Sunday, March 21, 2010

Brush With Death?

It started with a slightly rattly cough on Thursday. It wasn't bad and it was infrequent. On Friday it was more of the same and I thought to myself, Is it in the throat? Is it in the chest? I can't tell. Sometime, in the wee hours of Saturday morning, I woke up. It felt like someone--or something--was standing on my chest. The pain was excruciating. I tried to suck in a deep breath. Worse. I tried to cough. Forget about it.

Troy had a meeting at our house in the morning and I'd been planning to run errands with the boys so that we weren't all one giant distraction. I managed to get us over to WalMart. As I trudged through the store I thought--on several occasions--that it might be a good idea to sit down for a few minutes and take a little breather. I didn't.

When I got home I took my temperature. It was 100.9 which is high enough for me to feel cruddy. My temperature typically hovers somewhere around 97.3 and I have found that, as an adult, I do not do fevers very well. On top of the raised temperature was the overwhelming feeling that a 300 pound linebacker was standing on my sternum with the goal of breaking me in half. My mommy told me to go to the doctor. "It might be pneumonia" she said.

It was 11:25. Troy's meeting was supposed to be over at noon. I figured I could drive myself to Urgent Care when he was finished. I laid on The Rock Star's bed while the boys played. It was freezing. As the minutes crept by I realized that there was no way I could take myself to Urgent Care. Then, despite my lack of medical expertise, I diagnosed myself with a raging case of Dying. Troy came up the stairs at a little past noon and got the boys ready to go. When they were ready I hoisted myself out of the toddler bed and crept toward the bathroom. I took my temperature. 102.8 is not a good idea. Just let me tell you. I aimed for the car. I made it about fifteen steps before I needed a little rest. Finally I got in the car but I was so violently cold that I sent Troy back in for a blanket.

Troy dropped me off at Urgent Care and took the boys to McDonald's. I waited. 45 minutes later I was called back. Blood Pressure. Oxygen level. Temperature. Throat culture. Have I ever mentioned how very much I loathe and despise throat cultures? My idea of Hell is, like, a never ending throat culture. I hate the taste of the stick in my mouth. I hate feeling like I am going to gag and then, knowing me, vomit on the nurse. I hate the obnoxious tickly feeling of cotton on my uvula. (Side note: I just googled uvula to make sure I was using the correct word and, apparently, the uvula can be pierced. Um. OUCH.) So after the throat culture I waited about twelve minutes for the doctor to come in. He asked me questions. He listened to me. He ordered chest x-rays.

After the x-rays were done I leaned against the wall, partly because I was about to fall over from fatigue and partly because I was trying to catch a peek at the scans over the technician's shoulder. And oh my gosh I thought I had some kind of huge tumor which is probably why they don't want hypochondriacs with no medical training looking at their x-rays in the first place.

I went back to wait some more, all the while thinking, Hopefully that giant tumor looking COUGH thing is just phlegm and the doctor is not going to come back in here with a referral to oncology because I've never smoked a day in my life and that would be so totally lame and I don't really want to die and COUGH oh ow! COUGH man it hurts when I do that and I am so tired and hurry up and get back in here and tell me whether or not I'm about to expire.

He finally came back in as I labored for breath without pain--a futile sort of goal. He explained that I had left lower lobe pneumonia. There would be an injection. Awesome.

The nurse came in sporting an enormous needle. Now, if you've been reading here long enough you know that I am a recovering trypanophobic. I'm pretty much over it. I feel almost no apprehension when I am going to have my blood drawn and only a few seconds of anxiety when I'm going to get a shot. So I took off my jacket. "This one goes in your hip," she stated.

