Thursday, May 15, 2008

Big Foot Barb by Barbara Quinn

In the midst of an intense weekend of pitching my latest novel, I looked in the mirror and saw a bright red rash spreading across my nose. I’m an allergic type so this was not unusual. Then the rash grew, and grew, and measles-like spots started appearing, first on my chest, then my arms, my back, and stomach. And my poor feet began to ache, especially my left one. I thought I’d been walking too much. No shoes were comfortable. I looked at my ankles. They were filled with fluid. Same for my hands. By the next day all my joints were stiff and filled with fluid and I was bright red and spotted everywhere. I soldiered on through the conference. There was a lot of pollen in NYC and I thought perhaps I was having a particularly bad case of pollen sensitivity.

Thank heavens for makeup and long sleeves. I covered up the red face and got some Cortaid cream to stem the itching. And I downed benadryl. Since my adrenaline was pumping, the usual antihistamine fog was not that bad, though it was definitely there. That swollen left foot really ached across the top.

Once the conference finished and I headed home, whatever had moved into my system took up even more space. My head throbbed and a fever rose. I couldn’t go down stairs since my ankles could not bend. I started dropping things because my fingers couldn’t hold onto them. Off I went to the doctor. I spent time at the hospital having blood drawn, urine sampled. One guess is that I had a bout of Fifth’s Disease which is a viral disease that crops up most often in childhood.

After a few more miserable days, the redness and symptoms subsided. When my feet began working properly again I was relieved. I gained a real appreciation for something I’ve always taken for granted: the simple act of going down the stairs without having to hang on to the banister and thump my feet from step to step. And I’m grateful that I was healthy enough to fight this weird disease off! Life is hard and navigating it when you are ill is an incredible challenge. My hat is off to all who suffer from debilitating conditions. Remember that movie My Left Foot where the fellow could only communicate via his left foot? Well, my left foot still swells up on top, but I'm grateful that it's the only part of me that doesn't work. That's nothing to complain about.


Angie Ledbetter said...

So glad you are better! Isn't it baffling when some weird thing comes down on ya like that?

Kathryn Magendie said...

I'm glad you are better too!

I had an appreciation for walking when I had a Morton's Neuroma removed - no walking except t the bathroom for SEVEN DAYS! aaacck!

Take care of yourself!

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