Thursday, March 17, 2011

Life As a Dinosaur: Shrek and Igor

July/August 2008 - My hope lasts less than a week. It is July 5, a long holiday weekend, and my toes are getting worse. Because it is a holiday weekend, I am unable to get in to see both the rheumie and my primary doctor. I settle for seeing whoever is on duty. This doctor ups my prednizone dosage and sends me on my way.

The result is that the toes start to shrink a little. Just enough for me to be able to walk. This tiny bit of relief comes with a huge cost. I have trouble sleeping, lots of trouble, and after a few days my body is exhausted, but I still can't sleep because my brain WILL.NOT.SHUT.UP. This exhaustion, in addition to the physical pain, creates a very crabby me. In addition to the sleep problems, my appetite also increases. Despite the fact that I try to eat "healthy" foods most of the time, my weight starts to go up. I also try to not give in to the hunger, but the crabbiness from not sleeping and the depression that is developing because of all this (pain, drug side effects, not being able to exercise, and generally not knowing what the heck is going wrong with my body) make it easy for me to give in and soon I'm eating all sorts of "bad" things. This all, of course, feeds the depression as well.

(Big KUDOS go out to TheHusband for not killing me during this time. He certainly would have been justified.)

After a couple weeks of this absolute hell, the rheumie decides that the prednisone is not working (really?! Ya think?!) and shifts me to another drug therapy, methotrexate. I think the fact that I have now started naming my toes has prodded her into thinking it's time to get more aggressive. What? I didn't tell you that I had named my toes? Oh, well, the initial swollen toe was/is named Shrek. That's because it is sometimes a huge swollen monster and sometimes a typical (almost) sedate toe. The second toe I named Igor because that seemed a respectable name for the awkward assistant of pain.

Because Shrek seems to be "getting better" (and by that I mean it isn't always swollen and I can usually bend it) the doctor is not too worried about it. Igor on the other hand foot (theoretically speaking) is another story. That toe took on a peculiar shape, quite similar to that of the early space "ships" (the command module part of the ship) the astronauts used on their missions to the moon. Thinner at the top while expanding into a triangular shape at the bottom. Because of this, Igor could not be bent. I cannot put into words the amount of pain this caused. Sooo, Igor got to have a dose of cortisone shot directly into the tendon sheath. Doesn't hurt as much as it sounds and so worth it over the next few hours as the swelling went down on the side that got the shot. When the swelling on the other side of Igor didn't go down on its own (and just before I was going to rename it Quasimodo) the doctor administered a second cortisone shot.

Finally, a bit of relief, if only for a short time.

Author's note: This is the fourth post in a series of posts regarding my experience(s) with an autoimmune disease. My experience is unique to me and does not speak for all patients with autoimmune diseases. 

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