December 16, 2009

An Old Love Story

My job entails caring for an elderly woman. And it didn't take long for me to genuinely care for this kind and funny lady whom I'll call Miss Hepburn. How can you help but love this person who pokes fun at aging, is thankful for assistance while maintaining her independence, keeps herself informed by daily reading the newspaper and watching the news, and thinks of others even in the midst of her own pain?

There is an idea out there about switching roles, the child becomes the parent and so on. However, I don't buy that. The child must simply take on a new mantle, one of caring and sacrifice. These seasoned citizens have lived and learned and have entered a time when things they used to do easily aren't easy anymore or perhaps they aren't even possible. A young child is seeing everything new and learning more every moment while an elderly adult has seen just about everything and is learning to deal with the loss of abilities and memories. They have wisdom we can glean, advice to heed, and graciousness to replicate.

I realize that not everyone is the same and some aged people are difficult to be around because of their anger, bitterness, or particular ailment.

But I have a particular compassion for seniors. I think it's because I felt like one before.

Just a couple days after returning from my honeymoon I began to have pain in my joints. This was not an I-may-have-the-flu-kind-of-ache but an it-hurts-to-walk-and-move-and-my-fingers-are-swollen kind of ache. As a new bride, suddenly I was feeling old and scared.

My boss, a mother of four, asked me about what was different. Could it be the birth control pill I had started taking only three months earlier? I wanted to find out what was wrong so I asked my OBGYN about it. She took the time to look it up and read to me all the possible side effects and my symptoms didn't fit.

My husband was so wonderful to me! In reality, he was facing having a disabled wife after just a few days of marriage but he didn't show any fear or concern for himself; he simply cared for me and my needs. He helped me dress and undress, drew bath water for me, assisted me getting in and out of the tub, and listened to my concerns.

John and I knew we wanted several children, but now I was wondering how I could possibly care for a baby if I couldn't even take care of myself. John assured me that I wouldn't have to give up on my dream. We prayed for healing and answers and kept going about our daily lives.

The symptoms continued so I made an appointment with my new primary care doctor, John's doctor since youth. However, by the time of my doctor's appointment, the symptoms were all but gone. Facing a patient with no symptoms didn't deter my doctor. He spent at least 45 minutes with me, asking question after question. After gleaning all the information he could from my answers and descriptions, he ordered a blood test. From that appointment, I knew we would never change doctors. His thoroughness and caring made a huge impression on me.

The blood test showed traces of lupus. Thankfully, I wasn't familiar with the disease and my symptoms still remained at bay; the name didn't scare me like the pain had done. The next step was to see an arthritis specialist.

I got an appointment quickly but felt frustration about my blood test saying one thing while my body was feeling normal again. The appointment was relatively quick and a follow-up appointment was scheduled. No answer was given me.

It wasn't long before the symptoms came back worse than before! The pain and the swelling in my joints hit me suddenly and seemed to worsen as the day went on. My boss sent me home. I remember crying as I drove because the pain was so bad. I inched around a corner because it hurt my knuckles to turn the steering wheel and I had the thought, "So this is why old people drive slowly!"

John took care of me again. After making me some soup, he helped me into a warm bath to try and soothe my body. It didn't work and I even threw up the soup. I don't know if it was a new symptom or just from the pain and fear I was facing. I had a couple of very bad days before the symptoms started dissipating again.

We continued praying for healing and answers.

It was about two weeks after this that I thought of having renewed my prescription for my acne medicine. I had been taking minocycline and, before that, tetracycline for years. But there was a period of three or more weeks when I had run out and simply not yet refilled my prescription. It was an epiphany! I had never considered the minocycline as a possible problem since I was familiar with it but I rushed to the calendar and observed that the day I refilled that prescription and started taking it was the exact day the symptoms had hit me full force. During the initial lapse in my prescription is when the symptoms first cleared. The symptoms had begun to dissipate again when I stopped taking it simply because I felt so badly.

I knew that I finally had my answer! God had gently pointed out to me the dates coinciding with the symptoms.

The arthritis specialist wanted another appointment with me but I told them no.

When I had my next dermatologist appointment, I told him what had happened. His response? "Yes, it sounds like you developed an allergy to minocycline. That can happen to about 1 in 200,000." He also told me that the birth control could have been the catalyst that caused the allergy to develop by accentuating the side effects of minocycline. And I thought, "Why the heck didn't I come see you before!?"

After having gone through this experience, I have no doubt that my husband truly loves me for better or worse, in sickness and in health. When we go through tough times, I remember the selflessness he showed to me in those newly married months. And I have a deep compassion for those of any age who are living with pain and fear of the unknown.


Busted Kate said...

Oh what a moving post, it sounds like you have such a wonderful husband. I'm so glad to hear that you were able to figure out what was the problem, and that it was relatively easy to fix!

thatgirlblogs said...

had a similar experience with my husband, who supported me through a heart attack and a debilitating blood disease, all managed with meds now. so good to know we've married the right guys!

Debbie said...

I love a post full of love! This was great.
Dropped by from SITS.

Sarah and the Gentlemen said...

Thank you, ladies. I am truly blessed!

Shell said...

What a fabulously caring husband you have! So glad to hear that it was something that was easily fixable.