Monday, December 1, 2008
Turning 40 the year before had proven to be a challenge. It was sort of ironic, really, considering that finally, at long last, so many of my personal dreams had come true. I was in a good marriage, my family was all around me, and, on the actual day of my 40th birthday, back in 2005, my oldest son’s birth mother had signed the adoption paperwork, making Alex ALL OURS! Too bad my body began acting 40 ( or 70 or 80), even if my head and heart didn’t feel it!
I’ve blogged previously about hot flashes...glowing, glistening, power surges, call them what you will, but they were (and still are) miserable. Like all of a sudden, a campfire exploded in my bra and was raging all over my head and chest! I sweat in places I didn’t know existed. I can’t wear makeup anymore...it melts and runs all down my face, like something out of a horror movie. Not a “Cover Girl” sight, unless the “Cover Girl” is straight outta Poltergeist! And all that sweat? I constantly feel like I smell like a city bus.
Then, the allergies started in. I had never in my life, EVER, had allergy problems...until I turned 40! All of a sudden, what the heck is this with my nose! I can’t breathe! What’s my problem! Who shoved a roll of hot, dry sandpaper up my nose, huh? And blowing my nose? Looked like a crime scene...I didn’t know whether to call it bloody boogers, or booger-y blood! It was awful!
The weight gain...now, I thought at 21 when I weighed 133 that I was heavy...turns out....I didn’t know what heavy meant! Good heavens! I turned into two of me! I liked to blame it on baby weight...but I did not actually give birth to my babies....um, are you all going to be mad at me, or can I still say it’s all my kids’ faults? You know, no time or energy to exercise anymore....they eat a lot of junk, etc., etc., etc.
So this is what I was dealing with, on an on-again-off-again basis as the year rolled by. Then, I got a real scare. I developed a head cold, nothing major, everyone gets ‘em from time to time, right? Well, one of my comfort foods when I have a head cold is Campbell’s Tomato Soup with grilled cheese sandwich. Yum! So I bought all these cans of that wonderful soup, and being stubborn that I am (I get it from my momma) I continued to go to work, even with the head cold. That soup was my lunch and dinner every day for over a week straight. That’s all I could keep down and besides, I love it! Well, about 2 or 3 days into my soup-a-thon, I started feeling much, much better from my head cold, but the body aches got worse. In fact, I had no more sinus trouble, no more chest congestion, no more sore throat, no more ear ache, but severe, awful body aches. They got worse and worse as the days went on...and Tylenol, Advil, Aleve....nothing would even begin to relieve the pain. It just continued to get worse and worse.
And it was a different kind of body ache, too. I’ve had plenty of colds and flus, and lots of body aches from too much exercise, body aches from hangovers and even from a few car wrecks in my lifetime. But this: this was different. The pain started in my left thumb knuckle, then in the rest of my fingers, then my wrists, then my neck, my elbows, my shoulders, my knees, my feet, my hips. By the end of the week, there was not a bone in my body that did not feel like it was being frozen into concrete and hit with a steel rod, all at once. This pain was not muscular...it was somehow....inside my bones. Deep, deep inside my bones, and in the middle of my joints. I was having trouble walking, bending my knees to sit on the toilet, picking up my son, holding a pencil or pen, typing, grasping the telephone, my toothbrush, a hairbrush, anything. It got so bad one morning that I could not get out of bed. Literally, I could not make my hips move to swing my legs over the side of the bed. I could barely move my arm to grab the bedside telephone to call my husband’s cell phone. My husband got scared and called my mom, the nurse. My mom got scared (and my mom does not GET scared....ever....) and by the weekend, we were all but convinced I had lupus. Systemic lupus. Not the discoid variety that attacks the skin, but the one that’s fatal, no less, where you suffer greatly and horribly for years, then just die. It figured. My life, at long last, was going to become a Lifetime Television Movie. The drama queen I had always been was finally coming to television! Woman waits 40 years to finally become a mommy, the whole long, sad, story, blah, blah, blah.....adopts a little boy and then BAM! Drops dead of something as goofy sounding as lupus a year later. I just knew it.
Well, apparently (and gladly) I knew wrong. I’m still here to tell you that what I had was a reaction to nightshades. Google it if you’ve never heard of it, it’s very informative. And I actually have a connection through my work to well-published author on the misery that is nightshades, but basically what it is, is a reaction in some people to tomatoes (Campbell’s Tomato Soup, for lunch AND dinner, every day straight for a week ring a bell anyone?), and to potatoes, to tobacco, to eggplant, and a few other items that grow in the ground. It causes an excruciation, bone-crushing inflamation in the joints, like arthritis. A bad, bad, awful case of arthritis. Some people can go their whole life without a reaction; some people can go half their life and then all of a sudden, once they get of a certain (a-hem) “older” age, they develop an almost “allergic” type of reaction to these plants. That’s me....I’m officially that age.
Turns out all I could do was wait for the pain subside while I quit Campbell’s Tomato Soup cold turkey (do they have a support group for that, I wonder?). I had every heating pad in the house, plus the electric blanket, wrapped around my body (even though it was early October and still plenty hot outside) and practically ate Aleve like it was candy. It took the better part of a week for the pain to go away, and even then, for several weeks afterwards, I still felt a little achy and weak.
What a miserable few weeks that was....like I said, turning 40, it’s a bitch...I’m glad I don’t have to do that again! And I’ll have you know, to this day, over two years later, I still have yet to buy another can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup! I’m sticking to Broccoli Cheese soup with crackers. Anyone care to join me?