Thursday, May 7, 2015

Bed goes up, bed goes down: Adventures in hospital

I’m in the hospital. I’ve decided to use this time productively, which is code for: I’m going to put a hospital selfie on Facebook and soak up some attention for a few days. Thanks for the well wishes, guys, it made me feel so loved. So the story behind it? Well here goes.

I’d been feeling a bit short of breath since the start of the weekend and by Sunday afternoon I was exhausted to the point where I had to send MapGuy in my place to a five year old’s birthday party that I wanted to go to. No, really, it was one of our mother’s group kids, and now that they’re all at school, birthday parties are almost solely about our catch ups with the added bonus of cake.

Instead of going, I slept all afternoon. Then I coughed all night. I was sucking down Ventolin but it just wasn’t really doing anything. On Monday I headed out to do my Volvo Hot Laps (AMAZING!!! More on that later) and when I came home I fell asleep until school pick up while my parents looked after Bobbin. Then they and my sister, Aunty Penny, let me sleep and took care of the kids. They were fed and bathed and ready to go to bed when I woke up.

At night I consulted Dr Google, which is never the smartest thing to do. Dr Google said I had blot clot in my lung. Way to freak me out, Internet.

By Tuesday morning I was really short of breath and needed a day to rest. I cancelled a blog meeting and my parents took Bobbin again, then picked up Tricks. I stayed in bed and subscribed to Netflix. Because if I was being forced to sit on my butt all day, may as well be entertained, yes?

I complained to my dad that this didn’t feel like normal asthma, that my lungs felt pretty clear but the centre felt strange and I just couldn’t get in enough air, so in the afternoon I headed to my GP to see what he said. He listened to my lungs and said there was no wheeze, no limited air entry or whatever it is. He asked if I had calf pain.

Yes. Oh shit, he’s going the same way Dr Google went.

He made some calls, made some appointments and sent me around the road for an ultrasound with strict instructions to go straight to hospital if my breathing was getting worse. Way to freak me out, doc.

I went to the local ultrasound place as an urgent case and got the death stare from half the packed waiting room as I got called ahead in front of them. Sorry, guys! There was no sign of a clot in my leg that had been sore so I relaxed a little, but alas, relaxing did not improve my breathing.

I settled in to bed again when I got home and commenced binge watching old House episodes because they always make me feel better about hospitals and I was starting to think that that is exactly where I was heading. I was starting to worry that I had an embolism, would fall asleep, it would shift, and I'd never wake up. Because that’s how my brain works sometimes.

By mid evening Tuesday I was struggling so hard to breathe that Aunty Penny took me to the emergency department, meaning MG could stay at home with the kids. We waited for hours on hard, plastic chairs with my fellow patients. Master Dog Bite, Mrs Drunken Fall, Mr Hernia Repair, and the man who vomited everywhere over and over again, Mr Gastro. Bored as anything and desperate to get some help to breath, and yet I was still “take Mr Gastro first, please”.

Fast forward a few hours and I’ve got a bed in the ED and had a chest xray that shows ‘something’ but nothing special (which I refute, because, well, it is showing me) and the lovely doctor with the British accent (let’s call her Dr Brit) is saying that despite my symptoms, it’s still really unlikely I’d have a clot because of my age so instead of doing a CT, they’ll do a blood test that has “clot markers” and when that’s negative we can all relax. Maybe even go home and just keep sucking on Ventolin, hoping it gets better. She sticks a needle in my left arm, draws some blood, and off she goes, letting us know the results take two hours.

Aunty Penny has been making me giggle the whole time. Which is HORRIBLE because it makes me cough, yet I still keep responding and we fire off each other. When she notices the security guy’s shirt has “SECURTIY” on it, we crack up laughing while trying to take a photo. Because such spelling fails need to be Instagrammed.

Dr Brit walks back in my little fabric cubicle and says the blood results have come back positive for signs of a clot. Well, fuck. Way to freak me out, other doc.

