They say you never know what you have until it’s gone, and this past week I an epic experience with just that.
It all started with finishing out my season – which is somewhat of a tradition for me. September and October feel like what the last few weeks of the year feel like for most people. Cleaning things up, getting ready for vacation time, etc. In September, town begins to really clear out of tourists and by the end of the month, pretty much the only people in town (other than a few stragglers) are residents. By October, Tamarindo is a ghost town. Every September, I clear out my inventory by having a clearance sale of whatever is left in the shop — usually by October, I’ve sold just about all of my stock. It’s a great way to clean out the older designs and produce a whole new shop of goodies for the high season which begins in mid-December. It also generates orders, which mean production as well.
I was really excited about this particular off season because I was going to be moving into my new studio space and had some business growth plans that I was excited to get working on. Plan was to finish the orders and get to work. Last Tuesday, I finished up the last of the orders and was packing up my workspace to move to the new place on Wednesday. However, Wednesday morning, I woke up feeling really ill. Decided to stay in bed for a few hours and see if I came around, but as the day progressed, I felt worse and worse. By evening, I was having a difficult time moving my right wrist, it was very painful and almost immobile. Concerned, I went to bed.
Thursday morning I woke in such excruciating pain from head to toe that I could not get out of bed and walk to the restroom without the assistance of my husband. My knees, ankles, toes, wrists, and fingers were in incredible pain and I could not move them at all. It was like I was paralyzed. This was combined later in the morning with a horrific migraine headache and fever. I had dengue fever last year (almost to the date!) but this was nothing like that – the inability to move was just over the top. My husband wanted to take me to the doctor, but to be honest, I was in so much pain, the thought of getting out of bed and into a car was just too much to handle. I told him let’s wait and see how things progress. By Friday night, I was no better so we called the doctor. He said it definitely sounds like a virus – could be dengue, could be Chikungunya, could just be a random virus. I had so many strange symptoms that didn’t fit into one category of any of those viruses. He prescribed a medication for the fever and the pain, which my hubby quickly ran out and got.
By Saturday, all symptoms were gone other than the incredible joint pain which seemed to come and go. I thought I was on the road to recovery until Sunday night when all the joints in my extremities really froze up. I could barely move! At this point we called the doctor again who recommended we come in the morning to do some lab work.
I laid in bed Sunday night thinking to myself, what is this?!? It got me thinking the worst – maybe I have some auto-immune disorder? What if I’m never going to be able to use my hands again? Or walk without pain and assistance? What if something has happened and I’m going to have to live with this pain? I felt frustrated because I feel like I’m right at the beginning of something really great with my art and my business. I was so ready to just get started with all my plans. What if I’m never going to get to do any of it!? ((Five days of pain will get to you!!)) What it really did was make me start contemplating how wonderful my life is. How amazing it is that I get to do something every day that I love doing so much. What a gift it is to have the dexterity in my fingers that I can work with itsy-bitsy jump rings and beads without giving it any thought. And how quickly my life could change if I lost that.
I thought about all the activities I love. Hiking, walking with the dogs, swimming, lifting weights, yoga, writing, sewing, cooking, all these things that could so quickly become impossible with the loss of mobility. I know it sounds melodramatic, but for someone who is super active to suddenly become virtually immobile for 5 days, these fears quickly fester! I closed my eyes and just said a prayer of gratitude for all the things that I have in my life that I often forget to be thankful for. Not that I’m ungrateful, but that are just such a part of everyday life that you tend to forget that you can lose them.
Monday morning I had lab work done which confirmed that I definitely had Chikungunya. I was prescribed 3 days worth of injections (a huge-ass horse needle right in butt cheek!) – and after the first, I felt 85% better within an hour. Just knowing what was wrong with me and that it was going to pass was a huge relief. The underlying fearful thoughts that had been circulating the last few days in my head, while maybe over the top, were really making me panic.
I couldn’t believe first off, that I even got Chikungunya because I rarely get bit by mosquitos, which is why I didn’t even suspect that’s what it could be. But – I guess it only takes one little of those little suckers. And I can’t believe the intense pain and almost paralysis that the sting of such a small insect can cause. The good news is, I’m on the road to recovery. I have a very itchy rash all over that looks hideous, and I’m still a bit stiff in the joints and very tired, but at least I know this will pass and I can get on with my plans.
It definitely has instilled in me a deep sense of gratitude and even more so, of empathy for those who do suffer from chronic pain that will never go away. Like I said, you really don’t realize what you have until there’s a possibility you might not have it any longer.