Thursday of last week I tried to go out for a run but my back was continuing to bother me so I scrapped the run. In the "big picture" that run meant nothing. Later in the evening, however, I started developing a new pain in my back but this one was in my left side, up by my ribs, kinda in the kidneys area, and it was super strong pain. I sat with a heating pad on my back while watching my evening TV. By the time I went to bed, that pain area had gotten larger and had moved into the front of my ribs and was intense in my chest. I thought maybe it was just gas or heartburn so I took a Zantac before I went to bed.
In the middle of the night I was awoken as the pain was getting worse and now there was pain in my shoulder. I started to panic. Oh no! I'm having a heart attack! Oh no! I'm having a pulmonary embolism! I was in so much pain I could barely move. I barely slept the remainder of the night. I was a little scared there would be no waking up if I did. Friday morning I asked Dave what I should do. There was a part of me that knew I needed to go to the ER, but we've been slammed by unexpected bills recently and that same part of me knew we couldn't afford a trip to the ER. Honestly, that should have been the last of my worries. There was another part of me that was scared to find out what it was because I thought my triathlon season might be ruined. If it was indeed a PE, and I would be on blood thinners, triathlon would be a no-no perhaps forever. I called my mom. She's had, unfortunately, many blood clots including a PE and I described my symptoms to her. She told me to call the doctor. I did and luckily they could get me in that afternoon. They told me if I started feeling worse to go straight to the ER. I waited it out.
I got to the doctor and started to describe the pain. By this time the pain in my shoulder had subsided. It seemed to come and go as I laid down and got back up. The pain in my ribs remained. The doctor did a urine test for my kidneys. Everything looked fine there. Then he thought maybe my lungs were leaking. What the what?! He said this happens with skinny athletes. Really?! I had a chest x-ray and everything came back looking fine there too. He didn't want to put me through any more tests that day. I thought that seemed a little odd (this was not my regular doctor I was seeing, by the way). Why wouldn't you want to do a blood test, at least? He concluded that I was either having inflammation in my ribs from the training, which I guess is also common with skinny athletes, or that I had shingles. He mentioned shingles three separate times in that appointment. He gave me a prescription for Naproxen, basically extra strength Aleve, and told me to wait out the weekend to see if the shingles rash started to appear.
Friday night was another night of restless sleeping. I could only be on my right side, so I was woken up any time my body tried to find another position and was met with immense pain. I think the longest I slept at any one time was two hours. Saturday morning I felt a little better. The pain in my shoulder was here to stay, but the ribs were doing alright. I had a full day of photo boothing, so I got myself ready. As I was finishing up, however, the pain got intense. I don't think intense is the right word for it. It was more like someone had ripped out my rib, broken it in two, and was using the broken ends of it to poke me in the lungs. I couldn't stand up straight. I couldn't sit. All I could do was lay on my right side. Unfortunately, I had to work. I got in the car and laid in the back seat as we dropped our dog off at my parents' house. My mom saw how much pain I was in and offered me some Tylenol in addition to the Naproxen I was taken. An hour later, the pain was manageable.
I felt okay for about four hours. Yep, four hours was my max for Saturday. By the afternoon I couldn't complete a sentence, the pain was so intense. I put on a happy face, though, and continued to work. By late afternoon, I made a call asking my dad if he could fill in for me that evening. I hated doing it, but my level of discomfort was off the charts. I spent the rest of the evening crawled up in a little ball. Looking back, I probably should have gone to the ER on Saturday even after seeing the doctor on Friday.
Sunday came around and I thought maybe I had turned a corner. My shoulder was still killing me, but the pain in my ribs was subsiding. My breath was "fluttered", you could feel it both internally and externally cracking and fluttering every time I took a breathed in. I also woke up Sunday with my left eye bothering me. It was puffy and itchy, but didn't look like I had pink eye. And my left ear was echoey. Yet, I had no rash. I spent all day Sunday in bed.
Yesterday I felt about the same. I called my doctor and we consulted over the phone. He said it wasn't shingles. I would have had a rash by now and shingles wouldn't have pain in multiple areas. I was surprised he didn't call me back into the office to do more tests, but he did prescribe me something stronger: Prednisone. Yes my friends, I'm on steroids. Call Tyler Hamilton! He needs to do another "60 Minutes" interview. I'm on high doses for the first three days and then the doses get lower with each three days thereafter. I took my first dose last night with dinner.
This morning I feel SO much better. Like, 85% better. The pain in my shoulder seems to be gone. I can still feel the rib pain, but finally I can get a full breath in. I plan on testing all of it out on a short workout this morning. I'm guessing I just had a virus that was affecting me strangely, but without having had a blood test, I guess I'll never know. I'm glad it wasn't worse and my triathlon season and summer are not ruined. I'm hoping with each passing day I'll keep feeling better. I just want to return to my normal life.