How I Scared The Shit Out Of My Love - A Lesson In Hospital Adventures

Well, at last and final count I have no fewer than 6 new holes in my body. Now before you go wandering down the garden path to the land of filth and smut, allow me to clarify. These tiny little punctures are the result of various needles. Two are from getting an IV in my hands, another is from blood work (left arm), another from a Lumbar Puncture procedure, another from drawing blood in my right arm, and the final one from a procedure similiar to getting an epidural to cure something that's called a spinal headache - which are the result from having LPs.

Dev and I are both probably sporting a few more grey hairs after what I (accidently) put us both through yesterday.

So, here's what happened.

At about 4.45 - 5.00 am yesterday, Dev took me to the Emeregency Room here in Timmins. And it is here, that I have to say that the staff at the hospital were wonderful. I overheard that the nursing staff was understaffed (thanks to budget cuts to the hospital) but everyone was smiling and laughing and I never had to wait whatsoever. This marks the first time in my life that I've seen an empty emergency room. But I digress.

I had the worst headache of my life yesterday. It came on suddenly around 1130pm Sunday night. I did probably the worst thing you can possibly do and Google'd symptoms of what a terrible pain in the back of your head can indicate. For future reference, dear readers, I do not advise this. There is no surer way to scare the shit out of yourself then Googling medical stuff and wondering if it applies to you. I was given answers that ranged from a migraine to meningitis to tumors. Try getting some sleep when you're secretly harboring the thought that you're brain might explode. No no... go on. I'll wait here.

Right then. Onwards. The best answer that I seemed to find was that it could possibly be a rebound headache from taking Tylenol. Since I had taken some the day before for a headache, I wrapped this new thought around myself, put some Vick's Vapour Rub on my forehead and drifted off to sleep. Knock the home remedy if you wish, but I'm telling you - vapour rub is probably the best cure for a headache I have ever come across. It makes your skin feel all warm and tingly, plus it clears out your sinuses and you drift off to sleep and your headache is gone and when you wake up you aren't left with the feeling that your head is stuffed full of cottonballs.

Rebound headache my ass.

I woke up again around 2am - the bedside lamp was on - and despite a nagging pressure in my head I made myself go back to sleep. However, come 4.15am the point had come when there was so much pressure in my head I felt like my left eyeball was going to pop out of my head. So, I woke Dev up and said that we had to go to the hospital.

So, I was rushed in to the emergency, given a bed, had the lights turned off and the first IV hooked up to my right hand and given some fluids. The doctor came several minutes later, asked a few questions about my headache - how he heard my muffled answers I have no idea. I was curled in to the gurney like my life depended on it, with the hood of my sweatshirt pulled up and over my eyes. Apparently, the thought of meningitis and./or bleeding in the brain must have occurred to him as well. He ordered blood work, a CT Scan and a Lumbar Puncture. The words were no sooner out of his mouth when I said "Oh, that sounds like it hurts." To say that a rueful smile crossed the doc's face is an understatement.

Blood work is really no big deal. And maybe on a different day I would say that a CT scan is kinda fun. And just a little FYI ... it's nothing like what they show you on HOUSE with the fancy sets and big rooms and shiny new equipment. From what I can tell, there was barely enough room in there for the machine let alone anything else. So, I shimmy from my gurney to the little tray-like bed attached to the CT machine.

Ever loaded a shot gun? Well, that's what a CT Scan is sort've like. There you are, lying on this hard little bed in a hospital dressing gown, flashing your arse to the entire world - I was so paranoid about this, that I made sure Dev had tied me up properly in the gown and had my assets covered. They tell you to close your eyes for a bit because they use lasers for positioning to make sure you're all lined up properly. Then, there's some flashing red lights, a big whirrrrrrring sound, a switch is flicked and your little tray-like bed slides up in to the machine. I've never felt more like a bullet in my life. Invisible pictures are taken, the little red lights flash, more whirrrring ensures and then I'm wheeled back to my little compartment of the ER.

Toridol is wonderful. Have I mentioned that yet? They gave me that to take away the headache. And it worked wonderful. For a little while there I felt a little giddy and silly. I think there was a point when I looked at Dev and just giggled like a little girl for about five minutes. And then ... there was The Consent Form.

My CT scan came back clean, as did my blood work but my doctor, in the name of maintaining his "Gold Standard" (his words, not mine) wanted this lumbar puncture done. I knew from the get-go that this was gonna suck. I mean, I've watched enough episodes of HOUSE  - I know how this works! They stick a big dirty needle in you're back! What you don't see on HOUSE (those liars!) is people in a retarded amount of pain, or yanno ... crying and shouting, like I did. Admittedly ... I'm a wuss. So, not only am I petrified to begin with and despite being assured by the nurse that "Oh, you're watching the wrong stuff. It's not like that." (Oh yes ma'am .. it IS like that ... only worse.) and that if I don't sign this consent form then they could miss diagnosing something that could yanno ... kill me ... I signed.

Dev went out for a smoke. The doctor came in to set up. "I really don't want this." I said. "Well, if it makes you feel better, I don't really want to do it, either," replied the doctor. It kind of made me smile. "Well, what happens if I change my mind?" I asked. "Well, we could miss something that could kill you. And then I'd tell you're boyfriend."

Well played, Doctor. Well played.

As best as I can tell ... this is how a lumbar puncture works: They rub this freezing stuff over the skin of your back. You sit up and kind of arch your back, like a cat stretching - a feat easier said than done when they start driving a needle in there, but I'll get to that. So, the doc kind of pokes around with his fingers, trying to find where you're hips are and how you're lined up and crap like that. Now, I was jacked up at this point anyway on fear and adrenaline, so I kind of tensed and hissed at everything, which probably made the whole thing worse. So, here I am, hunched over and clutching a pillow in a death grip that would make any UFC Fighter jealous and in goes the needle.

