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A Surprising and Huge Update

I am gobsmacked. Straight up, holy Scooby Snacks, you name it, shocked! It turns out that everything that happened in March, which caused this “massive progression”, was completely different than originally thought.

Back in early March it was believed that I contracted H1N1 with a very nasty and acute sinus infection following, which triggered a huge progression in my Fibromyalgia. Nope!

My awesome doctor started me on Tamiflu as a preventative the day I was exposed to H1. Yet I still presented with difficult flu symptoms, so it got chalked up to my immune system laughing at attempting preventative care. Since the week on Tamiflu, as of June 9th I finished my last pill in my fourth course of heavy duty antibiotics and still have the same weird symptoms that are like a sinus infection mixed with something weird. It turns out that the Tamiflu worked. While at the hospital, just days before the announcement of Covid, I actually contracted it. The presentation of symptoms were of a medium case of Covid that didn’t require hospitalization (I know, I’m amazed by this too!). Following this was the start of what has been anecdotally called “post Covid syndrome”.

It threw my health into a bigger tailspin than anyone could figure out and made my Fibro absolutely unrecognizable after my getting to the point of knowing every warning sign of what was about to happen, from having it for so long. And without my realizing it my symptoms got so bad that I believed I had progressed so rapidly that I was actually dying.

My amazing concierge doctor noticed the change in me and immediately ordered Home Health, since I had absolutely no quality of life anymore and was on bedrest almost around the clock. I had so many falls that one went so bad that I fell and hit my disability handle and hurt myself pretty badly. I had a body and symptoms that I couldn’t recognize or identify.

Home Health (HH from here on out) stepped up FAST. Within just a couple days I had both my nurse and PT Evaluators here to establish symptoms, goals, and all that good stuff. During the PT Eval he looked at me and said that he’s treated Fibro for many years and this wasn’t the presentation of a Fibro progression that he’s ever seen. It sounded more like the after affects of Covid than H1 or Fibro. Say what?!

That night, once the Fibro brain fog lifted as it usually does if it’s nighttime, I went down the research rabbit hole. I went to all my trusted sites from when I worked in Neurology first. They led to this, which led to that, and then to several epidemiologists, and finally to one epidemiologist who also focuses on ME/CFS (Fibro’s official initials nowadays). He started a list of post Covid symptoms that general population has been reporting, plus the extremely weird symptoms and changes that ME patients have been reporting, along with their “recovery” stories. Their Fibro had undergone dramatic changes that made it unpredictable to them too. And I had almost, if not all (it’s daytime, so happy brain fog time), of the post Covid symptoms.

This explained why super heavy hitting antibiotics couldn’t kick my symptoms for the first time. It explained how I could suddenly get bouts of difficulty breathing and get the barking cough back, and it suddenly disappear as fast as it came on. The increased falls, even more acute fatigue, unpredictable new symptoms that were attributed to Fibro, pain that my usual pain regiment can’t even take the edge off of, and even the massive swing of depression despite having finally gotten stable with the right antidepressants. We threw the proverbial kitchen sink at this and I couldn’t get better, so of course I thought this was it. So I just waited for someone to accidentally expose me to Covid and finish it off. No one expected that I’d survive it.

I survived. I have Fibromyalgia with a laundry list of other Invisible Disease comorbidities and I had a case that didn’t even get diagnosed as Covid until I was in the negative testing phase. And everything I have been suffering since St. Patrick’s Day fits absolutely perfectly with this syndrome of after effects.

HH is still a Godsend and although tiring, has all ready improved my life (not just with this whole revelation), and I’ll continue to learn how to manage, but from a massively different perspective and now with hope. We actually have long-term goals again. We’re celebrating. We’re learning how to adapt, especially since I may not get back to my cruddy pre-March “normal”. And we have to be super careful that I don’t get exposed again, since there is absolutely no idea if I can be reinfected or develop something else from exposure. We don’t even know at what point I technically stopped being contagious, but thank goodness I was all ready under quarantine for H1N1!

But a sickly gal with Invisible Diseases is a survivor. I’m so damn thankful and proud of that. My body pulled through on its own for the very first time. And who knows, maybe having Fibro helped fight it? “This is my territory to terrorize, so back off!” I know, absurd, but it makes me smile to think of my Fibro smack talking a pandemic trying to take me down. *grin*

So to the other Spoonies, have hope. I know very well how that seems impossible, but I’m proof that we can do this. And I’m here if you need to talk, have questions, or want to see if maybe your weird new symptoms match. And guess what? The government is finally starting to notice us and see that they need to help us. This pandemic is expected to slam a lot of people with Fibro and other post-viral Invisible Diseases. That makes us an even bigger portion of the population and they have to see us after this. We CAN survive and they WILL have to research how to help us. I’ve always believed that with every bad thing there’s at least a tiny silver lining. This horrible situation will finally bring us hope. Suicide and progression aren’t all that we face anymore. HOPE.

Quarantine Lifted

Yay! No more H1N1 self quarantine! I came by that status the hard way, though, as any Spoonie probably would.

I couldn’t get over the symptoms after I posted about my delayed recovery and realized that I most likely had a sinus infection that was causing the fever (which is a way different fever than normal people get and the unaware are so disbelieving of that), which kept extending the self quarantine as possibly still contagious. So I contacted my doctor in hopes of getting an antibiotic, but the continued symptoms and my immune system issues really concerned my doctor, so she referred me to a colleague in KC, K, who works with a facility that works with the CDC, and I had to do this online questionnaire. After review they decided that they felt I was high risk for having COVID and wanted me to go to the facility at KCK for testing during this certain time frame.

