Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My sagging knees aren't a crisis, and other comforting thoughts

We live up the road from the beach. It's about 15 minutes from our back door to the sand. A straight shot.

A few weeks ago we loaded up the car and headed off. At the end of our street, instead of turning right and heading down the hill, Sam turned left.

"Maybe he is avoiding the traffic." I thought to myself. "Or maybe he's going to swing by Fukushima's for some chow fun."

As he came to the next intersection he slowed the car, and then hesitated. "Which way do I go?" he asked, turning to me. "Are you kidding?" I asked as I fiddled with the radio.


I looked up, annoyed. He started driving again, in the opposite direction of the beach. My annoyance switched to alarm. "Where are you going?" I asked. "What are you doing?" He stopped again, then swung the car to the left and headed in a different direction. He was confused. Disoriented. I told him to pull over.

"No, I'm fine," he protested. "I just got confused about which beach we were going to." We drove in silence for a few moments, and then he asked, hesitantly "Does the beach have just one entrance? Or is there a second one?"

And that was the moment when I knew that something was seriously wrong. We have driven by this beach hundreds (thousands?) of times. We live on an island, on the side of a mountain. You can see ocean from every major roadway. The beach is not hard to find. First of all, it is downhill from where ever you are. So, that's pretty easy to figure out.

I worried that it might be something else besides the Lyme Disease. Maybe a side effect of the medication? Maybe wholly unrelated to illness or treatment? Oh god, what if he was starting to lose, for real. Is this what it's like to get older? I was worried about the skin over my knees starting to sag - this was putting that in perspective. Which is to say, still an urgent problem, but definitely not as serious as my husband losing his mind.

The next morning I called his doctor. The nurse refused to put me through to him. I talked very slowly and clearly.

"I need to talk to the doctor. I don't care about HIPPA laws, he doesn't have to say a word, he just has to listen. My husband could not find THE BEACH this weekend. Couldn't remember how to get there from our house. Wouldn't you find that alarming if it was your husband? The doctor diagnosed my husband with an illness, but something is very, very wrong. It's more serious than we thought, maybe. I need to tell him that."

"Well, if you are having a medical emergency, you should call 911 an-"

"No, this is not an emergency. I mean, it could be, but my husband is at work right now. I am not calling 911. I need to talk to the doctor."

"I'll give him the message."

"Thank you. I really appreciate it."

An hour later the doctor called me back, then talked to Sam, extended his antibiotic prescription and ordered an MRI of Sam's brain. The MRI was clear, but they added yet another week of antibiotics just to be safe, and referred Sam to a specialist for follow up.

We have learned over the past month that Lyme disease is more than aches and pains and rashes.
It can affect every single cell in your body. One of Sam's first symptoms was clumsiness - he was dropping things and falling over his own feet - more than usual, that is. And that might continue for a while - today the specialist reassured Sam that the disease, while still in his body, is dead. That now all we can do is wait for it to flush out. Sam may feel the residual effects for months. He may be more easily fatigued. He may stumble from time to time, or feel achier than usual. But he's going to be fine.

I would be relieved, except I knew that already: Sam drove to the beach last week without prompting.
Well, you know, without more prompting than usual. He may be better, but I'm still an asshole.


Anonymous said...

I keep thinking that the Dr. your husband's been seeing is probably totally nerding out about treating Lyme Disease. Glad you caught it early - hope he's back to feeling like himself again soon!

Unknown said...

This worries me.