The first week of June in 2007 I graduated from high school. I was so proud of myself because I had 3 surgeries during my senior year, had a ton of shoulder blade pain, and still got all A in my classes and completed all my coursework on time. I worked SO hard at physical therapy and was able to walk across the stage to get my diploma.
|Walking in line at graduation. I'm the one in the middle with the white cap and gown|
Hell breaks loose. When I woke up the next morning I was laying on my back. I had this feeling that something wasn't right. I was afraid to move. When I got up and tried walking towards the landing at the top of the stairs, the right side of my body was shaking uncontrollably. My right leg would not support the weight of my body. As soon as I tried to put any weight on my leg, it was as if that side of my body had a mind of its own. It would not support me. It shook so rapidly; it was something I had never seen or experienced. I had to grasp the hand railings and scream for my mom. I was panicked. I had no clue what was happening to me. She sensed the urgency in my voice and flew into the hall. She looked up at me with wide eyes and a horrified look on her face as I stood there shaking. She said we are going to the ER.
Everything was happening so fast. In the car I kept reassuring my mom I was okay as my right arm and right leg kept shaking. You can only imagine the shock and fright that I had going on within. I officially had zero control over what was happening to my body. The closest way to describe it is to imagine violent uncontrolled shivering. My mom pulled into the ambulance parking spot and waved down a man and had him grab a wheelchair. I was pushed into the hospital and the nursing staff immediately rushed me back to a room where I was surrounded by doctors. My blood pressure was high and my heart was racing. Nurses were scurrying trying to get my shirt off to hook leads up to my chest. An IV was started and all sorts of medications were pumped into me like candy. I was so scared. I didn't know what was happening to me. I later found out the medical staff thought I was having a stroke; thankfully that was not the case.
I spent a week in a local community hospital on lots of various medications. Some of the medications were anti-seizure and others were for pain control for my shoulder blades. I had so many tests done that week. I had heart ultrasounds, brain MRI, nerve testing, kidney ultrasounds, 24 hour urine collection testing, EKG, countless CT scans, and not to mention all of the blood work. At a later time, I found out doctors were looking to see if I had a disease called multiple sclerosis. That whole week was a blur. I remember bits and pieces and my family has had to fill in the gaps that I can't remember. All of my tests were coming back normal. The community hospital couldn't come to a diagnosis so they decided I should be transferred out by ambulance to a well known Chicago hospital for more testing. My family and I chose to go to the hospital where Dr. K was located because even though I was having neurological problems, I was still having orthopedic problems with my shoulder blades.
At the Chicago hospital, the doctors reviewed my tests. Since all of my test results were normal they sent in another neurologist. To this day my mom and I refer to her as "Miss. Pumps" because she wore high pump shoes. Miss. Pumps performed a multitude of basic neurological testing. She said, "I am going to give you 3 words. I want you to remember them". I will probably remember those 3 words the rest of my life. They are apple, tree, and cookie cutter. She then said, "How many times does the letter A appear in the sentence Happy Birthday to Anna?" Answer: 4. It's 6 years later and I still remember that test as vividly as the day it happened. That night and the following day, I was taken off ALL medication which was shear hell. I had to go thorough psychiatric evaluation as did my mom because Miss. Pumps seemed to think I was being dramatic, and putting on a show for attention. She had learned about my surgical history and passing away of my grandma that year and felt I was acting out seeking attention. Can you even believe that?!?! Thankfully, the psychiatrist recognized this was a physical issue and went back to Miss. Pumps to tell her that I was not attention seeking and it was not a psychological issue. He also told her there was obvious deformity in my shoulder blades that needed attention.
After talking to the psychiatrist, Miss. Pumps thought it was in my best interest to be released from the hospital and sent home. Once again, my parents and I were left to find a solution to the problem on our own. Before heading home, my parents called my orthopedic Dr. K who told them to bring me over so he could see me. This was a new experience for me because I had to be pushed in a wheelchair in order to get to Dr. K. I can't find adjectives to describe how horrible I felt that day. I was SO sick, so scared, so tired, and in SO much pain (shoulder blades). My parents wheeled me into a room. I felt so humiliated and didn't want Dr. K seeing me in a wheelchair so hobbled my way into a regular office chair before he came in. When Dr. K knocked on the door, I was sitting hunched over resting my head on my left hand holding myself up. He came in took a look at me and in that moment I knew I looked as pathetic as I felt. He walked towards me, squatted down at my level and met my eyes and asked, "How are you feeling?" I looked at him pathetically and said, "I'm tired and I hurt." He then patted the exam table and asked me to sit up there. I didn't want Dr. K to see me shake when I would walk, so I hopped onto the exam table instead. My mom looked at me and said, "You have to show him." I refused. Dr. K then said, "Can I please see you walk?" I huffed and glared at my mom with such piercing anger in my eyes because she was making me do the one thing I didn't want to. With extreme reluctance, I got up and started to walk. Dr. K's eyes showed great concern. I knew we were in a really bad spot.
Even though the inability to walk was the highest priority at that point, Dr. K took the time to evaluate my shoulder blades also. Orthopedic evaluations are oftentimes very painful. Dr. K raised my arm over my head. The pain was so severe. I yanked my arm back down, hunched over, and felt my knees go weak. The pain was indescribable. My mom says, his eyes widened, and the expression on his face said it all. There was a major problem. Dr. K wanted to make some phone calls and think about the proper course of treatment so we left. Little did I know, I was soon to be sent to an out of state hospital for treatment.