While this response was making its way to me, I began to present with an acute dry cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath, with a lot of pain from pulled muscles due to the coughing (and the fibro having fun, I’m sure). The only way I could breathe easier was by laying on my side almost flat and not moving, especially not being reclined or sitting up facing forward. It got bad enough that L called a Topeka hospital (no way I could make a ride in a truck to KC with this going on!) and had to go through an online triage basically. They decided I needed to get to the respiratory center they set up as quickly as possible. We weren’t really sure what this new center was that was created to respond to this outbreak, so we packed my “go bag” that is prepared any time I may be at risk of staying in a hospital (you learn to plan ahead when you have a chronic illness). Well, I laid on my side on the bed, trying to dress, and he added the last minute items to the bag, since I had one ready for a possible trip during the whole H1N1 thing.

So, we quickly (okay, very slowly because I could barely walk without falling to my knees coughing) went to the address the nurse gave. It was a mini tent city erected in front of the hospital’s north clinic. People direct you to drive into the first tent and direct the flow of vehicles, while workers move between the vehicles doing their assigned tasks, such as one for symptoms, another for vitals, etc. With each worker the driver is directed to the next area for the next triage area, with directions to keep windows up, patient is masked except when asked to remove it, etc. It’s kind of hazy, but I think at the second tent is where the doctor did the drive up exam. He confirmed that it sounded like a bacterial infection (sinusitis), but with my high risk status with L being among the public at times and my compromised system that was even further compromised, I got to have an H1N1 nasal swab and a COVID swab, for good measure. In less than ten minutes the H1N1 test came back negative and the self quarantine was no longer needed then. He prescribed an intense antibacterial prescription and we moved forward to the next swab section. The H1N1 was like a small bendy bottle brush jammed up the top of my nose and I kept wiping under my nose, thinking I had a bloody nose. I laid sideways on the console while waiting for the next worker and it hit me how surreal the whole experience was. And then SHE came to the window. He rolled down my window and she asked me to pull my mask down, and told me instinct would be to pull back, but don’t, so I pushed my head back into the seat cushion. Good thing I did because that thing removed mucus somewhere near my eye socket, because that tear duct immediately started streaming. *laugh* Holy biscuits and gravy! She closed the test container and said to go ahead and leave.

As we were leaving it hit me how bizarre of a situation we had found ourselves in and saw firsthand how intense this Pandemic’s treatment is, even in our neck of the woods. Medical workers in varying degrees of protection, from droplet protocol all the way up to a sealed suit with breathing unit, and seamless triage the whole way, with preparation to send suspected cases to quarantine. Sitting in the tent city was like something from a science fiction movie or alien visitation thriller. It was a mixture of feeling like a zombie checkpoint and a prep station for scientists interacting with some unknown alien craft.

It was definitely the safest exam I’ve ever had, despite it all, because I wasn’t exposed to any additional conditions, which is a first. It was definitely an unexpected and intense event in my life, so I can mark such an occasion off of my bucket list (I’ve lived an odd life with incredible and strange occurrences in it, so I wanted to make sure to have one more on my bucket list. Lol). And both nostrils really hurt, but I could breathe through them both for the first time in weeks, since they swabbed everything in my sinuses up to near my brain, it felt like. *smile*

I’m now on my fourth day of the antibiotic and responded well almost immediately, so my usual post-illness sinus infection got really bad at one of the worst times in this century. I’m thankful for the incredible workers who are on the front line of this and it increased my awe of their bravery by 100%. While I stay laying down to ride out the massive side effect of nausea that my Marinol doesn’t come near stopping, I’m still waiting for the other test results, but my cough has resolved except when I try to actually do something. I have an incredible other half that braves exposure to get my prescriptions, foods that will help or may stay down until the current prescription dose’s nausea lets up, and takes care of keeping me settled. It’s funny that in all the marital advice I was given almost 16 years ago, no one ever said that you can fall even more in love with someone when the times get bad and your partner decides to weather through those times with you. In the meantime, I got us an annual subscription to BritBox, slept nearly 24 hours straight at one point, and we had a reclined “date movie night” streaming a rental movie early this morning. *laugh*

I wish there was something profound I could share, beyond my experience, but it really just boils down to having gratitude for those that are at risk working near others or in medical/ emergency services, those that keep working for us to be home and upset that we have the time off that we usually wish for (although everyone would prefer for vacation to be taken on their terms, paid, and hopefully one in which they can fully enjoy themselves, of course), and also gratitude for the technology that helps keep us connected. Drop a text, share silly pics on SnapChat, do a Zoom chat, or even call (*gasp*!), and then we aren’t alone in this. It is a scary world right now, with a lot of grief along this journey, but humanity has survived other threats before. Kindness, respect, and gratitude are our best bets for making it through this as better people who will someday recount how awful 2020 started out, and how we, as a collective, made it through.

Stay safe and reach out. Isolation breeds depression quickly, which is just as dangerous IMO. If you feel alone and you don’t have others to reach out to, you can reach out to this (possible) stranger and know that someone will be there to chat with through this. I know how deadly depression and isolation are, so please don’t hesitate to reach out, even if you don’t know me personally. My world grows infinitely better with each new friend. 🙂

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