It Started with a Cough

Sandy has been coughing for months.

Then, in September she started to walk on the treadmill. She liked doing it and began to increase her speed rapidly. After two weeks she was up to 30 minutes every day walking very fast. During and after her sessions she would be dripping with sweat.

At the beginning of the third week of walking on the treadmill she got sick and had to stop walking. First it was a sinus infection that caused her to frequently have to blow bloody mucus out of her nose. She didn't make a special appointment for the infection, but waited until her next appointment with her pain doctor. The appointment was just a few days after she started to complain about her sinuses and he gave her a prescription for Amoxicillin.

Two days after starting the antibiotic she told me about a cyst she had known was growing on her abdomen. When she showed it to me I couldn't believe it. It was huge, angry and red and looked like it was ready to explode (she showed me because it had begun to be painful when she was just sitting down -- it had been bad only when she got up). I told her she needed to go to the emergency room immediately and she reluctantly agreed and we went.

At the hospital she was anesthetized and the cyst was lanced, drained, packed and covered. She was given another antibiotic to take with the Amoxicillin and sent home. (The cyst cleared up nicely in two days, but she still had the sinus infection.

At this point I suggested she make an appointment to see the doctor who diagnosed her as having osteomyelitis of the jawbone in 2001 and who she has seen at least once a year since.

She agreed and she went to see him three weeks ago. After examining her sinuses with a light and seeing that she has a bloody mass blocking her sinuses he immediately put her on a nebulizer with a steroid, an anti-fungal, and an anti-bacterial in the more info

mist and gave her a shot with the same contents. She had to sit there for 40 minutes breathing the mist and he talked to us about how osteomyelitis comes back even after years of it seeming to be in arrest.

The doctor sent her home with a prescription of yet another antibiotic and an appointment to see him the next week. Well, that antibiotic didn't do much and at her second appointment last Thursday he put her on an extremely strong penicillin mixed with another antibiotic.

She is taking dozens of probiotics between doses of antibiotics (to keep from having diarrhea -- she learned to do this when this same doctor had her on a pic-line pumping antibiotics into her vein for three months at a time trying to kill the bacteria in her jawbone) and is gradually feeling better (her cough is 50 percent better, but she is still blowing bloody mucus out of her nose).

The doctor also has her taking steroids, which seem to help the pain she has in her breasts when the dose is strong (both times the pills are to be taken 7 on the first day, 6 on the second day, etc). So, by the time she is on just one, or, on the present schedule, 1/2 a pill, they stop working. They are the only thing that has helped reduce the inflammation she has in her lymph.

Well, I don't know what I would do if I were Sandy. She seems to be able to ignore or put up with a lot more pain than I ever could.

It reminds me of when all this came to light in 2001 and the MRI of her head showed infection in her jawbone above her two upper front teeth (as well as other areas) and she said, "Oh that's why whenever I touched my two front teeth with a glass it hurt so bad." When I asked her why she never told me about how her teeth hurt she said, "I thought everybody's teeth hurt like that."

About the Author Bonnie O'Sullivan

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