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14 September 2011

I'm Back! It's been a long, strange, and somewhat scary journey.

Driving back home from an overnight stay in Valparaiso, IN, I felt a sort of itchy area on the right side of my neck. I didn't think much of it, except that the next morning, I woke up with the right side of my neck looking like I was half-Cardassian. Overnight, it started to really hurt, and I got a walk-in appointment the next morning at my VA Clinic.

The nurse practitioner took one look at me and said "Oh, you must be in pain!"

D'oh! I felt like my right side was on fire.

The rest of my visit consisted of being photographed front, right, and center, and displayed to every medical and nursing student my nurse practitioner could lay hands on. It was exactly like being a sentient zoo exhibit. No one there had apparently ever seen as bad a case of shingles. I eventually went home with a bunch of acyclovir, tramadol, and gabapentin. Someone pharmaceutically inclined may divine where this is headed.

I pretty much spent Labor Day weekend on my back on the couch, pumping down acyclovir and tramadol for the pain. This had....unexpected.... effects. By Monday, I was pretty damn sure that the gravity generators below decks were misaligned somehow. Tuesday early morning, I was pretty sure that the living room vector compensators had failed, since my granddaughter was playing with her art supplies on the ceiling. The biker dude in leathers on the couch didn't seem to find that unusual.

I called the clinic, and they suggested I have myself driven in. headspace was available and took me down to the hospital. I was fairly weak by the time I was there, and in need of a wheelchair after one short stint in line. I felt like the befuddled wizard going "What is this magic?!"

By the time I was in the hospital for 24 hours, I had completely lost all ability to use my legs. Trying to put weight on them was like trying to stand a watermelon on cubes of jello. Not gonna happen.

After about two days of physical therapy and no progress I started to get pretty disheartened, and confessed to jessamyn in a call one evening that I felt like a 'scared little boy' pretty much. That was probably about my lowest point. The medication changes finally started kicking in, probably the next morning.

A Rheumatologist showed up the next morning with an assortment of needles and enormous syringes, and proceeded to drain about half a Coke can's worth of yellow stuff out of my knee. It turned out that with all the swings and changes in drugs had somehow allowed a massive case of gout to flare up, which is why my legs were useless. Massive Steroids to the rescue!

Thank goodness I wasn't actually permanently crippled. It took me three days to learn how to maneuver my butt out of bed and into a wheelchair by myself, and every effort left me exhausted and gasping like a beached puffer fish. I can't imagine that any other task I needed to learn to do would have been any easier.

A special award to the designers of the newfangled hospital bed with all the anti-bedsore provisions- We'll call it the De Sade Award for Sleep Deprivation. This bed from hell moves you just a little bit, every 30 seconds if you are lying still. This movement is accompanied my little motors whirring and geartrains and bearings groaning, much like a little etude by Arthur Honegger.

So: Discharge Diagnosis: Orthostatic Hypotension due to drug ADR with a bunch of stuff about gout and Hypothyroidism and Deconditioning AV hallucinations. Woo Hoo!

I'm home and getting my legs back. Thanks for all the fun links you guys left earlier, and thanks just for being you guys.
Bloody hell man.
posted by gomichild 14 September | 03:14
Good god, you've been to hell and back. I hope you're on the mend.
posted by Senyar 14 September | 03:58
I'm SO glad you are home and feeling better. I thought strongly about calling, but when you mentioned the lack of sleep, well, I didn't want to be yet another thing to keep you from sleeping.
posted by lilywing13 14 September | 04:04
Been thinking about you .. what a siege you've endured. Sending good thoughts for a speedy recovery. Keep us posted on your progress.
posted by Kangaroo 14 September | 04:49
Wow. That's like, whatever could go wrong, went wrong. "Shingles" doesn't even begin to describe it. "Shit Shingles" maybe.
posted by JanetLand 14 September | 05:57
Oh man, I knew you were going through hell, but I didn't even know the half of it! Ugh! What a horrible experience. SO glad you're through the worst of it.
posted by BoringPostcards 14 September | 06:20
Poor pjern. Damn, you don't do things half-assed, do you? Take care of yourself. Let us know how you're recovering.
posted by toastedbeagle 14 September | 06:43
Wow, that is awful! I hope you feel better soon!
posted by sperose 14 September | 07:07
That sucks. And now you reminded me that I was supposed to get a shingles vaccine but they forgot to give it to me. I'd better make an appointment.
posted by Obscure Reference 14 September | 07:18
Holy crap, I had no idea! Geez what a basketful of nightmare that must have been. Hope you're out of the woods.

