My overnight trip to the hospital
admin 7 January, 2010
I have told you about that the recent months were pretty hard for me as I was getting one virus after another. Last 10 days or so were nightmare, I’ve been coughing, blowing and feeling lousy in addition to all of my common problems. Three days ago, on Sunday evening there were light rain and then freeze that was followed by a soft and wonderful, white snowfall. It looked just like in Dr. Zhivago, but without the bells.
Between coughing, I was telling my husband what is going outside and how beautiful it is. He was trying to fall asleep, but to be honest, he is always sleepy after 8 p.m. I went to the bathroom for my normal vitamins and Metamucil pills. I decided to take pills because when I have my worse days I simply cannot face the sludge of Metamucil powder. The throat is a rebel. When I lied down in bed I felt pain in the mid-sternum of my chest. I thought it was just pills I do not swallow fully, so I went back for another glass of water, but it didn’t bring relief. The pressure and pain started to become stronger. I took the nitroglycerin tabs I store near my bed. And it didn’t make a change. I knew it was still an active med since it burned the mucosa under my tongue. As there was no relief I took another one. I tried to breathe deeply and relax, but the pain didn’t go away.
I tried lying, and it didn’t help. Finally, I have decided to wake up Jim as I didn’t want to struggle with this all by myself. It was about an hour of pain before that. The first thing I could think of was how I supposed to get into the car and to the ER when it’s all slick outside? It was raining, then freezing, it must been slick like hell! Due to my terrible uncomfortable sacroiliac joints I am really afraid of falling. There were no cars on the road, all was strangely quiet and calm. Just the thought about going outside made me so frightened so my blood pressure skyrockets. Jim woke up, he needed one look at me and he said, we should better be going to the ER. I started to get dressed.
I don’t know why, but as a nurse I’m really afraid of making a fool of myself by showing up in the ER with something that pass by itself. Jim in his somewhat wonderful provincial way of putting things said, “Wouldn’t you rather go in and check it out instead of collapsing on the floor and saying, ‘OOPS?’” So, it was like that and we were heading towards the tundra like outside of our house. When I saw all was shinning and glittering I have decided to not go by ourselves and simply call an ambulance. I was embarrassed about how falling scares me, but I didn’t want to risk. Slowly, but without problems we reached the ER. Two nurses who were with me in the car were analyzing the situation, but I wasn’t diaphoretic or sweaty which I knew was telling that something was wrong with my heart. There was no radiating pain in my arm, shoulder or jaw. I also was aware of that woman’s symptoms are different than those the men have.
The first they had to checked out if it wasn’t a heart attack because my history of cardiac irregularities. I was on cardiac meds for about twenty years. They plugged in the monitor, did an EKG, put in IV site and gave blood to the lab. I also get IV Dilaudid, which spin my head but also took pressure and pain. They did a chest X-ray. Some of my blood tests came showed inflammation, which should be my middle name (it’s hard for me to find one place on my body that is not inflamed) but despite of that the ER doctor had to rule out a pulmonary embolus or a blood clot in my lungs. They called a technician to do a scan with contrast. There were also talking about sending me to Portland – journey 75 miles long. I also was worrying how I was going to travel there when there was such lousy weather outside. Right, it would be perfect to use Dr. Zhivago’s sleigh. Hopefully, they didn’t find a clot. If there was one, it simply gone. They repeated EKG, cardiac enzymes and they decided to move me into the ICU. There was lack of nurses on the night shift in the ICU, so I had to stay in the ER and listening to the doctor and nurses kept talking about politics. I was worried if Jim made it to get back home.
At 8 am, they moved me to the ICU, asked the same questions with addition about what was given to me on the ER. I was put on one of those fancy and expensive beds that kept inhaling and exhaling. I heard that it is to prevent bedsores, but I must say it was kind of irritating and I wasn’t sure if I could get bedsores just by few hours of lying. The oxygen was bubbling away in a machine to humidify air, the monitor was beeping and people kept coming into the room.
The iodine that was injected for the scan of the lungs had teased my bladder so I had to go to the bathroom every twenty minutes with my short leash of all cables connected to me. My daughter and her husband came to visit me even if I was telling them not to come in such lousy weather. My son called from Dallas. I must say I love my kids and the way they make me happy, I love when they are telling stories about themselves and about my grandkids. My doctor came and was a welcome sight. She is really smart, young woman and I’m lucky to be her patient. We together decided it would be better to stay for a few more cardiac enzyme tests and EKG. We were chatting and thinking about possible cause of that pain if it wasn’t heart. I have a chemical treadmill scheduled for next week as it was impossible for me to attend to regular type due to my knees problems. We’ll take a closer look at the esophagus that is problem in my opinion as I’ve had troubles with swallowing the larger pills for years. A lot of people who just like me suffer from relapsing polychondritis have tracheal problems because of the destruction of cartilage throughout their bodies. Of course it may happen I tore something in the trachea during all that weeks of coughing. We’ll see.
It was really nice to get back to home on Monday afternoon, headed to the hot bath and at last go to very own bed and sleep. Hospitals are not comfy at all. It is impossible to sleep if you’re not on the meds that make you unconscious. With such prices, it’s reasonable to stay awake to see whole thing.
Life with Chronic Pain Blog
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