In October 2002, Ryan and I went to Vegas just for fun. We were able to get some cheap fares on South-worst and a special rate at the Venetian—- which is absolutely gorgeous! Anywho, the first night we were there, I woke up around 4 am with the most excrutiating pain in my shoulder. Having never broken any bones, sprained any part of my body or given birth, it was the worst pain I had ever felt in my life.
Not knowing what to do, I took 4 advil and drew a hot bath, thinking I might have pulled a muscle or something. The hot water made it worse and I dragged myself out of the tub crying and into one of the complimentary bath robes.
I decided I would ice it, hoping to numb the pain out of my conciousness. The Macgyver in me turned a shower cap and thread from a sewing kit into a “bag” of ice—- since for some reason, this posh hotel didn’t have a plastic bag ANYWHERE in the room! I eventually passed out once I couldn’t feel the pain anymore, but for the remainder of the trip, I couldn’t move my arm much.
When we got back to San Diego I was fine. Over the course of the next few months whenever I would wake up with the pain in my shoulder, I would amount it to over extending it at work or sleeping on it funny. Sometimes it was the other shoulder instead… I had pain in both, but not at the same time. Then I noticed my feet aching in the mornings. I would get out of bed and try to walk on the hardwood floor and end up having to sit back on the bed and rub my feet. I would later describe the pain as “feeling like my bones were bruised”, and assumed it was from the fabulous shoes I wore all the time. A small price to pay for fashion!
Eventually I started feeling pain in my knees, hips, back, neck, jaw and hands. Aside from that, I wasn’t sleeping very well because I could never get comfortable. As a result I was always tired. Then I noticed that I wasn’t just sleepy-tired but physically tired too. Every day around noon I felt like I had just run a marathon! In addition to this, I was loosing my appetite and the sight and smell of food was making me nauseous.
By late- April 2003 Ryan, my co-workers and my friends were all telling me that I didn’t look well and something wasn’t right with me. I had lost A LOT of weight and had to buy new clothes in size ZERO because that’s the only size that fit! Ultimately I developed a pulled muscle in my neck from sleeping in akward positions. I made an appointment with my general doctor so I could get some muscle relaxers (wheeee!!!). Having not been to a doctor since I had the chicken pox I was terrified she’d want to stick a needle in me… and I HATE NEEDLES! But she just asked some questions and weighed me (110 lbs! I haven’t weighed that since the sixth grade!), and rubbed my neck agreeing that it was too tense and she prescribed the fun stuff!
When she asked me if there was anything else, I said, “Oh yeah, my boyfriend wanted me to tell you that all of my joints hurt… its not a big deal really…I just need to get a new mattress.”
She frowned and started to examine my hands closely. She asked me more questions. Then she told me that issues with joints are a bit of a grey area and I really need to see a specialist, NOW.
So I made an appointment with a Rheumatologist in La Jolla at Scripps Hospital. They did some blood tests (Aaaugh! NEEDLES!) and X-rays… and do you know what I was thinking throughout all of this?
“Goodness! These doctors and radiologists are all quite handsome! I forgot that Scripps is a learning hospital and that they’re partnered with UCSD! Meow!”
- I think I was in denial and unwilling to see the seriousness of the situation. All of the various test results were going to take a while and my rheumatologist and I scheduled an appointment for a week later.
In the mean time it was my mother’s 40th birthday and I flew home to surprise her. Upon seeing me, my mother was at first excited and then on the verge of tears as she looked me up and down. She would later descibe me as the “walking dead”.
Stepmother’s look was solemn as she tried to force happiness to see me, but didn’t do a good job masking her worry. My dad was his usual self and launched into a lecture of how I “just don’t eat right and don’t drink enough water”. I swear, I could walk in with a missing leg and be spilling blood all over the place and my dad would say, “That’s what happens when you don’t eat enough vegetables! Here have a salad, you’ll feel better!”.
My appointment with my rheumatologist was for the end of that week and my mother took it upon herself to call Ryan (while I was still in the Bay Area!) and tell him that she wanted to come down and be with me when I went to get my results. Knowing my mother’s effect on me Ryan talked her out of coming down on her own and suggested that she ask me what I wanted. Good boy. I called her and told her I would be fine, there’s nothing wrong with me, and we’ll plan for a better time for her to come visit.