Also, there's a shingles vaccine?
posted by chewatadistance 14 September | 07:46
Gah! Glad you're feeling better.
posted by brujita 14 September | 08:10
Dude. Dude. I'mma wrap you up in cotton wool for a while. Keep you away from spiders and marauding varicella viruses.
posted by gaspode 14 September | 08:16
I am so glad you're officially feeling better. And about that bed, isn't there a sleep setting or something like that? Or were you so out of it that you were sleeping a lot? Bedsores are SRS BIZNESS.
posted by TrishaLynn 14 September | 08:46
Holy crap, man. I have everything you have only not as bad. I had a brown recluse bite, but not as bad. I had shingles a few months back, but not as bad. Mine were about the best case of these you could ever get and they were still the second or third most painful thing in my life. My post tumor surgery recovery was no where near as painful and I had boring pain meds then.

Glad to see you're back up and around.
posted by cjorgensen 14 September | 09:26
Better living through chemistry and the wonders of medical science.
posted by warbaby 14 September | 09:27
Wow!! I'm glad you're feeling better... keep getting well! You've been through a lot.
posted by halonine 14 September | 09:39
Glad to have you back! I hope that, along with the obvious health and feeling abysmally crappy and all, the insurance/bills stuff is not eating you alive.
posted by danf 14 September | 09:57
Wow. I had no idea this was going on! Glad you're on the mend now.
posted by Thorzdad 14 September | 10:27
Holy crap! Wishing you a full and speedy recovery.
posted by JoanArkham 14 September | 10:35
Again, no idea all this was happening! I am, however, gigantically relieved to hear it's gotten so much better!
posted by richat 14 September | 10:53
Glad to hear you're doing better!
posted by Twiggy 14 September | 11:16
Yikes - I had no idea you had hallucinations. Scary! I was so glad to hear that you were going home and I hope your recovery keeps going in the right direction. Did you ever get the mattress to stop whirring so you could sleep?
posted by youngergirl44 14 September | 11:57
Eek, what an ordeal! Rest well, get better, pjern.
posted by Hugh Janus 14 September | 12:13
youngergirl44: No, none of the help there either could get the bed to stop, even with the instructions you provided. I begged them to unplug the fracking thing, but then 'stuff wouldn't work'. Ah, it's the VA.
posted by pjern 14 September | 12:13
How horrible! I'm glad you're on the mend - take care of yourself!
posted by deborah 14 September | 14:04
Holy shit! Glad to hear you are on the mend, but what a journey!
posted by dg 14 September | 16:57
Man. Whata scary story. So good to hear you're better. Sending healing karma vibes to you.
posted by mightshould 14 September | 18:44
Wow, I knew you said it was bad, but I certainly didn't realize just HOW bad!!

Glad you're feeling better. Let's keep it that way!
posted by Stewriffic 14 September | 18:53
So glad to hear you're home & feeling better. What an ordeal!
The photos of the your shingles totally blew my mind, I had no idea it was even possible for them to spread like that.
Look after yourself now!
posted by goshling 15 September | 03:16
Oh no pjern! What a nightmare. Glad you are back.
posted by rainbaby 15 September | 05:50
OH YIKES. That sounds miserable, pjern. Glad to hear the hellish part is over and you're on the mend!
posted by Elsa 15 September | 10:14
posted by Obscure Reference 15 September | 17:17
Live in France for free? || Nervous and frustrated