Two Pregnancies and Cervical Cancer
In 1998 at the age of 22, I became pregnant with my first born son. A normal pregnancy and natural delivery. Upon my six week check up after delivery, they found abnormalities in my pap smear. With further investigation, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The doctor said it was as if the wallpaper was cancer but the sheet rock and wood was not affected. I had a LEEP procedure that removed the damaged area with a good portion of my cervix. I was advised that if I wanted more children, I should do so within the next two years, because any further complications would mean a hysterectomy.
In 2000, I became pregnant and delivered my second child, a daughter. The pregnancy was a little more complicated. They feared my cervix would not hold well enough to get her to full term. During the pregnancy, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, likely due to autoimmune dysfunction. As a child, I developed vitiligo, an autoimmune disorder of the skin.
The birth of my daughter was natural, although she came four weeks early. The doctors were still investigating my thyroid condition and eventually determined that I had a big goiter and thyroid nodules. The endocrinologist said that the nodules were too small to biopsy, and though he could not say positively that they were benign, he thought that they were. I was instructed to just continue with my thyroid replacement hormones.
Endometriosis and Partial Oophorectomy
In 2004, I experienced terrible pain in my pelvic area. All testing came back normal and the doctors originally dismissed my pain. It got so bad that I could not even sit down without terrible pain. The doctor took me in on a emergency basis and an internal ultrasound showed a mass in my pelvic region. My local doctors believed it to be cancer, as it showed all of the characteristics of malignancy. I was sent five hours away to a cancer specialist. They performed an open surgery to explore the area and remove the mass. Pathology showed it to be benign, so they removed my left ovary and tube. I was diagnosed with endometriosis.
In 2005, I became very ill. It started with what they believed to be an infection. Later, I was diagnosed with mononucleosis. I was told that my Epstein Barr numbers were through the roof. I literally could not get out of bed. My body hurt so bad that moving, other than to get to the bathroom, pretty much did me in for the day. I was placed on a medical leave at work. Blood testing revealed high levels of antinuclear antibody (ANA) in my blood. My local doctor thought that I may have Lupus. I was referred to a rheumatologist who diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. After six months, I returned to work.
Hysterectomy and Complications
In 2006, after years of suffering with terrible periods and a few more abnormalities on my pap smear, my OB decided it was time for a complete hysterectomy. My first night in the hospital seemed to be smooth, but in the morning things took a change. I was on a morphine pump for pain, and though I had no pain from my pelvic region, I was having pain in my chest and my left arm. The nurse said my oxygen level was extremely low. The next thing I remember was doctors running in everywhere. I was rushed to CT and then to ICU where I spent the next few days. To this day, I do not know what happened. I got the doctor’s reports. They concluded that it was either a pulmonary embolism or a coronary event. Although, at discharge the doctor told me he thought it was anxiety.
Thyroidectomy, Lung Mass and Fatty Liver
During this time and through following the thyroid diagnosis I always felt awful. No energy, extreme fatigue and weight gain of in total 70 pounds.
In 2007, I developed an illness in my stomach and bowels. The first diagnosis was gallstones. I had surgery to remove the stones. They kept me in the hospital overnight because of the incident the last time I had surgery. I had an endoscopy a few days prior to surgery, and they found I had ulcers and tested positive for H pylori. I got C diff from the hospital and had to deal with that on top of everything else. A colonoscopy revealed that I had ulcerative colitis.
In 2010, my goiter was growing to the point that swallowing and sometimes speaking became an issue. My endocrinologist felt that those symptoms, coupled with the nodules, meant it was time to remove the thyroid. I had a thyroidectomy that year with no complications other than severe fatigue and a struggle to get my levels right.
In 2011, a minor fall left me with a torn meniscus and knee surgery, really not important, I know.
