I awoke startled! I sat up straight on the couch and realized that I had lost my sense of smell. When I fell asleep, my sinuses had been completely blocked and I couldn't breathe through my nose, but now they were clear and dry. I could breathe clearly, but my head still felt blocked. "What is going on?" I thought. I stood up and began nervously pacing the room. I was filled with fear and panic and I didn't know what was happening to me. I felt like I was losing control of my emotions. When I fell asleep that night, I was sick with the flu, but I felt fine emotionally. What had changed in those few short hours? Maybe the medication was too strong for me. Maybe I was having a reaction.
My head felt like someone had taken a leather belt and tied it tightly around my head. Either that, or an invisible vice was gripping my brain! I couldn't think clearly or rationally about my situation.
I paced the floor. Back and forth, back and forth. I picked up a scented candle and sniffed. Nope, I could not smell a thing. You have to understand. I am a foodie. I love to cook. I love scents. This was unreal. Not only that, I was confused as to why I was feeling so horrible. Aren't antibiotics supposed to make you feel better? Plus, my throat felt funny and it was difficult to swallow. I kept tugging on my neck to help me breathe.
The next morning, I cried as I told my husband what was happening. He thought I was over-reacting and said that my sense of smell would return as I got better. I had lost the ability to smell before when my nose was stuffy–just like anyone else who is congested, but this was different. My nose was dry and there was absolutely zero congestion. I couldn't figure out how I could go from completely congested to dry, like the Sahara Desert kind of dry.
The next day, I was still feeling strange. My back started to feel funny, like something was crawling up my spine. I felt like I was losing a sense of reality as the pressure intensified, like I had taken a cold medicine that makes you feel "out of it" but with intense head pressure. My neck glands were very swollen and painful too and I was extremely fatigued. I had extreme joint pain in every joint, especially my knees and hips. I had not experienced this kind of joint pain since I gave up gluten in 2006. On top of that, I was in 24/7 panic mode. I could not calm down. I just felt like I was in a constant state of panic/fear, but with no trigger. There was nothing that I was afraid of or should be panicking about. I also had stopped eating and didn't even realize it. The rest of my household was recovering from this flu, so my husband was cooking for the kids, but no one seemed to notice that I wasn't eating. I began experiencing excessive thirst. I couldn't get enough water. I was drinking about a gallon or more a day with no relief. At this point, I had lost 10 lbs.
I went to see my Primary Care Physician and told her what was happening. I paced in the examination room until she arrived. I tried to appear as normal as possible, but the truth was, I wanted to jump out of my skin. She brushed off my idea that I may have reactivated mono and proceeded to prescribe me a Z-pack and told me to stop taking the amoxicillin. She scoffed at my loss of smell. She said that she had several patients lose their sense of smell permanently and they were not even upset. Well, that was no comfort. Losing your sense of smell is NOT normal. She gave me an inhaler because my throat felt like it was closing and I was having difficulty swallowing.
I left and tried to remain calm. I began taking the Z-pack, but things just kept getting worse. By day five of the the zithro, I was a mess. That funny feeling in my spine intensified to the point that I knew something was really wrong. My head pressure increased and my sense of smell was still mostly gone. Plus, I was absolutely exhausted. Some other friends and family suggested that my problem was a sinus infection and that many people in our area had a sinus infection that would not clear up. So, I made an appointment with an ENT. At this point, I had been sick for over two weeks and I felt like I was getting worse, not better.
The ENT did not have any openings for a week, so when I went to see him, I was done with the antibiotics, but my head pressure was overwhelming and I had a general "spacey" feeling. I was taking sudafed, which seemed to provide some relief. He looked up my nose and down my throat, which was completely red & raw, but he couldn't really find anything wrong. I wasn't congested, but he thought I may have sinus swelling and acid reflux. He prescribed steroids and an OTC med for acid reflux.