My participation in the June Photo Challenge started with a whimper due to falling ill. I don’t mean ill as in *sniff sniff.* I don’t mean ill as in “can someone bring me some soup and wipe my nose for me?” I mean ill as in someone came into the room where I was sleeping and punched me repeatedly in the chest, then rested a full keg of beer on my rib cage until I woke up from the pain ill.
It hit me suddenly and without warning: Saturday I was representing Seattle and Seafair with the Seafair Commodores in the Portland Starlight Parade (you can see us at 14:38 in this video; I’m on the other side of the boat, but look carefully and you can see my hand). I was on my feet for hours, had sushi for early dinner, had only one cocktail (in very pretty glassware), drank a lot of water because it was hot, danced briefly with some drunk people at the beginning of the parade route, high-fived hundreds of children, and walked-walked-walked. It was long and exhausting but I felt totally fine at the end, if not a little thirsty (again, it was hot). We were all staying at a huge farm 20 minutes north of downtown, and we sat around a campfire until about 2:00 am, chatting and laughing. Unfortunately, I was wide awake at 8:00 am because of the pain — my esophagus felt like it was on fire, but I thought getting up, drinking more water, popping some tums, and eating breakfast would fix it. No. By the time we reached Longview I was begging the husband to pull over so I could get out and stand up. I was still thinking this was heartburn except nothing fixed it — more tums, more water, stopping every few miles to walk, even stopping for Zantac… which now feels a bit foolish in hindsight (like putting a bandaid on a chainsaw wound?). I was almost crying by the time we reached Seattle but didn’t because I was having a hard time breathing; I was convinced that I must have dislodged a blood clot from my left ankle the night before (which has had five surgeries in the last 15 years). I was positive this was a pulmonary embolism.
The ER in Seattle thought so, too.
Six hours and an EKG, chest x-rays, three different CT scans, two IVs (I HATE needles!), two different morphine-based pain killers and Ativan, and every blood test imaginable later the ER released me and told me everything is in great shape except elevated white blood cells — oh yeah, and the fact that I was in excruciating pain and couldn’t breathe. Their final diagnosis was pleurisy, a viral infection of the plura. My own doctor has since run her own battery of blood tests and just confirmed the diagnosis yesterday. I have to admit I’m a little disappointed she didn’t find ulcers or a pancreas gone bad because those can be treated. Instead, this is an infection that clears on its own after a few weeks and I have to just “ride it out” (according to the doc). No magic pill. Bummer.
So the first three days from the June Photo Challenge are essentially wimpy attempts to participate and not miss a day. I didn’t leave my house and tried to do all work from home. I struggled to climb the stairs from the main floor to the office/bedroom floor. I had to recuperate on the couch and not move after talking on the phone for 20 minutes for work. Those first three days were excruciating, and the best I could do was not move, not talk, not exert any energy (including eating), take my handfuls of prescription drugs and pass out on the couch for an hour at a time.
Tomorrow it will be two weeks. I find that the pain comes back like a freight train if I overdo it (like I did at the Seafair Kickoff event a few days ago) or I get stressed out. Luckily I have my Happy Meal bag of meds.
Has anyone out there ever had this mysterious pleurisy before? Ever heard of it?