Monday, October 24, 2011

The Same Day I Landed In The Hospital... niece, who lives near Columbus, had a bicycle accident on her way to work, and broke BOTH wrists and an elbow. Julie is a librarian, and likes to ride her bike to work when the weather is nice. That particular day, what I remember of it, was sunny and warm and, therefore, conducive for a nice, leisurely bike ride.

I guess the groundhog that ran out in front of her, thereby, causing her to wreck, was of the same inclination. You know, get out and enjoy the day and wreak a little havoc before beginning hibernation.

This is Julie when she was about two years old. These are, perhaps, my favorite pictures of her growing up. I am so grateful she posted them on her Facebook page.

Now that Julie is all "grown up," she prefers to be called "Julia," and the following photos were taken three days after the accident, then a week or so later (respectively).  My sister-in-law, Marge, has been taking care of her.  She said, especially in the beginning, it was like taking care of a baby all over again because she had to do "everything" for Julie.  

Bless her heart.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Nine Out Of Ten Hospital Patients Prefer Law & Order: CI

Well, that is what the lab tech - who was in my hospital room last Wednesday morning to draw blood - told me.  I had the USA channel on, and "On Fire" was playing at the time.  As she "sticks" me with the needle, she informed me that at least nine of the ten rooms she had been in that morning had the TV tuned to "that show."  Now, I could have waxed on poetically for hours about the virtues of LOCI and, more specifically, one hunkified Detective Robert Goren, but the woman did have a job to do after all, so I did not detain her.

Now, what was I doing in the hospital, you may well ask. That little melodrama started to unfold in my office late Tuesday morning as I was sitting at my desk, working on a document for a meeting later in the week. I should warn you now that this is going to be a rather lengthy tale, so proceed at your own risk.

Anyway, I was working at my desk when, all of a sudden, and I mean it hit me like a ton of bricks, I felt extremely sleepy and found that I could not focus on the task at hand. I felt disoriented, not dizzy or anything like that, but I was enveloped with this overwhelming sense of need to sleep. I got up from my desk and walked around the office a bit, went to the restroom, got something cold to drink, hoping these activities might suffice to shake off this sudden bout of lethargy. It didn't.

Eventually, I decided to go out to my car...not to drive anywhere. I just wanted to sit back and close my eyes for a few minutes. No one saw me leave the office; everyone was either in a meeting or away from their desk as I passed by, so I couldn't tell anyone what was going on. So, I got in my car, reclined the seat a little, leaned back, and closed my eyes to relax for five or ten minutes...right?

Well, half an hour or so later, I was awakened by someone knocking on my window. It was Casey and Angie...two of my co-workers. They had been looking for me. Actually, they thought I had left for lunch, but Casey saw my car outside and came to investigate by herself. She had evidently tapped on the window, but when that failed to rouse me, she went in search of reinforcements; i.e., Angie. Again, their initial attempts to waken me failed, until Angie really pounded on the window, and that did the trick. I remember jerking awake and opening the door and hearing Angie remark that I hadn't even cracked the window open for ventilation.  Obviously, I had not been thinking clearly.

For the next two or three hours, I would rally a bit and then grow lethargic again. They tell me that I would be talking to them, then simply fall asleep in mid-sentence. But even in my "haze," I was able to answer questions correctly and locate my insurance my purse for them. I was adamant that I didn't want them to call 9-1-1, but by this time, Mary (another co-worker) had become involved. She later told me that she had been sitting in the chair across from my desk, and had asked me point blank what I wanted to do. My answer: I wanted to go home, climb into my bed and "hug" my pillow. (I'm truly surprised - and thankful- that I didn't say I wanted to hug "Bobby" because - in my mind - when I'm hugging that pillow, I'm hugging Bobby.) LOL

Anyway, about this time, Angie confiscated my cell phone and called my brothers to alert them to the situation, and the decision was pretty much taken out of my hands at that point. Brother Tom told them to call EMS and let them evaluate me to determine if I needed to go to the emergency room. Brother Harold and sis-in-law, Patty, had just arrived at the Isle of Palms near Charleston, SC to begin their month long vacation at the beach and were ready to come back if needed.

