On Thursday, July 27, I woke up alone for the last time in my hotel room and got myself prepped for another day of infusions. As much as I was dreading the drugged, sluggish, awful feeling of having so many medications pumped through my body, I was hopeful that they did seem to be helping manage the headache pain! I made sure to pack up my book and coloring book even though the visual side effects of the meds made looking at things difficult. Sometimes a girl gets desperate for some distractions.
I hopped in the back seat of my very friendly Uber driver’s car at about 7 am and tried to get myself fully awake during the commute. Once I made it to the office I had my usual meeting with the nurse practitioner and we went over the plan for the day. I again had low blood pressure and again declined the Benadryl infusion in hopes of being less groggy and mush brained. I had the same nurse in the infusion center which was nice although this time it took three tries to get an IV placed.
After the second unsuccessful stick, nurse Kristin brought out a fancy-shmancy tool that would shine a light on your skin and illuminate the blood vessels! It was the first time I had seen one in person and we both agreed it was a pretty nifty little contraption. We finally managed to get the IV taken care of and the infusions began with 30 minutes of Compazine followed by Zofran, DHE, Toradol, Magnesium, and more Compazine. Maybe more Zofran. Definitely more DHE. Anyway, it was a lot of stuff.
I tried to be more aware of what I was doing with my neck and made sure to stand up and stretch or walk around in the hopes of avoiding the same muscle side effects from the previous day. Unfortunately that was unsuccessful but more about that in a moment.
Mom got up in New York and said goodbye to her traveling buddies with Turner and opted to get a rental car and drive down to Philly rather than ride the bus back to Terre Haute. Thank goodness mom loves driving! She gets lots of hours logged on the road getting me where I need to go for all these medical appointments! We talked on the phone about an hour before my infusions were going to be done and I decided rather than getting an Uber back to the hotel, I would just wait in the city for her to get there and pick me up.
Once I left the infusion center I walked down to a Dunkin’ Donuts and got myself a coffee and waited for mom to get to the city. I don’t usually drink caffeine as it makes the chest pain more intense but desperate times call for desperate measures and I needed to stay awake! There were a lot of phone calls trying to coordinate me being on the correct corner at the time she would be driving by but we finally made connection and I hopped in the rental Camry with her. Philadelphia is not exactly the most fun place to drive – especially when you’re used to the roads in the Midwest that are wide enough to accommodate tractors! Mom is a trooper though and we finally made it back to the hotel.
We decided to just use Grub Hub again for dinner but an hour after placing our order at a nearby pizza restaurant, we got a call saying their delivery person had not shown up and asked us to cancel the order. We couldn’t find anywhere else that we wanted to order from and didn’t really want to wait longer for another delivery order so we found a little Italian place not too far away. We got the smallest pizza they had which was 14 inches and finished half of it between the two of us. We decided cold pizza for lunch in the car the next day sounded like a plan. Our standards for road food are clearly set quite high. (Insert sarcasm here)
This entire time I had been fighting the muscles in my neck cramping like they had the day before. Then the uncontrollable muscle weirdness went to my eyes and for some reason they would get stuck rolling to the back right side of my head. It was incredibly uncomfortable and admittedly kind of frightening. It was a bit like something else was controlling my eyes and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get them to move where I wanted them to. There were a few tears shed out of frustration and fear but we decided that since sleep helped with the neck issue, we would hope for the same with my eyes and if it wasn’t better in the morning we’d call my doctor. Otherwise, our plan was to get on the road home in the morning.
Thankfully, I woke up with much more control over my eye movements and just left with extremely blurry vision which is a side effect of the medication I’ve dealt with before and I knew that would improve with time. We were up and out the door by 7 am and opted to drive home by way of Baltimore rather than have to drive through Philly again.
I was feeling the fatigue pretty hard but also feeling very restless (another side effect) so I got myself some caffeine riddled coffee with my breakfast croissant at our morning stop. They were terribly overpriced, albeit tasty, but we thought it was ok because we were having leftover pizza for lunch. The drive was, overall, uneventful and I am always thankful for the fact that all of the thousands of miles we’ve driven for my sake have all been safe ones.
As we were passing through, we stopped at my brother and sister-in-law’s house to pick up mom’s little dog, Moxie. We were lucky enough to arrive before my niece’s bedtime so we got to enjoy some entertainment courtesy of the cutest little curly blonde-headed child I know. Once in Terre Haute mom asked if I wanted to go to my house or stay at hers for the night. I opted for my house even though my car was still at my dad’s. We got all the way there and I was unloading my things when I realized I didn’t know where my keys were! I assumed I had left them in my car since I couldn’t find them in my backpack anywhere and because I had no spare house key, ended up staying with mom for the night after all. Spoiler alert: I found my keys the next morning in the one pocket of my backpack I never ever use and didn’t check! Oops!
While trip was definitely not what we expected and in some ways disappointing, I do believe it was worthwhile and have gotten some relief from the IV medication I was able to get. I am very grateful for any positive changes and also thankful for the POTS diagnosis. That is not to be confused with being grateful something is wrong necessarily, but it is nice to have a word that encompasses all of those symptoms rather than having to describe each one individually. It also helps my doctors figure out what course of treatment is most promising and gives me credibility as a patient because, yes, I am still not taken seriously in some arenas. I think the outcome of the trip was overall positive and we have scheduled the lidocaine infusion for mid-September. Until then I will be praying for favor with insurance, more good days to get me through, and reminding myself that while things may not make sense to me, there is a bigger, better plan than my own in place.
Isaiah 43:1 “But now, this is what the Lord says – he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name, you are mine.'”