Saturday, March 24, 2012

The one where I rode in an ambulance

So, I spent pretty much my whole Tuesday night in the E.R.  It was not the most fun I've ever had, but weirdly enough, it WAS kind of fun, in a weird way.

I'd been sick most of Monday, and ended up sleeping till noon on Tuesday, getting up to give Tallulah her insulin shot, and then falling back asleep till after 6. When I woke up, I felt pretty crappy, but not THAT bad at first.  Within an hour, though, I was curled up on the bathroom floor in front of the toilet, too nauseous to even lift my head. I stayed there for maybe an hour, during which time I asked my mom to call the local Urgent Care to see if they were still open, since I've gone to one of those for a shot for nausea before when this has happened. Both of the urgent cares were closed, so I had to really decide if I could make it all the way to the hospital or not.  I finally decided to go, but I pretty quickly realized there was just plain no way I was going to make it in the back of my car. I needed to be able to actually lay down, and have somewhere convenient to throw up if necessary. I finally decided to have mom call an ambulance, since that way they could start treating me on the half hour drive to the hospital, rather than having to endure the ride in agony.

Let me tell you, BEST decision ever!  The EMTs showed up a few minutes later, and they gave me the option of trying to walk out to the ambulance or of them bringing a stretcher in, and I decided to try to walk.  I'd tried standing a few minutes before to get dressed, and fell over in a fit of dry heaves, so I didn't have high hopes, but I actually managed to make it out and into the ambulance. They strapped me onto the stretcher, stuck a heart rate monitor on my finger and some oxygen in my nose, and we were on our way.  A few minutes later the EMT inserted an IV so he could give me a drip of something for nausea. Not sure what it was, but the nurse at the hospital later told me it's what they give cancer patients that are sick from chemo. He also took several vials of my blood at the same time, so they wouldn't have to stick me again at the hospital.

I have to confess that I've always had a BIG phobia about IVs. I can deal with shots and getting blood drawn, although that did take me till around my mid 20s to grow up about. I go to acupuncture happily, so I'm pretty blase' about getting poked, and I have to give my kitty Tallulah insulin injections twice a day, so needles are an everyday thing round ahere.  But still IVs FREAKED me out.  There's just something about it being LEFT in my arm that whole time that messes with my head. It creeps me out!  But it turned out to not be that bad,  I didn't really even feel it there once it was securely in place, although my arm is a little sore today. I DID definitely feel the fluid they were pumping into me- it was cold, and as it spread from my arm throughout the rest of my system, it made my whole body cold. Even with a ton of hot blankets piled on me, I couldn't stop shaking, but that may have also been partly from shock.

I couldn't stop crying in the ambulance, I just felt so *awful*. I actually had a moment of being kind of bummed that I was totally missing my first (hopefully only!) ambulance ride because I was too sick to open my eyes much.

One interesting thing about my ambulance ride: As we were leaving my house, the EMT asked me which hospital I wanted to go to, and I gave the name of the closest one, which is about half an hour away.  The next closest hospitals are all over an hour away, and since it was rainy and dark and my mom would be following us by car, it seemed like a no brainer. However, as we got close to the hospital, the EMT radioed the hospital to tell them we were almost there, and they told him they were full and he needed to go somewhere else. He responded that he had already been in contact with them, and that they'd told him they were not accepting patients that would need to be admitted, which he was pretty sure I wouldn't be, and that he'd been given the OK to bring me in.  They kept tell him nope, we're full, you need to divert.  He finally called their admissions nurse and pretty firmly restated that no, they were NOT going to divert, he'd been given the OK to bring me in and we were already in the driveway. Whoever he talked to that time said ok, so we were good to go!  He had a bit of a sly grin when he told me that if they turned us away when we were already in the driveway, they would get a $10,000 fine. Smooth! I really need to send him a thank you note for fighting to get me in there, since my mom later told me she barely made it there in all the rain and fog, so I can't imagine how she would have made it the extra 40 miles to a different hospital!

