Returning to Normalcy
Updated: May 2, 2020
First, I want to start with a summary of my 3-month post op visit at the NIH last week. Bethesda, MD is starting to feel like my home away from home! I know my way around, know what hotels are best, how to navigate public transportation options, how to get to and from the airport, and how to navigate the federal bureaucracy that is the NIH. I don't say that to deter anyone from seeking care there, because that is not my intention. But, as someone who has worked in governmental organizations for a lot of my career, and studied public health in graduate school, I have come to understand the complexities of the processes and procedures in place in our government.
I flew in to Baltimore/Washington International airport last Wednesday evening, and my mom met me there. We then took a Lyft to our hotel since we missed the free NIH airport shuttle. We grabbed dinner and settled in for the evening.
In the middle of the night I woke urgently with the familiar feeling of bile flowing backward up my esophagus into my throat and I immediately sat up gagging. I don't know how to describe this awful feeling, but without any remaining valves in my digestive tract, if I do not sleep elevated, or eat the wrong things, I am at risk for this to happen. I must have slid off my pillow mountain in the hotel, whoops. I spent the next thirty minutes or so in the bathroom, coughing, crying, nauseous, and desperately trying not to wake my mom. I finally got back to bed, but only ended up sleeping a couple of hours the entire night, because my first appointment at the NIH was scheduled for 6:30am on Thursday (keep in mind this is eastern time, so it was actually 5:30am CST).
Thursday, we took a cab to the NIH and straight to phlebotomy we went. Gave the usual 1 million vials of blood, along with a urine sample. Then on to radiology for an abdominal MRI and CT scan. I begged to be propped up because I was so scared I would have the bile issue again while lying flat, but luckily it had calmed down by that point and nothing bad happened during the scans. The rest of the day we had free. We went back to the hotel and ended up being lazy the rest of the day. I took a nap.
Friday, we arrived to the NIH to turn in travel reimbursement forms (oh joy), and attend my post-op clinic appointment. Met with the dietician, and nurse practitioner. Then was very surprised to find out my iron levels were low, I had a probable urinary tract infection, and walking pneumonia. I was feeling better than I had in months, so it was kind of crazy to realize I felt "good" with two infections and a serious nutrient deficiency. I wonder how I will feel when those things aren't going on? I guess it is all in perspective, I have felt like crap for so long, I thought I was feeling good! My mom and I rushed over to the day hospital for an iron infusion, and IV fluids. I also received antibiotics for the infections. Luckily our flight was scheduled for later in the afternoon, so we were able to make it there with time to spare.
Top left: in a nice paper outfit and hospital socks waiting for my scans. Top right: discovered smart water sparkling in the BWI airport. Went down pretty well. Still can't drink plain water. Bottom left: flying in subzero temps means layers. Bottom right: receiving a quick iron infusion with IV fluids before heading to the airport.
Dr. Davis just called me this afternoon to let me know my scans looked fine, and to check in on how I have been doing on the antibiotics. I have been doing ok. The pills make me feel dizzy and a bit nauseous, so I just take them at night before bed and then it doesn't seem as bad. Only a couple of days left.
Next, I went back to work this week! After two months shy of two years of not working, I am back at my same job. It was so surreal to leave on such short notice the end of February 2018, with full intentions of returning within a few months, and here I am almost two years later and I am just now returning. Everyone has been so accommodating and my coworkers seem genuinely pleased to see me. I am only working part-time currently, but it feels good to be returning to some sort of normalcy. It feels like I am closing an unfinished portion of my life. I have been dreading going back, and felt like I left so many things unfinished. I am definitely grateful to be back and be feeling well enough to be back.
In an amazingly ironic stroke of luck, Andy was scheduled last minute to travel to Hawaii this week for work. I was off of work for almost two years, and the exact week I had to go back to my job, he was booked on an all expenses paid trip to our special place and I couldn't go with him. I am not sore about it, but definitely wished I could have gone. Next time!
Talk to you all soon,