Wednesday, May 15, 2013

NZ: The aftermath

Coming home from 17 days away is hard. It's hard mentally because everything feels weird and new (I can shower without sandals on? what sorcery is this?). It's hard physically because of the time change and needing to be back on a normal sleep schedule. It's hard emotionally because I'd just spent the previous month almost continuously with my best friend, and it was great. I'd definitely recommend taking a couple extra days off to unpack and settle, because what we did was silly and kind of stressful.

We got home on Monday morning, around 9am. My mom got us from the airport and we made a couple stops on the way home. We were tired and out of sorts, but I had scheduled myself to be back in at work the next day. 12 vacation days nearly depleted my supply for the year and I knew I'd be facing a storm of work issues when I got back. Nick and I settled in at home, unpacked as much as possible, and I started on some laundry. We also had to deal with mail, which my parents had kindly collected for us while we were gone. And groceries. Because I am the queen of food not going to waste, we did not have anything perishable left in the house (aside from condiments). That meant no fruit, veggies, cheese, bread. We made a grocery run where we had to replenish our supply of everything. Before I knew it, it was time for bed and time to get ready for work... weird.

My mom bought me these, which meant I got to brag about eating kale chips and how they're delicious and feel self-important for a whole afternoon while devouring the bag. They were ok. 

Returning to work was great and I realized I missed people more than I had thought. I felt pretty good, just discombobulated and overwhelmed, but made it through the day on Tuesday. I was exhausted, and maybe didn't notice how badly my back was hurting by the end of the day. Wednesday was ok, but my back was starting to hurt like it had after the Brussels trip, except in a new spot. It got to the point where I was struggling to put together full sentences because breathing was a challenge. All signs pointed to an ER visit.

At the ER, I got a chest x-ray and they tested my blood for D-dimer, a breakdown product of blood clots. They gave me Percocet for the pain and that was when things got weird. The doctors thought I might have a blood clot from the long flight, but after testing it didn't look like that was the case. Just a muscle strain that's making basic living painful. No big deal. I got a prescription for Valium and Vicodin and was sent on my merry way. Nick was my driver, but I still had paperwork to complete and meds to pay for. At this point, the Percocet was in full force and I was dying- I'm not used to painkillers like that. My head was spinning, I was extremely nauseous, and I was still in major pain. As I paid for my pills, I was desperately searching for a trashcan because I was certain I was going to puke on the nice pharmacy girl. WHY DID SHE HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS!?!?!?
This is your brain on drugs.

Thursday, I slept and slept and slept. I woke up for a little while around lunch time to take medication and watched a documentary called "No Impact Man" (I just had to Google that because my drug-addled brain didn't hold onto the title of the movie. Yikes). It was great, but I really struggled to stay awake until the end. Nick came home from work and I woke up again, sort of. I ate some and watched more TV and then was back to bed. I think out of a 24 hour period, I was awake for 4 hours at most. I cannot fathom how anyone gets an addiction to Vicodin because it just make me completely unable to function and I felt constantly nauseous.

My coworkers are so nice.

I got back to work on Friday to find 2 balloons- one for getting married and one for getting sick. They're funny people. There was also chocolate cake that I wanted to love but couldn't because food still felt icky. My back felt about 50% better and far less stabby, but I had to be diligent about taking anti-inflammatories or the pain would start to come back. Luckily I have a super-duper ergonomic work chair, and it was quite supportive and kept me comfy most of the day. 

It's been 2 weeks since then, and I keep having little flare-ups. Anything that has me in a weird position for too long has the potential to make my back go into full shutdown mode. I was in the dentist's chair for an hour and by the time I got up I was in a bad place. I've also had a couple days at work that have been rough. Oddly, working out doesn't feel bad. I can even lift weights using my back without aggravating the muscles too much. I'm just gonna keep on trucking and maybe not take 2 international trips in one month. Ever again. 

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