Monday, February 22, 2016
My Ear Infection and the Ten Days of Hell that Followed
Over the last week, I became the victim of an awful occurrence that happens to most of us at some point in our lives. That's right. I had an ear infection. Now, if you've never had an ear infection then allow me to produce a slow clap for you, because they are awful. It feels like the apocalypse within the narrow canal of your ear drum. Or maybe like someone trapped an Ebola victim in your sweet cave of audible beauty. And not only that, but you also feel dizzy, nauseous, and exhausted. You can't drive and can barely walk. So, basically, it's like being a baby again, except this time, you have adult responsibilities.
But as bad as the ear infection was, the ten days that followed were worse. Ever heard the term "the side effects are sometimes worse than the ailment"?
Well, that sh*t is totally true.
Welcome to my ten days of hell.
The first side effect I noticed was dizziness and nausea. Okay, well, I was feeling that anyway what with my balance and rhythm being affected by the hungry zombies clawing at my ear drum in attempts to get to my brain. I slept most of the day and figured it would pass.
My heart started racing and I felt a tightness in my chest. I kept my airways clear and rested as much as possible. There was always the possibility that my ear infection had been throwing a party with the latest virus that could have come home with my kids from the Petri dish they call a school.
It turns out that one of the lesser common side effects of this new antibiotic is insomnia, nightmares, hallucinations, and confusion. When I had a hard time going to sleep at the end of day 2, I assumed it was because I had slept so much before. That would have been fine. I wouldn't have minded having the extra time to catch up on chores while the kids were asleep. What I couldn't handle, though, was the cycle of nightmares, insomnia, confusion, and hallucinations that I found myself trapped in. At three o'clock in the morning, I was sure I was dying. By five, I was convinced that I had never existed at all. That I was just a string of disjointed thoughts and feelings felt by someone else. That I was the dream of someone else who had probably taken the same round of antibiotics.
Then came the depression and anxiety. I had hour long bouts of crying between activities. Everything seemed to be going wrong, and I was sure it was all my fault.
The depression was weighing heavy on me. Although, it could have been situational. We had been fixing up he house and running into problems at every turn. Not to mention, I had been unable to focus enough to write, which any writer will tell you is enough to incite depressive moods and erratic behaviors. I made decisions I was not in my right mind to make. By the end of the day, I was in a full blown panic attack. Ear infection was gone, but we all know that the first thing a doctor will tell you is to finish your antibiotics. How could something that was designed to make me feel better make me feel so much worse?
I'm sure that by now you are asking yourself why I didn't discontinue the meds and call my doctor. Well, the answer is both simple and complicated. First, my doctor works only part time. This hardly seemed like the appropriate time to switch physicians to someone who did not know my medical history. Second, thanks to our new high deductible medical insurance (if you can call it insurance at all), it would have cost me a couple hundred dollars to see the doctor and switch the meds. Besides, a new medication would come with a whole new round of side effects. And finally, there was day 5. Ah, the fifth day. I got 5 hours of sleep, had been able to clock in some writing time, and woke feeling like I was a new person. It was a good day.
I had never felt so awful in my life. I felt like I had run three marathons with no training and caught the flu through the last finish line. I couldn't sleep well enough to take away the aches and pains, and ibuprofen is said to have adverse reactions with this prescription. Every muscle in my body hurt. If I bent over, I couldn't get back up without crying. Imagine your bones going through a wood chipper. That's what it felt like. All. Day. Long. Then, finally, it was time to go to sleep. If only I could stop drinking water long enough to fall asleep. If I had been out in the desert for two days with no water, I still wouldn't have been as thirsty as I was then.
Still wasn't sleeping. Realized that I was waking up at 2 o'clock every morning with a Justin Bieber song stuck in my head. I started to wonder if Justin Bieber teamed up with the pharmaceutical company to entice users of this antibiotic to buy his album. Well, joke's on you, Dr. Mario, I'm not buying.
