Y’all. Y’ALL! Did anyone get the number of that bus that hit me?
I swear, I feel like ever since we moved out here I’ve been a walking bag of medical complications. Broken fingers. Broken teeth. Abscess in broken teeth. Misplacing a kidney (OK, though technically I forgot where I put it before I was born). And now an abscess on my tonsil. AN ABSCESS ON MY TONSIL. HOW DOES THAT EVEN.
I know I’d mentioned that, like, two weeks ago now, I woke up with a sore throat that got worse over the day. Over the next few days, actually. And I get sore throats a lot – I have allergies (to plant things, not just to food things) so I’m almost always congested and I get post-nasal drip a lot. But it got to the point by about Monday where I thought, I should go to a doctor. This hurts a lot and none of the Dayquil/Nyquil/whatever things I’m taking over the counter are helping.
I had to get bloodwork done last week for an upcoming kidney doctor checkup anyway, so while I was at my doctor’s office trying to get blood work done (which they wound up not being able to do) I made an appointment to get my throat checked out. They could see me Wednesday.
Wednesday I went in and they were like, well, you have a lot of fluid in your ears and you say you have allergies a lot, but your throat isn’t swollen or particularly irritated beyond post-nasal drip, so add some Claritin to your diet and come see us again in about a week if it doesn’t get better.
Guess what didn’t get better? No, guess! Hahahah! Did you guess my throat?! I noticed… I can’t remember now if it was Thursday night or Friday night of last week, but Tim and I went out to eat, and it was really hard to and painful to swallow. I ate, because I was hungry, but it was tough getting everything down. Then when I woke up on Saturday morning, still in a lot of pain, and I couldn’t even swallow coffee….? I had told Tim on Thursday that if I didn’t feel better by Sunday, that Monday I would go to a walk-in clinic. When I couldn’t even swallow coffee on Saturday, I said that maybe I should go into one that day.
It was 7 in the morning, and although we’ve found out that Keystone has a walk-in clinic (associated with my primary care physician, too!), it didn’t open until 8:30. I could have made that drive myself, since it’s like six minutes away, but we decided to go ahead and drive into Gainesville and go to a walk-in clinic there.
When going over my symptoms, the PA kind of joked that, “hey, you couldn’t swallow, and you came here? I would have gone straight to the ER!” and it didn’t occur to me until talking to a friend later that the reason I wasn’t worried about the throat swelling was that compared to the immediacy of when I’m having an allergic reaction to food, this was nothing, time-wise! This was glacial, compared to a sudden onslaught… what was there to worry about? It wasn’t like anaphylaxis so it’s a walk in the park! Hahahahah! Sob!
Anyway, the nurse came in to look at me – wearing a mask since I’d said that I had a sore throat, and she’s got a susceptible two-year-old at home that she didn’t want to transfer something to, and… she listened to my symptoms and honestly at this point I don’t remember if she even looked in my throat or not but she said that she’s a former ER nurse and from everything I’m saying, it sounds like I have a tonsillar abscess and we should get me to the ER.
The closest ER, and one she said most likely wouldn’t be very crowded (true; we pretty much walked right in) was a satellite ER out near where I usually go to get my mammograms. So I knew where it was, roughly, but still I just blinked at her when she started giving me directions and I looked very pointedly at Tim (whom I’d brought into the exam room with me) because at this point I was pretty stupid with pain. Have you ever gotten to that point? Where you know you are an actual functioning human being but my god you are being kicked in the face repeatedly by an invisible horse so how can you be expected to concentrate? All I wanted to do was curl up in a tiny ball inside myself and sleep the pain away.
So we drove to the satellite ER, and like I said, we pretty much just walked in. Note to y’all if you ever need an ER! It’s way the hell out on 39th, towards the interstate.
Things are a bit fuzzy for me at this point, because – thank goodness – they finally started to give me something for the pain. I got IV fluids, antibiotics, and something for the pain that also made the swelling finally start to go down. I’m not sure how long we were there but it was a couple of hours, and then they transported me to the main Shands ER. They transported me rather than have me check out, drive over, and check in again – that way I could keep the IV in (even though after the transport it wasn’t hooked up to anything for a while).
