It all started out on a Tuesday morning in April, when I woke up feeling like I'd been attacked my mosquitoes in the night. I was super itchy, but had a busy day ahead of me. So I jumped right into it and tried not to think about the itchiness.
But by lunchtime, I was not only itchy, but swollen. And a bright pink rash across my cheeks and the bridge of my nose was making me nervous. And when I tried to pick up Merit from her crib, my wrists wouldn't bend.
So I called my doctor.
And she said to go to to the ER right away because I was on day 7 of Penicillin and maybe I was allergic to it. But I said, "Can I just come in to your office? I'd rather not pay for an ER visit if I'm fine."
So Steven drove me to the doctor. They took pity on me and gave me Prednisone (but nothing else since I'd already taken Benadryl that morning). They said the joint pain might be the hives.
That's when things started to get ugly. Literally. Like Quasimodo. We got home and my eyes started swelling shut. I took the prescribed oatmeal bath and emerged bright red and achy all over.
That night was MISERY. I don't want to sound like a drama queen, but I would take natural childbirth over that night any day. My joints burned and I couldn't find relief. It was hard, but Steven was there with me and once he finally agreed to go to bed I prayed that my grandma could be with me and I think she was.
This picture below is from the next morning - in case you don't know me, that is NOT how I normally look. My nose, ears, upper lip, and eyelids were SO SWOLLEN, itchy, and achy.
My mom and sister flew in to help. Somehow, intuitively, they just knew this wasn't some annoying allergy.
Meanwhile, I went to the doctor for more tests. They started throwing words around like Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and cancer. My blood tests were scary, and my pain and fatigue were out of control.
Ranking the Symptoms (1 being worst)
1. Joints - searing pain and I couldn't use some of them. It was AWFUL.
2. Fatigue - I thought I'd experienced fatigue before, I was wrong.
3. Burning rage from the prednisone (just moments of it but I hated it)
4. Deep hives - itchy, burning, achy, bruised
5. Uncertainty - it was scary.
6. Fever - I think it definitely contributed to the fatigue and the aching
And then I got a phone call - my D-Dimer was insanely high. I'd had some chest pain earlier that day and so they had me go in for a chest CT. It was negative. Huge relief, though at that point, I felt too tired to be relieved.
My thumbs had started working again though (the joints in my hands had been so swollen and achy, I couldn't use them), and that was a bright moment!
I was taking 60 mg of prednisone a day - and I can attest with the millions of other internet people out there that prednisone is SATAN'S DRUG! It was horrid.
But we still found moments of joy. My kids LOVED having Grandma and Aunt Sierra and sweet cousin Mae here.
Ugh. So I stayed in the hospital for a bit, got a skin biopsy, more tests, more questions, and finally things started to improve. By the last day my mom was in town, I was feeling so much better.
My blood tests normalized about a week and a half after all of this happened. Which makes them sure that it's not an autoimmune disease or cancer. They can't give me a definitive answer since they've never seen it before, but my doctors believe what I had was something called Serum Sickness. I think they are right.
It is so good to have horrible blood test results once a while. It was a HUGE wake-up call to me. All the things I wished I'd said to my siblings and parents, all the love I wish I'd given to my kids and Steven, all the gratitude I have in me for friends near and far... I can't ever procrastinate or withhold love because life is uncertain.
But for now, I am quite certain that I am NOT dying and will keep living this great, weird, wonderful life one day at a time.