I've taken a quiet hiatus from photography for health reasons. I've had people ask what happened, so here's the whole story.
My oldest and I, Nov 23, 2017, I was just starting to feel off.
Leading up to Thanksgiving I wasn't feeling well. I figured it was a bad migraine or a sinus infection. After a quick Urgent Care visit, I was home in bed with steroids. Days later I still wasn't feeling better and I thought I was breaking out around my hairline; new shampoo, no big deal. I woke up with a spot/blister ON my eyelid...gross. My daughter tossed a lego at my forehead...and I cried out in pain, this had to be something more than a sinus infection.
warning-photos below are not pretty
Long story short, I had shingles, on my eyelid, forehead, and scalp. Odd spots for shingles, and a little strange to get them in my 30's, but not a terrible case. Except for my eyelid. Turns out if the fluid from a shingles blister gets in your eyes you can go blind. Ugh. Three eye doctor visits, a lot of rest, and meds for nerve pain, I was feeling better in a few weeks. Hence hiatus #1.
Days 3 & 4 after shingles diagnoses.
Days 8 (with make up) & Day 13. Life at home was a free for all.
It was almost Christmas, the flu bug had hit everyone and their dog. I was so relieved I hadn't caught anything--my immune system was still weak after shingles. On Christmas Day, it hit our house. My 4 year old got a tummy bug, my 7 year old the flu and strep, my 3 year old the flu, and my husband got the flu...all over the course of a week. When I say relieved I hadn't caught anything, I mean: ready to lose my mind, I'm over changing sheets, cleaning up vomit, I need some sleep, relieved. It took about three weeks but we got everyone healthy again. Hence hiatus #2.
Literally our entire holiday break, plus 3 sick days from school.
End of January and everyone is finally healthy and happy.
We all actually got out of the house--she has blue teeth from a popsicle lol
I notice my back is crazy itchy. It spreads, but I don't think much, I'm trying a new soap, I'm sure that's it. I get a sore throat. I do a few tried and true home remedies and take a Tamiflu. No luck. Can strep cause a rash...? Yes. Yes it can. Flu and strep swab; flu negative, strep positive. Back to bed with meds. Two days later I have ZERO appetite, the WORST headache, nauseated and can't keep fluids down. Saturday we go to the ER for fluids and a stronger antibiotic to "knock out the strep." Swab for flu two more times, both negative, "but you probably have the flu."
First ER visit on Feb. 2
Side note in 2013, I had viral meningitis. I was in the hospital for 5 days, LOTS of pain meds and a pic line...with a 5 month & 3 year old boys at home. But that's a whole other story.
Back to the ER visit. I mention to my nurse, I've had viral meningitis, and this headache feels like before. She asks me to bend my neck, chin to chest. I bend as far as I can; "you're ok, if you had meningitis, you couldn't go that far. Follow up with your doctor on Monday.'' By Monday I am in unbearable pain at home. I pack a few things for my doctor visit because I'm about 99% sure they will admit me to the hospital.
My husband drops me off outside my doctor's office. He's already taken our boys at school & debating if he should take our daughter to the office with him. I walk inside and barely make it to the elevator. I looked BAD. The woman in the elevator with me, comments, "I know how you feel. Mondays, right? I was supposed to be here 30 minutes ago." I give a nod while I grip the handrail for dear life. The doors open and I'm debating if I can make it to check in without falling. I go for it...and make it to the closest chair--we're talking maybe 6 feet. I sit and try not to cry because of my headache and the ridiculous amount of energy it took to walk 6 or 7 steps.
In about 10 minutes I work up the energy to check in. My doctor touched my neck, turned it to the side, and I cried. Uncontrollable tears. So.Much.Pain. "Can you walk to the ER downstairs?" No. I'm by myself and I barely made it here without falling.
After blood draws, IV fluids, a CAT scan, a couple conversations I don't remember having, the ER doctor asks if I want to do a spinal tap. I've had one other spinal tap when I had viral meningitis. In my experience it was like getting an epidural while your'e in labor, but instead of contractions, your brain and spinal cord are swelling and affecting every part of your body. I won't go into detail here, but I have scoliosis, my spine is "S' shaped--which makes a spinal tap or epidural very difficult. This spinal tap took 5 needle "pokes." UGH.
Hope was a nursing intern that day. She wasn't allowed to do much of anything. I remember her standing near the door while two other nurses were drawing blood and starting an IV. She came back in later by herself and I got so nervous--no offense Hope, but I was a little scared at this point, and there way no way in hell I was going to let her near me; but luckily she was there to only ask me questions. My name, birthday, address, etc. Hope was the one closest to me when I was getting the spinal tap. She was the first one to reach out and hold my hand. Because that crap is PAIN. It was Hope, a nurse, another nurse peeking her head in the room, the ER doctor, and anesthesiologist all in the ER room with me.