The hilarious part was the bus ride (ambulance ride; I’ve always called them buses, or ambos… not sure why). He had to ask me a series of questions to determine my mental state, and just like on TV it was the usual what year is it/what month is it/who’s the president/do you know where you are. Later I heard him telling the nurse I had minor aphasia, and I was like, “minor? I tried to tell you it was October of 1969!” TO BE FAIR, I’d had to tell about sixteen people at this point what my date of birth was, so I felt like a parrot. Also, I am a self-employed artist who never knows what day of the week it is on a GOOD day, let alone a day where all I want to do is hide from my own brain until the pain goes away. So year and month were a wash. I mean, I got there, but slowly, and didn’t need prompting… just time to think through things like “well, shit, I just did my ads for Ravelry for July, and I know I waited until the last minute, and I’m getting ready to mail out July yarn club, so is it July already? No, wait, I think I think it’s July because that’s what I’m focused on working on, but it might actually be late June.” And the president? My answer went something like “don’t make me say it” followed by “no, really, please, don’t make me say it” followed by a deep sigh and “fucking Trump.” That did get me a chuckle.
So they got me to Shands (Tim following along behind in my car, which in the bus when the paramedic asked me if that was my husband, I was like, “I hope so, otherwise it’s just a really nice car thief”) and said they were going to get an ENT to come look at me.
I have to admit, I don’t remember which place/when I had the CT scan. I do remember I tried to argue with them about the CT contrast because the first thing my kidney doctor said was to not, under any circumstances, let anyone give me a contrast without talking to him first because I only have one kidney. I argued them down to the lightest dose of contrast they could use, with mental apologies to Dr. George. I thought about trying to have Tim call him first, but everything was happening so fast that I meant to say something and then didn’t. So I wound up getting a head CT, which was like the most boring ride at Disney ever. You lay back on a table that goes in and out of a big round thing and every once and a while a voice says “take a deep breath… now hold it… now breathe normally” while there’s a whirring sound like a fan spinning around out. BOOOOO-ring. I wish I could remember if this was at the satellite ER or Shands proper, but the whole day is a fucking blur at this point.
Anyway. Once at Shands, I kept falling asleep to try to get away from the pain, because although I had an IV hookup they didn’t hook me up to anything. It was early afternoon-ish by the time the ENT came to look at me, and after a cursory glance he was like, yep, we have to drain this. At this point, I wish my friend Jenn had been in the room, because dude turns around with – I swear, a fucking horse needle, a maniacal smile, and is like, “ok, this’ll be just like going to the dentist!” and tries to shoot lydacaine into the back of the inside of my throat as I start screaming and crying and trying not to throw up, all at once. Tim’s all over there being chill, like, “yeah, she has a mild dentist anxiety” and I was just thinking that if my friend Jenn was here this guys testicles would already be in her fist. WHERE ARE MY GIRLFRIENDS WHEN I NEED THEM?!?!?!?
He got the first shot in me and then left the room for a few minutes, and came back with a nurse who then gave me some relaxing pain medication… after which he shot me again, this time in the base of my tongue. FUCKING OUCH. After about ten minutes I didn’t care, though, and just sobbed quietly while he then stuck an even bigger needle in the abscess under my tonsil and drained out about 3 cc’s of some really, deeply foul beast that I swear I’ve seen in a John Carpenter film. He gave me a suction thing (like at the dentist) and I was able to suck everything else out. SO GROSS. Then we sat there for another couple of hours, as the pain finally started to go away. They brought me some Gatorade and waited to see if I could keep it down (which confused me because KEEPING something down wasn’t the problem, GETTING something down was). Then they let us on our way! ENT would call me to get an appointment for a checkup in a week or two, and I should follow up with my family doctor, as well.
They gave me two prescriptions to get filled; a small one for Percocet to get me through about three days, and a large one for the most foul tasting antibiotic I’ve ever had in my life, I mean, seriously, this shit is NASTY. Every morning I wake up and it tastes like there’s been a party in my mouth in which a thousand frat boys have thrown up. GOOD TIMES, YO.
