There I was last Thursday morning happily reading the New York Times at my computer, since at the first of the month I can read, over 30 or 31 days, 10 articles for free. I picked one by Jane Brody on Eczema, and was half way through a comment when suddenly the words went away and I felt funny and saw black, not quite all at the same time, a succession.
I apparently slumped to the right and thumped my right forehead and nose on the desk edge (a door); after that I was aware of falling down and tangling with my chair wheels, vague wondering what is happening. My head didn't hit the floor. I had trouble getting up, being somewhat under the desk and fighting the lower chair.
At some point I could see - maybe midway in the fight with the chair and desk.
But I was bleeding a lot from my face, so I crawled (it didn't occur to me to stand) to the bathroom. My computer is in the so called master bedroom, so there is an adjacent bathroom. I made it to the sink and pulled myself up and grabbed wash cloths to wipe the blood - rivulets, streams.
I wasn't dizzy then.
I put one of those good big bandaids on it (no, no antibio, I was trying to close off the blood) and thought I should check my blood pressure in case it was very low - that has happened before, a few years ago when first taking bp meds, fainting but not a blackout. 163/88.
I took a pill, and in fifteen minutes it was down to 120/70.
That was way high for me. I take a small amount of bp med, learned from earlier experience by my clinic doc and me, as too much med can make me faint. But, since I monitor my bp, I hadn't taken one the day before and maybe the day before that.
I sort of cleaned myself up, but not the floor, which was blood streaked trail.
I sat back down and considered. I had seen that the gash was deep and probably needed stitches. Should I call Diane? Well, this will heal. Should I call Diane? I knew I should, because it could have been a TIA. So I did.
We have a nearby urgent care center, and, of more import, I recently got Medicaid. Thank my lucky stars.
So, we go to Urgent Care.
Sort of a hive of stuff going on, and there is a sign, urgent care, stand here. I did.
Diane eventually went to the counter and said something like 'my friend may have had a stroke' and the place changed. I wasn't in any kind of control after that, wheel chair for me. But of course I understand all of that.
A bouncy woman (reminding me of friend Bonnie) showed up and took all I reported seriously, and asking stuff like if I know who is the president of the US; turned out from my reading later that she is an m.d.
A few more people asked similar stuff, all the while running ekg's. People call them ecg's now, but when I used to do them (my first patient was a nun, something like 1962, habit removal necessary), they were ekg's.
Tue 6 Aug, 2013 10:24 pm
Tue 6 Aug, 2013 10:39 pm
Tue 6 Aug, 2013 10:54 pm
Wed 7 Aug, 2013 06:33 pm
The crew at urgent care decided I needed to be seen at a hospital, and the choice was UNM, which I am happy, comfortable, with, and Presbyterian, which, when being a visitor when Bob (Dyslexia) and Diane were each there, I had unfavorable takes of. Not completely, but somewhat.
But, there is politics involved, the urgent care connected to Presbyterian, and the possibility of difficulties, apparently from either side, if I chose to go to UNM. Ok, ok, Presbyterian.
Cleaned of ekg litter by the urgent care staff (I think I remember this), the ambulance people did their own ekg, and the guy watched the screen for a while and asked me, has anyone talked with you before about bundled brachial blockage? No. What's that. He told me. Said he wasn't sure, the docs would figure it out. (That turns out to be when some electrical connectivity route in the heart is blocked.)
He and the other paramedic, a female, maneuvered me into the ambulance, first time I've been in one. She drove, he did some tests, including for sugar. I might have already had an IV, details over the days are melding together now.
Woopie, what a ride. I could see highway 40 out the window. Fast, but no siren going. Diane was behind us, but not in view. I gather I was prioritized into getting an ER room fast faster fastest.
More later, I'm working in the kitchen off and on.
Wed 7 Aug, 2013 07:28 pm
Once in the Emergency Room room, I talked with nurses, doctors, and eventually a tech who gave me eleven stitches for the gash. The first doctor wanted to speak to a cardiologist and that took a while. Liked that first doctor, once we passed the do you know what day it is, who is the president, can you tell me what happened stage. I didn't have the wit to say Mitt Romney. That all took from around two in the afternoon to sometime in the evening, when they found me a bed in the IMC (intermediate care) unit.
