One Hell of a Year

Been awhile, folks.  How have you been?

On my side, the answer is pas terrible.  It’s been one hell of a year.

It all started with the flu.  A really bad case of la grippe in early spring that lasted for over two weeks.  After the worst passed, I got better as we normally do after an illness. No big deal, right?

Until something changed and I wasn’t getting better, I was getting worse.  How odd.

Saw the doctor twice.  Got lots of rest.  Nothing helped and so on the third visit to my GP, he sent me to the hospital.  And, oh yeah, I was one sick kitten.  Pericarditis, they said, which is an inflammation of the sac around the heart.  Bad enough that they kept me in the cardiac ward of a local hospital for four days hooked up to monitors.

Happily, pericarditis is very treatable with (I kid you not) aspirin.  Mega doses of aspirin taken at home over a couple of months.  And every couple of weeks I went to the hospital for a scan of the ticker which is fundamentally sound, the cardiologist said, “for a woman of my age.”  Good to know.

What was even less pleasant was the follow-up.  One of the results of being a cancer patient, in my experience, is that the doctors are extra, extra careful.  They look at you as if you were packed with unknown explosives.  Context is everything. I had to go to the emergency room in Brussels once (I was dizzy during class) and they didn’t let me leave until they had scanned every inch of me.  Just to be sure, mind you.

So the cardiologists sent me back to my cancer clinic for a full workup.  That took a few months because any time the medical professionals do a scan, chances are good they find stuff to check out, most of which turns out to be nothing.

In the meantime, over the summer, I started feeling unwell again.  This time with terrible pain in my joints that was so bad I was having trouble walking and getting in and out of the bathtub.  Not ideal for someone with osteoporosis.

And then in early fall, the cancer clinic called me in and said they found something troubling (not cancer).  They were concerned enough about it to strongly suggest that I see another doctor at another hospital for a diagnosis.  As for the joint pain I was having, my oncologist put me on Ibuprofen.

Finally, in early October I saw the specialist and with all the information from all the doctors and tests in front of him it took him less than 20 minutes to make his diagnosis:  Horton’s Disease which is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation of the arteries.  Very dangerous if left untreated.  Might have even caused the pericarditis I had in the spring. Happily, it’s curable with a few months (or years) of cortisone.

I’m feeling much better since I started the treatment – well enough to pen this post and to get out of the house finally, and shop or walk with friends.

I don’t really have much more to say about it right now.  I just don’t have enough distance from it to offer any insights that would be worth reading.  I will say that my medical care has been excellent and I appear to be on the mend.  However, it’s going to take awhile to get back to something resembling “normal.”

One day at a time, mes amis, one day at a time.

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Born in Seattle, USA. Generation Xer. Lived on 3 continents (North America, Asia and Europe). Country agnostic. Mother of two Frenchlings. MA in International Migration

7 thoughts on “One Hell of a Year”

  1. Love you, friend, and looking forward to being allowed to drive so I can come out and see you, again. The go-ahead should be the end of next week!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OMG. Well, we had our own wonderful experience with the French health care system 12 years ago. So glad to hear you have your diagnosis and treatment plan. Welcome back. Have missed you.
    Rowan and Shirl

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh dear…. poor Victoria 🙏

    I received this but never got a chance to read it – thank you for forwarding 😘💋🙏

    Envoyé de mon iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Victoria,
    I wondered why we were not getting emails from you. I am sorry to learn that it was due to sickness. Thanks for forwarding this message.
    Bonne continuation

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Victoria,

    One always worries when too much silence so it was with relief that I read your message.

    As you say, one hell of a year, with all the tests, worries and fears that come with them.

    Really hope that the treatment continues to work and that this will have been one of those “life interrupted” moments and then getting back to “normal.”

    I seem to be having a good period although I have my usual getting older complaints. I have a new oncologist now as my previous one, who was wonderful, retired. At one of our first meetings, when he was going over my history, I reminded him that I tend to have relapses every few years or so, to remind him (and me!) that I was not out of the woods.


    Andrew >

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you all for the comments and the good wishes. I’ve missed you too.

    Andrew, I find it deeply satisfying that both of us have outlived the careers of our oncologists. Yes, mine retired too. 🙂


  7. I was happy today to find the doors of the flophouse open. I’m VERY happy that you are feeling well enough to write again. You must have an abundance of inner strength to get through your health challenges and emerge with your great wit and sense of humour intact. May your path to “normal” be smooth but what the heck is that anyway? It seems as I get older, normal sits on a downward sliding scale so I just lower my expectations a bit and feel content to be doing okay for my age. There is a bonus to all this though. My patience has improved over what it once was.

    Liked by 1 person

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