So that was Saturday. We went to Chopstix after, so I could get some good comfort food soup, and Titi sent me home with a double batch of Pho broth to get me through the next couple of days, and some rice noodles.
Sunday the pain got steadily worse throughout the day. I started to worry that, like, did I become… immune to pain killers when I was on them for my broken finger a couple of years ago? Can you build up a tolerance like that and have it stay? Why was Percocet not helping? Was I dreaming that I was taking it? I started to take Tylenol about every three hours as well. Probably more acetaminophen than my liver needed, but as I told a friend, when you’re running out of a burning building you’re not worried that there’s a car in the street. I have to eat when I take antibiotics or I get deeply nauseous, and having had that kind of nausea before, trust me, I am religious about eating when I take them. Soft bread was about all I could get down, so I ate some bread, took my antibiotics, ate another piece of bread, and was like… why does my mouth taste like dead mouse? Ugh, I remember this taste from that time my broken tooth abscess burst. Fuck me. That’s right, it was my friend from yesterday, the tonsillary abscess! Back for more fun! I don’t know if (sorry, this is gross) the incision they made on Saturday had healed up so much that the pus couldn’t get out, or if the pus was so thick it couldn’t get out, but whatever I did eating that piece of bread knocked something loose, and I spent about twenty minutes in the bathroom alternately gargling hot salt water and hawking and spitting up more monsters from a John Carpenter film. Once stuff coming out of my mouth no longer looked like there was a small crime scene in my throat, and I cleaned the sink, I noticed that the pain I’d been steadily feeling all day was gone.
Unless you’ve had an abscess and had it burst, there is just no way to describe the sweet release of sudden-no-pain that comes after being kicked in the teeth by an invisible horse for hours. I think it’s hard to describe because pain doesn’t usually stop cold turkey like that, you know? It’s a slow build-up of healing. But not with an abscess – it’s the opposite of sudden pain happening… pain suddenly being gone. Trying to put words to it makes it sound pretty obvious and silly, but if you’ve ever had it happen….? You know.
So, Monday was much better. I had already had a follow-up with my kidney doctor scheduled, and Tim drove me to that (and finally got to meet my kidney doctor, who is delightfully odd – I absolutely adore him. If my life was a fairy tale he’d be that odd creature that asks for something random and if you have it and give it, he turns out to be a wish-granting leprechaun or something.) He was a little miffed about the contrast for the CT, but seemed more concerned that with the workup I got Wednesday – when I was already sick, remember? And I wound up having to drive into Gainesville to get it done at Quest because they couldn’t do part of it at my doctor’s office in Keystone….? My numbers didn’t look as good as last time, and he’s hoping that’s because I was already sick and getting dehydrated from not drinking enough. He wants me to get more bloodwork done on Friday (conveniently, I have a doctor’s appointment Friday as a follow-up with my GP from the ER visit on Saturday) and hopes that I’ll be better hydrated by then. I’m drinking lots of Gatorade this week. Also, I have an appointment in two weeks to meet with the ENT and discuss how I’m healing and what the culture results were of The Thing, and to talk about whether or not they think this will happen again soon and if so would it be better to get my tonsils out. I’ll keep y’all posted.
Tuesday and yesterday are sort of a blur of napping on the couch and playing silly farming games on my tablet. I worked on cleaning greenware for about 90 minutes on Tuesday so I could fire the kiln and get some custom work worked on, and after that I needed a three hour nap. Yesterday I got some orders out, checked in with some customers about work, and went to the grocery store… after which I only needed about an hour nap. Today I’m going to try working normally, but absolutely will lay down and take a nap if I start feeling that I’m dragging. I’m off the Percocet now and am just taking Tylenol for pain – of which there isn’t much. Just a bit of soreness from the incision. And I can almost yawn again without feeling like I’m being stabbed in the throat! Yay!
So. Yeah. Good times. Sweet zombie jesus. What have y’all been up to the last week?