Bee Sting: Semi-Survivor (Part 2)

What a mess. What a fucking mess.

If I could have known that my being stung by a bee would have spiraled me into this, this ridiculous version of myself, trust that I never would have gone to the river that day. (You can read about it here.) It's been almost three months and my body (and mind) are just now showing promise of my returning to the person I was.

I thought I'd have written this post weeks ago...months ago...as soon as I got better, but it's obviously taking much longer than I ever imagined. In regards to physical ailments to have ever plagued my body...I've never encountered anything like this. Because of this, I've been hesitant to invest any more time and energy thinking about it. When I feel good I simply don't want to think about how awful I have felt over these last few months.

Have you seen David After Dentist? Of course you have. Start the video at 1:35 and you'll have an extremely accurate representation of my thoughts and feelings over these last few months.



So what happened?

Well, that is something I don't really have a solid answer for after spending more time this summer sitting in waiting rooms and with doctors than I probably have over the whole of my life.

This is what I do know. I woke up five days after my bee sting feeling like my body was not working. My arms and legs were numb like when you sleep on your arm and later try to move it. My head was foggy...cloudy. It ached. I kind of felt like I woke up into a horrible hangover, but I hadn't done anything weird the night before to explain away how I felt.

I was also incredibly scared. My body was just not behaving normally. After some hours of trying to let whatever it was pass and even after calling my mother-in-law to babysit me, I ultimately made the decision to return to the Urgent Care that I visited post-bee sting.

They treated me for an anxiety attack. They gave me an IV and a small prescription for Ativan (Lorazepam) to take every 12 hours to ease my heightened concerns.

The thing is, I understand that I have experienced anxiety. You have actually read a number of stories of my fears taking over, but this just wasn't the same. The situation didn't feel the same. My body didn't act the same. I woke up in state I'd never before experienced. It didn't build up from some panic I was immersed in. There was something wrong with my body and my concerns...my fears, were built on that. Unfortunately, I went home from the Urgent Care with no real answers and in a daze due to the IV of "calm" they pushed into me.

Less than a week later I was still daily experiencing the same initial concerns with my body, to which I responded with taking the Lorazepam as instructed. It allowed me to go about my day, albeit like a zombie. I hated how my body and mind felt from the get go when I took the pill, but I also hated and couldn't understand how I felt when I wasn't taking it. Nothing made sense and I had no real explanation for what was happening.

Tyler made an appointment for me with a normal primary care physician in an attempt to help me right myself. This was the start of many. It was at this appointment where my concerns were diagnosed as my body's response to a steroid withdrawal. I had originally been instructed by the Urgent Care to take 80 mg of Prednisone for three days following the bee sting to help counter the inflammation. It made sense and all of my random issues matched the information I began to read about even though it was such a short period of time.

[Lesson #1- Do you ever read the precautions and warnings that come with your medication? I suggest you do. My Prednisone prescription detailed how if you feel funny or start seeing things to stop taking the medication. Well, when I began seeing tracers I only had one dosage left and thought it best to finish out the prescription. I probably should have just stopped taking it, but I didn't. That is just one lesson I've learned from all of this.]

A few weeks were spent with me reintroducing steroids so that my body could manage my cortisol levels naturally, which wasn't happening prior to. All the while I continued to take the Lorazepam because I still regularly felt shitty. There was no regular improvement and throughout this time I only encountered brief moments of normalcy and clarity. This made it extremely difficult to ground myself...to envision myself in any way getting better.

Additionally, an awful side effect began to take hold. I didn't want to be left alone. Maybe it was because of the day when I woke up first feeling this way, but whatever the cause, it began a stream of anxiety that left me incapable of functioning normally. I hate even thinking about the feelings that had more or less become my daily thoughts. The only way I can describe how I felt is I no longer had rationale. A fear that would otherwise pop in and leave, would no longer leave.

I was (and still am at times) encased in my thoughts and fears. At my worst, I truly believed they would never go away and I would always be embedded in fear.

About a month ago during one of those brief moments of clarity I realized my body was craving the fucking Ativan. Not only was I still experiencing the other physical stuff I began having headaches and general discomfort blended with an intense need to take the little pill as a means to make everything okay. It was then I realized my continual "dosing" wasn't actually helping anything. My physical concerns weren't being slowly alleviated. They were being masked. I started to taper off the amount I took. And eventually, after talking with a doctor friend, I stopped taking it all together. I wanted all of the shit out of my system.

It was explained to me by my primary care doctor that I wouldn't experience many ill effects from ridding myself of the medication due to the quick time-frame and the low dosage I had participated in...except I did. Maybe I'm an anomaly when it comes to the effects of certain medications. Maybe it's relevant that I have rarely ever even taken medicine. Maybe it's important to note that even caffeine affects me abrasively.

The thing is, I felt the withdrawal. I spent days barely eating. I shook. I convulsed. I hardly slept. I compulsively asked my husband and my dad if I needed to go to the emergency room. My resting heart rate regularly was in the hundreds. My blood pressure was high. My head ached. My brain felt like it was burning at times. My heart felt overworked. Sensitivities to heat, light, and motion that had pervaded my body since this all started were even more intense. My body was not happy with this decision and those six days in the crux of it were probably the worst I have ever experienced.

[Lesson #2- Don't simply take medicine without understanding why it was prescribed. And, if you take anything to "get by"...stop doing it...sooner rather than later. Seriously. These days were absolutely awful for me and those around me.]

As I said earlier...it has been a mess. My dad has been here for over a month. His presence has enabled Tyler to return to somewhat of a normal schedule. I dropped three of five classes for this semester so that I could maintain some semblance of normalcy yet also let myself deal with whatever this all is.

I've had blood taken. I've had ink inserted in me for an abdominal scan. My urine is currently being analyzed, and I'm about to see a Gastroenterologist. Many of my symptoms that seemed so pervasive while taking the Ativan have dissipated the further I get away from it...thank goodness. But it's not all gone.

The hardest part of all this is that I don't look sick. Minus a pretty decent weight loss, I appear fine. My physical concerns and the anxiety I experience related to it aren't seen when you look at me. My dad describes it well by saying it's kind of abstract. My leg isn't broken. My arm isn't in a sling. I don't have bandages over parts of my body; but I'm not completely okay.

[Lesson #3- Don't allow others perceptions to dictate how you're supposed to feel. You know your body. You know exactly what normal is for you. Even if a doctor doesn't "see" something wrong with you, be your own advocate or put your trust in those who empathize with you to find help.]

So, that's that. Right now, I take it day by day and I've fortunately have had some really good days lately. My blood pressure and heart rate have mostly leveled off. I've been walking and swimming laps (leisurely of course) without getting light headed. I've been mostly sleeping at night. My head has more clarity than it has in a while. My short-term memory is so much better than it was just a month ago. I can see potential again.

[Lesson #4- Know your vitals and basic stats (blood pressure, heart rate, weight, normal caloric intake, etc...This will enable you to recognize when things are off and when they are getting better.]

I was willing to try anything to help me relax a month ago. I don't know how many times I listened to this song, but it reached me when little else could.




Lastly, when I was feeling my worst, I reached out to family, friends, and husbands of friends in my quest for understanding. I am extremely grateful in that every single contact I made attempted to help me and be here for me. And I thank them all for it. Also, my dad and my husband have put in a tremendous amount of time and energy creating an at home rehab/treatment facility. This, along with the counseling efforts of my mom and aunt made a really shitty situation almost bearable. They know I love them.

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