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Liz's Diary - Week 1

Why write a diary? Iíve never kept a diary before & didnít intend to start one. But nine weeks into recovering from Ramsay Hunt & I was amazed how reassuring it was to read Robís diary.

I was going through a low patch at the time & thought that maybe writing a diary of my own would be a good project to work on. Since starting my own account I am amazed at how much more honest I am with myself. For instance it has enabled me to reflect on my progress, my emotions, the symptoms & some of my fears too. It has enabled me to be more positive about my recovery & I hope my account will help others .even if just sends them to sleep the rest will do them the world of good!!.

I am an active 29 year old & have always played sports & enjoyed outdoor activities. My diet is relatively healthy. I have a demanding job working in a primary school with 25 seven to eight year olds. I love my job but do find it stressful at times & the hours can be very long.

I have always been healthy but unfortunately had to have major surgery less than two years ago. I seemed to recover well at first but returned to work quite hastily & I think I am suffering the consequences now.

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome came so out of the blue back in February of this year (2003).

I have learned one thing from this illness, & that is that the body is not invincible & cannot & will not be pushed beyond its limit. When your body says itís had enough, it sometimes has to take drastic action to get through to the ever active mind.

This time I want to make a full recovery. This time Iím going to do it properly.

Day 1 - Friday 28th February 2003

It was back in February when I was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome during the half term holiday. I had only been staying with my mum, in Pembrokeshire,Wales for 2 days when I started to have pain at the top of my head. My throat was a little uncomfortable and I thought that it was perhaps the beginnings of a cold. The headache lasted most of the day. I took some Avril (miracle pain killers my brother brought home from America). They worked but as soon as they wore of the headache was back. This concerned me as I rarely suffer from major headaches. I also had the occasional shooting pain through my ear. I noticed that the CD I was listening to sounded very distorted (like a battery was going flat) but as far as I was concerned it was the CD that was playing up not my ears!

Day 2 - Saturday 1st March 2003

Woke up with headache. I had planned a day out with mum so I was determined not to stay in. We drove to Newquay but my head was still bad. It was a sunny day, which seemed to really aggravate the headache. I still had some shooting pains in my left ear. Mum and I went for a short walk on the beach until it started to rain. Suddenly I had a stinging sensation on the outside of the ear as if I had been bitten. Asked mum to take a look. It just seemed to be a pimple. Odd how much it was stinging though. I also had another irritating pimple just inside the ear lobe.

The fresh air & scenery seemed to help me forget about my headache for a while.

Day 3 - Sunday 2nd March 2003

I had to get home for work on Monday. Woke up about 7am feeling quite poorly. Had temperature in the night and sweated loads. The headache was still there. It was beginning to make me feel quite ill. I made up my mind not to drive back to Tewkesbury but dropped off to sleep for another couple of hours and woke feeling much better. Of course I changed my mind and decided to drive home after some lunch. Looked pale and off colour. Felt it too! When eating lunch I noticed that my tongue felt weird on one side as if no taste buds were working. Rivita without taste buds? - Ugh!

Felt ok driving home but when I did stop for a break and got out the car I seemed a bit off balance but NOT dizzy. Arrived home feeling very tired. Cooked some tea, again it tasted strange and food seemed cold & tasteless on left side of tongue. It was a bit like chewing on a tea towel! Tried to watch a DVD but noticed something odd about the sound. When I covered the left ear the music seemed fine but when I left it open it was all distorted. As the evening wore on the 3 and a half hour drive home caught up with me and I started to feel quite ill. The headache was still there but I was kind of getting used to having it. Went to bed early with a strong feeling that I would not be going into school to work in the morning. Well weíll see!

Day 4 - Monday 3rd March 2003

Alarm went off at 6:45am. How did I feel? Not good. The headache was still there after 3 days. This was beginning to worry me so I needed to see a doctor. Phoned school to say I would not be in. Went back to bed and slept. Phoned surgery later in the morning but noticed that I was getting unsteady on my feet. An appointment was made for the afternoon. But as the day continued I realised that whenever I got out of bed for the loo or to fetch something I felt quite dizzy and nauseous. Phoned surgery knowing I would not make it into town let alone out the front door and asked doctor to come round.

Phone rang several times but I just couldnít face going down stairs to answer it. I actually started to vomit when stood or sat up for more than a few seconds. Dr called and suggested it was a virus, which had attacked the head. The sickness was my head reacting to the pain (he thought!). Mum keeps phoning. She is very worried and wants to come down to stay but I think it will only last a few days so put her off.

Hoped a colleague might call in tonight but no one appeared. They had tried phoning or texting me but I just couldnít even get to the bathroom without my stomach muscles starting to retch let alone down the stairs to the phone.

