The short version: I had cellulitis in the tissue around my eye and it landed me in the hospital for three nights. I got better. See the long version and more photos below.
I’m typing with my eyes closed. My right eye is very tired. It’s been working overtime. I’m trying to give it a break. Let me back up.
Thursday night (Thanksgiving night) Jimmy and I left the kids with my parents and decided to go to some Black Friday sales. As we were checking out of the last store, I started to feel shaky. That night I laid on the couch under a blanket, cold and achy. Friday was more of the same, not feeling great but finally starting to show a specific symptom, the bridge of my nose was sore, I decided I must have a sinus infection. I don’t really get them often, so I’m not real familiar. I had two photo shoots on Saturday and five mini sessions Sunday, so I tried to rest a lot and wondered if I would have to cancel.
I felt a little better Saturday. We drove back from my parents. I had to leave for my first photos shoot at 2:00. I laid down at a little after one, setting my alarm for 1:45. When I woke up, I tapped my left eyebrow as I put on my glasses. It was very tender and hurt. I thought that was weird, but it was kind of how my other sinus areas had felt, so, whatever. I got my stuff together. I did my two shoots, and got home a little after five. Jimmy and I decided to run to Publix with Violet and pick up some supplies for church and get groceries for the family. In the car I asked him to look above my eye and tell me if he could see any redness or anything at all. He said no. It had still been bothering me. We got home, fed the kids, I gave Violet a bath and put her to bed and I went to the mirror and compared my eyes. The left one was noticeably redder and bigger just below the eyebrow. I went to my room and got out my computer to begin editing photos and looked up stuff about sinuses to see if there were sinuses above your eye. There are, sorta, they’re behind your eye I think, anyway, I called my sister who said she’d had many sinus infections in the past and asked her if she thought it could be related to my sinuses. She wasn’t sure, but told me I probably needed to see a doctor and get some antibiotics. I figured I would Monday.
I spent a few minutes editing photos, but my eyelid began to get so big and heavy that it was hard to keep it open so I just closed that eye and kept editing. Then, when I opened it, I could see in my vision my own eye lid. The Florida/Florida State game was going on. I looked at the score. Would Jimmy possibly be willing to take me to urgent care?
This seemed like something that needed drugs. I didn’t want to wait twelve more hours. I wanted the drugs in my system, I had five families counting on me the next day. FSU had a decent lead. Jimmy agreed to take me, though not super happy about it. I don’t blame him, who wants to go there?
|In the ER Saturday night. Waiting for prescription.|
By the time I saw a doctor at about eleven pm I could only open my eye a slit. I was starting to be very confused. What happened? He ordered a strep test and urine test and I tested positive for strep. He prescribed me oral antibiotics, Augmentin, to kick it in the rear. I had cellulitis on my eye. Said I should feel better in twelve to twenty four hours. We got the drugs from Walgreens and I took them along with some ibuprofen for the pain, and went to bed. I spent a good part of the night awake and nauseous from the medicine. Yuck. The next morning I got up and went to the bathroom after trying to nurse the baby, poor thing, I didn’t have much, and went back to bed. I didn’t set even a toe on the floor again until nearly four p.m. I had to cancel my photo shoots. I just laid there all day fighting the infection.
To make a rather already long story maybe a tiny bit shorter, I continued to get worse and swell more. I knew that when I awoke Monday I would be at about the thirty hour mark. Since he told me twelve to twenty four, I knew I would need to make a decision. I let Mom know the night before that I may need her. They came when I awoke the next morning to be just as swollen, now down into my jaw. Monday at one pm Jimmy and I were back in the urgent care. I did not see a doc until three third or four. I wasn’t looking good. I was in pain. I could pry my eye open if I used both hands. The doc ordered an MRI of my head and blood cultures, some other blood work.
He said I have cellulitis, I was annoyed that I had to explain my entire backstory to him…don’t they have records? Are they just too lazy to look them up? Wouldn’t they want to read the doctor’s notes? (Maybe they have, maybe they act like they don’t know so they can hear your version.) Anyway, he said I might need IV antiboitics, but he’d wait for the MRI and blood work. I’m like, great, hook me, up, drain it in here, and I can go home and go to sleep. What? I have to be admitted to the hospital? For this?? Okay, well, we can drive over there. (We were in the ER facility close to our house, not connected to the hospital.) Oh, no, you have to go in an ambulance. And it will be for one or two DAYS. Not hours, DAYS. What?! I have a baby I need to nurse before bed in a few hours. The whole thing was annoying me like crazy. And making me feel really weird. Why? Why is my face becoming a scary mask that no one wants to buy that you find in a discount bin the week after Halloween? I was trying to be a good patient though. I got one round of antibiotics there before going to the hospital.
|Possibly at my worst. Learning I'm not going home.|
And really, I feel more sad in this moment about this nursing thing than I have ever in this whole process. I think my body was so focused on trying to kill whatever was blowing up my face that I had zero emotional energy to be sad about being forced to wean. Because I knew if I skipped even two nursings that we’d be done. My supply was already so low from being sick. My sweet Violet. But I was no good to her with a Quasimodo face. So let’s get this done.
The MRI shoed no abscess. This is good. Blood work showed super high c reactive protein levels which meant I had a crazy amount of swelling happening. NO DUH.
I start to be acclimated to hospital time. “I’ll be right back” means twenty minutes minimum. “You should be ready to go soon” means an hour and a half. “You’re next in line” means forty five plus minutes. “The doctor is picking up charts” means, well nothing. It may just mean that he’s picking up charts and playing Jenga with them or something.
I ride in the ambulance. Which is really hard to to enjoy or even pay attention to you when you’re super sick and can only see out of one eye. But I try to remember it so I can tell the kids.