This is going to sound funny, but getting wheeled around on a stretcher is just plain fun. I had enough of the IV medicine in my system that the pain was no longer unbearable, so I was able to kind of enjoy my little trip from the ambulance to my ER room. Probably the closest I'll ever get to how queens used to get carried around, ya know?

Injured Blue Man Being Carried On A Gurney To An Ambulance Or Into The Hospital By Two Paramedics After An Accident Or Health Problem Clipart Graphic by Leo Blanchette
What I looked like

What I felt like

Once we got to my room, the 2 EMTs helped me transfer from the stretcher to the hospital bed, and then covered me in warm blankets. I really wanted to make a joke about being tossed into bed by 2 men, but I wasn't feeling THAT good yet. They handed me over to my ER nurse, who helped me change into my hospital gown (Thankfully I got to keep my jeans on- I was SO COLD.) and took down my basic info.

Most of the next couple of hours are a blur, since I was in a haze of dizzyness and pain. My main nurse got tied up with another procedure, so I had several different nurses checking in on me, all of which were super nice. I actually started feeling a little spoiled, I don't remember the last time I had that much attention to be honest!

At some point they sent a seriously buff dude to take me to the restroom for a urine sample. Only I could be looking half dead with icky hair and tubes everywhere and probably not smelling great and still flirt with the EMT. I told him I was pretty spoiled by getting wheeled around, and he might have to just carry me to the restroom to continue to care for me in the manner to which I had become accustomed. He graciously offered to fling me over his shoulder, firefighter-style, but alas I ended up just walking instead. (BTW, getting detailed instructions on how to pee in a cup from a dude with biceps bigger than like.. something big.. is in no way awkward.)

Lots of hours passed. I heard the lady next to me who had hurt her ankle falling down stairs, the kid across from me who broke her finger fighting with her brother. (Both kids told several enthusiastic stories about past broken bones. Yet another reminder to never have children!) The last one across from me was a guy who had been drunk for a week and had consumed 2 bottles of vodka that day. He tried to leave without treatment, but they ended up talking him into staying. The poor nurse trying to go over my discharge info had to leave at one point because his family was yelling for her because he was biting himself. Good times.

Somewhere in all of that (I was there for about 5 hours) I saw the actual doctor a few times, who confirmed that my blood and urine tests came back OK, and it was probably stress/anxiety related as I guessed. He gave me a prescription for a few anti-anxiety pills (which I'm actually supposed to be on all the time, but I haven't been able to afford to go to a doctor since I had to quit my job a couple of years ago and lost my insurance.) and said to stick to a clear liquid diet (water, tea, soup broth) for a day or two to let my stomach rest. (It's now Saturday and I'm still just doing tea and soup, since I still feel pretty crappy.)

After searching half the hospital for my mom (she had been in some random place napping), she drove me home super slowly, since the fog was still obscuring the road so much she could barely see the lines most of the time. That was all kinds of fun, since I was curled up in a ball in the back seat, still feeling crappy but getting jerked around every time she slammed the brakes because she couldn't see. Add to that the fact that I have panic attacks when I have to ride in a car with someone, and it was pretty much the msot fun EVER. (except not.)

So, that was my big adventure. I've spent most of the week sleeping and drinking soup, with some reading here and there. I still feel pretty icky, but at least I'm not curled up in a heap unable to move! I still have a dot and a little bruise where my IV was (I bruise if you look at me funny), but that's my only souvenir, other than the hospital bracelet. Here's hoping I don't have to repeat any of those experiences anytime soon!


Sharon said...

Glad you're doing better now! Sounds like no fun to go through.

I've ridden in an ambulance/stretcher before, and like your experience it was slightly thrilling for me too. LOL.

Hopefully you're completely back to normal again soon!

Erin said...

Wow, I'm glad you're doing ok now! I've never had the privilege (?) of an ambulance ride, but I am familiar with a lot of the stuff you mentioned (IV squickiness, getting cold from the inside out because of it, etc). Except I'm SO embarrassed to ever be on a stretcher, LOL