"Oh that's FANTASTIC!" I said, my voice dripping with all the sarcasm my pneumonia ridden self could muster. I thought about running but I knew with my compromised lungs I wouldn't get very far. Plus, my husband had texted me and he and the boys were in the waiting room. I didn't think it would be a very good example for them if mommy went tearing out of there like a lunatic. I've had fertility shots in my hip before (and let's be honest, hip is just the word they say when they mean butt) and they didn't hurt but, in case this one was terrible, I needed to prepare myself. "Just so I know," I started, trying to control my voice so I didn't sound like a total baby, "should I be prepared for this to hurt?" Keep in mind, I thought, my sanity hinges on your answer. I'm a serious flight risk.

"Um," she hesitated. Hesitation with medical personnel, I've learned, is never good. "I'm not going to lie to you. It's going to sting. It, uh, yeah. It hurts. But you'll feel a lot better tomorrow." Why did I ask? Stupid. Stupid Lori. Because, really, when it comes to weighing the horrors of having a 300 pound linebacker on my chest (or other such awful things) with the horrors of painful needles well, I've only very recently decided to go with the needle. I dropped trou. Although, in this case, it was really more of just scooting trou down a smidgen. I bent over the table. She said, "Okay. Here's the pinch. A little burn..."

"Ow." That was me, not her.

She slapped on a band aid. "We're done. You're going to want to rub that."

"Oh. That wasn't bad." I said.

"Really?" She sounded shocked. "I wouldn't want to have to get that shot."

"Maybe I was just expecting it to be so much worse," I said. But even as the words were leaving my mouth I found myself in horrible, excruciating pain. Spreading from the entrance site of the needle into my entire right buttock and down my leg there was an intense and horrific, almost mind numbing pain. I felt like I wasn't thinking straight.

"You need to wait here for ten minutes so that we can make sure you don't have an allergic reaction." She smiled gently, realizing, I'm sure, that I'd spoken much, much too soon.

"My husband and sons are in the waiting room," I managed to squeak out. "Can you send them back here so the boys don't terrorize your waiting room any more?" What I meant, of course, was, Can you please get my husband and my sons because I. Don't. Want. To. Die. Alone.

When they came back I was still standing there with my pants hanging down. I found the task of pulling them up entirely too challenging amidst all the pain and suffering. The only reason I wasn't sobbing was because I knew the three-year-old was coming. They'd told me to keep moving so I alternated between pacing around the small room and bending over the sink making stepping motions. All the while rubbing my butt, of course. It was a sight to behold, I'm sure. And if ever there was a time for me to play the "for better or worse" card, it might have been then. I explained, through clenched teeth, to the concerned little boy, that it was not the needle that had hurt but that the medicine in my bottom was painful. The shot itself, I explained to him, felt like it was licked on by kittens. He's not stupid. He knew I was pulling his leg. I think it did his tender heart good to hear me making jokes. He does not like when his family is hurting. It was also the first time I thought I might live through the whole ordeal. As long as I've got my sense of humor, I thought, I just might pull through. I told Troy I'd rather be giving birth. He reminded me that I'd had an epidural. I think that if I ever get pneumonia again I might ask for an epidural before allowing them to give me Rocephin. If, by the way, I ever learn how to properly pronounce that, I think I might start using it as a curse word.

The doctor came in and asked how I was doing. "This is the best feeling EVER!" I informed him and, honestly, had my children not been there, I might have grabbed him by the collar and screamed, "You did this to me!" as though I were in the throws of labor--sans epidural--and it was somehow his fault. He gave me four prescriptions on top of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad shot and told me that he needed to see me again today.

I was free to go. The problem was that the intense pain had spread down my entire leg and seemed to have affected all the muscles on the right side of my body from my butt down to my ankle. To say that I limped out of the office sort of dragging my leg as I went would be an understatement. When I sat down (ouch!) in the car my leg was hanging out the door. I told my brain to tell my leg to lift itself in but it just wouldn't work. I reached down and hoisted it up and in. At about twenty minutes post shot the pain finally began to come in waves of about two seconds on followed by two seconds off. Up until that point it had been a steady stream of keep all sharp objects away from me or I'm cutting off my tooshie and all surrounding areas because surely it would hurt less than this. As the day went on the pain receded and is now--nearly 24 hours later--located only to a circle, about four inches in diameter, around the spot of the injection.

