In the hospital again! (And looking great, I might add.)
So, yesterday at work something odd and scary happened to me.
I was down in the studio with the chief engineer, working on graphics for one of the weather computers. I had gotten a bit flustered about a problem and was trying to make sure it got resolved before I went back to my desk. There were a few people in the weather center and all the chairs were taken; the chief engineer was crouching and I was standing up.
I got tired of standing so I knelt on the floor in seiza, the formal sitting position where you fold your legs under yourself–you’ve probably seen it in anime or martial arts. Your legs can easily go to sleep in this position. I wasn’t thinking about the poor circulation it would afford me and how that might not be so great since I’m on diuretics; I was just pleased that I could still sit that way.
At some point the weather guys were talking to the engineer. They were all standing up and talking over my head and I was sort of listening to them. All of a sudden, I felt myself falling forward. Then I felt myself catch myself. It was kind of like how you start to fall asleep and then jerk awake suddenly, except I was lucid the entire time. I could still hear everyone talking as blurriness filled my vision until I couldn’t see. I’ve had that sort of thing happen before, a lot actually, since I started heart medication, but it usually went away in a second or two. This time it lasted as long as it took me to finally wrest control of my muscles and stand up, a surreal passage of seconds during which I felt myself jerk backwards over and over uncontrollably.
I don’t know how severe it was or how long it actually lasted, but I didn’t fall down and no one even noticed. Their conversation continued as I was finally able to reach out and stabilize myself against the desk to pull myself to my feet.
“I just had some sort of seizure,” I said, for lack of a better explanation, “so I’m going to go call my doctor.” Everyone called after me in surprise as I strode out of the weather center and back up the stairs. I continued to be blase about it until I had gotten to my desk, made the call, and gotten the machine. As I described the problem my voice started shaking and then it was a huge struggle not to cry.
Once I was done leaving the message for my heart doctor I tried to go back to working, but I couldn’t concentrate and I was starting to feel freaked out. One of the directors came in to make graphics for her show, and she started chit-chatting with me, and I couldn’t do much but babble in response. Finally I said, “I’m not really coherent right now because I just had a seizure or something.”
“Are you okay?!” She started asking questions and I felt overwhelmed so I finally just said “I don’t know,” and she ran out of the room and got my boss.
My boss came in and I tried to compose myself and call my GP, since the cardiologist hadn’t called back yet. I got a machine there too and hung up.
“Do you want to go to the hospital?” my boss asked. The director had asked that too. I didn’t know if I needed to or not but I was scared.
“I guess so,” I said. My boss practically sprang out of the room and found someone to drive me over to the ER.
I wasn’t feeling any spasms or having any vision issues, just the normal slight dizziness upon beginning to walk that I have grown accustomed in recent weeks to experiencing, so I walked out to the car with the promotions assistant and she drove me to the hospital and stayed with me in the ER for as long as she could before she had to go pick up her daughter from day care. I explained my symptoms to a nurse, waited awhile, got registered, and then waited even longer.
I’m pretty sure it was 7 o’clock before they finally called me back. The episode happened at 3:20 and I’d arrived at the ER at 4. By then I was feeling all right and I had actually just asked the nurse if I could leave.
I was put in a room and had to wait some more. Then I explained my situation to a doctor and he ordered labs and urine and an EKG. These various things occurred at various times. I saw another doctor who pointed out that the way I was sitting probably set it all off. A nurse put in an IV and took me to a different room with a stretcher.
Then that nurse was taken off my case and a different nurse was assigned. He let me know that we were waiting for someone from upstairs to evaluate me and decide if I needed to stay. Another doctor came close to midnight to tell me I would be admitted overnight, given fluids, and observed. That doctor brought me something to eat; I hadn’t eaten or drank anything since around 2 o’clock when I had Wendy’s with Fichtel. My hospital fare was a diabetic sandwich lunch with sun chips and an apple, and it was delicious.
I waited a long time to be put in a room. There was no TV in the little ER room, so once I had eaten my dinner and taken some pictures I had nothing to do. My cell phone had no reception. I laid on the stretcher and tried to sleep, but the ER noises made it difficult.
At one point I was taken to the ER Observation area to be put in a room there, but the nurses said they’d been told I wasn’t to go there, so I ended up back in the ER room. It wasn’t until 5:30 that I was finally placed in a room upstairs.
Much to my chagrin, the people on the other side of the curtain from me were snoring in the loudest, grossest way possible.
Also much to my chagrin, nurses kept coming in to take vitals and check things and have me sign papers and set up fluids and set up a loaner CPAP. I was able to sleep until 7:30, when a nurse came in for vitals again, and then I took the CPAP off and resigned myself to staying awake.
The CPAP had blocked a lot of the disgusting snoring noise, but now I had nothing to protect me. I tried my television which helped some. Eventually my neighbors were awakened and I was relieved.
Breakfast was not good. It was so not good that I didn’t bother taking a picture. Fake eggs and tasteless grits. However, there was an orange muffin that was actually really yummy, and it was all served with orange juice and milk, which softened the blow.
Two different doctors came around one at a time after breakfast to hear my complaints and give me their opinions. Finally, right when I was starting to eat lunch, the whole cadre came in. They all agreed that I was reacting strongly to my heart medicines and I needed to cut back on the diuretics, which had dehydrated me to the point of renal failure. The fluids they’d been giving me all night combined with stopping the diuretics temporarily had brought my lab numbers back to acceptable levels, so I just needed to talk to my cardiologist about changing my doses.
After they were gone I ate lunch, which was even worse than breakfast.
I remember when I was hospitalized for leukemia, I couldn’t stand the smell of those plastic containers, and the orderlies had to remove the lid out in the chamber beyond my room so I wouldn’t smell it and throw up. At least it wasn’t that bad.
Sometimes I think back on my time at the Markey Cancer Center with nostalgia. I think that it was nice to be taken care of, to have my diet planned out, and to sit around all day goofing off. This experience reminded me of the reality: my life was dull and depressing and I lived solely for those fleeting blocks of time when I was allowed to go home, to see something different, to walk outside. Those moments were bookended by weeks of hospital stays. No, nostalgia, I do not want that life again.
After lunch I fell asleep watching TV. One of the doctors, a cute guy who was pretty flirty, came in and asked, “So, want to stay a few more days?” I fortunately knew he was joking, and responded, “No, I think I’ll pass.” Then he said I would be able to leave in about an hour, which was wonderful news. We shook hands for about the fourth time (and joked about that too) and then he said, “I’ll let you go back to sleep. Enjoy your nap,” but of course I was too excited about leaving to sleep, so instead I started getting my things together, tidying up after myself, and getting dressed.
Finally a nurse had me sign discharge papers and I was free to go. I didn’t bother waiting for Sean to come up to the room; I grabbed my stuff and strode right out of that room, down the hall, and into an elevator.
There was no dizziness and no blurry vision as I headed outside to wait for Sean to arrive. I tilted my head back and gazed at the blue sky above and felt no vertigo. I felt normal. It was nice.