In 2012, I was diagnosed with mono again and the symptoms of pain in my abdomen called for a CT. In receiving the results, I was told I had a 7mm nodule in my right lung and a fatty liver. My liver levels had been high for a few years. I was sent to a pulmonary doctor at the Lahey clinic in Massachusetts. He said that because of my young age and the fact that I had never smoked it was likely not cancer, but that we needed to recheck in six months. My six month checkup revealed another nodule and I returned to Lahey clinic for another consultation. He again said that it did not have some of the characteristics of malignancy and because it was small our best bet was to rescan in another six months.
The Current Nightmare – Enter Levaquin
So this brings me to my current nightmare, one that has continued for seven months. It began on Easter Sunday. I had been sick with what I believed to be pneumonia as my husband had just had it, and I seem to get whatever is going around. We visited the local Emergency rooms and I was diagnosed with pneumonia. They gave me a pill to take while in the ER room. I asked what it was, as my husband was given a Z pack. She told me Levaquin and I took it without question, as it meant nothing to me at the time. We waited for the discharge paperwork and left with a few different pills and and a prescription to continue Levaquin for 10 days.
By the time we reached our house, 20 minutes away, I was itching all over. Hives began to form and my face and ears were starting to swell. I went to a different ER that was 5 minutes away. The rushed me in and administered IV prednisone and Benadryl. I was put on oxygen. After about an hour, symptoms started to slow and I was released. As the reaction was going on, I felt like I was crazy. I think, or at least thought at the time, that it was from the itching. By the time we left the hospital, all I could think about was breathing.
I felt that if I did not concentrate on my breathing I would forget to breathe.
My discharge instructions were to continue with oral prednisone for 3 days and take Benadryl every 4 hours for the next 24 hours. Monday, I slept all day. That evening, I decided I could not take anymore Benadryl. When I came out of what felt like a drug induced coma, I was scared, very frightened actually.
I could barely speak and I did not want my husband to leave me.
I am a very independent person and me feeling like I needed him was not usual. I was very different and it alarmed my husband. He felt it was the prednisone and would not let me take anymore. I finally begged that he let me take another Benadryl to sleep, as I was scared and hating the way I was feeling and functioning. My head hurt so bad that I felt like it may explode.
Tuesday this continued and I could not get off the couch or speak clearly.
Wednesday we returned to the ER. I underwent a CT scan which came out normal and the ER doc felt it was migraines. He dismissed the fact that it could be the Levaquin, as it was only one pill. I was treated with migraine medicine and released.
At first I felt a little better, but some of the symptoms would not go away. I had a limp with pain and weakness on the right side of my body. My neck and shoulders hurt so bad that I could not lay down. The headache seemed unending. I laid around feeling not myself for days.
I recognized my kids but could not come up with their names. I started calling objects by different names, wrappers for socks, and looper for bra, talker for phone.
By Monday my husband brought me to the walk-in clinic, as my doctor was away and the ER had proved to not be of much help. We shared all of the pain and symptoms.
The doctor concluded that it was anxiety and gave me Tramadol for the pain.
The next day my husband brought me to my primary care physician and she was mortified by my condition. She sent us straight to the ER and said she would call them to let them know I was coming and my condition. I was still in terrible pain my head mainly and my right side. I was sent for an MRI that came back normal and underwent a lumbar puncture. It took the radiologist four tries to get the spinal tap and then she forgot to get the pressure.
I was admitted to the hospital for further testing. I had a magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) and numerous blood tests. I had debilitating pain that left me feeling like I literally may die. I could not stand the light, the nurses had to hang blankets from the windows. The littlest noise hurt me horribly. My husband stayed by my side, as I was still nervous to have him leave me.
I was released a few days later with a slew of different migraine medicines and an appointment to see the neurologist.
The neurologist and her staff were not my favorite from the get go. The nurse asked if something was wrong with me, as I could barely speak and continued to grunt in pain. She changed my medicines and sent me for an EEG that same day. She called a few days later.
I was having seizures in my left temporal lobe.
