Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Painful Day


A couple of days ago I had my yearly physical. While there my doctor had the brilliant thought that I should have a tetanus shot, especially since I work with infants and toddlers. While they are cute and cuddly, apparently they harbor deadly germs and viruses. What do I know?

Anyway, whenever we get these helpful shots, like the flu shot of the moment, there is always the chance of possible side effects. My doc said not to worry, as my flu shot from last month went without a hitch. Well, last night I got deadly sick. Aching muscles and bones. Shaken nerves, headache and nausea.


I ended up going to bed early, choosing to just sleep through it. I had some crazy dreams, but mostly slept well, and felt enormously better this morning. In fact, I decided to get out the vacuum, and do some light house cleaning.

Bad decision.

While moving the very light vacuum, I pulled a muscle in my back. I let out a very loud scream, and found myself, tears in the eyes, descending toward the floor. I had all the animals around me looking traumatized, and my youngest son running out from his bedroom to see what had happened.

Well, that pretty much stopped me in my tracks. Nothing much was getting done today. Fortunately for me, I had stored up quite an arsenal of past prescribed medication, and found myself popping some expired Vicodin, and some helpful Motrin. Within a couple of hours I was beginning to feel better, yet had to make every move with caution.

It's quite scary when you become so sick, and you realize how alone you are. Now, I did have my son, but a 12 year old can only do so much. I also didn't want him to worry too much, so I told him I was much better than I actually was.

I took a seat on the couch, and tried to entertain myself with the television and computer. I read each email as soon as it arrived throughout the afternoon. At one vulnerable point in the day I received an email from the Musella Foundation, which does research on brain tumors. I don't know how to unsubscribe from their mailing list, so I always take a deep breath when these messages arrive. Today's message annouced a lecture titled "Practical Suggestions For Brain Tumor Families" which was to be held on January 18th, Michael's birthday.

I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. Punched real hard. I sat here, and began to sobbed.

As the day has gone on that deep emotional response to this email has stayed with me. Each time I think about it, the sobbing returns.

My body, and soul, certainly knows pain. Pain such as this has the powerful ability to lodge itself deep into my memory bank. With each of these painful deposits, I suppose I could be considered quite wealthy.

No worry. This will pass. As each of us has learned, while pain doesn't always completely go away, it does become less intense with time. We become familiar with it, and we come to have our individual ways of getting through it.

I will get through it.

You will too.


  1. Dan, when we are ill, we miss them even more ... it seems impossible that we can miss them more, but we can and we do. It always brings me to my knees ...

    I hope you recover quickly. Keep taking those helpful jagged little pills and sleep lots.

    I love you my friend xx

  2. Sending hugs from Texas and hoping that tomorrow is a better day.

  3. I react very very badly to tetanus shots too - pretty much as you've described - intense muscle pain, nausea, fever/chills, headache. Unfortunately, working on the farm, I've had to have several shots over the years after getting injured, bitten by animals, etc... The doctors used to pooh-pooh that one could react, but in more recent years, the recommendation is to have the shots less frequently than the old recs. Wonder why, eh?

    I understand and dislike that feeling of alone-ness when not feeling well. A year ago, I caught a really nasty cold after arriving here in town. At that time, I knew very few people in this town and, as it happened, during the peak of my illness, everyone I knew had taken off down to Mexico for 2 weeks. Then my old dog got sick and I had to find a vet down here and drag her there when I felt like crap. It all got so damned depressing for a few days. I wondered if I might end up croaking and no one discover me up here at this house on the mountain, until my friends returned from Mexico. I suppose such things happen. Anyhow, no two ways about it - getting sick when you have no one around as a back-up - and in my case, there actually *is* no one (hey dogs, go make yourselves some dinner and let yourselves out, okay?) - is just the craps. Fortunately, I know a few more people in town this year and a couple of them volunteered to get things for me when I got sick (again!) at xmas. I haven't been quite ill enough to take them up on their offer, but it's nice to know that there is some help available if I need it. To me, that seems to be the answer though -- to build up a little support network of friends -- people who are alone, older, etc... are very receptive to this and I think that's why we all tend to volunteer to help each other. It just makes good sense - and eventually, all of us will need it as we get older. Which, by the way, is where my mind starts to go when I get sick -- temporarily brooding over thoughts about what it will be like when I am alone and get older. I try not to go there too much!

    Hope you get feeling better again soon, Dan.

  4. I hope you are feeling better soon, Dan. I can relate to the back thing. I "put my back out" a couple of years ago and it has never been the same since. The pain was terrible and now I have to watch my movements.

  5. I react to tetanus shots too. Last one, I could barely move my arm for a couple of days.

    In yoga, I have learned that all the muscles connect, so perhaps the reaction tensed your back to the point that even vacuuming could trigger a spasm. I was wicked knotted in the time after my LH died and it is still my Achilles heel. Yoga helps as does massage therapy. Ice is best for encouraging the muscle to let go.

    Being alone is scary on many levels. I have spent more of my adult life alone than not, but regardless, there are practical matters that are so much easier when we have someone to lean on.

    My husband still gets emails from a cancer site he subscribed to when his LW was ill. I don't know that he even opens them anymore. Perhaps you should just highlight and delete?

    Feel better. Being a caretaker is something that can take years to recover from on all levels. Though I have been content and happy for a long while, I am only just finding myself back to physical wholeness and my LH will be gone five years next week-ish. It's a process but one that needs a bit of guidance from you.

    Be well. You are awesome. Don't forget that.