I don't remember ever actually "seeing" the EMS personnel who took care of me, but I do recall assuring them that I could walk out on my own steam. Angie tells me that they had me down the hall and out the door lickity-split, which is amazing considering how I limp a bit because of my left knee, but I was feeling no pain. I was not able to climb up into the ambulance, however, so they strapped me onto a gurney and lifted me in. Poor fellas. I know they were not looking forward to hoisting the big, fat girl into the vehicle, but they did it...God bless 'em.

I don't know how long it took them to make their assessment, but I do remember the young man asking me to which hospital I wanted to be taken, and I told them Jewish Hospital. (That is where I had my gall bladder removed in 2007 and they treated me well, so that is where I wished to be taken this time, too.) Evidently, all the office folks had gone back inside the building with the understanding that one of the EMTs was going to let them know if they were going to take me to the hospital, but the next thing they knew, the emergency dudes had closed the ambulance doors and started driving up the street, with Marsha (administrative assistant) running after them to find out where they were taking me.

The next thing I remember was waking up in the emergency room.  Of course, the first thing they did was get me dressed in that most fashionable of garments: the hospital gown. Over the course of the next two or three hours, they drew some blood, took my blood pressure (frequently), had me pee in a cup, fitted me with a heart monitor, took an EKG, and then I got to have my very first ever Cat Scan.

By this time, Mary (from the office) and my niece, Cheri, had arrived to be with me.  Luckily, Mary was able to fill them in on some of the details that eluded me since pretty much all I could tell them was that I had been sleepy and disoriented.  Then my friend, Ralph, showed up.  He had just finished with a meeting in Columbus when he got the call from Tom, telling him what was going on with me, so instead of heading southeast to Ironton, he drove down I-71 to Cincinnati to check on me.

Eventually, a doctor dropped by to tell me the results of my blood work...which was okay...and the CT Scan...also okay.  There was no bleeding in my brain, etc., nothing that indicated I had suffered a stroke, which - I assume - was their primary concern.  By this time, I was pretty much back to "normal," and was anxious to go home, but a nurse showed up about that time and, in this accusatory tone, said, "You didn't tell us you were slurring your speech."  To which I replied, "I didn't tell them that because I had no memory of slurring my speech."

The long and the short of that conversation was, they decided I needed an MRI and needed to admit me to the hospital.  Oh, goodie.

Now, I don't like people to make a fuss over me and I positively hate being the center of attention, so about this time, I start telling everyone they should go home; there is no need to hang around.  Don't get me wrong, I was fully appreciative of everyone's concern and the fact they had given up their time to sit with me in the emergency room, which in and of itself can be a tediously arduous ordeal.  Anyway, Mary and Cheri left, but Ralph said he was going to stay until I got situated in my room.  Evidently, Cheri called her dad (my brother, Harold) and told him I was okay because I was telling everyone to go home.  (Ralph later told my bother, Tom, the exact same thing when he called him with an update when he was leaving the hospital.)  Like I said, I don't want people fussing over me, and I don't want to be a bother or a burden to anyone.

So, after the hospital staff got me settled in my room, and Ralph was sufficiently reassured that I was not going to expire anytime soon and I shooed him toward home, one of the more positive things that happened during my brief hospital sojourn occurred next.  They weighed me.

Now, usually, I avoid scales like the plague, but there was no getting out of it this time, so I begrudgingly stepped onto that horrid mechanism of measurement that has haunted me throughout my entire life.  As far as I can remember, the last time I allowed myself to be weighed was when I had gall bladder surgery in February 2007.  I know what I weighed then, and I am completely certain that I had tacked on quite a few pounds over the past four years.  So, when I stepped onto the scale and it registered my current weight, I am pretty sure the aide was a little taken aback by my elated response; I smiled and told her, "I know that is bad, but it is so much better than the last time I was weighed."  According to the scales, since I started the low-carb diet on July 3rd, I have lost "at least" twenty-five pounds.  (I know what you're thinking, and, yes, I told the nurses who cared for me and the two doctors who saw me during my "incarceration" that I had been on a low-carb diet for three months - in the event the diet could have contributed to my "condition," - and nary a word was said about discontinuing my dieting regimen.)