It’s now four in the morning so I send Aunty Penny home to get some sleep, but not before saying fuck a lot. I’m hooked up to an ECG machine because my heart has been playing silly buggers since I got here. My little pattern lights up the screen and I can see just how erratic it’s being. Nothing too bad, though.

Dr Brit sticks a needle in my right arm with a cannula for the contrast dye for the CT and I head off to the big machines. It was daunting, and I had to give myself a little pep talk, especially when I heard that the dye makes your body flush hot and feel like you’ve peed your pants. “You’ve peed your pants before, Glow, you’ve got this.” Day-um, I give the best pep talks.

I spend the next few hours hooked up to oxygen because my saturation levels are going down rapidly. Without the oxygen my levels are as low as 79 and respirations at 45 but with it, I’m up around 95 with respirations near 25. It hurts to inhale deeply, so I’m just breathing shallow as I listen to the woman in the next bed tell her doctor how Satan puts bad thoughts in her head. The ED is a horrible place, really. So sad.

Fast forward again and the results are back. No clot is visible. YAY. But that might mean it’s small and “hiding” BOO, so Dr Brit gives a tentative diagnosis of pneumatises. Which is not fun to say at 5:30am when you haven’t slept and can’t breathe. It is recommended that I am admitted and she will have to do a blood gas to complete the chart before sending it. That’s a blood test from your wrist. They hurt. A LOT. Know what hurts more? When they dig around in one wrist and fail, then have to do the digging in the second wrist. Faaaaark.

I’m passed over to the specialist who is trying to find me a bed in the assessment unit before I can go up to the ward. After hours of waiting, they get frustrated enough to come down and do the assessment in the ED.

It’s like being in House. The awesome specialist (let’s call her Dr Lung) and two students, doctors already, so whatever that word is. They take my history and at the end of it, maybe three minutes of talking, I am completely breathless and my stats have bottomed out again. It looks like I’d come to the ED at the right time, because I’ve been steadily getting worse the whole night.

She quizzes the students about tests and risk and lots of stuff, and I’ve watched so much House in the last day that I follow almost the whole conversation. I tell them this is like TV and they all laugh – I secretly think the students think it too, though. I’m told I’m an interesting case and can more students come in the morning please? Sure, bring ‘em all. Because then OMG IT WILL BE EVEN MORE LIKE TV.

I’m given a final diagnosis of pneumonia by Dr Lung. She hears things through the stethoscope that others couldn’t and points out the noises to her students. It’s quite fascinating and I’m so impressed by her, and not just because she reminds me of Edna from The Incredibles. Plus she thinks my jokes are funny (I make jokes whenever I’m nervous so I’ve been saying a shedload of inappropriate shit since I got here). She is not entirely convinced that there are no blood clots, so on top of the hard core antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, I’m to be given a prophylactic DVT treatment.

Now I’m up in the ward, in an isolation suite with a negative pressure door. Anyone coming in has to wear a mask, though the staff don’t seem too strict on that, half of them happy to just sneak in and grab something quickly. It’s a precaution because though you can’t actually catch pneumonia, you can catch the bug that caused it… but we don’t know if it was a nasty bug or just a run of the mill bug that everyone carries. Hopefully because there was no runny nose or fever, chills and the like, that it isn’t a nasty bugger. But for now, my visitors have masks that make them look like ducks. Quack.

Yeah... so the mask didn't really float with Bobbin. But we figured she'd been sharing a bed with me the whole weekend, so she'd have got anything off me by now.

I’ve been so overwhelmed with the love and support we’ve gotten from everyone, but especially our families who have all pitched in because it’s really hard for MG to take time off work right now. It is times like these that you see just how many have your back.

I'm allowed home pretty much when I can have a conversation without becoming breathless - fingers crossed it is tomorrow because I'll be so bummed to miss Tricky's mother's day concert at school! Whatever happens, I'll laze around here, in my Wonder Woman jimjams, binge watching Orange Is The New Black until I get out.

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