My Status: In pain
Mood: Coming out of the dark
This post is a completely different one that I had planned for yesterday—a post I didn’t get to because of pain. Yesterday’s post would have been about depression and the month of November … I may yet write that one, so won’t say any more now. Why didn’t I post it? Simple. Yesterday when I woke up, my right knee hurt.
Knee pain on waking used to be a lot more frequent when my dog Gryphon was still alive. Gryphon would get hot, and would move down to the end of the bed, and curl up next to me. She always had to be touching someone during sleep, so she’d roll against my lower legs and put enough pressure on them to throw my back out of whack. So I am very experienced on what knee pain feels like when the alignment of my spine is out. This wasn’t it. No dog had slept down by my feet, both Phoenix and Elsa prefer to be up by our heads. And I knew where both girls were night before last because Denny has been on the graveyard shift, so Phoenix curls up with her butt next to my pit, and Elsa tries to mold herself to my side right under that—with her butt next to Phoenix’s so she can kick her in the middle of the night.
So on waking, when I had no back pain, only knee pain, I wondered what the heck was going on. But since the pain was around level 3 of the 10-point pain scale, I figured that as I was up and moving around, it’d get better. It didn’t. I tried heat, I tried ice, I tried elevating it, I tried arnica, I tried the bed massaging vibrations, I tried using my spike matt, and when none of these tried-and-true methods helped to alleviate the pain, and the pain kept increasing, I took some Tylenol. And before anyone tells me I should have taken ibuprofen or Aleve, I can’t due to my propensity for gastritis—and that’s a sleeping monster I don’t want to wake at the moment.
The pain kept increasing to the point where it had risen from a 3 to an 8 on the 10-point scale. 10 being shoot me now, 9 being crying profusely, 8 is whimpering and moaning—I can’t take much more. Couple this with the fact that I normally have a high pain tolerance, and I was running a low-grade fever, I figured it was time to place a call to the doctor—I needed buffer pain meds… but which one should I call?
I chose to call the oncologist because I wanted to rule out any connection/reaction to the chemo, etc. As I was going through the number selections to appropriately direct my call, I found out the doctor on call that day was Doogie. Crap!! I hung up, but the answering service called me back. I gave Doogie the summary of what had been going on, that the leg did not seem overly swollen (maybe a smidge, but nothing more), that I was running a low-grade fever, and that Tylenol was doing nothing to resolve the issue, and the pain kept getting worse. His response? Give the Tylenol more time to work, keep taking it every 6-8 hours, and he’d be in the office on Monday when I had to go back for labs and he’d take a look at it then if it were still a problem.
I should have called my regular doc. He’d have understood that when I said my pain level was an 8 and it kept increasing, all I was looking for was for something to help reduce the pain level—then I would care what it was and why it hurt, but until the pain was under control, I didn’t really give a rip. By this point, I couldn’t walk without hanging on to something and walk is throwing roses at what I was doing. You couldn’t even call it a hobble. Getting in and out of bed was an excruciating process, and trips up and down the stairs were close to torture (and therefore kept to the absolute minimum). The stairs I managed by using the rail and my arms took the brunt of my weight. Mind you, I could stand still without pain, but any flexing of the knee, and later even the ankle caused pain to invade every part of me.
So this morning, as soon as Denny got home, entailed a trip to the emergency room. I had not slept due to the pain and there was no way I could contemplate it continuing to get worse until Monday, when Doogie said he’d look at it. We got there early and were back in the exam room within 10 minutes, perhaps an ER first for expediency. Then the speed broke down. More than 4 hours later, we finally left with a completely inconsequential diagnosis of maybe the pain stemming from an arthritic condition in the knee. When I first was taken back, they gave me some dilaudid and some anti-nausea meds because I always get sick with dilaudid. Then I saw the doc, they ran a bunch of tests—x-rays, blood tests, ultra sound, etc. During this phase, it was great, the pain meds had kicked in and I felt good. But because I had to stay in the horrid hospital bed for the amount of time I did, by the time I left, I was actually worse than when I had arrived. My neck and arm muscles were exceptionally sore, I had a knee stabilizer put on which meant I couldn’t bend the knee, which was not working with the wheelchair because there was no support for the fully extended leg.
Poor Denny was so tired by this point, he was reaching shut down mode, but I couldn’t drive… my pain level ALL OVER was now at about 8.5. We had a (very) slight fender bender exiting the freeway because people were rolling through the light to turn right, Denny looked away to check for oncoming traffic and the girl in front of him had abruptly stopped instead of rolling through. We weren’t even going 10 mph, but her take on the situation rivaled the end of the world. We finally got to the pharmacy, and Denny played the hero by taking my pain med prescription in and waiting for it to be ready—even with as tired as he was.
As soon as we reached home, we had a bite to eat and then crashed (me with pain meds, Denny from exhaustion). And as I suspected, the pain meds did their job. Pain levels back down to a 4 for the knee, and 5 for the arms and back strain. Tomorrow is now a doable day.
I loved the lightning picture because it truly suited my day yesterday. I had the darkness of depression, but pain ripped through it to give me something else to think about.