Friday, February 10, 2012

No, Really... I MEAN It This Time....

Since being coy and tempting with teasers only works if you follow through quickly, let's cut to the chase and close on the things I alluded to ... uh, fifteen months ago.  (erp... sorry)

  • The Golden Child is now taking Valtrex (for the sake of his continuing affection for me, I'll go ahead and reveal that it's NOT because he has a sexually transmitted disease)
 Let me condense what was a four-month ordeal into one sentence with too-much punctuation:  GC had a sore throat, for which he was prescribed antibiotics, followed by a migraine, for which he was prescribed.... uh, something else, I can't remember, followed by severe neck and back pain, for which he was prescribed a high-powered painkiller, but the day after he started taking the painkiller, he woke up with one eye rolling off to the side like Marty Feldman, which caused him to call me...  
...which made me immediately drive up to Indiana to go to the doctor with him and demand that they stop treating these as symptoms and look for a CAUSE, dammit (display of maternal wrath), which led them to order an MRI which would have taken too long unless he went to the ER, so we went to the ER and got the MRI which showed lesions in his brain so he was put through all sorts of other tests (including a scary spinal tap)...

GC during his first hospital stay

... and he was ultimately admitted and treated for meningitis while they waited for tests to determine if he had multiple sclerosis (he didn't), but after four days in the hospital, he wasn't much better (and still looked like Marty Feldman), so they released him with instructions to go see a neuro-opthalmalogist immediately... I brought him back down to Little Rock to be treated at the Jones Eye Institute (who are wonderful, wonderful people) who were wise enough to LOOK IN HIS EYE (something they didn't do at the hospital in Bloomington) and saw some deadening of the tissue in his retinas, which led to more tests (details withheld because it involved creepy eye things) then immediate admission to the hospital again and round-the-clock IV anti-viral medicine for 24 hours -- he was 5000% better the next morning.
Okay, looks like we'll need two sentences. Maybe more.

It turned out that the sore throat (remember that?  Seems pretty minor now, doesn't it?) and associated fever got bad enough to suppress his immune system, which allowed the dormant chicken pox virus to be reawakened (think Godzilla), and wreak havoc in his spinal fluid and brain (think Tokyo), causing viral meningitis and something scary called acute retinal necrosis (yes -- the virus ate away the edges of his retinas). And to answer your question -- yes, it is like shingles, only in the eyes. Ick. 

After three weeks of IV anti-viral meds every eight hours (administered at home by yours truly), several treatments that involved lasers being shot into his eyes (which did not result in super powers, much to his dismay), frighteningly high doses of Prednisone (orally and by way of drops in his eyes, which caused scary hallucinations at one point), he was finally able to go back to Indiana a reasonably healthy young man.  There is some permanent damage -- loss of peripheral vision, increased risk of detached retinas, and almost-total hearing loss in one ear (yep, virus got there, too) -- but it could have been a lot worse, and he is adjusting well.  He's just a great kid all around.

      Celebrating GC's last IV

    Oh, and the virus that caused all this damage? Herpes Zoster. Yep. So the anti-viral IVs and pills he took for almost a year? Valtrex. ("Avoid sexual contact while having an outbreak or if you think you are about to have an outbreak.") We got a LOT of mileage out of that one. ("It's ACYCLOVIR, Mom!") 

    Also -- note that I used the word "scary" three times in this description and still didn't adequately convey just how arduous and traumatic this whole ordeal was for me.  (It was tough on GC, too, but this is MY blog.  If you want to see his distress, he has a fantastic poetry blog -- A Passin' Bird -- that I highly recommend.)
    • I can get you a good deal on a lightly-used kayak
    After taking care of GC for almost three months and focusing completely on him, I may have gone off the deep end when he went back to Indiana.  I may have been an aimless crazy person for a little while -- one of those few who wander and ARE lost.  I may still be fighting my internal aimless crazy, even now.  But in my quest to find a new object of focus, I bought a kayak.  I went kayaking one weekend.  I'm done now.  (We also got another dog, but she's not available -- I'm still playing with her.)
      Katie: "What crazy phase?!"

        • This is probably the last Thanksgiving in which our drive to the family celebration only takes a few minutes.
        In the middle of taking care of the GC and during the aftermath of crazy, there was a major HR restructuring going on at work that I didn't pay enough attention to -- until I realized too late that I needed to take a more proactive role in figuring out where I fit in the new world rather than resisting the change and not playing well with others.  Six months later, I was fired. (Whine, whine, whine.... I know, me and millions of other people.) 
        I am fortunate in that I was only out of work for four months (NOT like millions of other people), and that the job I am now in pays better, is more fun, is more rewarding, and challenges me professionally and intellectually in ways I hadn't been in a while.  The downside is that it took us away from our friends, family, and favorite wine bar in Little Rock. 

        We also couldn't sell our house -- so after living in different states for eight months while the Golden Spouse shouldered the entire burden of having a house on the market, we threw in the towel and leased it out (to some very, very good tenants, so at least that's going well).
        Now we're settled in Memphis, which means Thanksgiving will require a two-hour drive.
        So we're in a new city about which we are ambivalent, I have a new job that requires lots of travel (while most of the region was sweltering in 100+ temperatures in July and August, I was cavorting around Italy, Germany, Turkey, China, Russia, and Mexico), we have TWO rambunctious dogs and a mischievous cat*.... if I can't find blog fodder in any of that, I may as wall hang up my .. whatever obselete bloggers hang up. 

        Stay tuned.   :)

        * We do have a mischievous cat, but it's a different mischievous cat.  Our beloved Rex died last summer.  The newest member of our family is Desmond -- and he's well on his way to carving out his own place in the family lore.  

        Rex guards GC after his IV
        Desmond adjusts to his new home