4 Months and Counting…
This would be the most personal post I have ever written on this blog but since so many readers are such close friends, I have decided to share a little of all that I have been going through these past months.
Many of you know I have been sick since May and no doctors have been able to give me a diagnosis. Daily fevers, arthritic pain in my finger, wrists, knees and ankle joints, random muscle spasms in my legs such that there are days that I cannot walk, putting on 10kg in fluid, swelling up and looking bloated, puffy ankles and wrists such that I can no longer wear watches at their usual sizes or ballet flats and rings that do not fit on my fingers anymore. At the start of falling ill, I told myself that it was a passing phase and that I would get better in a few days. Days became weeks and weeks became months. GPs have told me that I had glandular fever, Ross River Virus and reactive arthritis but no one seems to be able to account for all the symptoms or tell me how long I would have to live with it.
As time went by, I learnt to cope with my symptoms. Waking up in the morning was the worst part, but I’d drag myself up earlier than usual to take my Neurofen and go back to bed to allow the medication to kick in, and then be able to move 1/2 hr later. The pains were still there, but they were just a little more tolerable. I would make some breakfast and then pop in Panadol Osteo which was slow release and that was meant to cover me for the next 6hrs. Having this also meant I had to wake up at least an hr earlier than usual everyday just so that I could accommodate these new habits, accommodate the fact that I was now doing things such as turning the shower knob and putting on clothes slower and still not be late for lectures/tutes/appointments since I could no longer walk as fast anymore. Of course, there would be random days when the body decides to have an off day and when the random thigh muscle decides to spasm on me, I cannot even walk. I remember an incident which is kind of funny now that I think back, was that I was sitting on the toilet bowl and I could not get up because of the muscle spasm and my legs lost their strength, I was stuck there for about a half hr because I didnt quite know how to call for help (awkward situation much?).
You also learn the importance of your wrist joints and knee joints. Turning the key to open my main door has to be done with 2 hands because I had insufficient power in 1. I cannot sit on the floor because my knees cannot bend properly to give me a soft landing and after sitting, I cannot stand because my wrist joints cannot support my weight. I lost my fitness- you cannot run if you cannot even walk properly, you cannot lift weights if you cannot even support your own body weight and you cannot jump if your ankles cannot hold you. I stopped baking simply because I cannot anymore. My fingers are in constant flexion because extending them hurts, they are so swollen and puffy- they look like paws, the DIP, PIP and MCP joints are always so warm because they are constantly inflammed- try doing percussion with these fingers, it aint easy..
Sure, there are days when I get frustrated with myself, I get angry and ask ‘Why me?’ but you know there are so many questions we can ask that we may never know the answer to. So why be frustrated when you can make the most out of everything? Bad things happen to people sometimes but what does not kill you, makes you stronger right? :) At least being sick has not done anything to my appetite or love for food, Im still eating well (as you can tell from the updates on this blog, hee. Maybe the 10kg I had put on wasnt fluid..Hmmm =P)
It’s been 4 months living like that now and I am really tired of being sick. Used to be able to walk everywhere and anywhere, but now I’ll be thankful if I can just make it to uni on time. Used to be able to gym/run at least 5X a week, now Im thankful if I can even make it to the gym once a week. Used to complain about having cold hands, now I think I’ll be the happiest girl alive if I can get back my cold hands because that means the inflammation has gone down. Used to plan my days by the week, I would know what I was going to do this Friday the week before but now, I would just live day by day and be glad if I could complete at least 3-4/5 things I had set out to do. Because you never know when the next flare up will be and bed bound you, you just make the most out of each good day you have. I experienced what we learnt in MPPD about shortage of resources first hand- waiting in the RAH ED for 5 hours before I was seen by someone, simply because I did not look symptomatic or even 1 month for a specialist appointment which could have been much longer if the MLTU did not help me.
I’ve learnt how it feels like to be a patient with arthritis and trust me, it is such a debilitating illness. But you will miss it if you do not look closely. Im not sure if 4 months is considered chronic but it sure feels like forever to me. Im just relieved that Prof has agreed to see me next Monday and hopefully he will be able to diagnose me and treat me. Fingers crossed. I still believe in medicine ;)