I ended my season on a high note making 2 out of 3 mains in Orlando Florida at the Disney Cup. This motivated me even more for the off season… pure power training for 3 months. My body on the other hand had a different plan for me.
Two days after arriving home after the race and one week vacation with my family and boyfriend, I got super sick. I thought it was just the flu. Fever, nausea and an inability to keep any food down to save my life. Not to mention the most ridiculous night sweats that resulted in me waking up absolutely soaked…clothes sheets and even my duvet. It wasn’t like I woke up nicely either; I woke up in a panic like someone had shoved a snake in my face. After a week of this, I ended up in the hospital with hepatitis. Hepatitis as in, inflammation in my liver not Hep A, B or C. On a side note if you hate needles I suggest trying to stay away from a liver biopsy as that comes with four freezing needles and an absolutely huge needle gun they use to puncture through your stomach into your liver. The doctors wouldn’t even show me the gun before they did it because they knew it would freak me out, which freaked me out even more.
After 8 days of being on morphine, antibiotics and blood tests every morning at 6 am, my symptoms resolved themselves and I was discharged from Surrey Memorial Hospital without a firm diagnosis.
|Surrey Memorial Hospital|
Although it was hard hearing about everyone else training while I sat on my butt, it was nice to be home and spend some time with my Mom and Dad. Days went by and I was starting to feel myself again, I even sneaked off to the gym once. A week after I’d been home, I began to develop this rash on my body. It started on the palms of my hands just little red dots you could barely see. The next day it appeared on my stomach and legs. One more day and it was everywhere and I had a butterfly like rash on my face. The first thing my GP said was she wanted to rule out Lupus. At this time we were still waiting to see a specialist about my previous blow up in Surrey but that was put on hold as I was off to the ER again. My hands were swollen to the point where I couldn’t bend my fingers or grab anything and they felt like they were on fire! I looked like someone put a pump up my bum and pumped me up. I was just a swollen mess. The ER doctor ended up putting me on a painkiller that was stronger then morphine called Dilaudid. For the rash I went on Benadryl, which didn’t do anything. The Dilaudid was the only thing that made my hands stop burning.
I was somewhat relieved thinking “Sweet, I’m going to get on some drugs and be on my way back to BC “. Nope I was wrong once again. A rheumatologist was suppose to come see me a few days in but ended up not showing. I ended up taking an ambulance ride to Hamilton General to see another rheumatologist (studies the immune system). We were told there’s a 25% chance it is an infection and 75% it is rheumatologic (ie Lupus, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis or one of 100 other autoimmune diseases). If the latter then there was a 50% chance that it is Lupus. So we were back to not knowing again. It was very frustrating, as I had already accepted the fact I had Lupus. I cried for probably 2 hours after finding out it was back to doing more tests and no knowing.
On the way home from Hamilton I fell asleep in the ambulance and woke up and it felt like someone had sat on my chest. I couldn’t breath, but somehow I could still cry. The paramedics quickly put me on oxygen and I was good again. The whole time this is happening my Dad is sitting there holding my hand saying your going to be okay. It was scary I’ll tell you that much.
On Dec 13 the doctor I was originally working with was done her week shift so I ended up getting a new doctor that knew nothing about me. By then my rash had let up a bit and the swelling went down. I was still sure it was Lupus so I insisted the doc put me on the steroid because I didn’t want another flare up. I had asked the doc what was keeping me in the hospital and she said the port in my arm that they used to inject the pain medication.
I ended up begging Dad to take me back to the hospital, but made him promise me that they wouldn’t admit me. I walked into to see the triage nurse who did all my vitals and such, then looked at me and asked “ so what seems to be the problem” to which I replied “ I’m freaking the fuck out”. Dad later told me that she calmly wrote that down on her form. The ER doc told us that that doctor and nurses were wrong, it was not because I was going home it was that I was going through withdrawal. He put me back on the painkillers an anxiety pill and instructions on how to safely wean off the meds. My GP later described this pill as “8 beers in a pill”. All I remember is my brother Corey having to walk my into my bedroom once I returned home.
Since then I have been weaning off the pain medication and on 12 days of steroids. I felt almost back to normal, expect since my body was so swollen I started shedding skin as it commenced its healing process. I began to loose the top layer of skin all over my body, but mainly on my hands and feet where the rash was the worst. Its pretty discussing but my doctor said its normal.
I received a call from my infectious disease specialist a few days after being discharged asking me to come in for a follow up appointment. I went in on the Monday 2 days before Christmas with my parents, expecting to hear that I’d tested negative to all the tests and they still didn’t know what was up. Instead she ended up telling us that I tested positive for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) also known as Mononucleosis. She explained that in Surrey they did an initial blood screening for mono and it came back negative. Based on that they but me on an antibiotic. Unfortunately the initial screen will often show negative, and the antibiotic reacted with the virus to kick off a nasty drug reaction. This explained the rash and why I was swollen like a balloon. She said she had to patients upstairs in the hospital that had the exact same thing. I asked her “ so what now” she said your fine. You don’t need to go to any more appointments and your going to be fine.
So what have I learned:
- autoimmune diseases are on the rise
- 70% of the cases are young women
- 75% of the causes are environmental, 25% genetic
- do not take your health for granted
- be grateful for all you have even if its not a lot