Holy Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ. I cried. I screamed. I think I almost had a panic attack. I shook a lot and there's this needle in my back, draining a few vials of spinal fluid. This procedure should be used a torture device. Meanwhile, there's Dev standing behind the curtain listening to all this and wondering only God knows what is going on. The look on his face afterwards when he came around the curtain nearly broke my heart. He'll deny this till the day he dies, but he looked so scared - and I can't really blame him. I would have been scared too if I had been standing on the other side of the curtain.

Dev holds my hand, strokes my hair and tells me that's it all over. That I'm fine, it's all going to be okay. There's a shift change in hospital staff and I'm given a new doctor. She was really sweet. My spinal fluid came back good and clean except for 3 little blood cells in there. So, there was a call to the specialist, who assured the doctor who assured us, that everything was fine - the blood was probably just the result of getting poked with the needle.

9am rolls around. Headache aside, I'm in relative good health. Remember way back when I said that a side effect of a LP was this annoying little thing called a Spinal Headache? Yeah well, despite the chance (1 in 100, the doctor said) I should be fine. Yeah.

By the time I was discharged, I was so tired, hungry and generally cranky the nurses said the best thing was to get some sleep, eat and stay hydrated. The headache I left with was probably just the result of a very stressful morning. If anything got worse, then come back. So, I get changed but my body had either ideas.

"Sit the fuck back down!" It ordered. So, I did just that and fainted. This is how I scared the shit out of Dev the second time that day. The next thing I know, I wake up lying down on my little gurney with three or four concerned faces looking down at me and calling my name. So, I stayed put for another little while, and they kept monitoring my pulse, heart rate and took my blood sugar. Everything was fine, but after lying down pretty much all morning, fainting is a pretty typical response. Finally, it was time to go home.

We stopped at a Tim Horton's drive through for some breakfast on the way home. There was an iced tea in it for me. I took several sips and knew that it was immediately a bad idea. Twenty feet from our house, I opened the door of the Dodge and threw up outside, with Dev holding my shirt to make sure I didn't fall out.
I get home, rinse my face off, strip off my clothes, climb in to bed and go to sleep. Several hours later we both wake up and it's time to eat. My headache is still there, but not as bad. So, we decide that maybe I should sit up for a bit. Bad idea. My headache comes crashing back and it pulses and throbs and feels just really awful. So, I take a Tylenol and go back to sleep for a couple of hours. Then, I eat again.

Grapes are delicious.

I even sit up (in stages) and go for a little walk around the house, with Dev close by holding my hand just in case I fainted again. Then, it was time to hit the bathroom. I got so far as sitting down and my body, once again, had other plans. I threw up all over the bathtub. This is how I scared the shit out of Dev the third time. So, I go back to bed, lie down and feel instantly better. I just want to stay there all curled up in a little ball under the fleece sheets with the fan blowing on my face for ever. The decision is made and we go back to the hospital.

We get there, and for the second time in my life I see an empty emergency room. Again, I'm taken in right away and this really lovely nurse gets me a wheelchair and gives me a little tour of the emergency department as she gets me private little space with a door and blinds across the window so it's relatively dark. I lie down, close and cover my eyes and feel like dying. I'm set up on another IV, in my left hand, and fluids started. After about 10 minutes of just lying down like this, under two hospital blankets I feel amazing. "Oh, we changed our mind. We're all feeling fine. Let's go home!" my body says. "Like hell we are." I tell it.

So, the general consensus is, is that I'm suffering from a spinal headache. Essentially, the small puncture hole from my LP that morning hadn't closed properly, and spinal fluid kept leaking out, which screwed up the pressure. So, while you're lying down you don't really notice anything, but when you sit up gravity takes over and starts to pull your brain down. Sounds fun, right?! The cure for this, is another needle in the back. To say that I had to be talked in to this a second time around is an understatement. Having been through the procedure once, I was not by any stretch of anyone's imagination, eager to go through it again. I practically begged to be knocked out first, and then do it. Sadly, that isn't an option because, while inserting the needle you get funny little feelings in your limbs, the doctor needs to know and move a "little to the left." So, much to my own chagrin, I signed another consent form. The anesthetist who did this patch procedure was really, very nice.

Tall, lanky and full of brains I hoped to hell I was in good hands. He took the fact that I was pretty much scared shitless all in stride and tried to make me feel better. So, I'm wheeled in to a slightly bigger room where he can have some working space, and Dev is right there with me holding on to him for dear life all the while he tells me that it's okay and I'll be fine. The doctor walks me through the process as he's going - everything from the pink numbing solution - which I'm still trying to wash off - to the small little needles of numbing solution - which burn like a right bitch, in your back - when to expect pressure in my back, the whole works. You might think that someone telling you everything step by step would make the entire situation worse, but the doc was so calm it made the experience better than I ever thought it would. We even joked - yes, joked, while there is a needle going in my back - that I'm getting a dry run for an epidural when the time comes for kids! The procedure for an epidural is apparently pretty similar to the patch procedure. So, a little blood is drawn from my arm and inserted in to my back, which clots and balances out the pressure for the spinal fluid, which should cure the headache almost immediately.

An hour later, I'm dressed and ready to go home. We grabbed Wendy's on the way home. My back is still really sore, as is to be expected, I'm assured. So I pretty much have to take it easy and don't do anything too strenuous that would blow the clot in my back.

So, here's to relaxing for the rest of the day.  


Popular Posts