When Chronic Illness and Acute Illness Combine
In January, I met with my ENT. He is still a fairly new doctor for me and believes I don’t REALLY have Meniere’s disease, but that I have an autoimmune or allergic response to something in my environment. I’ve tested negative for autoimmune diseases many times. I’m going to get an allergy test done, but I don’t think we’ll find an answer there. My doctor’s opinion is that my Meniere’s should have burned itself out after 10 years, there is no way I should have Meniere’s for 13 years. Because of this, he had taken me off my medication, to see how I would do. I immediately had a return to severe vertigo attacks.
Of course, there is a thing called atypical Meniere’s disease in which you don’t burn out, but because I agreed to get an allergy test in the next few months, my doctor agreed to prescribe me the fabulous medication that keeps my attacks at bay : 25 mg Spironolactone. Not exactly looking for crack here.
A couple of weeks after getting on the Spiro, my Meniere’s symptoms began to lessen, like they always do. Frankly, I don’t really care if my “label” is Meniere’s or not, but my condition sure seems well controlled by a weak dose of a diuretic.
The first week of February, I got bronchitis. I got really sick, and I just didn’t get better. I tried to fight through it, going to work, doing breathing exercises, but no matter what I did, it got worse.
End of February/Early March, I had severe chest pain and went to the ER. After a cardiac workup, I was told I had pleurisy, given robitussin with codeine, and sent home. The pleurisy hung around, so I went to my regular doctor’s NP for a prescription for pain killers, which really helped.
On March 17, my husband took me to the doctor’s office because I was unable to go alone. I had pneumonia. They put me on strong antibiotics, and over the last several weeks, I’ve gotten stronger. I was finally able to take my new puppy for walks and go back to work, of which I missed about 3 weeks. I kept getting better and was planning to start working out this week.
Then Thursday, I woke up to get ready for work and had severe shortness of breath, chest pain, and a 101.5 fever. I took tylenol, used my nebulizer, and called in for my shift, knowing I couldn’t make it through a 12 hour shift. Finally, the pain got so bad, and the fever wasn’t going down, so I went to the ER. There, I learned my white blood cell count was 24. That’s really high. I was nearly septic. But just nearly. So they wrote me a prescription for pain medicine and sent me home. I’m seeing my doctor’s NP for a blood exam Tuesday and then meeting with my primary care doctor next Monday.
THAT’S THE THING ABOUT BEING A NURSE. ONCE YOU ARE A NURSE, YOU’RE NOT REALLY QUALIFIED TO BE ANYTHING ELSE, BUT BEING A NURSE IS EXHAUSTING AND IT’S NEXT TO IMPOSSIBLE TO WORK WHILE SICK.
This was not the plan. The plan was to heal the sick and when I went to nursing school, I knew I had Meniere’s, but it wasn’t bad. I had no idea I would develop asthma. Because I have asthma, when I do get sick, I get sicker than people usually do.
So here I am. Up in the middle of the night, which isn’t a problem, because I work nights, but feeling like crap. I’ve used my nebulizer, taken my pain meds, used my Incentive Spirometer, which helps to increase lung volume. Once again, I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do to get better.
I feel like my health care providers don’t give a shit, which is awful because these are people I know. I know I’m on the edge of a “final warning” for attendance at work. Because I dropped to part time to finish my BSN, I don’t qualify for FMLA. It’s so frustrating, all together.
And the only good thing is that my attacks have really nearly stopped with the medication. But I’m at my wit’s end with being sick, with being in pain, with not being able to breathe.
This is the thing about chronic illness… you spend every day barely getting by, and then when acute illness hits you, recovering is a battle you don’t have the resources to fight. That’s where I am.
Just a note: I don’t like “spoon theory,” it doesn’t work for me, so I really don’t want to hear about it on my blog. I’ll delete comments suggesting I use spoon theory for focusing energy. I don’t have the luxury of limiting the energy I have when I’m at work, when I’m at home. There’s too much that MUST be done.