My heart was still pounding.
Anxiety so bad that I felt like I was sitting on a live wire.
Suddenly, people were calling me to ask if I was still going to do things that they claimed I had agreed to, but I couldn't remember.
I took control and decided to throw out the rest of my pills. Bring on the ear infection, baby. I would rather have atomic bombs going off in my ear than deal with any nasty side effects.
There are some huge arguments going on in my state legislature right now about giving whole plant access for medicinal and recreational purposes. We've heard that we are dooming ourselves if we allow the psychoactive ingredients to remain in medical marijuana. They say that it would be dangerous for people to have access to the whole plant legally. Well, I've had a lot of time to think about this, and this is my response:
A doctor prescribed me an antibiotic that gave me hallucinations, depression, anxiety, nightmares, insomnia, headaches, stiff muscles and joints, and confusion. This antibiotic was approved by the FDA and passed every pharmaceutical board. Then I was advised to finish all of said medication. Sure there was a message to call my doctor if I was suffering some of the more dangerous side effects, but the medication had me so whacked out I wasn't sure what I was experiencing. I am a working mother of four children. My son has a disability that requires him to depend on me to survive. The last thing I need is to get something worse than my original ailment because of the prescription medication provided to me. Why should we have to deal with such awful side effects? Medical marijuana is passing every trial and study out there as I write this blog post. Maybe it's time we give it a chance.
They call marijuana a gateway drug, but what about our pharmaceutical system? You take an antibiotic and you have to go on anxiety and depression medications so you can control thoughts of suicide. Then those medications cause high blood pressure and diabetes. So now you are on medication for that, but those have their own side effects that need to be treated. Where does it end?
We deserve better. We deserve medical care without dangerous side effects. We deserve the choice of organic over chemical for our own bodies.
We deserve to be in control.
Posted by C.j. Ethington at 4:03 PM
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Christmas for the Special Needs Mom
Any parent of a severely disabled child will tell you that Christmas is a huge pain in the ass. Don't get me wrong; we love showering our kids with presents. What parent doesn't? But finding the right kind of presents can be a nightmare. My son, for example, loves superheroes. They are like Pokemon to him in that he wants to collect them all. Problem is, he has very little control of his arms. That means his action figures remain inactive all year long unless I help him play with them. And sadly, I am about as good with sound effects and play fighting as I am at keeping up this blog.
So, every year, I go out in search of the perfect gift for him. I have a list of all the things it has to be. First, it has to be awesome. Second, it has to have sound effects since my sound effect board is broken. Third, it has to do something. He is 14! He wants action and speed, and he wants to control it. I don't mean that he wants to hit a switch and watch a frog dance; he wants to control what it does when he wants it to do it.
Where oh where is the Nintendo Power Glove when I need it?
Each year, I find a toy to get excited about. Then I sell an organ to afford it (not really). Come Christmas Eve, I am so excited for him to see it and play with it that I look like a squirrel that mistook catnip for delicious pastries. I bounce up and down squealing at higher pitches than a recorder in the hands of a two year-old. Then, Christmas morning, he opens that coveted gift that Mom was so excited about.
It runs; it jumps; it dances! All you have to do is touch this tiny little button on the remote. Which he can't do.
This happens every time.
Well, except one. My best friend bought him Bigfoot. That thing has a remote with HUGE buttons, and he still loves it. But he also loves dinosaurs. We bought him Crusher (the interactive dinosaur) one year. While it does respond on command, the commands have to be spoken. My son is non-verbal.
The struggle is real, folks.
Why cant we just have amazing toys that don't cost a million dollars and can be used by any child who has limited motor function, and doesn't say "ages 2-4," huh?
Christmas shopping sucks.
*This blog post has been brought to you by the number 7 and the time I cleaned my son's room and found all of his unopened toys from last year.*
Posted by C.j. Ethington at 1:56 PM