Super Sick (and the details) But I Think You Should Read

As wonderful as the Paramount Tour was the next day I knew I was getting sick, really sick. I was 95% sure that I passed a kidney stone and hope I would just need a couple of days to get me back on my feet. At this point it was Dec 16th and I was on vacation until Dec 27th so although it wasn’t ideal, a couple of days wouldn’t be the end of the world, as long as I felt better by Dec 20th (for our big Disneyland day) I would be fine,

If you are wondering why I was sure I was passing a kidney stone, a couple months before I had my first ever one and the November CT scan I took showed there was a second one in the left kidney. Everything felt similar so it was just a matter of waiting it out. One big difference between this time and that time though was I didn’t take an antibiotic. People talked about the pain but we didn’t talk about an antibiotic and last time the doctors just gave me one.

This time after the stone passed I just got sicker and sicker. The back pain was intense, but worse I had abdominal pain, severe lack of appetite, I was sleeping 14-16 hours a day. Since we had a huge list of stuff we wanted to do I tried to rally a couple of times and see some sites, but I could only stand to be in the car a few hours at a time because all the road bumps hurt. Sorry the pictures are terrible but that was the best I could do.

Finally Lee had enough and said I had to go to the doctor and get checked out and since I was terrified of going to an ER, and I mean seriously terrified, we compromised on an Urgent Care just around the corner. It was very nice and by Monday morning I had added these wracking uncontrollable chills to the mix. Those freaked me out but unfortunately they also look like drug seeking behaviors. Basically I looked like a drug addict who needed a fix. Drug use is everywhere but they are particularly vigilant here and they didn’t know me. Thank heavens I managed to get through to one doctor. I think the fact we had cancelled Disneyland (my dream since I was eight) got through to him and he gave me a antibiotic shot on the spot. He also gave me a 10 day prescription for CIPRO (which is some heavy duty stuff).

Lastly he was concerned about possible appendicitis since I was having so much pain in the abdomen and wanted me to get another CT scan to check on stones and appendicitis. I said absolutely and they got me an afternoon appt at North Hollywood. I went back to the RV and laid down and a couple hours later got a call the North Hollywood machine was broken. At this point I felt I might have appendicitis so we had to find another one in their group. I picked Beverly Hills simply because I felt it would be in a safe neighborhood and got an appt at 1pm .

I should probably say here that during our driving on Sunday we went to downtown LA and I was really turned off by it. We have been to many cities with a homeless problem but this all felt bleak and scary. Plus there is graffiti everywhere (and not the community uplifting kind) and the trash is really bad. I know I was sick and that colored everything but it was pretty scary, even on a Sunday morning. The new Mayor of Los Angeles is calling a state of emergency because of the homelessness issues and I have to say I would agree. As a side note someone asked me if there were lots of illegal aliens in a comments and this may not be popular but I don’t know or care. For me people are either contributing members of society or tearing a society down and their legal status doesn’t necessarily determine that. Mental Health however definitely does, and what makes (for me) the tent cities so scary are the obviously unstable people. Not their fault, and yes those folks are everywhere, but here they are on the streets. Anyways those are my thoughts. YMMV.

Lee drove me to the CT scan in Beverly Hills and the contrast between it and LA was bizarre. In particular the city hall and police station were the nicest I have ever seen and I was also interested in the fact there were some section of town with tiny houses which I though might be where some city employees live. Not sure.

City Hall

The MRI spot was very small so I told Lee to go ahead and wait outside which was a huge mistake. They got me in pretty quick and then I had to change in a very small dressing room. By this time I was freezing and felt terrible and had trouble following even simple instructions. They treated me OK until the CT scan was over and then they sent me back out to the waiting room. As I was sitting there a woman walked in who was obviously from Beverly Hills. No mask, no ID, dressed like she was going to a fancy dinner, and no doctors orders came in and expected to get a CT Scan done because her Doctor was taking care of it. It gave me some comfort when they told her they couldn’t help her. Finally my results were done and the technician (who was a pretty big guy) came out and stood between me and the door. He said the tests were all negative and “he couldn’t help me”. I was like what? OK the tests are negative, that’s good, now what? I looked at the guy and again he said I can’t help you. Not go home and your doctor will call you just that. So I asked for a copy of the write up and then I left and went home.

It took me a few hours laying in bed to make sense of what happened and I realized he thought I was drug seeking. Wow…OK. Thankfully my doctor from the Urgent Care called and said it was good news and just take the CIPRO for the next 10 days and come back in if I needed to. Ok. So I went home and got worse and worse. I was originally diagnosed with a kidney infection which can be extremely serious if it turns into sepsis. After I got the bactrim shot the uncontrollable shaking stopped, but I was extremely nauseous and could barely eat. I drank lots of fluids (mostly SMART Water which I tried because my Mom likes it) and it was a lifesaver everything tasted terrible but I could keep that down. I also ate lots of bananas. I am not a huge banana fan but they tasted good and I also drank as much orange juice as I could handle. To give you an idea of how messed up this was, I didn’t have a regular bowel movement for 12 days. When Christmas morning I finally did it seriously felt like a Christmas miracle.

