I never thought those words would come out of my mouth…. but it is the honest truth. I have been MIA for quite some time, not only on Virginia Sweet but in life. I checked out for a couple months to deal with some deeply personal and not so fun stuff…
This past July I thought I had nicked myself shaving under my arm pit and by mid August, I had developed a cyst along with a painful rash. I finally went to the doctor at the end of August where I was placed on my first round of antibiotics. The weeks and months that followed were rough to say the least. I was passed back and forth to 4 different doctors, 7 different antibiotics, 2 surgeries and weekly trips to doctor’s offices. I was basically on an antibiotic from late August to early January and nothing seemed to work.
In October, my surgeon confirmed that I had developed a staph infection and all outward signs pointed to MRSA. Every single culture that was taken tested negative for MRSA but we could not find an antibiotic that would fight my infection. I was diagnosed with a “Super Bug” meaning that I have a form of staph that is resistant to most antibiotics. My surgeon looked at me one day and said “I hate to tell you this but you have stumped me, I just don’t know what else to do”. So I was sent to a dermatologist that specialized in dermatological diseases. Things got worse before they got better as they always do. In November, I was placed on a long term antibiotic and things were looking brighter for the first time in a while – THANK GOODNESS. I was on this drug, along with 2 topical antibiotics, for a month and by mid December things were almost cleared up. I was over the moon excited! We went out, celebrated, I drank a lot (I had not been drinking due to the antibiotics all Fall), we traveled to South Carolina to see Reid’s family… things were getting back to normal.
or so I thought…
Christmas eve, I noticed another cyst under my arm. Due to the holiday, my Derm could not see me until the 27th. It was by chance that I also had my annual with my OB scheduled for the 27th in the morning and then my appointment with my Derm that afternoon…. My poor OB got an ear full when she asked “How are things?”…off I went in grave detail about my experience over the last 5 months. She asked if she could look at my underarm and very casually said, “You know what? This looks like a skin disease called hidradenitis suppurativa.”
This is all I could come up with….. what the hell is that? What the hell is my OB telling me this for; doesn’t she know I have already been to like 4 other doctors? What the hell do we do to get rid of this thing? What the hell were my other doctors doing this whole time? How the hell do you even say or spell this disease?
My OB explained that this disease is common in “other” woman parts of the body so she sees it a lot. It normally does not manifest into staph (lucky me!) and my other doctor's first priority was to treat my infection. She wrote down the name of the disease on her card for me to give to my Derm.
You better believe that the first thing I did when I got back to work was Google this crazy sounding disease….. WHAT THE HELL? This is a chronic, no cure autoimmune disease that is very hard to diagnose and most people end up on antibiotics for the rest of their lives.
I was very emotional that afternoon when I saw my Derm, I just handed her the card and told her about my morning appointment. She took one look at it, went and got her laptop, brought it over to me and showed me her notes from our first appointment…. “Patient shows signs of HS (hidradenitis suppurativa)”…. She had been suspecting this all along but needed to get rid of the antibiotic resistant staph. I felt better but what did this mean for me longterm?
My Derm removed the cyst that day and sent it in for testing. Prescriptions were written for long term antibiotics to be used at my digression when I am flaring or felt another cyst coming on. I was stitched up and sent home.
After my blood tests and biopsy of my cyst came back – the results suggested that I did indeed have HS. First came the tears.... then a sense of relief. I cannot tell you how relieved I felt just knowing what I had – finally after 6 months of craziness…. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Each week that passes after my diagnosis is better than the one before it! Things are brighter and brighter everyday!
My close friends and family know the health struggles and depression I have been fighting and it is only in the last month where I feel like my old self again. I want to thank everyone in my life that pulled me through this. Thank you to my work family, who dealt with my hysteria and crying before and after dr’s appointments with such compassion and grace. Thank you to my girlfriends, who checked up on me, made me go out to dinner and loved me when I was not a great friend in return. Thank you to Kristen, my BFF, who called me and put me in my place, who would not let this disease and depression get the best of me. Thank you to my family and especially my parents, your tireless support and encouragement meant the world to me. And the biggest thank you goes out to my Husband… Who would have thought that when you said “in sickness and in health” meant dressing, cleaning and shaving my armpit? You have been my rock through this, even though I lost my patience and cried a lot because you did not do things exactly as the dr did, you are amazing and supportive.
This was a really scary post to write but very important to me. There are so many things that I wanted to say…. things about my depression and fears but at some point, I have to stop feeling sorry for myself, and start living. I AM learning to live with HS and things are going pretty great! I had another break out last month but I used my antibiotics and caught it early. See …… brighter and brighter each day!