Troy went and filled my four prescriptions. I took them and then slept for a few hours in the afternoon. I went to bed at 9:00. My fever broke sometime in the middle of the night. I woke up and hauled myself back to the doctor while Troy took the kids to church. I'm feeling much better except for the fact that I am extremely exhausted. Thank goodness I was fever free and the pain in my chest had subsided because, apparently, a repeat injection is often needed and, let's face it, I'm way too big of a baby for that.

Yesterday, Troy asked the doctor if pneumonia typically comes on that fast. He said that it certainly can. And, since stress and fatigue weaken the immune system it's really no wonder I developed pneumonia. The real wonder is probably the fact that I hadn't gotten it before now. Troy then asked how long it lasts. The doctor replied that symptoms can hang on for weeks and I need to make sure I'm resting. I find this especially awesome since, well, I have two rambunctious sons. But for the moment...for the moment...they are at church and I am resting in my bed. Making sure, of course, that my weight is on my left bun.


  1. oh man, that was a horrific story. i have had pneumonia before but didn't need the injection. thanks for the warning. i am glad that you are feeling better. we have a two story home and i couldn't walk upstairs for about 3 weeks without stopping half way up because i was so exhausted.
    praying for a fast recovery =)

  2. An injection for pneumonia? That just sucks

  3. That is so terrible!! I'm so sorry you've been so sick and have had such a horrible ordeal when you already have PLENTY of other things going on in your life. I hope you're able to get some rest and feel better soon!

  4. Make sure you take REALLY good care of yourself. I have had pneumonia three times now. The first time was the worse. I was sick for two weeks, then very weak for three weeks after that. I lost 15 pounds. I truly, truly thought I was going to die. Pneumonia hurts so bad. It hurts your soul.

    If you have any friends who will watch the boys for you for even a few hours in the next coming days, take advantage of it. Then go home and sleep. Do not do laundry. Do not do the dishes. Do not organize anything. JUST SLEEP.

  5. josh has had pneumonia 3 times since we've been married and it is NASTY! the last time, he thought he was having a heart attack because the pain in his chest was so terrible. rest up and i'll be praying that you feel better soon.

  6. I vow from this day forward to never ever get pneumonia and next time you need Troy to take you to the doctors I better be playing with two of the cutiest little boys in the world at my house so that Troy can give you 100% of his attention and you can cry on his shoulder with out having to put on a brave front!

  7. Oh my goodness! I hope you keep feeling better so you never have to go through that again! I wish we lived closer to help with the lack of rest business. I'll be praying for you!

  8. Oh Lori...
    I agree with all the comments...
    I am so sorry you are so sick and having to deal with even more stress. I will be praying for a speedy recovery... and I will be praying that there will be people who come to watch your sweet boys and let you nap and rest lots!
    I told Kevin he should read your story about the shot... because he hates them very much... It sounds like it was some great medicine though... to kick in super fast!
    Feel better soon... and in the mean time eat lots of yummy food and ice cream!

  9. This post is awesome. :)
    And I hope you are feeling much, much better.

  10. OH man, I'm so sorry you're feeling so miserable!!!

    ...but I gotta' say, you made me laugh so hard I cried at the shot story... oh, man!

    I'll be praying for your recovery and for God to show you how to minimize stress. :)

    Blessings to you!

  11. OMG please remind me never to get that shot. Yikes. I've been enjoying dental torture the last 10 days (3 appts) and I've had shots to numb me every time and the one today caused me to scream out loud. It zapped me like an electrical shock to the tongue. It was bizzare and not plesant - thank the Lord it didn't last longer.

    You're an excellent story teller - I once again felt right there with you - OUCH!