Saturday, January 09, 2010

Our first free weekend

So, there's something I haven't been telling you. Something that I didn't want to start blogging about until I knew what the outcome would be. Now I think we're in safe territory and I can share the story with you.

One night in mid-November, Scott developed a weird pain/itching sensation at the base of his big toe. His toe got swollen and very painful. And it itched. It looked like a giant spider bite which made sense, considering the number of crazy looking, scary spiders wandering around the house here. We figured he had been bitten while working with his feet under the desk in the dungeon office. Eventually his toe got so swollen that he squeezed it to relieve some pressure. (Remember when you were 13 and you did this to your face? Same thing.)

The swelling continued to get worse and the spot that Scott had squeezed got infected. Gross. He took some Cipro to try to kill it but it was no luck. We found a doctor nearby and had him check it out. It was a staph infection, the doctor said. And why didn't you come see me sooner?

Considering all the *great* medical care we've had here, why would we?

Scott was put on a regimen of antibiotic shots, oral antibiotics, pain killers and anti-inflammatories. This world of prescription drugs was new to both of us -- Scott hadn't been on antibiotics since he was twelve, at least as far as he can remember, and he'd never really been on any other drugs.

We made several trips to the doctor so that the doctor could squeeze fluid out of Scott's foot through the hole in Scott's toe. The toe-squeezing made Scott's stomach churn, especially when the peanut gallery (that's me) oohed and ahhed over all the gunk coming out of his foot. Nasty, nasty stuff, to say the least.

Despite all of this, the swelling in Scott's foot did not reduce significantly and, what's worse, his other joints started to swell, too. His thumbs, his shoulders, his elbows and, worst of all, his knees. His knees (especially his right one) looked like oversized grapefruits. He could not walk (instead he wheeled himself around the house in his office chair), he could not shower, he could not pull his pants down to stand and pee at the toilet. He was in really bad shape. And pissed off, too. His parents were here visiting and had to endure watching their previously super-athletic and active son turned into an invalid. It was awful. To make matters worse, Scott had taken a week of vacation for the time that his parents were here, and a week before that when some friends visited. He spent almost all of his vacation time in bed.

I looked up all of the side effects of the drugs he was on and I was CERTAIN that the joint pain was a very rare, irreversible side effect of one of his antibiotics. CERTAIN, people. There was no question in my mind. I am, after all, a web MD, right? I can look up symptoms as well as the next guy. (Now I see why doctors hate patients like me.) I was quite sure that my husband would miserably wheel himself around in an office chair forever. Of course, I didn't tell Scott this. I'm pretty sure if his attitude had gotten any worse, it would have killed him.

Finally, when it was clear that this was not a run-of-the-mill spider bite or staph infection, we headed down to a private hospital in Puerto Vallarta. Since we couldn't take the office chair with us, Scott used Brynn's bamboo piñata beater for a walking stick and made his way (vvvveeeerrrryyy slowly) through the hospital parking lot.

Within minutes of stepping inside, the doctor took down Scott's symptoms and gave him a bed. (The bed included, get this, a blanket -- I know! Something missing from our Dengue Fever hospital stay.) The doctor ran some blood tests, which came back fine, and took some x-rays of Scott's foot, all the while fending off my suggestions that this was "probably a side effect of those antibiotics! I saw it on the manufacturer's website!" Eventually, an orthopedic surgeon came in to check out Scott's knees. He ended up draining close to seven ounces of fluid off of Scott's right knee. The relief Scott felt was immediate -- he had nearly full range of motion in his knee and the pain was much less severe. While we waited for test results to come back on the fluid from Scott's knee, we enjoyed the...get this...free WiFi in the emergency room! Seriously, it was like being transported back to America. Air conditioning, blankets, WiFi, and even a chicken sandwich. It was all so civilized. So unlike our previous medical experiences here.

Within a few hours, the doctor was back in the room with Scott's test results.

"Do you have a family history of Gout?" he questioned.

Ahhhhh...it was like the clouds parted and we could bathe in the light of an accurate diagnosis!

Yes, Gout. My husband is like the old, fat, overindulgent royalty of yesteryear. He has Gout! The first symptoms showed up on November 19th. By December 6th, he couldn't walk. The hospital adventure was December 8th which is when he started taking anti-inflammatories that DO have SERIOUS possible side effects (such as heart attack and stroke) so he got off of those as soon as possible. He cut most meat and nearly all alcohol out of his diet. When his recovery seemed to be moving too slowly, he cut all meat and all alcohol out of his diet. And when we figured out that shellfish was probably a big contributor to his demise, he cut that out, too. (Check out what we had for dinner the night before the toe swelled up. He ate about a pound of it.)

At this point, he's pretty much drinking aloe vera juice, eating papaya, and popping tart cherry extract pills like they are candy. And, finally, he can walk. He can almost sit in the Lou Holtz stance. He can plank for 180 seconds and do fifty push ups with his hands on the floor and his feet up on the sofa. He's finally nearly back to being himself and, in celebration we had a fun, active weekend planned.

And then last night, while we were at a party, Callie started throwing up. So on our first free, healthy weekend, we're back home waiting for someone to get well!

Sigh.

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