Happy holidays, whatever and however you celebrate this time of year, or hi, if you don’t celebrate at this time of year. I am a Wiccan so I celebrate the Winter Solstice (Yule) on December 21st. My soon-to-be husband is atheist so celebrates with me. Under normal circumstances, we would then visit his family on Christmas day (or Eve, or Boxing day) to celebrate with them. But as everybody knows, 2020 has been a special year so we have had to do things differently.
Our celebration went ahead as planned, though it was slightly more subdued than usual. Some of our gifts didn’t arrive on time because the usual seasonal post hold-up was exacerbated by the fact that everybody had to do their shopping online this year. Also, certain manufacturing or distribution businesses where not functioning as they normally would (because of the evil virus), and adding Brexit into the mix made shipping across borders more complicated than it needed to be. All in all, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it also wasn’t the standard that we are used to. Still, we opened the presents we did have, we listened to festive music, and we had a lovely roast dinner. I was planning on making some traditional food treats too but I’d been in a flare for the past week and didn’t have the energy for it. The day before I even pulled my wheelchair out of retirement so I could join my fiancé for the Yule dinner shopping. One tradition that we didn’t get to carry out on the day, was the lighting of our patio fire. It was raining, that was all, we figured we’d just do it the next day.
Then the next day came. Something ridiculous and unpredictable happened. I woke up in the morning, stretched all sleepy eyed, and heard a loud crack in my neck followed by agonising pain running down my neck, back and along my shoulder. I could barely move. On the typical 1-10 pain scale, I was at a 9. I was crying and trembling with the pain. My fiancé put some ibuprofen cream on my neck, back, and shoulder, and I called the GP, sobbing. The receptionist said that she would put me on an ’emergency’ list, meaning that any doctor from any GP could call me back to advise me. The soonest that someone would be available was in 2 hours time (11am). I swallowed some paracetamol and waited.
When I got the call, 3 hours later, I explained what had happened. I stressed the amount of pain I was in, telling the doctor “I have a high pain threshold, I have a chronic illness so I know what pain is, this is unbearable.” He booked me an appointment to see a doctor for an exam later that evening (7pm). In the meantime I swallowed more paracetamol, placed a hot water bottle on my neck and breathed deeply, praying that the pain would subside. It didn’t, but it did drop to a 7.
I went to see the doctor, he prodded me, and told me I need to go to A&E for an x-ray. He was shocked that the doctor on the phone hadn’t told me to go immediately. He said, “I have no scanning equipment here. All I could do is give you some painkillers but since I don’t know what’s causing it, I don’t even know if they would work.” He apologised over and over that I had been waiting in pain all day and there was nothing he could do. I was fuming at the phone doctor and felt sorry for the helpless doctor. So to A&E we went.
We were taken into a bay pretty quickly (about half 8pm) and, thank God, my fiancé was allowed to come with me. He was amazing, stroking my hair, showing me funny memes on his phone, making me laugh, keeping me comfortable, finding out where the toilet was for me (side note, I had diarrhea all day too so frequently had to rush, as much as I could, to the toilet and back. Definitely made the pain worse and worried me more about injuring myself). Unfortunately the bed/examination table that they had in the bay was far too uncomfortable for me to lie on, so the longer we waited the more my M.E flared up. I was getting more pain in other areas of my body, my muscles were weakening, struggling to hold me upright, and the exhaustion was setting in. Lying down made my neck worse but took the strain off of my body, sitting up was less painful for my neck but made the pain elsewhere worse. I just kept switching from one to the other, never really getting any relief.
When the doctor finally came round (about half 11pm), she asked my fiancé to leave, but we were near the end of our journey by that point so that was okay. She felt the vertebrae in my neck, then started pressing down on the muscles, asking me where the pain was. She kept saying “Yep, yep, yep” whenever I said it hurt, then followed up with “Yeah, I’m just poking all the places that hurt when I get a sore neck.” Within seconds she told me I had a severe muscle spasm and that I wouldn’t need imaging, just some diazepam. A few more minutes and I was escorted into another room by a nurse who gave me the diazepam, and two more paracetamol with a small cup of Lucozade. Then she disappeared. I asked another nurse if I was allowed to leave and she thought I was being obstinate. She told me in a stern nurses voice that if I leave now then I won’t be given the medication that I’m supposed to go home with. I explained that I just wasn’t sure what the protocol was and asked how long it would be. She gave me a list of events rather than a time frame, so I just went and sat down, closed my eyes and hoped the time would go quickly.
I was finally allowed to leave at about 12:30am. The nurse asked how my pain was and I said “much better”. She looked concerned and asked “Better? Not gone?” She told me that they would prefer that the pain was gone completely but they were willing to let me go if I wanted to. I did, and by that point I wasn’t sure what was neck pain and what was M.E pain anyway, so the meds may have worked as they were supposed to, I would have no way of knowing. They had made me a little stoned and I was super chatty for that time of night. Luckily, my fiancé found it funny rather than annoying. Got McDonalds on the way home, went to bed about 2am, exhausted but with my pain at a far more manageable 3, but still not gone.
The next morning (this morning) I was still at a 3, but when I got up to go to the toilet and sat up in bed, it increased to a 5. I took more paracetamol and the diazepam they sent me home with. My pain has since been hovering between a 3 and a 4, but I’m still not sure how much of it is neck pain and how much is M.E flare up. I’ll just have to take it easy the next few days and hope I steadily get better.
All in all, an interesting holiday. Not how I would have wanted to spend it, but pretty in-keeping with the 2020 vibe. I hope you all have a better holiday than me.