A second doctor came in and asked me the whole wahzoo again, and we tossed around 'what could this be' scenarios. There were possibilities to rule out and possibilities that looked more likely, his main one being a heart problem. He dismissed orthostatic hypertension for various reasons but they would be checking that. (I had fainted from a blood pressure pill twice about five years ago, which was why I was on a low dose. I had not taken one for two days before Thursdays blackout - I never took one when the bp was normal). He wrote up the orders for the next day's tests. Diane left for home just before that guy came in, so she missed the palaver. She'd been home for a bit, sometime earlier, to let Sally Dog out to the back yard for a pee and romp.
So, I met the night nurses and techs. Nurse asked all the info (do you know where you are, etc., and what happened). Liked him. Also liked the tech guy, who would be checking my blood pressure quite often. Young, cheery, but not false cheery.
IV going. And I got what would be a routine for the next four days, a series of electrodes in appropriate areas for heart watching, attached to wires in a heavy-ish contraption that fit in a pocket in my gown. From then on, I wasn't allowed to get out of bed without calling for assistance. If it was a tech, we went to the bathroom with the whole iv apparatus; if it was a nurse, they could disengage it. Getting out of the combo of colored wires and the iv tubes was almost funny. I was let alone in the bathroom by both men and women, but there was a cord to pull that you were ready to leave it.
I've been a little unsteady on my feet for some years now, having to do mostly with my long term peripheral vision problem (RP, stable) seeming to finally get to me - but I haven't jumped down through boulders at Yosemite for some decades now. It would turn out that one tech would later be all scared about that, when the real worry was would I black out kaboom, not the ordinary unsteadiness. I didn't think I would black out, but that feeling was based on nothing.
In the meantime, the crazed reader had no reading material. Down in the ER, the guy who put in the stitches wandered around trying to find a magazine or paper for me - but I had already read this week's Alibi (local news, happenings).
I whimpered to the Charge nurse for the IMC unit when she asked if I needed anything, and she chased down a book, title The Lucifer Directive, a thriller about terrorism, with all the black and white views of it we've come to recognize. But hey, a book. I did eventually work up an interest in it.
To continue, manana.
Wed 7 Aug, 2013 10:18 pm
Goodness me! Seems like you've been dealing with quite an ordeal. Figuring since you are able to post it's a positive sign (at least somewhat positive I hope).
Had noticed you seemed absent and was wondering where you'd gone, hoped it was nothing so serious as this.
Be sure to let us know what is going on ossobuco.
I will - it's a longish story but it's kind of useful for me to write it in the order stuff happened.
Thu 8 Aug, 2013 12:15 am
Good to be finally hearing about what happened. I know you're ok now. But I wanna know what the hell the diagnosis was/is.
I'll try to be patient. Not one of my strong points.
Thu 8 Aug, 2013 11:22 am
So, on Friday morning, around 5:15 a.m., I was awakened to go get a ct head scan without contrast. No big deal to it.
It would turn out to be: no acute intracranial abnormality.
Back to bed and the possibility of breakfast.
Food! I hadn't eaten much the day before, only my cherry clafoutis the morning of the black out, and in the evening in the ER Diane went out and got us small sandwiches from Subway. I didn't finish mine, too much pepperoni taste. The doctor came in and said "that's a good idea, better than our food".
I was told I could only order the items with little red hearts in front of the name.
It's interesting to see what I wasn't allowed to order.
Southern breakfast burrito
Sunrise breakfast burrito
omelets, scrambled eggs, hardboiled egg, fried egg, poached egg
bacon, sausage, ham
flour tortilla, english muffin, buttermilk biscuit, assorted bagels
fruit loops, brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins (all sorts of packaged cereal stuff I haven't gone near for decades are allowed)
strawberry, blueberry, peach, vanilla, lemon yogurt
Breakfast turned out to be the meal that I found hardest to be pleased with. I ended up with french (white) toast with some corn syrupy goo.
More on the menu later.
During the early days, I was noticing they took my bp every two hours, less often at night.
Thu 8 Aug, 2013 11:56 am
I forgot to tell about the roommate.
