Sunday, February 6, 2011

I Think The Universe Is Trying To Teach Me A Lesson

Oh what a week this has been. 

The media had us Michiganders in a panic for days, expecting the blizzard of the century. No wait, The Blizzard of the Century. Schools were being closed and trash pick-ups were being canceled even before the snow started. Grocery stores were running out of milk, cars were crowding gas stations. The snow started Tuesday evening. Judging from my friends' status updates on Facebook, plenty of people were disappointed in the so-called blizzard and thought it was actually pretty lame when all was said and done. That's probably because they weren't out driving in it at 3:30 in the morning. We did get a lot of snow, but things didn't get as nasty as everyone had predicted.

So just as the snow really started coming down, I was feeling really sick and Chris was putting the kids to bed. Suddenly I felt really sick, and I sat up a little bit (I was laying on the couch) to reach for my bowl (I learned my lesson last time I was sick, I wasn't taking any chances of passing out again and finishing off my front teeth). And that's when things got nasty, but not nasty in the way you might be thinking. Instead of throwing up, I got really lightheaded and my hands started getting this tingly-numb feeling and pretty soon I couldn't move them. They were clenched closed so tightly they hurt (a lot!) and I couldn't open them. I started calling for Chris because I was pretty freaked out (that might be putting it mildly...) and the numb-tingly feeling started spreading throughout my whole body. Chris called my mom to come over and then he called 911. 

If you know me, you have to know I had to have been beyond terrified to let Chris call 911 for me. I don't want anyone going to all kinds of trouble for me, not even paramedics who have made a career out of helping people. Because I think that's for other people, people who really need help. Well this time I was one of those other people. And you know what, it's pretty scary being one of those other people.

So the very nice paramedics got to our house (and so did my mom - thank goodness she lives very close) and checked me out & I started feeling a little better. They asked me a bunch of questions and took my vitals and said they were okay and that it would be alright if Chris drove me to the hospital so I could avoid being carried out of the house on a stretcher and scarring my kids for life, and also so we could avoid a massive ambulance bill. They helped me out to the car and Chris drove me to the ER of the major trauma center in our area, figuring it would be the best place to get me whatever care I needed. If you live in metro Detroit you might have an idea what hospital I'm talking about and you might be laughing to yourself about what damn fools we were to choose this particular hospital. I was still feeling extremely sick and made Chris bring a bowl with us, which he was just so happy to carry around the ER. However, I was not about to be seen puking all over the place in public and I was in no condition to be sprinting to a bathroom, or even a waste basket. Sorry Chris. Even though I never needed the bowl, it made me feel better knowing it was there.

Despite the fact that the ER was very quiet that night, this was where the waiting and waiting and waiting portion of the evening began. By the time I saw the doctor my hands were getting better and I could move them with effort. The tingly-numbness was mostly gone. The doctor ordered a urine test, some blood work, and an EKG. I got an IV which helped and I felt okay enough to doze on and off while we waited and waited and waited some more. After the first IV bag was empty, some machine was beeping and beeping and driving us crazy for a long time so Chris went to pester a nurse to do her job, um I mean get someone to help. The nurse came in and saw my blood pressure had dropped to 70-something over 40-something, which, in case you're wondering, is really not very good. So she started up another bag of fluids. And then we waited and waited and waited. And then another nurse came in when the second bag had been empty for awhile and saw that my blood pressure and heart rate were okay and ruthlessly ripped my IV out. Perhaps she thought I was unconscious and wouldn't feel it. But no because then she really confused us and told me to get dressed and she'd be back in a minute with my discharge papers.

Hmmm. Okay. I got dressed and she brought in the papers which read "dizzy spell - cause unknown." And she started telling me drink lots of fluids, don't stand up too quickly, etc. Alright, but why did my whole body go numb and then there's the matter that I couldn't move. Because that's actually why I came to the ER. And actually something very similar happened to me just a couple months ago (when I fainted that time, my hands started to do the same thing) but this time was way worse. And I'm pretty sure we told the doctor all of this, did he not hear us? Was I being confused with another patient? What about my test results? Shouldn't some other tests be done? Was this because we don't have insurance?

Just to clarify, I know and love many nurses (and other medical professionals) and I respect what they do and everyone (except the IV ripper outer) was kind to me. But I do feel that I was blown off. I'm not a person who abuses the ER. I haven't been a patient in the ER in about 3 decades. I didn't ask for drugs. When I was told I had a "dizzy spell" I pretty much lost it. I was totally without shame by this point and so the sobbing began. Because this was the scariest thing that has ever happened to me, and I was (am) so afraid of anything like this ever happening again. Next time could be worse. What if Chris hadn't been home? What if I had been home alone with my little girls? I wouldn't have even been able to get myself off the couch and use my hands to pick up the phone and call 911. This was a maddeningly frustrating experience. And then we got to drive home at 3:30 in the morning, hoping and praying the whole way that our little car wouldn't get stuck in the snow.

So this is what I'm thankful for, because yes I'm going to put a positive spin on this so my friend Angela doesn't give me a hard time for being negative. I'm thankful (so thankful!!) that Chris was home when this happened. I'm thankful the paramedics came quickly. I'm thankful my mom was home when Chris called and lives close so she could come be with my kids. I'm thankful we won't get charged for the paramedics since they didn't transport me. I'm thankful I didn't puke all over the ER. I'm thankful the horrible feeling in my hands eventually went away and I'm now able to move and use my hands almost normally (they are still weak and a little stiff). I'm thankful we made it home safely without needing to call for a tow. I'm thankful Chris was able to get me an appointment with a neurologist on Monday. I'm thankful Chris made all the necessary phone calls because I really (no, really) hate making phone calls. I'm thankful my friend suggested I see her chiropractor husband on Friday and he was so nice and helpful and gave me hope by telling me that my spine is a mess (so maybe my brain is okay??). So now I'm just hoping somebody can tell me something to ensure this never happens again.

Maybe the universe is trying to tell me that I am worthy of being a priority to myself. I got so sick in November and passed out and never even went to the doctor because I'm fine. I'm a healthy person. No one need bother themselves for my sake. I don't have insurance, I'm not about to rack up medical bills. Well okay, I guess the universe was not satisfied with that response. Second warning, loud and clear. Although I'm a person for whom it's an effort to not constantly think of mortality, I now have this sudden clarity that something could happen to me. And that I really do need to take my health seriously. I want to be here for my kids. I have a lot I want to accomplish in my life (have you seen my Life List? And I'm just getting started!). So this is a turning point for me. I will definitely do whatever I need to do to make sure another episode like this never happens again. It's a pretty good motivator. Thank you, universe. 



Tracy Balderach said...

How scary! I hope you can get to a few specialists to find out some answers so you can take care of yourself! What a good thing to add to your life something that takes care of you at least once a day!

alyaia75 said...

It was definitely an eye opener! I think it's so easy for us mothers to take care of everyone else and leave ourselves for last, but the truth is I need to be healthy so I can continue to take care of my kids.