Been forever since I’ve posted here since there’s been zero changes to my hip other than gaining some weight and living in fear of running into my ortho surgeon coupled with feeling its capability diminishing slowly but surely. And not much to report healthwise, just life.
Until last week.
(Going to try not to be my loquacious norm. Fingers crossed. Actually typing with my fingers crossed would most certainly keep my word count down.)
In my long life (it seems like a very long 42 years) there have been 3 times I’ve thought ‘uhm I should probably go to an emergency room’. At least as an adult. As a child I turned bone breaking a sport, collarbone, arms, I was your girl. But as an adult the first time was in my late twenties when, home alone one night while my fiancé was at work I felt an intense, immediate stabbing pain in my lower back and abdomen and it was like fire. Long before Google, long before WebMD I knew it was a kidney stone, was just a feeling I had. I called my fiancé at work who wouldn’t get off shift until midnight and likely not home until 1 am. He insisted on calling his mother to take me to the ER and I insisted he did not. She was a single woman; she shouldn’t be out running me around. I’d drive myself. Although I know that was not going to happen, at that point I hoped to just die a quick death from the pain and be done. I’m such a dramatist.
But arrive she did and her pre-retirement career as a nurse she took one look at me and sped me to the nearest ER. The important part to this story is that we lived in the middle of nowhere. A spread out nowhere. When we got to the ER there were 2 moms with infants, and a bunch of chairs I couldn’t force myself into. So, in pain and crying hysterically while my future mother in law signed me in, I slumped against the wall and to the floor, this time thinking at least I’d die in a hospital.
To their credit, both moms yelled to the intake desk that I was on the floor and gave sympathetic looks to my apparent pain. I was carted to the triage area where I immediately began vomiting everywhere. I was then moved to another room, handed a gown or two, an emesis basin (which I remember thinking…you know what I just did and at what velocity, give me a trash can not this stupid kidney shaped Barbie wading pool thingy).
Without too much more blather, there was only 1 doctor on duty (very small country hospital) and a 16 year old kid had wrecked his car at a very high speed had the doctors full attention. Finally the doctor who stopped in for about 42 seconds said we needed a CT scan before any pain medication (this was before I knew about pain seekers in the ER) changed his mind when he saw me heave, cry and then once again, vomit. I never saw him again and I always hoped the teen survived the car accident. A moment or two later a nurse showed up with a needle and gave me something for pain and I passed out. 10 minutes later I woke up in zero pain My fiancé was there (he’d been waiting outside the door while the doctor was in). It was just toradol but it was perfect. I left in 2 hospital gowns and a blanket (1 worn as a robe!) since of course it was COLD when this happened and there was no way I could wear my unfortunately decorated clothing.
The second need for the ER as an adult was far less interesting. About 6 years ago I’d been dealing with a cold and cough. I’ve got a history of bronchitis (although I’ve never smoked, I’ve had bronchitis on average once a year since I was well, since forever). I was living alone and it was early on a Sunday morning I woke up with breathing issues. Not the omg I’m having a heart attack kind but more the…uh why does it feel like I’m getting no air kind of thing, something is really, really wrong.
Headed to the ER nearest my place, taken right back. It was one of those weird rare times, you rarely see an empty or near empty ER. Hot nurse Chad (totally his real name) hung out with me while I waited on my xrays. We had a nice chat and he had led an interesting life and of course he was nice to look at. After the doctor came in and delivered the diagnosis I had already assigned in my head, nurse Chad did my outprocess or whatever, told me not to feel bad about feeling like a hypochondriac. Oh yea, I was suffering from what they call in the medical profession ‘a cold’.
I left there with a new motto: unless I have a sucking knife wound, I will not step foot into another Emergency Room.
Until last Thursday.
Now, going back to last Monday I had pretty sharp left chest pain which I associated with some sort of random anxiety or gas or most likely a muscle pull. The day before we’d been at the pumpkin patch and with my gimpy hip I’d had to rely on a walker because of the amount of walking and terrain. I hurt. I was tense from all of that, it’s a natural thought process that I’d hurt, then tense up, then pull a muscle.
