I gave my mom a rundown of my conversation with the nurse and started to chill out a little bit because she didn't suspect a blood clot at all. When I finally calmed down enough I realized I had to pee pretty badly. I hurried to the bathroom, dropped my pants, sat down and immediately noticed a small bump on my left outer snoochie lip. I realize "snoochie lip" is not the medical term for the area I'm describing; just go with it! Anyway, my first thought was an ingrown hair. My second thought was that it must be a tumor under the skin and the cancer is back and I'm gonna die. I attempted to squeeze it, ever so gently, hoping to remove the hair that was stuck, but nothing came out at all. It just felt like a hard bump.
Yup. I'm gonna die.
I didn't mention the bump to my mom because I didn't want to scare her, but I did borrow some Neosporin and a Band-Aid to stop whatever it was from getting infected.
The next day was Christmas Eve. I woke up and immediately noticed that my leg was definitely not as sore as it had been and the numbness had subsided considerably. I went into the bathroom to check on my newest concern, which was still present, but hadn't gotten any worse. I undressed to get into the shower and caught a glimpse of my butt in the mirror. "What the HELL is THAT!?" I screeched out loud, referring to the small, round cluster of red bumps. I turned my head around as much as I could to look down at my backside but it wasn't working. I grabbed my makeup mirror from my vanity and shoved it right in front of my backside. Ok, clearly I'm now dealing with some kind of rash and not cancer. I wonder if I caught something from the dirty hotel in Minnesota? Maybe something bit me! Maybe I'm having an allergic reaction to the antibiotic I was taking for the UTI? I couldn't guess anymore. I just finished getting dressed and went downstairs to bake an apple pie with Justin.
A few hours went by and it was finally time to get ready for my parents' Christmas Eve party. Back upstairs I went to change my clothes and freshen my makeup. The bathroom was calling again so I made my way to the porcelain seat. And that's when I saw the bumps next to the original left snoochie lip intruder and another new cluster of bumps that had moved in right next door.
"You've gotta be kidding me!"
I ran my finger over the bumps and noticed that my skin felt thick and strange all around them. I got up and went to the mirror to check out the ass rash again. It hadn't changed. I touched that one as well and the feeling was very similar to the others. Ok, at least I think I'm only dealing with one issue that's spreading and not two different things.
But what is it?
I slathered the areas with cortisone cream and finished getting ready. When we arrived at my parents' house I was glad to catch my mom alone in the kitchen. "I have a weird rash on my ass and snoochie area," I said bluntly. My mom stared at me with her hands full of the potato pancakes she was frying up for the 45 people who would be bursting through her door at any minute. "Maybe you have a spider bite? They're nasty and they just keep biting. That could also be the reason for your leg pain." It made perfect sense! A stupid spider must've bitten me while I was sleeping! Ok, good. I'll keep putting cortisone on those puppies and they'll be gone in a few days.
The familiar sound of excited kids wasn't the first thing to wake me up on Christmas Morning. Instead, it was a nagging itch coming from my left cheek. No, not the one on my face. I got up to look in the mirror and check on the butt rash and was really annoyed to see another cluster moving into the neighborhood, about three inches north of the first one. That made four clusters in all, with two in the front and two in the back. Well, at least it's a nice, equal opportunity rash. Though, it was all on the left side of my body. I heard the kids waking up so Jimmi and I went downstairs to do the present thing with them then I headed back up to get showered and dressed and move on to visit my parents and then Jimmi's.
The shower didn't bother the rash but I was careful not to scrub it. I dried off and put on my jeans, which were a bit uncomfortable on top of the raw skin. Oh well, I had to deal with it unless I wanted to wear sweats to Christmas Dinner. I stuck out the early part of the day without too much of an issue, but as it got later and later the pain was becoming worse and worse. Every time I'd move or bend my jeans would rub against my skin and I'd see stars. I was having trouble sitting because of the pain and walking wasn't too much fun either, which I attributed to the brand new bumps that appeared in the crease of my butt cheek and my leg at some point during the day. I didn't want to be rude, but I finally couldn't stand it any longer and I quietly said to Jimmi, "I need to go home. Now." All I wanted to do was take off my pants and feel some relief. The two-hour drive back was like a slow torture and I had to hold back the tears each time we hit a bump. I e-mailed my mom for the phone number of her new dermatologist so I would be ready to call first thing in the morning.
When we pulled into the garage I couldn't get out of the car quickly enough. I apologized to Jimmi for not helping him take the bags of gifts into the house but I just couldn't. I needed to get my clothes off immediately. I flew up the stairs, stripping along the way. My first stop was the bathroom mirror and what greeted my eyes horrified me. The rash was spreading all over the left side of my butt and down my left thigh. I wasn't sure if I should just head to the hospital, but the thought of seeing the Christmas Day skeleton crew in a germ-infested hospital was much worse than a few billion red bumps all over my ass.
My alarm clock woke me at 8:00 AM, which is the time the dermatologist's website listed as opening time on Thursdays. I immediately dialed the number without even attempting to clear the morning voice away. A recording answered my call, "Hello, we are closed for the Christmas Holiday and will return on Monday, December thirtieth."
I hung up the phone, panicked for a minute and called back. Maybe there's an emergency number. I'm pretty sure my booty now qualified. The recording continued, "…If you are having a true dermatology emergency and you are already a patient of this office, please call the doctor at…" Hmmm…Should I call? I'm not a patient yet. Should I have my mom call? There's gotta be another doctor. As if on cue, my friend, Jacquie, texted me. Her cousin is a dermatologist! I quickly asked for the number and dialed it on the other line. "Sorry, she's not in today and she's all booked up tomorrow."
