I woke up at 6am feeling perfectly fine. I went to the library and studied for the 3 hours before class.
At 8:30 am, I stopped being able to move my neck. I realized this pretty suddenly – it was incredibly stiff and not only couldn’t I move it to either side, but it hurt like the dickens on extension. But I didn’t have a fever, so aside from looking up “rapid-onset meningitis”, I tried to put that out of my mind and go to class.
I usually sit with Jenny and two other friends of mine. When they saw what my range of motion was, I didn’t even have to explain before they were all over me to go to the ER. I protested, told them I didn’t have a fever – but I can’t lie, I was secretly in agreement that I probably had meningitis and would ironically die of it in the middle of our microbiology unit. So I let them successfully peer-pressure me to the Student Health Center (The ER idea was beyond ridiculous, so that was my final offer).
My temperature was 97.1. I texted them back that I either had a genetic dysfunction of interleukin-6, or I did not have meningitis, and I was pretty sure I knew which of those two possibilities was more likely. But I still could barely move my neck, and something about the neck pain might… might have made me tear up a bit when the doctor examined me. (Maybe. I also could’ve been a superwoman who is stoic and cool and unfazeable.)
After a very fancy neurological exam, do you know what I was diagnosed with, dear reader? Stress-related muscle tension.
Unbelievable. And because that punchline wasn’t quite surreal enough, the doctor told me the usual prescription is NSAIDs and a benzodiazepine. (Did a doctor literally just tell me to take a chill pill? Because that’s awesome.)
Luckily, after a few questions he decided to give me a prescription for a straight-up muscle relaxant instead.*
The funny thing is, I’ve been feeling pretty great about how well I’ve been managing my stress level – just taking care of business instead of complaining about it. Heck, I even went out last night instead of studying, just because I understand that balance is important. What more can I possibly do?
I think the logical conclusion is that all the stress I wasn’t admitting to had to go somewhere, and it chose my trapezius.