She prescribed Keppra and left it at that with no follow up appointment or anything. She did mail me a paper about epilepsy. The Keppra did not work well for me. I became very nasty and most of my words were very colorful.
After two weeks, we went back to that neurologist and she was gradually going to reduce the Keppra and start me on Lamictal. The next week I went to see another neurologist that was four hours away.
She said that I had status epilepticus and sent me right to the ER for an infusion of Dilantin.
The next day I returned to be almost myself. I was talking better and acting more like myself.
This sickness has also changed my personality. I say silly things and giggle after everything I say, most of which is inappropriate. I act very childlike or like someone who has mental retardation.
After two days, I slipped back into my previous state. This continued for months the medicine was too low, requiring me to take more than twice the recommended amount, then too high. After two more EEGs both showing slowed brain waves on my left temporal lobe, I was sent to a big hospital to have a long term EEG. There they found the same slowing/episodes that happened 8 to 15 times a day.
I was taken off the Dilantin and started to become myself again. I lost over 20 pounds in month without trying. I was getting around and helping around the house. I was regaining interest in some of my previous hobbies and wanting to rejoin society. This continued for a little over a month. Then, I started feeling bad again.
My cognition remained improved, but my body and my head felt as they did in the beginning of this nightmare. One evening, at my nieces birthday party, I started having pains in my head.
My hearing became very acute. Everything was magnified in sound and my vision again became very blurred.
We left immediately, and by the time we were home, I could barely speak.
My jaw hurt and felt like it could hardly move. My head was aching so bad and my fear had returned.
I have regressed into my previous state and that has continued for two weeks now. I was referred to the neuro-ophthalmologist who said I have pappiledema severe in my right eye and mild to moderate in my left. My neuro thought that I may have a tumor somewhere in my body and my immune system, as a result, was attacking my brain. This is because the testing for paraneoplastic syndrome came back showing positive striational antibodies.
This week I had a PET/CT scan and an third spinal tap. The PET scan showed no abnormalities, although I was given the disc and there is a clear hot spot, at least to my untrained eye, but I guess I need to trust the experts. The spinal fluid was being sent to the Mayo Clinic for testing. For the past weeks, I have had terrible pain in the left half of my face, including my ear, my jaw and near my temple. I know it is not a sinus infection, as I get them regularly and can spot them in an instant. I am not sure if its an infection, but I am inclined to think it is another chapter in this book. I will list some of my symptoms, diagnosis and current medications.
- Headache, daily
- Blurred vision
- Magnified hearing
- Increased anxiety and fear nothing like before
- Right sided weakness
- Numbness in tingling in my extremities
- Memory impairment
- Cognitive deficits
- Body Pain
- Weight Loss 20 pounds (yay)
- Eye pain
- Poor judgment
- Child like behavior
- Lack of coordination
- Lack of focus and inattention
- Temporal Lobe seizures
- Status epilepticus
- Paraneoplastic Syndrome
- High Blood Pressure
- Acid Reflux
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / Mono
- Synthroid 200 mg
- Lamictal 125 mg 2 times daily
- Fluoxetine 40 mg
- Prtonix 40 mg
- Linsopril 10 mg
- Vivelle patch (estrogen 100 change twice weekly)
The blood pressure medications and estrogen are new in the last two months.
I apologize for the length of this documentation. I want to sincerely thank you for any time and consideration you put into this. I certainly know that it is not your responsibility or obligation. I have two beautiful children and this has taken a severe toll on them. I have gone from a mom who was involved in every aspect of their lives, to a mom who is constantly afraid of causing them shame. In this, I have lost my job and an income, which means paying an incredible price for cobra insurance. I feel like we are up against a wall and running out of possibilities. This is no way for anyone to have to live. I am willing to entertain or try pretty much anything at this point. Thank you again, this means the world to me, just to gain some insight.
With Gratitude and Appreciation.
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