Before I get to the part about my broken hindquarters, first I have to backtrack a bit.
Last summer, midst a flurry of church camp and VBS, an ever-growing and demanding youth group, three kids of my own, and a new school year bearing down on me I was bitten by a spider. A very. nasty. spider.
I woke up on a Sunday morning in July to an itchy spot on my hip. I had worn pajama pants to bed, so I figured it was a particularly ravenous mosquito who had bitten through the fabric. I commented about how bad it itched while I was getting ready for church, put some cream (or ointment or whatever) on it and went on to church. By the time we headed back to church that night for our YouthVBS program, the bite was as big as the diameter of a baseball and oh golly, how it itched. I took a Benadryl before I went to bed and marveled at how I had reacted to the silly thing.
Some time during the night I woke up drenched in sweat and aching all over. I had a house full of kids and I'm not exaggerating on that in the least. I had my three kids, my friend Kasey's three kids, plus her sister's two kids who were in from Tennessee. Kasey is a twin and her sister comes home once a year - I took the kids so they could hang out, so imagine how bad I felt when I had to call her at 8am and tell her I was sick as a dog and Paul was bringing all the kids home ASAP. I called the indian clinic, managed to get the very last same-day appointment with a nurse practitioner (with whom I was about to become very well acquainted with over the next few months). The bite was ugly looking, I felt like I'd been run over, I had a fever, I was nauseous -- needless to say: I was sick.
Abby had been bitten by a brown recluse a few years prior and considering we killed one of the nasty things about every other day somewhere in the old house, I assumed the offending spider was a recluse. The symptoms were the same, the bite looked the same, etc. The NP told me to expect it to form the traditional black spot as my flesh began to *gag* rot at the site of the bite, gave me two shots of steroids in the rear end, oral antibiotics, a prescription for Benadryl, said to drink water until my eyeballs floated and to stay down until I felt better. Two days later I woke up to find myself covered from the top of the head to the tops of my legs in a rash that made me look like I'd been dragged across the carpet for eight or nine hours nonstop. A call to the clinic then put me on oral steroids, more strict bed rest, and so much Benadryl I was *this close* to drooling. In fact, I may have actually drooled. More than once.
The following Sunday after the bite, after seven days of misery and pain, I sent Paul, Kady, and Sam off to church for the evening service while the Abby stayed home with me. I had been feeling funny, just slightly... off.... all day. Then my left arm, hand and fingers, the toes on my left foot and my face went numb. Well, my face was numb, but tingling. It was weeeeeiiiiiirrrrrdd. I called the indian hospital in Claremore, asked if someone could give me some advice before I drove the hour to the hospital for what might be nothing. They said they really weren't allowed to give advice over the phone, but asked what was going on anyway. When I described what was going on, I was patched through to a nurse who said, "Get here. NOW." I explained that I was an hour from the hospital and she said, "Then leave NOW. And get here." Abby flew to the church to get Paul and I called my mom to have her come get the kids and off we went. I had a little emotional meltdown in the car on the way because, as someone with OCD, I tend to imagine the absolute worst in any situation and imagine it often.
They drew blood (took five sticks, ow), examined the bite, called an internist and the final diagnosis was extremely elevated white count, systemic poisoning, definitely not a brown recluse, probably a black widow, the numbness/tingling was my body reacting to the poison, follow up with my primary in three days for a repeat white count. It took six weeks for my white count to return to normal. I was put on Neurontin for the pain that affected only the left side of my body and told that the nerve pain could come and go for as long as three years. She said stress would cause flare ups and also said to be very cautious during flu season because my immune system was pretty well shot.
By October I no longer needed the Neurontin with any regularity. I had a flare-up during the holidays due to stress, plus the remodeling of the new house, plus moving stuff, plus youth group stuff, plus a generally hectic schedule, but I was better.
Then in February I noticed this weird tingling sensation in my lower back on the left side. I immediately assumed it was a nerve flare-up and started back on the medicine. It didn't help. It would itch and burn and tingle, but when I would scratch, I couldn't actually feel it on my skin. When I was picking up a refill at the pharmacy I mentioned offhandedly that I was getting no relief and he got a verbal order from the NP to up my dose. Tripled it actually. Enter my new absent memory and a general foggy feeling in my head for about an hour, three times a day. But itching/burning didn't get immediately better.
It was Shingles.
Actually the whole shingles experience wasn't as bad as I've always heard. It was uncomfortable and I really don't want to do it again, but I never developed the blisters, so there was my little bit of mercy in the whole mess. I really only had two days where I hurt, but I survived.
So now it's April. I had my yearly well-woman exam, my mammogram, and my six-month follow-up for labs and general checkup all in a week's time. Turns out I do not have breast cancer (always a plus), but I'm anemic, my cholesterol is elevated, but my liver and kidneys are doing a good job at whatever their appointed tasks are. My lower left back is still numb/itchy/tingly and she said I may never regain sensation there. Dadgum stupid varicella.
I also mentioned the intense pain in my tailbone. Since last fall I have had a very hard time sitting. Actually the sitting isn't as painful as standing after sitting. My lower back hurts nearly constantly and did I mention my tailbone hurts? Well, it does. She got on to me for wearing crappy shoes, told me to wear good supportive shoes and an orthotic insert and said she wanted to do an x-ray of my lower back and pelvis just for good measure.
The next morning, bright and early, her nurse called to tell me that I was a congenital deformity in my lower back, to wear supportive shoes, and they had mailed me a handout to explain it all. Good-bye and good day.
Say whaaaa? I needed a bit more than that. So I spent the next 24 hours freaking the heck out.
So today I got the handout.
I have lumbar spondylosis. Actually, the spondylosis is no big thang really. Yes, it's degenerative and it's just one more glaring slap in the face that screams, "YOU ARE POSITIVELY ANCIENT, YOU OLD BAT." So that's nice. But it's actually pretty common. The handout they sent says that 80% of people over the age of 40 have it and it, in and of itself, has no real symptoms. It is typically found when they are looking for something else.
And for me, that something else is a pars defect. Yeah. It just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? Pars defect. Say it like you mean it. Beautiful.
Anyway, this is the congenital deformity the nurse mentioned. And I have spent the last five hours Googling it relentlessly. And here are my findings:
My back is broken.
It is a break in between vertebrae and is typically found in athletes. HA. Like, I am so not an athlete. Mine is the L4 and L5 vertebrae, as is fairly common. Pretty much it can be a congenital birth defect or it can be from repeated hyper-extension. And since I have yet to be hired by Cirque de Soleil, I'm pretty sure it's a birth defect. Or from playing the bass drum in the marching band. Either way, I'm not supposed to have any high-impact manipulations at the chiropractor. I'm pretty sure this will keep my professional tap dancing career at bay. And also, if this keeps me off of roller coasters I am going to be so. pissed.
Because I have no one to blame, I am going to blame the spider. Pretty much everything bad that happens in my life these past nine months has been blamed on the spider bite - solar flares, my computer's motherboard dying a painful, messy death, the national debt, that time I smeared my toenail polish, and the fact that McRib isn't really pork, but instead gelatinous globs of pork-flavored pasted pressed into a patty thus rendering me physically incapable of eating the one sandwich that made me happy before I started eating cleaner. Yep, all of it. Blaming it on the spider.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Before I get to the part about my broken hindquarters, first I have to backtrack a bit.