Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tuesday August 11th, evening

Nap, bed, blankets and home - I feel much better.

But, I’m encouraged to go to Urgent Care. It’s almost across the street from the apartment so Adam drives me over.

Wait wait wait in lobby.

I talk to a Doctor who says based on my symptoms I should go to the ER.

The ER? If you go to the ER you have to be bleeding, right?
My theory is I’m just worn out from the excitement of my sister’s visit, my birthday, the triathlon, running and the weather.

The double vision was a little weird though.

But they’ll refund my co-pay which will be easy.
Er, yeah, not that easy a few receipts later.

The Doctor informs Adam, “She doesn’t want to go to the ER, but she should.” And with that, I pretty much know we’re going.

I’m not opposed to seeking help. My thought would just be to go home, get some sleep and see a regular doctor in the morning. I’m not in any acute pain, it’s just unpleasant. And I’ll drink more Gatorade.

We make the long drive over to the ER (it’s across the street). I casually go to front desk and give them my insurance card. Within a few minutes, I’m waiting in Triage. This feels more like I’m waiting in line at Banana Republic for a fitting room than I am entrance to the ER.

They make the usual pokes and probes like temperature and blood pressure. They put stickies all over me for an EKG. I’m wired!

And then I’m delivered to a bed in the ER and we wait and wait and wait.

Teri arrives and we remark on the irony of me being in the ER during her first visit to North Carolina. I visited Teri in Seattle for the first time in November 2005. She wasn’t feeling well when I picked her up and within a few hours of me being there she was coughing up blood. I drove her to the emergency room in a stick shift car I didn’t really know how to drive, in the dark, during rush hour in the rain.
I remark to Teri that at least I had the decency to wait until the end of the trip to go to the ER (Teri is scheduled to leave tomorrow).

A nurse comes in to draw blood. Ewwwww, I hate this part. She calls me a Wimpezoid, but in an endearing kind of way. Noticing how squeamish I am she takes extra blood in case other tests are ordered so I only have to do this once.

I’m also given a pair of Blue Hospital socks. As they are bestowed on me and I am told that they are very special and I should hang onto them. I don’t say anything but the truth is I don’t like socks. One of my favorite things about North Carolina is not having to wear them for a third of the year. And, I certainly can’t sleep in socks. But, I don’t want to appear ungrateful so I put them on.

Teri, Adam and I goof around a bit. I’m not sure if it’s some form of anxiety because we still don’t know why we’re here or if it’s the absurdity of being here. Probably a bit of both.

Teri takes pictures with her camera phone and I post silly stuff on Facebook like “Jamie is a Wimpezoid." Free wireless in the ER!

You can't see the red glow on my finger in this pic but Adam and I were re-enacting E.T.

This whole thing feels silly, it’s late, I’m tired and I haven’t had dinner so I’m also grumpy.

We hear some drama on the other side of the curtain. There is a very drunk belligerent woman who is refusing care and is threatening to sue the hospital. Her yowling subdues the boisterous mood in our corner of the ER. We’re reminded where we are.

Finally we are visited by a doctor. I take him through the sequence of events. He’s also leaning towards dehydration. Here comes the prescription for Gatorade I anticipated hours ago.

But, he can’t reconcile the double vision. So, for good measure, he orders a CAT Scan. He wants more blood and I thank the nurse who took extra from me earlier just in case, even though she called me Wimpezoid.

My first thought is “Can I get a copy of the scan?” and the doctor lets me know how to make that happen. Cool. I need to go to the bathroom before the scan. Someone is going to walk me to the bathroom? OK, so long as they wait outside I’ll take an escort. Whatever.

They wheel me away even though I can walk just fine. En route to the CAT Scan I pass the belligerent woman who is now sedated and restrained. It’s sad and disturbing.

I have the CAT Scan and we wait and wait and wait.

The ER doctor comes in. The Cat Scan showed a cerebral hemorrhage.

There is blood on my brain.
There is blood on my brain!
There is blood on my brain?

Holy fuck.

My sister turns white and puts her face in her hands.

I’m trying to take it in.

We’ve been goofing off but now this isn’t funny. I know it’s not funny but I’m at a loss for a reaction.

It’s a very small spot. But, it’s on my cerebellum. Kinda vital for basic functions like, say, breathing. Not good.

Here's the scan. Nice brain, eh?

At a loss for what to do, I send an e-mail to my bosses telling them I won’t be at work tomorrow.

I have a moment or two when I think something might happen to me and things like last words and regrets pass through my thoughts but it’s fleeting. Right now there are too many unknowns to get all worked up about this.

I sent myself the following email. I think it reflects I was still in an OK place but there is a hint of concern as well.

I tell Adam and Teri to pull the plug if I become a vegetable. I say it in joking manner but "Living Will" is entered into my mental To Do List. A video of me on Teri’s camera phone won’t cut it.

Someone comes by and has me do all sorts of physical things. Push on hands. Walk in a straight line. Close your eyes, touch your nose with your finger. It’s like a sobriety test (not that I would know, really). I think I’ve done a spectacular job with all of these little tasks and something about this person’s reaction to my performance on little tests is oddly reassuring.

Maybe more reassuring than it should be because I still feel really calm.

And then, just like that I’m given a hospital bracelet and am told they’re going to wheel me to ICU. I’m booked for an MRI at 8:30 in the morning - they’re trying to determine how the blood got there.

The ICU? But I did so well on those tasks! How bad is this thing? I feel perfectly fine. In fact, I’m not feeling any of the symptoms that brought me in here in the first place. But off I go.

We get to ICU. The nurse is wearing purple and her name is Diane. I like her already.

They get me set up for an IV, should they need to administer one. They put stickies on me with buttons and hook me up to some machine that’s monitoring my vitals. My body looks like the back of a television set and I feel like I’m going to strangle myself should I roll over.

The nurse assures me the cords will not strangle me.
She also mentions that the cords will reach the commode.

Commode? I’m fine if someone wants to walk me down the hall and wait outside but I’m not so fine with this new arrangement.

I take off the blue socks and since I’m tethered to a switchboard I toss them in the direction of my bag. I miss. The nurse notices them and exclaims “Oh, your socks are on the floor, let me put them in your bag, you don’t want to lose these!” What is it with these damn socks? I wonder what they would go for on eBay?

I need sleep. I send Teri and Adam home. Before I go to bed I pull everything off Facebook because this just isn’t funny. Nor should it be public. I don’t want to drag all my friends into the uncertainty and anxiety I feel right now.

There’s a window into my room and the nurse looks in at me. This feels really awkward.

I’m insured but I’m kind of wondering how much this will cost me with co-pays and deductibles. I remind myself that this sort of thing is why I have insurance.

It’s 4:15 am at this point. I still haven’t had a thing to eat. Or drink. Not even a Gatorade.

I wonder if Bella Monica delivers.

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