I'm alive!

Dec. 29th, 2007 06:32 am
qatarperegrine: (Default)
I have emerged victorious from my cocoon of debility. Yay!

No details, but suffice it to say that a week that includes a visit to a Qatari emergency room on the evening of 'Eid and an American emergency room on the evening of Christmas is probably not a very fun week.
qatarperegrine: (Default)
Before my dad had his appendix removed in August, I don't even remember the last occurrence of appendicitis among my loved ones. Then, this Monday, one of my close friends and my young goddaughter both had emergency appendectomies!

Be good to your appendices, people! Apparently it's appendicitis season!
qatarperegrine: (books)
The other day I went to a medical lab to get a blood test the rheumatologist requested. I walked into the waiting room, went up to the receptionist's window, and waited for her to look up from her computer. When she finally did, she seemed kind of annoyed, and told me to write my name on the list and go sit down. I felt annoyed in turn that she was acting like I ought to know the procedure, even though I've never been there before.

It was only after I sat down that I realized there was a prominent sign right next to her desk, instructing newcomers that they ought to... write their names down on the list and go sit down.

Before I moved to Qatar, I would have been incapable of walking past a sign like that without reading it, and it boggled my mind that students would ignore the sign on my office door. But now, apparently, I do exactly the same thing. A few weeks ago I even found myself driving backwards down a one-way street, because I was paying attention to how traffic was moving (which was, indeed, backwards) rather than the road sign telling me not to enter. When signs and written instructions fail to correspond to reality, I suppose it's natural to stop paying attention to them.

In other news, I was just very comforted to read that prednisone, which I'm currently on, can cause swift and extreme mood swings. I'll be off it in four days. Here's hoping.
qatarperegrine: (Default)
Healing my Achilles tendon -- which you may recall I injured while hiking over spring break -- has become quite a comedy of errors.

First, the doctors tried a Voltaren shot. But I was allergic to that, which resulted in anaphylactic goodness and a groovy overnight stay in ER while tripping on a mind-altering dosage of Benadryl.

So my rheumatologist put me on a different NSAID, and my ankle got worse.

Now I'm on an NSAID that works -- a COX-2 inhibitor, which is to say, a drug that was invented in order to be easier on the stomach than other NSAIDs. Needless to say, it alone of any NSAID I've taken gives me heartburn and abdominal pain!

In addition to the NSAID, I am also giving my ankle plenty of rest, even though it's just killing me not to go to the gym. And this morning I suddenly remembered one of many reasons I like to exercise regularly: it's what keeps the arthritis in my hips at bay. So, yup. Ankle doing a bit better; hips doing a lot worse.

For an encore, I'm fully expecting to lose a limb to hypothermia while applying an ice pack. I'm starting to regard my foot as having a malevolent will of its own, sort of like Ash's hand in Evil Dead II. If I am found kicked to death in my sleep, you'll know who to blame.


Apr. 26th, 2007 01:33 pm
qatarperegrine: (Default)
As I was just pulling a tissue out of the tissue box on my desk -- which is newly swaddled in a red silk tissue-box cosy given me by a Chinese coworker -- I started thinking about the decorations in my cube, almost all of which were gifts: the Chinese tissue-box cosy, an Egyptian painting (on papyrus) of a tree and birds, a Jordanian pointilist painting of a horse and rider, a print of a painting of Krishna from the Delhi museum.

And then photos: me after painting "I ♥ Qatar" on the Fence in Pittsburgh, my family on camels in front of the pyramids in Egypt, me meditating under the bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India. A portrait of Socrates. My friends at a party. My coworker Mohamed and me in traditional dress; another of Mohamed and me in grass skirts at a luau. An autographed picture of the CMU-Q soccer team, which just won the Education City championships. A picture of my favorite sculpture at the Mattress Factory.

On my desk is holy water that Fahad Al-Jefairi gave me when he returned back from Hajj, and on top of my monitor is a happy birthday hat left over from Tuesday. On the floor behind me is the treasure chest that my team won in last week's pirate-themed treasure hunt; above that is the Annually Renamed Center sign my friend Ben put on our door the third time my office changed names. Behind me is an enormous Jazz logo drawn by my friend Andrew, who loves the Jazz.