It couldn’t last more than a day or so. I tried breathing it out, relaxing. The pain seemed to ease up a bit periodically and I’d be able to rest. But man was I exhausted. Tuesday wasn’t much better, but it was some better…a pulled muscle can’t last long right? Everything I did was excruciating and took forever. By Wednesday the pain was less intense but had moved to the middle and some on the right side and was impeding my ability to take normal breaths. Again, not constant but often enough it was quite irritating.
Fast forward to Thursday (remember what I said about being wordy? Sorry)
I’ve only been sleeping about 3 maybe 4 hours each night for a few week and was the same Thursday. Up at 5 with my nephew, got him off to school, then my niece. I had plans for the day. I needed to shower, I was working on reorganizing the pantry, and my niece had a late day doctor appointment I had to get her to. Had a couple resume changes to make, did them, uploaded them and then went to shower. After my shower got an iced coffee, considered eating but wasn’t hungry. Sat down with my makeup and hair stuff to get all beautified. Answered a call from a friend and as I sat there in my bathrobe stretching further and further back on the bed because the left chest pain was bad an it felt like someone stabbed me in the middle of my chest. We hung up and I lay there a second.
It was one of those defining moments. One of those…I need to make a decision moments. One of those, something is 100% absolutely to my detriment wrong.
I stood, tied my robe a bit and hobbled bent over at the waist completely crippled by chest pain, and inability to breathe and choking from trying to gulp in air as I could get it and slowly drug myself to the living room. Had tried to get my moms attention but her hearing isn’t great and I couldn’t make loud words and I was trying to make her understand something was wrong. She looked at me and knew I was for lack of a better phrase, in peril. She called my dad who was way too far away and I have no idea what she thought he might be able to suggest. I stretched out some, I leaned to and fro, I heaved, I gasped for air, I massaged my chest, I gasped out that I was dying, I tried to lie on the couch which turned out to be the worst idea ever ever ever. After several minutes of this and her saying several times she should call 911 and saying what we both didn’t want to bring up: I don’t have health insurance…I shook my hand at her and listened as she talked to the 911 operator. My nephew met the ambulance outside and I tried desperately to explain when I couldn’t breathe. The EMT pushed on me, causing great pains, and they hooked me up to an EKG (no heart attack but that wasn’t a shock). I listened as they spoke to each other, one spoke to my mom, my body practically shook with pain. It was almost worse than kidney stone pains because it was in my chest and abdomen. It was torture. They informed me I needed to be transported and loaded onto a stretched I was.
Every step, every move, everything killed, I screamed out in pain like one of those people I hate. In the ambulance I continued trying to answer questions, doing a horrible job the entire time. Angry from pain. Scared I was legitimately dying. Angry I had no mascara on. Wondering why they asked certain questions. I hadn’t even noticed my upper abdomen was distended and hard as a rock…and I couldn’t tell them how long it had been that way. I tried to explain I didn’t take heart medication because my blood pressure was normal (except this time it totally was off the charts for obvious reasons).
I overheard them say ETA 8 minutes and I cried and cried more. Then I heaved and was handed a weird emesis bag (HUGE improvement over the kidney shaped Barbie wading pool, btw). All I did was spit because I hadn’t eaten since the night before. Repeat that process a few times and rather painfully. At the hospital I was taken to a room where I continued to dry heave and make god awful noises.
I was thankfully put into a gown (yes, I left in an ambulance in a robe because I couldn’t put on clothes, not even unmentionables. Which, I have now mentioned making them mentionables.). I once again tried to rehash what was going on and what my health history was all while writhing in pain. Literal writhing. I was doing it trying to breathe, to try and relax because I knew if I could relax, I could try to control some of the pain, but nothing worked, nothing. My very kind nurse Elizabeth who I silently titled ‘Countess of the Pen Crown’ for her messy bun loaded with pens (the count of which dropped during my short time in the emergency room…weird) left the room for a moment while the EKG tech came in to scan me.
(Part 2: Me, Myself, and IV)