my friends, and I stepped on a yellow jacket’s nest in the ground. I was stung about sixty times on my legs. I ran home as fast as I could, and my mother took me to the emergency room, where I got shots–probably of benadryl or epenephrine. I went home and slept for two days. I remember my legs being swollen to two times their size and being so sick from those stings.
And I am now wondering if being stung that many times all at once could possibly be the cause of me having auto-immune disorders like celiac disease, type II diabetes, and now, maybe rheumatoid arthritis. This line of thinking started after my visit to the doctor yesterday, when he told me he is testing me for rheumatoid arthritis (among other things he talked about). Since they don’t really know what triggers something like that, isn’t it possible that that yellow jacket incident all those years ago could have something to do with it?
One of the questions the doctor asked me yesterday was “How long has this been going on?” Well, that is hard to answer. The big pain, the reason I was there yesterday, has been going on “this time” for a couple of months. I am to the point where if I try to lift a bowl up to put it away after washing the dishes, I have excruiating pain in my arm from my elbow to my wrist. If I try to open the door of the truck to get in or out, I have excruiating pain in my elbow. If I try to turn from one position to another when lying in bed, I have excruiating pain in my hips. It takes a bit to get up and get moving. And for me to actually go to a doctor, when I have to pay every penny out of my own pocket because I have no insurance, well, that right there might be an indication that I am really really in pain. Because I am stingy with my money, you know.
But how long has it been going on? That was another thing that kept me awake last night. I can remember in the 1980’s, when I was in my thirties, if I spent an afternoon working in my flower garden, my hands would hurt for days afterwards. Aching liking a toothache, and nothing I did would stop the pain. But, I loved gardening so much I was willing to do the trade off. In my forties, I had to wear those carpal tunnel splints on both hands at night if I did much typing at work during the day. I can remember driving home from work, on I-285, using the sides of my arms to steer the car, because griping the steering wheel of the car hurt my hands too much. It was unbearable at times, but you know how it is, a woman has to work to feed her family, and if you told people that you were in such pain they looked at you like you were an idiot because, well, you were young and all. So, is all that related to what I am experiencing now? And last year, the famous palpable mass incident, which improved when I was prescribed the anti-inflamatories and pain relievers, maybe the exercises that doctor didn’t do anything. Maybe it was the medicine that stopped the pain after all.
And I wonder, if I get pain like this all over my body now just from living day to day, what is my life going to be like in the future? How am I going to cope with this? I don’t want to be drugged all the time. Because yesterday, I got two shots, one in each hip. A steroid in one hip, and a pain med in the other. And I felt good yesterday and still feel good today. I have a prescription for an anti-inflamation drug in my purse that we are going to get filled today. But I can’t go around drugged like I was yesterday all the time! That is just insane. So, I guess, what was really keeping me awake last night is this: what is in store for me now?