Back to last week. It’s Wednesday night and I am back in the ER waiting room. This time there is a long wait. I have a fever and my throat is about 50 percent closed. I had a throw up bag that I used to spit in. At this point it was easier to spit than to swallow. The fever makes my whole body ache, but I know that my body is fighting hard. Fever is a good sign. The inflammation in my throat is the concern. The pain level is another concern.
My turn arrives 2 hours later, they take me back. Takes about another 30 minutes for a nurse to come check me. We pull out all the paperwork from the last ER visit. They exam my throat. Same diagnosis, but with a little twist. The doctor believes the peritonsillar cellulitis may now be a peritonsillar abscess. I hear talk about draining the pus. I just want the swelling to go down so I can swallow.
They wheeled in the IV bags. Time for IV antibiotics, steroids, and now morphine. I am just counting down the seconds until the pain is gone. They put the morphine in and I didn’t feel any change in the pain. I looked at the nurse and said… Is it suppose to be working… because it’s not. She said to wait another 10 minutes. We called John’s brother Doug, who happens to be a heart surgeon at this hospital. He said to ask for more pain medicine. The next time the nurse walked in I said, the morphine isn’t working. Dr. Wirthlin told me to ask for more pain medicine if I still had pain. They talked to the doctor and added a different pain medicine to the batch. It brought the pain level from an 8 to a 3. They are prepping me to have the drainage procedure done. I am freaking out because my throat is still hurting to some degree. I am worried about having my mouth sliced when it still feels raw. Totally stressed. I ask for more pain medicine. Now the pain is at a level 1. I feel like I am ready for the drainage. They bring in an intern and I ask her if she has ever down this procedure. She says she has performed it many times. I am sure they are told to say that. I was so nervous.
The doctor and the intern kept reassuring me it would be fine. They plan to slice 3 different areas to try to find the pus pocket. They spray my left tonsil with a numbing spray. Time to open my mouth nice and wide. Here goes nothing. The intern take the tool (surgical knife) and applies pressure to the first area. She starts to cut. I can feel the knife go right into my tonsil. Ugh. This is not fun. I just hold my breath and count in my head. Is it over? The first cut took about 5 seconds. Not long, but it still is miserable. Ok. On to the next area. Time to hold my breath and count to 10. She starts cutting the next area. This one hurt a little more than the last. It must have been a little more swollen. It’s over. They stop and take a break. They were really counting on hitting a big pus pocket. There is a little drainage, but not the amount they anticipated. The doctor starts debating doing the last cut. Heck. I am all for skipping the last cut. I tell them that sounds great. And they decide to skip the last cut. What a relief. It is over! I can relax again. The inside of my mouth feels raw and open. I guess it should feel that way. I know the tissue will heal quickly.
The ER sends me home with liquid loratab. I am to continue taking the Cleomycin (antibiotic). I have an appointment set up with an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor for the next morning. We are hoping to understand a little more about peritonsillar anything. We head home. Time for sleep. I don’t remembering falling asleep. It just happened. I woke up snoring, drooling, and covered in sweat. Strong drugs working their way out of my system.
I am supporting my immune system with homemade chicken broth, pureed vegetables, raw homemade yogurt, and herbal teas. No sugar, no flour, no other dairy besides homemade yogurt. I start taking high levels of Vitamin C. I start buying fresh carrot, apple, ginger juice at a nearby juice bar. I stock the fridge for 3 days. I take epsom salt baths a night with immune boosting essential oils. Magnesium powder before bed to help me relax and keep me from getting constipated (pain meds). I keep the boys home from school and try to keep my stress levels low. Doing my mom responsibilities during all this was the toughest part of the whole illness. Try having a 3 year old ask me hundred times each day…. mom, why you not talking? why you not talking to me? Over and over and over. I would try to nod my head for yes or make a humming sound….. he was not satisfied with these responses. He would ask.. mom, do you like me. Mom, do you love me? I would say… mmmmm for yes. And he would get so mad. I do think this slowed down my healing. The constant strain was awful. Try to go a day without talking to your children. It is a lot harder than it sounds.
My doctor’s appointment is the next morning. He takes a look and says there was probably no abscess. He can’t be for sure, but that is his guess. I am like, great. That was a fun procedure just for the heck of it. He says that the Er doctors love to have the interns practice. Another Ugh. Oh well. There is nothing I can do about it now. It’s done. He prescribes a steroid called Prednisone for the swelling. He says my fever should subside in a few days.
I go home and start taking the Prednisone. I ended up taking 2 doses of the Prednisone that day…. I was suppose to take it for 5 days, but I just hated the side effects. Later that day I had an acupuncture appointment scheduled. There is an office right by my house. The Chinese Doctor spoke little english. I tell him about my mouth problems. He puts about 20 needles all over my left jaw/ face, 2 needles in my ear and then 1 on my left hand. The next part was new for me (and I have been having acupuncture treatments for over 5 years). He hooks the needles up to an electro-magnetic machine. Every 5 seconds…. there is signal sent through the machine to different needles. It feels like a little sting. It doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t really feel good either. I was a little nervous about whether or not my mouth was too sensitive for shock treatment. At this point I have been cut, drained, drugged…why not add shocked to the list. The things you do to get better!! He leaves me in the room for about 20 minutes. Somehow I happen to dose off during the electro shocking. I was so tired!! I didn’t notice any benefits right away, but within 48 hours my jaw/mouth was doing much better. The tenderness had totally subsided.
I stopped the Prednisone after the first day. I researched the side affects. Not pretty. It made me super hyper and moody. I continued the next 3 days with Advil and small doses of the the liquid Loratab whenever the pain returned. I tried to rest as much as possible and I kept the boys home from school. I obviously wasn’t driving anywhere with all the drugs in my system. After day 10, I returned back to the ENT specialist and he examined me again. My fever was still coming and going, but my throat looked pretty good he said. He told me that the fever should resolve itself in the next few days. He was right…. by day 14 the fever was gone and I was 100 percent better!! Wow. Two weeks of my life. It felt like I had been sick for a month.
I am still trying to process all of it. Now that I am better, it is hard for me to even remember parts of it (better forgotten). I am just trying to move forward. I have made some serious diet changes and this experience has helped me become more committed to healthy eating and living. None of us are perfect. That is was this blog post is about. We all have to deal with real life health situations… and BIG disappoints like this one for me.
More about my new eating goals later…
Off to bed.