While there have been plenty of times I thought I should go to the ER, I have never actually been. Usually a call to my doctor at home results in a prescription and no need to leave the house. Until yesterday.
My husband was singing at both services at church, so he was gone. I was supposed to go up there for second service but that got derailed. I woke up in intense pain that I’d rate a 10 – and it only got worse after that. I was home alone. I had hydrocodone. I took it. Two hours later I took a Tramadol too. The pain was still getting more and more intense.
I called the doctor and he said that the pain meds was the best he could do, and if I needed something stronger I’d need to go to the ER. At this point I was shaking violently and could barely walk. I wracked my brain trying to think if anyone lived really truly close by. No. So I hobbled downstairs, leaving all the animals running free in the house, and got in the car.
I shouldn’t have been driving but you know what? I couldn’t wait any more. I ran stop signs and one red light. I got to the hospital. I drove right up to the door and left my car there illegally. I hobbled inside – I couldn’t stand up straight. I whimpered out my info to the front desk and they had me wait.
It wasn’t too long before I was called back, but it was only triage. Asking questions, taking notes, then back to waiting. Then I went through triage again. More waiting. At this point I was in more pain than I ever fathomed was even possible. Think Harry Potter, Crucio! I felt worse than I imagined magical torture was.
I wanted to text people and tell them what was happening, but I could barely move. So I checked in at the ER on facebook and unwisely wrote “dying” because I honestly couldn’t think of another word to encapsulate what was happening. (Note: probably never check in to an ER and write “dying” on your facebook, it seemed to really upset everyone.)
I had spent a lot of time rushing to and from the bathroom, not wanting to miss my name being called. I felt like I really needed to pee, like, BADLY, but nothing was coming out. Still sitting on the toilet, for whatever reason, was the most comfortable position I could be in. Then a familiar feeling rose up in my chest.
See, this has happened once before – when I was first diagnosed. I woke up feeling exactly like this (or was it worse this time? Was I really in this much pain before? And didn’t die?) and threw up out of shear panic. Looking back I always thought that was a silly thing to do. But here I was in the ER bathroom and it was coming whether I thought it was silly or not.
So I puked. And felt better. Not a LOT better but I would rate my pain at a 8 or 9 instead of a 20. And it was precisely then that I began to climb back up maslow’s hierarchy of needs and realized how disgusted I was to be laying on the floor of an emergency room bathroom.
Finally they called me in to my own room. I got on my fashionable hospital gown and laid down in bed – and laying down felt so much better. Pain was now a solid 8, maybe slipping down to 7.
Here’s a fun fact – apparently EMTs and Firemen train in the ER. So there was almost always a fireman shadowing my nurse and being taught how to do all the things. This was interesting but mostly bad. For one, I’m extremely squeamish and did NOT need all the gory details. And two – this guy gave me the most painful IV ever. Luckily shortly after that they pumped it full of morphine and I didn’t mind so much.
It was about this time that my husband arrived. Serendipitously he was wearing his Dallas Firemen shirt that he got after working with a bunch of firemen for a big install construction thing. So when he ran into a group of firemen he showed them his shirt and they showed him to my room. Later on he did have to check in for real, but it was still pretty cool.
When he got there I was just about to get morphine (hence no smiles yet) and felt much better right away. Hubs seemed a little frustrated. He was missing rehearsal to be with me and I didn’t seem that sick once he arrived, so it made sense that he wondered if I didn’t overreact to normal pain. Even though I knew it was the only choice I had, I still felt bad. I even wondered if I shouldn’t have just stayed at home until I threw up and felt a little better. I might have been able to ride it out. I felt really guilty.
Hubs found the TV remote right away and we found Lord of the Rings on TV. We watched most of Fellowship and all of Two Towers – it was a very long day. At that point, I wasn’t hurting any more. But since the ER isn’t just handing out morphine, we still had to figure out what was up with me. So I gave blood and peed in a cup and waited. We heard occasional crying and coughing and screaming and barfing. I told Hubs that it was probably a good sign the doctor was taking so long to get to me – that it probably meant the other people were worse off than me and I’d probably make it.
Blood test came back with a slightly elevated white blood cell count (12 – when the highest it should be is 10), so they wanted to rule out appendicitis. Time for a CT scan. I couldn’t fake cheerfulness at this. I remembered my last CT scan – a tragedy in 5 acts as I once wrote. I did not relish the idea of them putting that awful contrast in my teeny precarious IV.
This also meant I couldn’t eat, in case they had to do surgery. I hadn’t had a chance to eat breakfast or anything and I was starving. It was about 5:00 in the evening by then. But luckily, I had to drink icky contrast so my tummy wouldn’t be empty for long. The nurse brought in this GIANT thing of 1000 ccs of neon orange stuff. She promised me it wouldn’t taste bad and that it was mostly orange gatorade. Remembering my last scan, I did not believe her for one moment. But it turns out she was right, it just tasted like orange gatorade. And my tummy was happy to not be empty anymore.
Hubs went to the vending machines for some snacks and didn’t laugh when I jokingly told him not to get ebola on the way. Soon it was time for the scan. Hubs had to stay behind.
I was right to fear the contrast. Especially going through an IV in my hand instead of my arm. It was hellish. It burned and hurt and I cried. When it was all over with, I was shaking. And once I was alone in my room with my husband again I broke down. I wasn’t still hurting. My hand hurt a little but not enough to make me cry. I think I was just scared and tired. And now I was really wishing I had just ridden it out at home, not because the CT scan was so awful but because it had been such a long day of doing so little and I lost it. I cried and sobbed and didn’t care who heard.
And even though we had long since passed this scene, it was playing in my head: “I wish the ring had never come to me!”
So I cried until I was all cried out. We watched more Lord of the Rings. And finally the doctor came in. He said that my right ovary did look a bit swollen and that might be causing the pain. I told him that was a possible side effect of some medication I was on. Also, white blood cell count being slightly high can be caused by endo. He said that he was no expert on endometriosis, but that if my pain was under control I could go home and see my doctor about it tomorrow. They said that if the pain got out of control again to come back. And if I poop out blood or throw up black tar to come back. You know, things you’d OBVIOUSLY go to the ER for so you really don’t need to list them off.
Feeling much better, we headed out and went straight to ihop because I was STARVING. And I ate so much strawberry banana french toast. My mom and sister met us there. And it snowed on us a little. So my day ended with a smile.
Talking to my doctor today, he says that ovary has always been a bit swollen and he thinks this was endometriosis getting crazy. Sad, because I just had surgery earlier this year. I still can’t believe endo did that – I was honestly thinking I might have appendicitis. But I guess I shouldn’t underestimate how horrid endo can be.
Today I feel fine. Isn’t that crazy? I have a bit of a headache and a morphine hangover. But I haven’t even taken any medicine today. It’s like yesterday was just a very long bad dream. Chronic illness is that way. It can flare up and then poof – be gone without a trace. So don’t doubt your friends if they cancel on you last minute or something – everything really can change in an instant.