I make it to my room. And it’s official. I’ve been hospitalized. I’ve never been in the hospital except for six glorious times to have my babies. Even when I broke my arm as a kid I didn’t spend the night. It was weird and awful but I wanted to be better. I wasn’t feeling so bad that I couldn’t make a Jim Gaffigan joke when the nurse asked me if I wanted a hospital gown. “Why would I want a gown that someone could have died in yesterday?”
I had a visit from my friend, boss, and pastor Josh and our friends Keith and Carey. All of us and Jimmy had a good talk, Josh prayed for me and by 10:00 I went to sleep. What followed was a night of people waking me up to treat me and me trying to be coherent and hope they weren't just injecting poison into my veins, because they certainly could have put Sunny Delight up in there and I probably wouldn’t have noticed.
|Recovering...excited that I can open my eye a little!|
It’s Tuesday now. I am hopeful I will get to go home today. That maybe I need one more drip and I can go home and sleep in a real bed. But I wasn’t improving. Yet. They said I probably need at least three, maybe four rounds before they will be sure it’s working. Well, they can only give me the IV dose every 12 hours. So, do the math, that puts me here another night for sure. I am devastated. But the next day for sure. I want to get out of here, I want my children to have a mother again. A mother without a scary halloween mask. But we already covered that.
|I Facetime with Violet. I only show her half my face.|
Tuesday night I had a weak moment and I looked up some stuff on the internet about cellulitis. So of course I called Jimmy worried that I was going to die. Although I had improved in my face, though very slowly, the redness and tenderness was moving down into my neck. They had told me it was gravity but hadn’t indicated it would continue to move even after the medicine seemed to be working. I was worried.
|Going down my neck|
So all night I built my case in my mind. I wanted to get these drugs as long as they wanted to give them to me, but I wanted to go home in between. I can just come here every twelve hours. Because in between I’m just sitting here twiddling my thumbs. I’m trying to use the time away form the kids to rest, but it’s hard when you’re afraid you might die of flesh eating bacteria . Which I wasn’t of course, but I used to watch ER. I was like the person who comes in with a weird red mark and they draw a line around it with a sharpie, and it just keeps getting bigger. And then, they die. And a doctor learns something about himself. Like every ER episode. I love ER. In the 90’s. Awesome.
|Carey and I making a Quasimodo pose|
The answer? Yes, if you must. But I think it would be better if you stayed one more day. But I already wrote you prescriptions for your oral antibiotics at home. But I think it would be better if you stay. No emotion, no trying to convince me to stay, just the facts. I knew it would be better to be on the IV antibiotics a little longer, I wasn’t fighting that, I just wanted to do it as an outpatient. But that wasn’t the option given. I would have to decide to go ahead and move to oral. Which I knew weren’t as effective. And I have had a pink blob growing down my face for four days. So even though I want out of prison, I decide to stay. But now there is a light at the end of the tunnel so I can handle it. That night, I get a visit from the kiddos. I hold Violet, who had just taken her first steps that day, and I missed it. She tries to pull at my shirt. It is hard. She also tried to poke my fat eyelid. Babies.
And now I am typing this. Although I will not go home until tomorrow afternoon, and my journey certainly isn’t over, I am still having to take it easy as far as movement with my head, and I can still only open my eye a little bit without help form my fingers. I have been thinking about what I learned form this. I know there is a take away. There always is. God uses these trials in our lives for many, many reasons. To bring Glory to Himself as the over arching theme, to make us like Jesus of course, but is there something specific for me?
And part of it may be this: In those few moments last night when I broke down and read statistics that scared me about infections and complications, etc. and I entertained the possibility of leaving here in a body bag, I was seriously sad. Heart broken. I wanted to write my kids letters, because I certainly couldn’t make them a video message, looking like Sloth from Goonies. But something happened. I realized that I would go to heaven. And I knew how great that would be. And I was excited about going there. And even though I knew that would leave my kids without a mother, I knew that if that’s what God had for them, that He would use it to make them into the people they were supposed to be and he would use it to bring glory to himself. And that even though it would be really sad, they would be okay. Because even though I am their mother and I am the glue around our house, I am not God. He is the one holding everything together. And in any moment, at any time, anybody could get an eye infection that ends badly. So I want to make sure I’m doing every day the stuff that Ive missed doing these last three days.
I’ve been working alot, it’s our busy season with house rentals and photo shoots, so I want to make sure that that stuff doesn’t stress me out or get me so busy that I don't have time to push my baby in her swing. Do puzzles with my preschooler, read books to everyone who will listen, take bike rides, have conversations with my older kids…I want to make sure I’m doing that stuff every day. Because I love work. Work is good for many reasons. But if it pushes out those day to day meaningful moments (even if you spend half the time frustrated with the bike rider or yelling at the kid stealing the puzzle pieces) then that’s not good.
|Jimmy makes a meme while we're waiting in the ER|
I want to wrap all this up with a nice bow and poignant moral, little joke and quirky saying. But my eyes are closed and I’m tired. Just know that if you get cellulitis, you might end up writing a super long essay about the meaning of life with your eyes closed.
…TWO DAYS LATER…
|Waking up Friday Morning|
I don’t know really why this happened to me, but I was going like crazy and this has made absolutely everything come to a screeching halt. To get cellulitis where I did is a very common case among children. I am so very grateful it did not happen to one of my children. We couldn’t have them with scary Halloween mask/Quasimodo/Sloth face.
After not having the use of one eye for five full days, I can tell you I “see” differently. I am so grateful for sight.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.”
And one more thing: I find it pretty hilarious the number of selfies I have taken in the last week. I never take selfies. Obviously I only endorse selfies for medical purposes. Selfies that are extremely unflattering and ugly make you exempt from any possible accusation of vanity, I think.