Speaking of Christmas I was too sick to talk to anyone and too sick to watch Oliver open his presents. That had to wait until a few days later. I was a mess. The absolute worst though was how altered I was mentally. I knew things were bad when one morning I went into the shower and couldn’t remember what the shampoo was for. I would forget to brush my hair, forget to brush my teeth, my words were slurring, and I couldn’t complete sentences. At this point Lee was getting freaked out (rightly so) but I was still adamant I didn’t want to go to a hospital so we got my brother on the phone (he’s my primary care physician) and he gave Lee a list of things I would absolutely have to go to the hospital for (ie: high fever, constant slurring of words, passing out, etc) and I agreed. I knew at this point I wasn’t in my right mind and would have to rely on Lee to be the watchdog. Lee also wanted to get me some pain meds, which I finally agreed to. I don’t like taking pain meds but at this point I was up for anything. Unfortunately we learned that California does not allow out of state doctors to call Class II or above meds into their pharmacies so I was out of luck.

Let me give you a quick explanation on why I didn’t want to go to the ER. All of my immediate family is in the medical industry and I have been listening to their horror stories my entire life. Yes there are good, young doctors in ER’s but they are also overworked, underpaid, and ill supervised. The busier the hospital the worse things can be and either overtreating or undertreating are very common. The key in an ER is to have health advocacy with you all the way through. I love Lee but this is not his area of expertise. I came close to flying somewhere but my Mother was on an Amazon cruise, my Dad was with my sister and my brother was going on vacation with his family to Disney World. Plus the winter storms had screwed up flights all over the country and I didn’t want to make a bad situation worse. So we hunkered down.

One other thing I wanted to mention about hunkering down is we needed special permission to stay longer at the Elks Lodge. Lee eventually got it but it wasn’t easy and we were acutely aware that we didn’t want to overstay our welcome. To make matters worse all the local dump stations were charging $35 – $50 a dump and our Blue Boy sprung a leak. Thankfully Lee bought another one for only $200 at Camping World (half what we spent on the original) and not only is it better designed but Lee learned that Camping World has a free dump station for Lifetime Good Sam members which we are. Between all the extra peeing from staying hydrated and the longish showers (the only thing that gave me relief some days) he was driving 25 minutes to dump every other day but he was happy to do it. He also had to wash the sheets because they were drenched in sweat which was another load. I asked the president of the Elks if they had a washer I could use because I had been sick but he seemed annoyed and said they didn’t have one. So Lee did it in our washing machine instead. My point is I guess the logistics of our lifestyle never go away…even if we are really sick, which can be a bummer sometimes when you just want to focus on getting well.

Thankfully though despite all the craziness the pain was the one thing getting better, It was good enough that one day I asked if we could take a drive to the coast since the weather was beautiful here. Turns out that with the crazy winter storms we were in the one little pocket of the US where the temperatures were really nice. Sun is good for infection so I put a heating pad in the car and we took a drive. We drove through some orange groves, down to Malibu, and then back home. The drive was mostly pain free although I only got out of the car to go to this famous little Malibu seafood shack and only ate a bit of clam chowder which was so-so. Lee liked his fish though and the the sunshine was nice.

One weird thing about Malibu is there are beautiful larger estates across the highway from the ocean and then smaller but also elaborate homes ocean side. I checked one of the For Sale houses on the oceanside side and it was a cool $55M in case anyone is interested. As good as it was to get out the day took a lot out of me so most of the time I just slept 16 hours a day and tried to stay hydrated. I was feeling a little bit better everyday at this point and since I was starting my new job on Dec 27th I had a lot riding on getting better and soon. But more on that in the next post.

Not to leave you hanging though the CIPRO did its job and on the last day I went in and had my urine checked and it was clear, although I did ask them to do a culture just in case. I don’t want to take any risks with this. The Urgent Care doc who I had seen before seemed relieved I was better and then said it’s good you didn’t have any reaction to the CIPRO. He mentioned a couple of symptoms I did actually have but it was clear he wasn’t really listening so I just said thank you and left. Later I looked it up and the CIPRO side effects are :

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • stomach pain
  • heartburn
  • diarrhea
  • pale skin
  • unusual tiredness

I had all of these but if it killed the infection it was worth it. The whole thing was really scary.

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7 thoughts on “Super Sick (and the details) But I Think You Should Read

  1. So glad you are finally on the mend. Heck of a way to spend vacation time/holiday season and very scary this happened in an unfamiliar area. I am so grateful Les’s health emergencies are always when we are home base with medical professionals/facilities we know. Here’s hoping 2023 brings you and Lee good health and less stress.

  2. OH! So sorry you went through this. What a scary episode! I had a friend who used to work at a care home. My sis had a Kidney infection & was acting really strange mentally. My friend told me that off-the-record, when residents starting acting strange mentally, their first thoughts were a suspected a Kidney Infection. Go figure.

    • That’s actually good to hear. Appreciate that Lisa. I was told that they usually only see these symptoms in the elderly and my response was well I’m not a kid anymore ❤️❤️

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