May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I have wanted to talk about several things related to mental health issues and my own health – but, ironically, my health hasn’t behaved well enough for me to get to that in these past few weeks.
So, today I’m going to share about this week’s health adventures with my pain and my PICC line as well as my anxieties as this has all been happening.
On PICC Lines & Pain Management
Early this week, my PICC line started acting. . . wonky. It wasn’t flushing quite right. And I was watching it closely.
Then it abruptly starting leaking everything that was put into it out at the point where it was bifurcated – which I have never seen a PICC do before.
I notified home health – and my home health nurse was just as astonished as I was.
The only solution?
Go to the ER for a replacement.
As I wrote previously, it took four tries to get the line that was leaking so I was NOT at all enthusiastic about needing another one.
In addition to that, it is just extremely painful to ambulate on my left hip and it took me a great deal of time and rest to gather myself to get ready to go to the ER – as I now know not to even go without taking my things with me as I never know when I’ll be admitted.
Still, finally, Wednesday morning, I got up, got ready, packed up with Sara’s help, loaded up, and my husband drove Henry to the vet for his scheduled glucose curve for the day, and Sara and me to the ER.
We were checked in at the COVID-19 checkpoint and immediately taken back to a room.
Thankfully, I had a wonderful nurse and attending physician this visit.
They not only listened and addressed my issues but the attending also went back over my MRI report from last week – as I was taking in so much when it was delivered that I really needed a more through explanation. It turns out that I have TWO fractures in my left hip and my SI joint has “total erosion and inflammation” plus the problems I was already aware of in my lumbar spine. It doesn’t change anything but it helps me to understand why I am in such severe pain.
And blessedly this visit, with ultrasound guidance, the PICC team was able to place my new line on the first attempt. Thank You, Lord.
They also found my white blood count to be elevated again but the attending expected that to normalize as I would be back on my vancomycin once I returned home.
On the good news front, both of my feet look amazing post-op – and I am so grateful for that.
So I was able to return home and resume administering my antibiotics twice a day. I was so thankful I didn’t have to be admitted at this visit.
Henry’s glucose curve looked great from his trip to the vet as well – and we are praising the Lord for that.
And my new PICC did very well – until tonight. . .
Now it seems that the new site has also blown. . .
As it is almost 2 AM on a Sunday morning, I am not going to the ER nor am I waking up my infectious disease doc just for this. . . Rather I will page him in the morning and HOPE that we are close enough to completing my Vanco that he will just allow home health to pull the blown PICC and call in a course of oral antibiotics to cover the rest.
If not, more than likely, next week I will likely need a Port-O-Cath placement in my chest, which I had already discussed with the PICC team on Wednesday. Even if I avoid it for the antibiotics, I may well need one for this big surgery I have coming soon.
And, y’all? This just bites. There’s no other way to say it.
And I’ll explain more about ports and all that stuff later. For now, let me just say that it’s a central line that is placed in the chest in surgery and accessed whenever it’s needed for an IV line. Ugh.
My Anxieties – and Medical PTSD Issues – With These Latest Developments
So, even without this latest deal, my recent health issues have been ROUGH.
After the manipulation of my left hip on a Tuesday, my feet were infected by a Thursday and I was septic. I was immediately admitted to the hospital and placed on vancomycin and taken to surgery the next day.
Of course, my left hip gave out – but it took quite some time to get to the bottom of all of my hip issues. Still, we did – after a great deal of pain and anxiety and tears.
Through my nine day hospital admission, because of COVID-19, the first five or six days, I was not able to see any family members. After that, thankfully, my husband was allowed to visit me. My daughter, who usually stays with me, was not allowed to visit, and my Henry was not allowed in either. My parents could not come – and my Daddy usually comes for breakfast every day.
It was my longest stay, my most painful, and my loneliest.
I will say that I am so thankful that, overall, my nurses and physicians were wonderful. That was TRULY a blessing – and made a difficult situation so much more bearable.
Still, I DID wake up one morning with the WORST anxiety attack I have ever had – and I have had anxiety disorder for almost thirty years. And I have had some serious residual anxiety since discharge.
So when I needed to go back to the ER for a new line? And still feel awful? And wasn’t sure if I would get to come home or have to stay again?
Major. Anxiety. Again.
It took many hours of rest and deep breathing and Valor and praying to get it together to go. And it still sapped so much strength.
I can’t begin to describe the feelings the drive to the hospital evokes now.
My heart pounds. My chest tightens. My throat feels as though it is closing. It seems that I can’t catch my breath. My thoughts race.
Intellectually, I know I am going to the best place for help – but I still can’t control this very visceral bodily dread.
My anxiety does NOT want to return to the Land of Loneliness, Pain, & 1000 Sticks.
And, right now, I sit here dreading – dreading, dreading – calling infectious disease in the morning – for fear he might tell me to go BACK to the ER.
I ‘ve also been worrying and fretting over Monday since Friday – despite my best efforts not to – because it’s a two MD appointment day – where my surgery will likely be scheduled.
I don’t mean to seem whiny or to complain. I am truly grateful for wonderful healthcare.
I just want to be honest about anxiety disorder and medical PTSD and what it’s like to live with them – especially as a chronically ill person who still must attend MD appointments AND is currently acutely ill and requiring an even higher level of care than normal.
To deal with these mental health issues while fighting sepsis, osteomyelitis, and a fractured hip, in times of COVID-19, has REALLY been challenging.
Still, As Always, There Is A Purpose
Despite the fact that these times have been – and are – so so trying, I do believe, as Ann Voskamp says, that God uses everything ultimately for our good and His glory.
So, I do believe He will use these trials too.
Whether it is to write about this so others experiencing similar circumstances know they are not alone or to be more empathic to the suffering of those around me or for yet another reason I can’t see, I know He will use this for something.
I just have to trust Him.
I also believe it’s okay to be honest. And cry. And say it sucks – because sometimes it just really does. And do all the things I can to keep pushing through. . .
For me, that means lots of time with my family and books and music and naps and furry blankets and weenie dog cuddles and writing and candles and flowers (because my better half is the best) and snacks and warm socks and staying cozy and having quiet times and praying and hanging on and keeping the faith that this WILL get better. . .
A Couple Of Mental Health Month Reminders
As this IS Mental Health Awareness Month, I just want to also say, that, if you are blessed enough to NOT deal with any mental health issues, please give grace and have compassion for your fellow humans who do have to face these challenges. They are far more common than many realize – and kindness costs nothing and can mean everything to someone. ❤
If you DO live with mental health issues, know that you are not alone. There are so many of us out here – and so many resources available.
If you are in need of help, some places to start:
- https://www.nami.org/Home – NAMI’s site is a wealth of information AND the organization is wonderful for helping find resources, regardless of insurance status. Don’t hesitate to contact them. They are wonderful.
- https://www.dbsalliance.org – Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Like the NAMI site, this contains so much information as well as links to many support groups.
- https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org – If you are in crisis, you can chat with someone on this site OR call them at 1-800-273-8255. Please reach out.
- There is also a Crisis Text Line now. 741741. Text “HELLO” and they will respond immediately.
- https://www.thetrevorproject.org – The Trevor Project is for LGBTQ youth in crisis. They may be reached on their website or at 1-866-488-7386.
As always, if you are in crisis and are not safe, please present to your nearest ER. They WILL help you, regardless of insurance status or anything else. Don’t hesitate.
Please know that help is available. Don’t give up. Never give up.
Be well, everybody. Take care of yourselves and each other.
Grace and Blessings.