My apologies; I realize this is turning into a veritable "tome," but a lot of stuff happened in a relatively short amount of time, and I want to get it "recorded" somewhere in case I ever need to refer back to it for some reason.

Next on the agenda that evening was the dreaded MRI.  I have always said I would never be able to endure that test; i.e., being shoved inside a tube, completely at the mercy of a technician in another room for freedom should I panic.  But I was determined to give it the old college try.  So, a very nice orderly (do they still call them orderlies) wheeled me down to the MRI room.  The technician, Robin, asked me what kind of music I liked, and I requested Josh Groban because he has the most soothing/relaxing voice...even if I don't understand what he is singing most of the time.  Yes, if anyone could help get me through this forthcoming ordeal, it was most assuredly Josh.

I gave the machine a long, pensive look as I mentally prepared myself for the inevitable.  The technician helped me get situated on the table/bed, put the headsets on, and gave me the "panic" button to push in the event I - you know - panickedAt this point, I was thinking I was going to be okay, and then the technician did something totally unexpected.  She pulled a cage-like mask that they call a "halo," but what I irreverently dubbed a Hannibal Lecter mask, across my face and fastened it down.  Once I heard that "click," that was all she wrote, and I "freaked-out" and told Robin I was not going to be able to do it. 

So, back to my room they did take me, and the next morning - after the nurse had administered a shot of something to help me "relax," - we tried it again.  This time, I was able to make it through the MRI...Hannibal Lecter mask and all.  After I completed the MRI, they took me off for two more tests; i.e., an echocardiogram and a carotid artery ultrasound.  After that, a nice, young orderly wheeled me back to my room and left me there to wait...and wait...and wait some more.

Sometime that afternoon, my nurse - Taryn - came in to check on me, and she happened to casually mention that they were going to start me on a cholesterol medication that night.  Now, I have a younger friend who had a stroke recently and part of the regimen they started him on afterwards was a cholesterol medication.  So, with that knowledge and from the nurse's comments, I "inferred" a couple of things.  One, they planned to keep me another night, which seemed absurd to me because I felt GREAT!  And, two, I must have had a mini-stroke...hence the new meds.

The problem one had bothered to stop by my room and tell me anything.  By this time, I was starting to grow a bit..."cranky."  Harold called about this time to check on me, and I told him I was not giving them another drop of blood, or taking another pill, or submitting to another test until someone told me something.  Later, when I said something to the nurse about going home, she asked me why I thought I was going to be released that day, and I told her because I was feeling fine and I had not seen a doctor yet that day to tell me otherwise.  I mean, I was ready to check myself out...almost, but I did want to know the test results, so I continued to sit and simmer and...wait.  Imagine that...having to wait for a doctor.

Around 4:00p.m., the doctor showed up...with the following news:  the MRI was negative except for some inflammation around my sinus cavities - try living in Cincinnati and not have problems with your sinuses - (there was no indication of a stroke), the carotid artery test was negative (everything was clear there), they did not have the results back on the echocardiogram yet, but evidently the EKG was okay and I had been hooked up to a heart monitor for the duration, so the doctor left it that he would call me if a problem showed up on the echo. (So far, so good - no follow-up calls.)  And, most importantly, I was free to go home.

I was back at work bright and early on Thursday morning, feeling fit as a fiddle.

Bottom line...after running thousands of dollars worth of tests...they were not able to determine what caused my little "episode" at work.  Their best "guess" was that perhaps I have sleep apnea, and they suggested I might want to participate in a sleep study at some point in the near future.  Yeah, right.  I don't like strangers looking at me when I'm awake.  Do you really think I'm going to let people observe me while I sleep, and "pay" for them to do it?  I don't think so.