As some of you know, my doctor diagnosed me with croup almost two weeks ago. What sort of adult gets croup? Hey, I think we all know if any grown person can get croup, it’s going to be me.
I took some steroids. I didn’t get better. I went back to the doctor, who said…pneumonia. Oh, and you’re wheezing too, so here, take this antibiotic, this steroid, and use this albuterol nebulizer solution. Bah, I thought. Stupid pneumonia.
I took antibiotics, steroids, and used the nebulizer (and somehow didn’t crawl up the walls). I drank plenty of fluids. I rested.
I got worse. Now I couldn’t breathe and I had chest pain. Still, my oxygen levels were good, so it couldn’t possibly be that bad, right?
Back to the doctor. Wheezing gone, but now he heard something in the lower lobes of my lungs that wasn’t there before. Crap. Off to the hospital for a chest x-ray, which came back…negative for pneumonia.
At this point we were all confused and rather concerned. Because of my clotting disorder—complete with history of blood clots—chest pain and shortness of breath (SOB! Hee!) that can’t be accounted for by another diagnosis is a bit worrisome. My doctor decided to treat with steroids through the weekend (this was Friday), and if I wasn’t better by Monday, it was time for a CT pulmonary angiogram to rule out a pulmonary embolism.
And that’s when I started to worry I might die.
It sounds stupid, right? I’m 35 years old. Sudden death from a blood clot in my lungs seems rather unlikely, especially since I take blood thinners to make sure it doesn’t happen.
And that’s when I started to worry I was a hypochondriac.
I’ve spent the last five days swinging between the poles of “Holy crap, I’m going to die” and “Why do I blow these things out of proportion? Everything is fine.”
It’s been a little stressful, especially since I felt like talking about it too much might make it more real. Obviously the last thing I wanted to do is make anything in this situation more real.Plus if I talked to the people close to me, they might worry. (News flash: they worried anyway!)
I had my CT scan today. It was a good news/weird news/not great news kind of thing.
Good news: Immediately post-scan they told me I was all clear and could go home. Yay! No blood clots!
Weird news: My doctor called me and told me the radiologist saw a tiny spot that could be a small embolism, but he felt “deep down in his soul” that it’s not because something that small wouldn’t cause these symptoms.
Not great news: The radiologist saw signs of developing pneumonia. Once I finish this round of antibiotics (the apparently not-so-magical Levaquin), I’ll start a new course of antibiotics (the hopefully more magical Omnicef).
Overall, I’m starting to feel a little bit better, but I’m exhausted. Physically, emotionally, mentally—I’m just done. I’m ready to be healthy again, but it looks like it’ll be a while before I’m back to 100%.
I admit, I wish the radiologist had said to my doctor, “Yeah, I see some pneumonia, but that’s it.” I’m glad he feels comfortable deep down in his soul, but I also know malpractice insurance exists for times when his soul perhaps should’ve been doing a few leg lifts instead of lounging in the beanbag chair. (I’m not saying I’d sue—I’m just saying doctors aren’t God. You got that, right? I’m not at all litigious.)
My paranoia is calmed, but still lurking under the surface. I’m finally at a point in my life where I’m comfortable saying I’m not a hypochondriac. I have real symptoms and real cause for concern. I have no desire to be ill, and no need to be the center of attention (beyond the confines of this blog, of course).
I’m not sure I’ll ever be free of that faint hum of disquietude. Frankly, I’m not sure I should be free of it. My body has failed me spectacularly in the past. If it were a person, I would’ve shunned it long ago. But it’s my body, not a person, and I have to be okay with an uneasy truce.
For now, it works.
*Ideal truce: “If you promise not to drop dead on me, I will keep you supplied with brownies.”
**Sorry this isn’t very funny. I haven’t been feeling well. I know. If you didn’t pick up on that, you might want to reread the above post.
***If you do need a laugh after reading this, I highly recommend reading this woman’s tale of her first visit to a French gynecologist. You’re welcome.