I have been having an acute case of sinusitis for the past two weeks. Not to be dramatic, but I don't recall ever having been in so much pain in all my life.
The sinus pressure in my face has been agonizing (especially at night; I have no idea why. Perhaps the air pressure changes when the sun goes down and temperatures drop?? Changes in the moisture content in the air?). It feels like someone took a croquet mallet and smashed the left side of my face in. I never had a broken jaw, but the sinus pain is such that that's how I imagine it would feel. Sometimes, the pain is so agonizing that the only thing that helps is for me to stand up, bend over and touch my toes and allow the blood to rush to the top of my head. I think the gravity must relieve the pressure on my upper and lower jaw somewhat. In any case, when even that ceases to work, the only thing left is to scream and wail like a two-year-old toddler. Sometimes, I take a small pillow from the living room couch and scream into it while bending over. I feel ridiculous when I do this, but somehow the sound waves seem to relieve the pressure somewhat, or maybe the vibration does something. I don't know. I just know it kind of helps. (It also helps muffle the annoying sound.) Maybe it seems to help just by verbally releasing the pain and frustration because the pain has become intolerable. And I have to say that I think I have a pretty decent tolerance for discomfort and pain, because, well....I just need you trust me on that, though I concede that I more than likely sound like a big baby.
So I have been self-treating at home with over-the-counter medicine and various home remedies including apple cider vinegar, facial steam baths, Vick's Vapo-Rub, you name it, I've probably tried it. All to pretty much no avail, because the relief, such as it is, is short lived. Yesterday, I tried a different over-the-counter medicine which seemed to work, so I thought I was on the mend.
But then today the pain came back with a vengeance. What was before a 12 on a pain scale (1-10, 10 being excruciating) could be clocked at probably a 25, if I had to quantify it. In any case, I couldn't take it anymore and began to wonder if anyone ever died from a sinus infection. In fact, at one point, I was in such agonizing pain that I would almost have welcomed the sweet relief of death, though it does seem to be a rather extreme solution to a very minor medical problem, painful as it might be. Plus, I have a lot to live for.
I finally convinced my husband to take me in for medical help. Today being Christmas, he was none too thrilled about sitting in the ER waiting room, but then again, he is also interested in sleeping again some time this lifetime. He let it be known that my agonizing wails at 3 a.m. are not conducive to a restful night's sleep. Yeah. Tell me about it. It's also hard to sleep standing up but bent over and muffling one's screams in a pillow, but whatever.
So, angel of mercy that he is, he reluctantly drove me to the nearby emergency room. I walk in, hunched over, because honestly? That's the most comfortable position. I'm standing at the reception window, bent over, quietly sobbing and holding my scarf up to my face to keep the cold off. (Cold air really did not help improve the pain situation, so I kept my face covered.)
Per my request, DH answers the questions for me at the registration desk, since my talking would involve the intake of too much air, which is painful on my teeth. We are told to sit in chairs to wait to be called.
DH helps me hobble over to the nearest open seat. We sit down. I stand up and bend over because sitting upright is just too agonizing. At one point, the pain becomes so bad that I start moaning. This is really getting embarrassing, but at this moment that is my last concern. I take off my wool coat and roll it up, using it the same way I used the couch pillow at home - to kind of scream into (I try to keep the sound lower at the hospital) to relieve the pain.
The pain, such as it is, seems to ebb and flow. Sometimes it ebbs to a more tolerable level, and I can sit more or less upright for a short period...and then sometimes it comes flowing back like a prostaglandin tsunami, and then it's back to standing/bending/wailing into coat until it subsides. Lather, rinse, repeat.
After a while, DH whispers to me that he needs to visit the restroom, and will I be ok for a minute? I nod yes, yes, go ahead. I hardly notice him anyway, since I'm preoccupied with my own pathetic, embarrassing, special-snowflaky two-year-old toddler pain management activities.
As soon as he was out of ear shot, a woman in the waiting room sat down next to me and told me I should leave him.
I tried to turn my head to look at her, but it was a little awkward (physically) to manage that, but I did ask her "excuse me?"
Woman: "No woman should ever tolerate being beat up."
Honestly, it took me a few seconds for it to register. Oh. My. God. It suddenly occurred to me how this all looked.
"Thank you for your concern," I said. "But this isn't how it looks. I just have a really bad sinus infection." I removed my coat from my face and showed her that I have no bruises or cuts (even though that side of my face is a bit swollen from the infection). "I'll be okay. I just need some antibiotics and I'll be fine."
I smiled towards her as best I could and then turned away to resume my standing/moaning (albeit, trying to be a heck of a lot quieter/as unobtrusive as I can be).
I figured she was satisfied and would just move on.
But then she said "you are really in denial. How many times has he done this, honey?"
I was about to respond that it was a really interesting assumption, but right then DH returned from the restroom.
He put his hand on my shoulder and asked how I was doing. The woman then said "if you really cared how she was doing, you wouldn't have had to bring her here in the first place!" and then she stormed off.
DH sat down and was really
I didn't have a chance to explain anything to DH because I was called in right then, and I was seen and treated by the doctor. Thankfully I am now on antibiotics and feeling a bit better and rather...goofy from the pain medicine.
On the way home, DH said "you know, this is really embarrassing. They didn't let me come in with you and people were really giving me weird looks. Now that I think about it, I wonder if they thought I did something to you?"
I told him about the lady in the waiting room and we had a laugh...for about a minute because of the misunderstanding. But then we thought it was nice that someone cared enough to say something.
I just wonder if I could have handled it better? Should I have been more insistent about explaining the situation? Should I have gone the other way? I mean, I don't want to encourage nosy behavior, but then again, I don't want to discourage anyone from trying to help someone who might really be in trouble.
Now that I think about it, I am really at a loss for what I could have said/done to avoid humiliating my husband. I feel really bad for causing him any upset; it's ironic, too, because I fell in love with DH because of his gentleness, kindness and nurturing...the complete opposite of what the waiting room - and probably the medical staff (!) assume(d).
What can I do differently next time, which, God forbid there is, but if I have to return....oh, dear.