I never saw the anesthesiologist's face, but I do remember his voice. The first thing he said to me was my hips were really out of alignment. He pushed on them hard...not like I was in any other pain but I get it, that's his job. I don't know if I was doing something wrong or my back was just THAT jacked up; after the 4th "poke" I could tell he was getting frustrated. He paused for a minute, maybe one nurse left to get something for him. I truly don't remember. I do remember Hope. Holding my hand the entire time, helping me through it, and staying with me during the whole thing. The senior nurse told Hope she could take her lunch now--MID SPINAL TAP--and sweet little Hope said, "no, I'll stay." I don't know if she was supposed to be in the room, if she felt like she needed to stay with me, or it was one of those things you geek out over when when you love your job. Whatever it was, I needed Hope with me.
I'm waiting for results and almost pleading for pain meds in my IV, when my husband walks in the room. Thank goodness, he took over. That state of mind when you're in pain, alone, scared and doctors are telling you IMPORTANT things you have to remember...NOPE. Not happening.
Bacterial meningitis caused by strep. 72 continuous hours of IV antibiotics in isolation. Blood work comes back the following day, I have mono as well. It could have been a very different story if we waited. Nothing for pain except Ibuprofen, because antibiotics. Isolation meant I couldn't leave my room and everyone who came in my room had to wear booties, a gown, gloves, and a mask. My husband even got called out a couple times for not wearing them. I didn't see a single person more than just their eyes, from Monday at 2pm until Friday at 2 pm. Except for my Thursday overnight nurse, her badge slipped out of her gown and I saw her photo. Tears. Isolation messes with your head. Hiatus #3
Hospital stays all blend together. My husband was there when he could. My in laws drove from Nebraska to watch the kids. My parents & our kids "Oklahoma Grandma" were my only visitors--she brought me nail polish and fake eyelashes--and they were perfect. I was a fall risk. I was allowed out of bed, but it was stressed that I call a nurse if I ever wanted move. They changed my IV three times. My brain was still swelling. When I became more coherent I remembered I was wearing an eye mask when they admitted me; which meant I had no idea where in the hospital I was, and hadn't seen anything but my room. I wore my eye mask most if not the entire time; the light hurt my eyes and head too much. I didn't open the blinds for five days. All I wanted was a shower. They made me wait four days. I gained water weight from fluids. Lost it all plus more when I felt sick from the eight meds I was taking at home. My last nurse told me to rest but try to get out a little, "Depression is real after meningitis." Hence hiatus #3
I would love to say I got home and I was back to myself. It's been almost 6 weeks, and I'm still not. There's good days and bad days. Still on meds. Weakness and pain all over my body. Hearing loss. Feeling off balance, having to hold on to something or someone when I walk because I feel like I'm going to fall or my legs are about to give out. Headaches from the spinal tap and lingering pain from brain swelling. All the joyful things that come AFTER being on IV antibiotics and antibiotics at home---you get the drift. Immune system is shot, getting fevers after doing normal everyday things. The exhaustion. Four hour naps during the day, sleeping 8-10 at night. Depression--I actually considered buying a dog. I didn't drive for about a week after I was released, the first time I did drive my reaction time was ridiculously slow. All the "Dory" moments--memory loss/concentration is legit after meningitis. I've lost count of how many times I'd start a conversation and completely forget the point or what we were talking about.
Seeing my babes for the first time after being released from the hospital.
Before I got sick I was in the wrong place. From here, I'm moving towards my "right place." I don't where it is or what it looks like, but I'm fairly sure it has a lot more yoga and dinner with friends there.
when the world comes crashing at your feet
it's ok to let others
help pick up the pieces
if we're present to take part in your happiness
when your circumstances are great
we are more than capable
of sharing your pain
the sun and her flowers, Rupi Kaur
I'm not one to ask for help. Bacterial Meningitis makes you stop and you HAVE TO accept the help. I am so grateful to my community and helping me pick up my pieces. I could never put into words how thankful for them. Friends who watched my kids, cleaned my house, my parents and in laws who took care of the kids, everyone who brought over dinners, friends who had to pick up where I left off--something I hated to do and can never repay. And Rich, my husband, who's been fantastic though all this. He's had his moments though, and he's absolutely kept his humor about it. "I didn't realize the depth of that, 'in sickness and in health' line."