Saturday, July 31, 2010

the rhoid less traveled

Don't get me wrong - I am not complaining about pregnancy. (Right now.) But this past week...oh, boy.

I spent the week in one of my favorite places on earth, an old copper mining town far up in the mountains which has been turned into a Christian retreat center. It's an amazing place - focused on intentional community, simplicity, local food and sustainable living practices, open-minded spirituality, and sheer joy. I love it there. There's no place like it on earth.

It's also completely disconnected from the outside world: no phones, no television, no radios. Lots of time for reading, knitting, talking, coffee breaks, and homemade bread. (Oh, the bread - there are no words.) Normally, I relish the break from ringtones and news broadcasts and email and the constant pressure to be busy and do something with yourself. Admittedly, though, the lack-of-connection thing can present issues. Such as...

So, I've still been taking the anti-nausea meds. Despite numerous trials, I haven't been able to go off of them without immediate return to morning sickness. Unfortunately, the joy of no-nausea comes with the side effect of terrible-constipation. And, as tends to happen, said constipation can result in dreaded-hemorrhoids. (Thus endeth any dignity I may still have had on this blog. Whatever.)

I packed everything I thought I could possibly need for this week, given that the remote location meant I could not simply stop at the grocery store for anything I forgot. "Go to the grocery store" from this location means a 45-minute bus trip down the mountain, a 2-hour boat ride into town, an overnight stay in said town because the boat only runs once a day - way too much trouble.

I thought about bringing the hemorrhoid stuff, really I did. But I haven't had problems with that for weeks. I brought the anti-nausea meds, the stool softener, a first-aid kit, protein bars, and my water bottle. I brought my new boyfriend, the pregnancy pillow which was totally worth the ridiculous $40 price tag, even if it practically is the size of a third person in the bed (hence the 'boyfriend' title). I had it all. I was prepared. Wilderness, just try to beat me; I dare you.

Bad plan.

Somehow, I developed a bad case of hemorrhoids. You'd think I'd remember the events which led to this, but I've apparently blocked that out. At any rate, by Tuesday morning, I was pretty miserable. Keep in mind that we weren't leaving until Friday, and there was no way off this mountain. There is a small store, so I girded up my "God, this is too humiliating" loins and went to get some "please put me out of this misery" cream.

Guess what they were completely out of? And would not be getting any more until at least Friday?

Yeah. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Nothing to deal with this problem. I raided the first aid kits; I went to the medic. The medic gave me some suppositories, which did absolutely nothing given that the problem was more...external, if you get my drift.

A short list of things which you think might help with hemorrhoids but don't work at all so don't bother trying: antiseptic pads (ouch, though), hydrocortisone cream, neo.sporin, soap and water, and calamine lotion. It just got worse every day. The pain is hard to describe. It hurt to sit down; it hurt to stand up; it nearly killed me to stand up from a sitting position; and I was walking like an eighty-year old man with a broken hip. Plus, you can't really admit to the problem. "Oh, I've got raging hemorrhoids" is not exactly polite conversation. "Back pain" is what I used as cover. WAY back, I thought.

But wait, you're saying: why did you have calamine lotion on hand? What a good question.

Also on Tuesday morning - the day which shall henceforth be known as "the day of biblical plagues" - I woke up with several bug bites on my back. Odd, I thought, but then again, there were lots of bite-y little creatures around. They had probably gotten me during the day and I just didn't notice.

The next morning, I woke up with several more. All of which were under my bra strap. "How did they get in there?" I wondered. My back was never exposed. How had they crawled under my shirt, camisole and bra? And why?

On Wednesday night, I lay in bed thinking about this. I started thinking about bugs. About waking up with bug bites. About bugs in the bed. About bed bugs. And fleas.

No more sleep that night.

Thursday morning: more bites. Thursday afternoon, I found two little black bugs in my bed. I killed one, went to the registration office, and told them my suspicions. They quickly gave me another room, washed all my clothes, and sent me to the medic for some itch relief. Staff went into my room and began to check it out. I took myself to the medic.

This, of course, is where the calamine lotion comes in. She treated me and sent me on my way. I went to take one of the best showers of my life. And then...