Ran out of water later in the evening. I had to brave it and go down to the kitchen to fill up the filter jug. Could I make it without throwing up on the way? Well I lost my balance a little going down the stairs - boy that was close! Filled jug up in kitchen and toyed with the idea of grabbing the washing up bowl just in case I didnít make it back upstairs. Decided not to! Duh! At bottom of stairs stomach starting retching again. I tried to climb the stairs as fast as I could but didnít quite make it!. My tummy muscles were really beginning to hurt. Every time I had to get up for the loo off they started. Not hungry so didnít even attempt to go down stairs again. Slept on and off. Feeling very weary, nauseous, hot and weak.

Day 5 - Tuesday 4th March 2003

Still feeling nauseous and dizzy when ever vertical. Getting quite dehydrated now as water wonít even stay down. Mum on phone (very worried) but I donít feel like talking again so she phones doctor and school to ask someone to pop round to see if Iím ok. Still being sick whenever I get up to go to the loo! So I have a little routine now puke then loo! Getting very dry in mouth, lips starting to feel dry. Karen (friend from school) arrived at lunchtime. Fetched some water etc and wrote down a list of things to buy. Dr no.2 turned up while Karen was still here. She diagnosed an ear infection as outer ear seemed very inflamed. Gave me a prescription and an injection for the sickness. She recommended 3 weeks off work. At last some answers or so I thought!!

Karen arrived in evening after fetching prescription and shopping. What a star! Have had a lovely bouquet of flowers from school and several cards. Itís so good to know people care. Ate very little just some soup. Headache seemed easier, just very fuzzy and dizzy. Ear still tender. Tired, weary & ugh.

Day 6 - Wednesday 5th March 2003

Still very unsteady on feet & feeling dizzy etc. Need to stay in bed and sleep. Started to feel groggy again in the afternoon. My eye seemed to be irritating but not sore. I just wanted to keep rubbing it. I did not realise it was not shutting properly. Sick at lunchtime again only once today. Thank God!

Karen & Jean (both colleagues) arrived later this evening. I noticed that when they made me smile something felt very strange about my face particularly my mouth. Both were very tactful & said nothing! Both changed sheets on my bed and I had a little wash to freshen up. I got back into a nice clean bed and had some soup. I finished the lot! Yea! First proper snack since Sunday evening. I noticed that I did dribble a bit but took no real notice. I was quite oblivious. Then Jean told me that they thought my face was very swollen and felt that they should phone the doctor. I was beginning to realise that I couldnít move some muscles in my face. Thatís why it felt strange to smile it was lob-sided.

The Dr asked them to take me to the hospital where he was on duty. How was I going to manage that when I could barely take 2-3 steps to the bathroom? I arrived with bucket in hand just in case & Jean holding onto me as I was very weak by now. The Dr asked me to make various expressions such as snarling, closing eyes tight, grinning etc. It really struck me then how little control I had over my face muscles. He asked me to walk along a line! Ha! That was a laugh! Iím glad it wasnít a tight rope! He examined my ear then told me it was shingles but didnít go into great detail. Maybe because I had friends with me or perhaps he wanted to break me in slowly. There was then talk of going to hospital for an examination, or being admitted. After several phone calls he said that there was no need and gave me some steroids which I took there & then. I would need to get antiviral tablets tomorrow. He wanted to see me at the surgery on Friday (2 days away). I have to tape my eye shut to avoid further damage. This is a nightly chore that drove me potty on numerous occasions. (Try taping your eye up with micro tape. Itís a nightmare because the eye just wants to stay open with Bellís Palsy; the tape can sometimes catch the actual eye, which is very uncomfortable. Day after day and it gets quite sore around the eye. The skin around the eye gets pulled around rather a lot too! Not pretty!)

I went straight back to bed when we got home. That was enough excitement for one night! Jean phoned mum & asked her to come down. Both stayed quite late while I slept and Jean waited until mum arrived from Pembrokeshire at about 1:30am. What a star!

I woke up about 2:45am and heard mum. It was so good to see her and know someone would be with me most the time. It was a long day (& night) without company.

I think the sickness is under control now.

Day 7 - Thursday 6th March 2003

It was good to have mum around. She bought lots of nice things to tempt me back into eating and drinking. Noticed that Iím dribbling a lot when drinking. Had a bath later and some help with washing my hair (something that had been bothering me for days!) Mum was able to pick up my prescription of steroids although the anti-viral tablets required several trips to different chemists before she finally hunted some down. Unknown to me at the time mum went to visit a friend of hers who had suffered with shingles (well RHS actually). Mum brought her dog (Tilly) who seems to be ignoring me. Thatís not like her and I wonder if she senses something is wrong?

Not sick today but lots of vertigo & donít like sitting up in bed for long. Picking at lots of fruit. Donít want to start doing reiki as Iím still very dehydrated. Mum told me that she would like me to go back to Wales with her to convalesce. Mmmm? I wasnít sure at first. Later on I realised what a good idea it would be.

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