Be Your Own Hero
Long post to update and encourage all my friends & family of warning signs. This past week I spent multiple times in hospital ERs because I knew something wasn’t right. I experienced the most excruciating head pain of my life on Sunday June 3rd after suffering with throbbing head pain the day before. I arrived to an ER early Sunday morning to be told I need to follow up with a pain specialist. All the while I had no idea what was brewing in my body but knew it wasn’t ending at that hospital visit. I begged my husband to take me back an hour later as I knew it was more serious than what I was told “it’s just a migraine”. I’m 51, in good health, with no history of migraines except for the occasional headache easily remedied by ibuprofen. After returning back to the ER and being cleared of brain tumors, brain bleeds & anything else unusual I was again sent home.
I am so very grateful to be a part of a medical community that when I reached out for help I had the best, top physicians in contact with me. As the hours went on no one including my amazing doctors knew that the shingles virus was building in my head. I was sent to the top neurological hospital, Barrows and was still showing all scans as clear. After seeing the top neurologist in Scottsdale and probably the country Dr. Seth Kaufman, he contacted HonorHealth ER to have a spinal tap done. He knew that would hopefully provide the answers we needed.
Here’s where my story takes a funny turn. I was told the initial spinal tap cultures came back clear and could go home. At this point shingles were full blown on my scalp, with a few blisters near my lower jaw and some canker sores developing in my mouth. When I asked the ER doctor “Can I get shingles in my mouth?” he said “I wish I could tell you no Jodi”. So when my husband and I left the ER at midnight I told him, “Take me to McDonalds.” I hadn’t eaten in now 3 days, and the thought of having a mouth full of sores only made me want a cheeseburger, fries and Sprite as my last meal.
We were no more than a few blocks from our house when my phone rings. It’s Dr. Itty the ER physician telling me another culture came back and they needed me to return back to the hospital. I would be admitted for 6 days of treatment as it appears I have viral meningitis on the lining of my brain. So as we turned the car around I told my husband, “I’m taking the McDonald’s in with me and when I get checked into my room, I’m eating every last bite.”
Now to fast forward my story. I was only kept one night in the hospital after the infectious disease doctor said my case was both complex and confusing but I didn’t have viral meningitis and therefore I could leave the protected hospital room and be discharged.
I continue to share my appreciation especially to my neurologist, who keeps reminding me I’m the hero for pushing when I knew there was more wrong with me. I may have been a day or two or even hours away from a possible seizure. Who knows what would’ve been next for me had I just did nothing.
So my plea to all of you is this, if you are over the age of 50, have had chicken pox PLEASE go get your shingles vaccine. I had just had this same conversation with two wonderful high school friends the Friday before and knew I also needed to get the vaccine. For me, I was a little too late but once I’m healthy again I’ll be getting the vaccine because I can get shingles again. It’s an extremely painful condition and can leave you with nerve damage. The majority of our nerve endings are in your head so the pain can be unbearable. Because that’s where my shingles decided to erupt, I’ll probably have long term nerve damage resulting in more headaches.
Even though there were moments when I couldn’t take the pain, I’m so happy to still be healthy and past this little bump in the road. My husband, who I now refer to as Nurse Towns, never once left my side, my children, my parents and my doctors got me through this. I’m grateful for all of them.
Be your advocate, listen to your body and keep pushing if you think you need more.
Now go get your shingles vaccine, please!