The medic came to find me at dinner. "You know," she said quietly, "I got to thinking about your bites. Remember how I noticed that they were all on one side? There's a doctor here this week and I want him to check you out. I'm worried that you might have shingles."


Yeah. Long story short: shingles. Good news: no effect on the baby (believe me, I asked numerous times about this as I sobbed in the medic's office); there is an antibiotic available which is safe during pregnancy; it's a relatively minor case; I'm not contagious given the location of the breakout.

Bad news: oh, the pain. And the itching. And did I mention the pain? And remember the totally-untreated hemorrhoids?

And remember how there is no communication with the outside world here? Oh - and I should probably have told you that my husband wasn't with me, as he had to take a continuing education class the same week.

Which meant we had to use the emergency system to email him in such a way as to suggest urgency-but-not-panic (tricky), get him to call my ob-gyn for a prescription, then get him to email me back and hope that the medic had the drug on hand. I'll spare you the enormously complicated story of how this all happened, but thankfully, it did, and they did have the antibiotic, and my doctor also assured me that the baby would be fine. (More tears from me.)

I have never been so happy to be home as I was last night.

I haven't slept for three days. Last night I laid awake with too much pain and itching at those two key locations on my body, from 11:00pm to 5:00am. I burst into tears twice in the middle of the night, from frustration and exhaustion. My poor husband got up twice to put on more calamine lotion, and simply said "it's good practice for later" when I apologized for waking him up at 3:00am sobbing. Again.

As I keep telling myself, there are lots of good things here. The baby is fine. And will be fine. I now have medications for both problems. The worst should be behind me (pun intended, sort of). This will get better. This too shall pass.

Just remember: next time you go out to the wilderness, bring your hemorrhoid medication. Never had that problem in your life? Doesn't matter. Just bring it. Trust me.


  1. Oh my goodness!! I feel so sorry for you, but man does it make for a great story. I've been laughing so hard I cried. And trust me, I will never leave the house without some hemorrhoid meds :)

  2. So, I feel really bad about how much I laughed reading this because it all comes at the expense of your comfort and dignity. But seriously- this is one of the funniest posts I've read in a really long time. Thanks a ton for sharing!

  3. lord have mercy... SHINGLES??!!! hemmorhoids SUCK, but are understandable. but SHINGLES... i hear that they are SO painful... and they are clearly the LAST thing you need. ARGH! Darn that murphy... ruining your lovely, relaxing getaway... thank goodness for safe meds, and attentive medics, and emergency communication... and home. May healing find you quickly.

  4. I'm just guessing where this place is - does it begin with an H? I've always wanted to go and the remoteness sounds like it might be there. As for the other H word, OMG!!! That is the worst! You poor thing! And Shingles! I know I was relieved it wasn't bed bugs but shingles?!!!
    It sounds horrible but it's a great story!

  5. @tireegal68 - "H" would be correct. :) And I still highly recommend it!

  6. Oh boy, that is a nightmare. I am just so sorry you had to endure both of those horribly painful thing at your retreat, which was supposed to be relaxing. I hope you are feeling better soon!!

  7. OMG, how awful (and tragically hilarious)! I'm so sorry - and I hope you're feeling better!

  8. Oh, that really is a rough week. Hemorrhoids and shingles (and bed bugs?) all at once?? I'm glad baby is okay and I hope your ailments vanish with the meds. I was just reading about hemorrhoids in one of my pregnancy books since I seem to have developed a minor case myself. The author made a point of reminding any woman lucky enough to escape hemorrhoids during pregnancy to be grateful for her luck and to offer the utmost sympathy to the unlucky suckers like us. I will take your advice next camping trip!

  9. Glad to know that overall you and the baby are ok and I can't even imagine the range of emotions you went through! Hope you're feeling a bit better. Not sure if this will work for you, but with a cotton ball, try rubbing vinegar on your itchy spots, this really helped on my major bug bites. Take care!

  10. Oh my gosh! You're talking about HV...I lived there years ago (and I get shingles sometimes and I just had a baby). We have a lot in common. :) I can't wait to take my daughter to HV -- there's no way you could be talking about anywhere else...