I never saw her the first night, the lights being out and me being night blind. I heard her though, couldn't figure out if she was a man or woman, deep voice, fulgent cough, deep snores.
She had the tv on all the time until she left, which would have been Friday afternoon. Took me a while to figure out how to shut down the tv sound that came from the same apparatus that had the Call for Help button. Answer: bury under two pillows.
When I woke up Friday, I sneezed and she said God bless you. I said thanks and Hi, how are you doing.. and so we started talking off and on. She had had a seizure, which apparently was resolved somehow on Friday. She had an eleven year old son who was worried sick. When she left I was sort of surprised - she was quite a beautiful woman, stylish, funny in her way, probably in her early forties. Liked to talk, once she got started, much as she liked the tv going, stuff happening.
I would have two more roommates over my stay, but a respite for a while starting Friday evening.
Thu 8 Aug, 2013 12:23 pm
Also on Friday, after the ct scan I came back to a new nurse.
He would turn out to be great. Both he and the night nurse guy were great, in their different ways. They work 12 hour shifts. Interested, supportive, calm, very competent. When there was some time, we got talking sort of tangentially. With one guy, we talked about how we liked to walk a lot, and how much you can see things fresh when walking, even a place you've walked many times before. I don't walk now like I used to, but I've done seven to ten miles in a day urban walking many times in the past. I remember all the seeing of things around me very well.
The day nurse and I ended up talking about pronunciation of medical terms and how different medical people say words differently and the whys and wherefores of it. I'd seen similar variation with peoples' takes on botanical latin.
So these guys were good at what they did, and willing to engage within time constraints.
Friday, I think late morning, a woman came in to do the echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart).
Sometime later, when I met the woman who would be my hospital internist, I found out that my heart looked normal/good for my age.
Thu 8 Aug, 2013 03:21 pm
Then it was time for me to order lunch.
Well, hey. No pizza, and no building my own sandwiches.
No petit steak (they wouldn't cook it my way anyhow), pasta bowl, mac and cheese, french fries or flour tortilla or crackers.
Lots of stuff with red hearts I could live with, and for the remaining days I involved myself with arctic char salmon, with one foray into trying a veggie burger. Not a delicious veggie burger. Salmon cooked dry the first go round, much better the other days.
No way I'd order the pork, guaranteed dry and overdone, not to mention it had some sugar raisin sauce, ugh.
No New Mexican fare at all. No posole or cream soups. I'm soup picky since I almost live on my own soups, which involve garlic and spices, I guess baddies in a hospital setting.
For dinner I usually ordered pasta with veggies and olive oil with a side of extra lemon.
The allowed snacks saved me. I actually liked the veggie hummus plate, except the hummus made me fart almost right away. It didn't taste at all like my hummus (for some reason not a big fart inducer), or grocery store hummus, but it tasted all right. Brrlllllpppp. I got the night tech guy laughing about it.
Also got to ordering fresh whole fruit, sort of miserable but still fruit.
On beverages, everything was allowed except hot chocolate and sugar free hot chocolate. What the hell? Lots of ordinary sodas allowed.
Thu 8 Aug, 2013 03:43 pm
Only you would think to include food reviews in a log about your scare and hospital visit!
Glad everything turned out okay.
I'll join the others in waiting for the diagnosis....
Thu 8 Aug, 2013 03:53 pm
The afternoon tests were a roller coaster ride.
I was trundled down for an MRI and an MRA, somehow administered together.
I'd heard of MRIs but not MRAs, those being of the neck.
First we have to get me on the tableau that provides the ride through a world of noises off. Ok. They (two guys) tell me about the tests and I ask about how long it takes. The talking one says fifteen minutes. And so it goes.
At first I almost like it, rather musical. Wacky musical, talk about dissonance, but some sounds were interesting. Then all hell broke loose and subsided, over and over. Towards the end, it seemed like the table moved, but that is probably just my perception. What a racket. I'm alternately amused and hoping this **** stops soon.
Then I hear their voices and said that's the longest fifteen minutes I've ever been through, and one guy said it was only ten, who knows but I think he was kidding, and I started laughing, appropriate even if he was being straight about it. Time varies with experience. I laughed and laughed, relief, but they were at least grinning back at me.
Back with the report from the internist sometime later.