My cube isn't beautiful (I'm no interior decorator), but I kinda love it. Every time I look up from my computer I am reminded why I love living in Qatar: I am always surrounded by an eclectic mix of cultures and by crazy friends who I love, and I have opportunities to travel to amazing places and see things I never dreamed I'd be able to.

In other news, it's been a very strange week here in Lake Wobegon. Monday I had a bad cold, which mysteriously went into hibernation in time for my birthday on Tuesday; Wednesday afternoon I got a bad migraine. Today the cold is back. It's been a week of celebrations, too, as is usually the case when the semester winds down. This weekend we hosted a '60s themed murder mystery dinner and retro dance party; Tuesday the academic affairs staff went out to a rather swank dinner. As icing on the cake, my parents flew into Doha this morning. I'm really excited to show them around town! And this weekend is full of even more parties.

My life kinda rocks.
qatarperegrine: (Default)
For the record, I didn't even want to go to the hospital in the first place.

"How is this supposed to help?" I asked Justin as he drove me there. After 10 solid years of chronic tendinitis, I know the drill. "They'll tell me to rest my ankle and use ice and NSAIDs, all of which I'm already doing. The only next step is a corticosteroid injection, but they don't do that for Achilles tendons because of the risk of rupture."

"Maybe they'll come up with something," Justin replied. "And anyway, what's the worst that can happen?"

In the movie version of my life, that sentence will be followed by ominous, foreshadowing music. There may even be a thunderclap.

So I see the ER doctor, who verifies that I have acute tendinitis in my Achilles tendon and sends me for an MRI. Then he offers me an injection of Voltaren -- another NSAID, which I took orally twice a day for years -- and I eagerly accept. My ankle is seriously swollen, and it hurts.

So the nurse injects Voltaren into my hip and then goes to get a bandage for my foot. By the time she comes back, I am sneezing, itching everywhere (tongue, throat, insides of my ears), and starting to vomit. I pull up my shirt to scratch my chest and they realize it's covered in hives. I'm feeling light-headed and jittery, and when they hook me up to a heart monitor my pulse is in the 140s. Happily, my airways are unaffected, which means that while the allergy specialist described it as a "serious allergic reaction," I was never in any danger.

When they take this left turn, you start really hoping they're heading for Emergency....

So they hook me up to an IV and an oxygen mask (because my fingers are blue) and then give me a huge dose of Benadryl, which is when life starts getting really fun. (Cf. the Wikipedia article on recreational use of Benadryl.) It's all a bit of a blur now, but I remember being very confused and having the memory of a goldfish. My inner monologue went like this: "Oh God, where am I? Hmm, it looks like a hospital. Oh yeah, I had an allergic reaction. Oh God, where am I? Hmm, it looks like a hospital...."

Occasionally I had lucid moments, though. During one of them I turned to a very worried-looking Justin and said, "I see everything once!", which resulted in a lot more hilarity than was probably strictly necessary.

The other highlight (and now we're officially entering TMI-land) was using a bedpan for the first time. If you've never used a bedpan before, it feels very very wrong to be asked to pee in your bed. The aforementioned goldfish memory problem really didn't help, either. My inner monologue switched to, "OK, I'm using a bedpan. Go go gadget urethral sphincter! Wait, where am I? Oh God, I'm in bed! I'm about to wet the bed! Stop it, urethral sphincter! Oh wait, I'm using a bedpan. ..."

They kept me in the ER till about 1:30 a.m., when my second IV drip of glucocorticoids finished. When I woke up this morning my fingers were still slightly numb, and for some reason my intercostal muscles are rather sore, but otherwise I'm fine. I went back to the allergy specialist this afternoon and was declared in normal health. And the MRI results show... healthy tendons. The ankle pain and swelling is just an edema, probably caused by a simple tear from overuse while I was hiking. So what do you know, the doctors did come up with something. I guess Justin was half right.


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