I didn’t get a chance to publish my blog on Monday, which is my usual day. This is because I literally couldn’t use my right hand, and this is kind of a miserable situation because I tend to be right hand dominant. It makes fine motor skills, like touch-typing, very difficult.
On Friday night, I went over to a friend’s house to watch TV and have dinner. on the way out of my door I grabbed a sweater that I haven’t worn probably since the last time it was cold, so sometime last spring. this particular sweater has been hanging on a hook by my front door for somewhere between 4 and 6 months.
We’re in that time of year in southern California that we call “fall” and the rest of the country laughs their asses off at us for it. Our version of fall means that it’s hot during the day and cold at night. No changing leaves spilling from tree branches. Sometimes it rains. Anyway, I knew I would be cold later so I grabbed the sweater and I brought it with me.
Shortly after dinner, I was cold as I had expected and I decided to put the sweater on. I put it on and went back to the table where I was sitting. A few minutes later, I felt a sting on my right wrist. It radiated right up my arm all the way to my shoulder. I immediately pushed my sleeve up to see what had got me, but I didn’t see anything. I was afraid to stick my hand back into the sweater, so I pulled the sleeve inside-out. Never saw a thing. There was a tiny red mark on my wrist right about where the pain was centered. It didn’t look or anything like a bug bite, really.
Shortly after that, I started to feel really strange. My arm started burning, and then it was hurting and painful like all my bones were bruised, and then I started having chest pains. Now I was pretty sure that this was a panic attack, but what if it was actually a heart attack? My arm was hurting so bad, and I was really starting to feel scared. I asked my friend to take me to the ER. She was amazing, reminding me to control my breathing on the ride there.
I walked in the lobby holding my wrist to my chest, and kind of crying. The security officer asked me if I was here to visit or if I needed to check in. I kind of looked at him blankly, and he said you must need to check in. Then he asked me if I was having any chest pains or trouble breathing, which I was. I nodded my head, and the next thing I know I’m in a wheelchair and being swept back into the triage room.
I was immediately administered and EKG, and shortly after that, a chest x-ray. They came and took an obscene amount of blood out of my body, and did their due diligence to find out what was wrong with me.
By the end of the four hours I was there, I was pretty ready to go home when they were ready to discharge me. I was still concerned about the bug bite, but at that point, it didn’t look so bad. It looked like a tiny read spot and it was barely swollen. It felt like all of the bones in my hand were bruised, a sore feeling, but not really painful. It didn’t start to get excruciating until after I left the hospital. my friend dropped me off at home, made sure that I had everything I needed at hand, and then went home to her family. All I wanted to do was sleep.
Narrator: She did not sleep. As soon as I laid down, all I could concentrate on was the pain coming out of my right hand. I tried icing it, because a few years ago when I had a scorpion sting, ice seemed to help the pain a little bit, but this time, it only dulled it slightly. It felt like all of the bones in my hand were broken, all the tendons were hard as rocks, and every muscle from my fingertips to my shoulder and chest muscles, were completely tense. I had almost no hand strength in my right hand, I couldn’t even hold a pen long enough to sign my name.
I went back to the ER the next evening, because the pain hadn’t gone away after 24 hours, like it had with the scorpion sting. The pain was my constant bed fellow for 45 hours. That first night, I managed to get approximately 30-minute naps, in between moving from my bed to the couch, and back again. The cat finally got tired of following me and parked herself on the couch I wasn’t sleeping on, ostensibly to watch the show.
Now, it’s Tuesday evening. I still don’t have full use of my hand. I can use it, it’s not paralyzed, but the more I use it the more it hurts. I’m terrified of that pain coming back full force, so I’m really keeping it out of the way. Keeping your dominant hand out of the way, I am finding, is a very difficult thing to do.
I never got to meet the thing that bit me, so I have no idea what variety it might be. It was a tiny red spot surrounded by a red ring; it was a little bit swollen but very painful. in the meantime, I’m going to baby this hand, and practice writing with my left. I’ll get through this just like I get through everything else. One day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time, whatever it takes.
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