Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bendy Straws

This was the view from my hospital bed last week for Meningitis. I woke up from a short sleep to find that the nurse had brought me some water with styrofoam cups and my white bendy straws.

Those in my family know that with all the stays I've had in the hospital I try to find the smallest things that make me happy, although sometimes very odd; one being the hospital straws. They're white, bendy and are wrapped in white paper.

I'll drink anything out of them while I'm there, there's just something comforting about them. Call me crazy. The thing is, I can't find them anywhere outside of the hospital, so before I left on Friday I took the remaining four straws to enjoy while recovering at home. I still have a couple left at home now, and I'm actually saving them for a "special occasion." I imagine myself waking up in the middle of the night, not being able to sleep and popping one of them into a glass of cool water to splash back while watching the early news, waiting for the sleep to come again.

Hopefully no one has to spend as much time in a hospital bed as I have these past five years, but a lesson to be learned could be to try to take a horrible situation and pick out the small, seemingly minuscule things to take advantage of and look forward to. When I was still working I looked forward to that first cup of tea or coffee in my favorite mug, preparing it then taking the first couple sips while having a friendly conversation with my friend before starting the day.

People always say that "there's someone out there worse off," and although that may be true, just know that person is finding little victories throughout the day. Whether it be writing a blog post, making a cup of tea, listening to that one song that lifts them up or even, yes, unwrapping a little white bendy straw.

There are more victories out there that defeats. Find them and take full advantage of them while you can.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Aseptic Meningitis

Last Monday I started my first of 14 IVIG treatments for epilepsy at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. The first treatment on Monday, despite being a little nervous, went off without a hitch. I felt a little tired but overall good. We went back for my second treatment on Tuesday and just after the treatment I started having a mild headache. Because headache was common with these treatments, I thought that it would pass but it did not. I woke up early Wednesday morning with shooting pains running from my eyes all the way to the back of my neck. I woke up Sara to let her know that this was happening and we called the ER to ask for advice on the situation and they said to come to the hospital immediately.

Minute by minute the pain got worse and by the time we reached the ER, I could barely walk or talk. The attending Neurologist said that it could be one of three types of Meningitis, Bacterial, Viral or Aseptic (meaning neither Bacterial or Viral). They gave me pain medication with no relief while they prepared for a lumbar puncture.

The doctors administered the LP (as they called it) but it took three punctures in my spine before they could reach any spinal fluid. I actually didn't mind this pain because the only thing I could think about was the pain in my head and neck. Once they got the fluid they needed they moved Sara and I to a secluded room in the ER just in case in was Bacterial Meningitis, because it's contagious. My sisters drove down as well and everyone had to wear protective masks around me.

They decided to admit me to the Neurology wing of the hospital because I was an Epilepsy patient with Meningitis. There they could keep better tabs on my readings and possible seizures. After 14 hours sitting in the ER I finally had a room. It was all very frustrating for me and my family, but we needed to know what was happening inside me.

They tests ran for two days before they ruled it Aseptic Meningitis due to the IVIG treatment. They said it's a rare occurence but could happen again. The next time, though, we'll know what it is and I probably won't have to be admitted.

We're still on for the next IVIG treatment but this time they're going to pre-medicate me and run the IVIG fluids slower, as to avoid any adverse reactions.

Today, I still have a pretty bad headache, but managed well with medication. What a week.