I called my mom again, "I need to go to a doctor TODAY and I don't know where to go!" I would've called my GP but he's off on Thursdays. Then there's the dermatologist who gave me Botox a few months ago, but I really didn't like her. I tried the doctor who treated my teenage breakouts 100 years ago, but the number was disconnected. Finally, I just turned to Google. On my first try I was able to get an appointment with a physician's assistant in a dermatology office. That was the best I could do and it was better than nothing.
12:45 PM couldn't come quickly enough!
I gently pulled up my soft, cotton underwear and loose-fitting sweats before feeding the boys and getting myself ready to go. I called my mom to update her on the situation and she voiced a thought that had crossed my mind the day before but didn't stick because I'm not over 60 years old. "I think you might have shingles," she said. "I was thinking the same thing," I agreed and then it hit me, "I just remembered one of the side effects of chemo is shingles. A few of the women on my support page have had it." My mom replied, "It fits all your symptoms. The leg pain, the numbness, the headaches…" I nodded, "I've been having chills too." The voila moment continued, "I'm thinking you really didn't have a UTI last week and it was all a part of the same thing." Then she threw a curveball, "Unless it's herpes." I can't say that diagnosis wasn't on my mind as well. "If it's herpes I'm gonna have to kill Jimmi."
As I was leaving the house I mentioned the latest possibility to my husband, "If I have herpes you're in SO much trouble!" He looked right back at me and said, "Oh yeah? Well, if you have herpes YOU'RE in so much trouble!" The fact that each of us knew the other hadn't touched another person in years made us both giggle at our fake threats and I gave him a quick kiss goodbye and headed out to learn my fate.
I sat uncomfortably in the chair as I filled out the paperwork for the doctor's office. I actually got angry when I was reading the narrow-minded surgical history options:
Ovaries removed: Endometriosis
Ovaries removed: Ovarian cancer
I circled "Ovaries removed" then crossed out "Ovarian cancer" and wrote in, "Small Cell Neuroendocrine Carcinoma of the Cervix."
Hysterectomy: Uterine cancer
I circled "Hysterectomy" then crossed out "Uterine cancer" and wrote in, "Small Cell Neuroendocrine Carcinoma of the Cervix."
"Suzanne?" called the nurse and I painfully stood up and handed her my paperwork. "So you have a rash on your backside?" she asked. "Yes, and a little on the front." She took a few notes and left the room. A young, attractive Indian woman appeared a few minutes later and introduced herself as the physician's assistant. I explained my symptoms to her and then dropped my drawers so she could have a look. She examined both sides of me and pushed on the bumps a bit, which felt oh, so good. "Looks like shingles," she announced to confirm what my mom and I already knew. "But it's very rare to see this on someone so young," she added. "I think it's from the chemo," I suggested. She looked at my chart and asked how long ago I finished treatments. "Two and a half years," I told her. "Hmmm," she was a little bit confused, "Usually people get shingles while they're on chemo because it kills their immune system and they're much more susceptible to illness." I just shrugged because I know from my blood tests that my white cell count has never fully returned to what it once was. "Can you just wait here?" The PA asked. "I want to show the other PA how you look right now in case you come back and I'm not here. I need her to be able to gage if it's gotten better or worse." I nodded and thought maybe she should just bring the janitor in to check out my goods, too.
The second PA arrived and she poked and prodded the bumps as well. "Ooohh, that's a REALLY sensitive area to have shingles," she told me as if I didn't already know how much it sucked. "Ok, got it," she said and left the original PA with me again. "I just want to take a culture, if I can. That's a really dirty area so I need to make sure you don't also have a bacterial infection growing in there."
Hey, lady! Who are you calling dirty? My girly parts are as fresh as daisies!
"Ok," I submitted. She took a stick out of a sterile bag and popped a couple of my lovely blisters, which felt like someone was stabbing me with needles right in the vag, then bagged it back up to ship to the lab. "I don't expect the test to show anything, but I just want to make sure. As I said, it's a really dirty area." Ok, I get it. Snatches are dirty. Enough. Then she gave me my instructions, "You'll take an antiviral pill three times a day for seven days. I'm also gonna give you an oral steroid to help with inflammation. Part of what happens with shingles is once the rash goes away in about a week, you might have lasting, severe pain. The steroid should help that. It might not take it away completely, but it should help. The last thing I'm giving you is a topical antibiotic to try to keep the area from getting infected. I know I've mentioned that area is very dirty." I started to wonder about the condition of her lady bits, at that point, because I've really never had any complaints about mine.
"I want to see you again on Monday, but if this gets any worse, come back tomorrow." I nodded. "Oh, and no sex." I had to laugh out loud, "Yeah, my husband wouldn't come near me looking like this. I'm just glad it's not herpes!" She didn't say anything. My tone changed, "You're sure it's not herpes, right?" She smiled, "It's one-hundred percent shingles and one-hundred percent not herpes." My smile came back, "Ok, then I won't have to get divorced."
And there you have it! I keep trying to write a simple blog about having a baby through the miracle of gestational surrogacy, but my damn body wants to keep things interesting with micro fractures and random pains and diseases of the elderly! Enough already! For a week I've been planning that my after Christmas post would be the one to spill the beans on Baby A's name.
I guess you'll have to wait for the next one!