The One With the ER Visit
Yesterday was a very interesting day.
It began rather early, around 3AM when the Flexiril which had done nothing for the pain the past two nights but had in fact been putting me to sleep stopped putting me to sleep, and so it was back to the usual, awake, uncomfortable, and because I’d never quite gotten over Wednesday, thinking it was really good I didn’t have a gun and was too weak to drag the axe from the garage to the clinic. I’d considered calling them on Friday, but I hadn’t quite worked out whether I wanted to scream and tell them how much I hated their entire operation, or just be adult and make an appointment with somebody else, preferably my usual doctor, whom I don’t adore but don’t hate. But now I woke feeling crappy, and my whole body hurt, and I thought, this has got to stop. So I limp through the rest of the morning, half-sleeping when I can, and then at 8AM I call the clinic. I get an appointment with the guy in acute care who is not the guy I saw Wednesday, and I go in.
I mentioned to the nurse in passing that I had a sore throat; according to the episode of House I just watched, this should have been some huge red flag, and she and the doctor (whom I both mentioned it to) should have taken a strep test there and then and saved the whole world some trouble. But this is, I think, against the code of this clinic, which seems to be "Do absolutely only what you must to the patient, and if you can put off something for a few weeks to see if something much, much less can work, do this at all costs." So I was not swabbed. I was given different pain meds than the ones I’d received Wednesday, and an x-ray request. Not an MRI, even though this could be something only an MRI could catch. Better to let me be in pain for two weeks to see if the pain might go away with far less than to test for it now and actually rule it out. This is, I am hoping, more fun. Because why would they make me suffer needlessly? Surely there must be some hugs and puppies farting rainbows showing up any second.
So I get my drugs, have lunch with Dan and get an x-ray of my ass and hip, and then I go home with Anna. Almost instantly I am so tired and weak I can barely move. I made it to the couch and barely rose for the rest of the day, and when I did, I thought I would die before I got to wherever I had to go, and if I didn’t die, I would be miserable, because I hurt so bad and was so cold.
It felt a lot like the flu. In fact, it felt like I felt when I had mastitis, and I thought, shit, this must be strep, and I should have had them swab me. I lay there on a heat pad and under several blankets, and Anna, bless her soul, took very good care of her ailing mother. At about 3 I began to feel very disoriented and weird, so I taught Anna how to dial 911 and told her to do it if I wouldn’t wake up after falling asleep or just plain seemed really, really werid and not like her mom, not making any sense. She was pretty level-headed about it, but I knew I had her attention.
When Dan came home, he took my temp. Even with the residual popsicle in my mouth I was a temp of 102. He was freaking now, so I told him to call our family friend the doctor, thinking she would calm him down. Instead, she ramped him up, and started talking about the ER. When Lynette gets upset, you don’t fuck around, so we packed up our gear and headed in, armed with Lynette’s list of things they should do and to call her if they wouldn’t, and the fun began.
Of course we had to pick the night that god and everyone went to the ER, and no one, as the check-in lady said, with overgrown hangnails. The ambulance was practically a drive-through, and the waiting room was full. It took a good half hour just to get a nurse to ask a bunch of questions I was increasingly too delirious to answer, probably because now my temp was 103. She told me to take two of my Vicodin and try to hang in there. (I took one–narcotics and I are not friends.)
Two hours later, I finally got into a room, and sometime in that next half-hour, I saw a doctor.
The doctor was nice, and seemed pretty competent, and I’m here and functional today, so I’m thinking this is all okay, sort of. He didn’t do, I don’t think, any of Lynette’s things, but Dan seemed okay with it all, and I was so out of it I could just barely sign all the papers they kept putting in front of me–god, what a farce that was. I could have been giving away my kidneys for all I knew. But he did a urinalysis, asked me the same questions every other person (four at this point) had asked me (why do I bother? are they not writing this down?), and then did a strep test. They were just starting to check for a flu when the strep came back positive.
He said the strep was making everything worse, and the back pain was making the strep worse. My immune system was already fighting whatever this was in my back, and the strep made the back pain worse because there were already white blood cells there, so when the infection started my inner amazons said FUCKING FIGHT EVERYTHING!!!!!!! and went postal on pretty much everything they could grab onto. Which was why I felt like such hell. He gave me penicilin, some steroids, and told me to lean hard on the vicodin and muscle relaxants I’d gotten earlier in the day, and be sure to check in with my regular doctor within a week.
The drugs really did help, especially the steroids, which are sadly starting to wear off. I was all for "let’s do lots of steroids!" until Pharmacist Dan started telling me why that was a bad idea, something about soft bones and weight gain and hearts and by that point I’d already decided I’d rather have back pain and stopped listening to all the things they could do that sucked. So now I am taking Vicodin and feeling like Dr. House, and having Anna do everything for me that involves bending over. When it needs lifting, we wait for Dan or push it across the floor. Anna really enjoyed laundry today, as step one involved sending it down the stairs in a torrent then kicking it the rest of the way before carrying empty baskets. She was actually a huge, huge help today, so I bought her a Webkinz at the mall (walking feels great, and it’s too slick to walk outside). It was too expensive, so I told her she had to pay me five dollars of it from her own stash, but then she was so fantastic about doing tons of housework, not just failing to whine but being downright cheerful about it that I gave her the money back as soon as she paid me and told her that was why. I’m sure there was a lot of honeymoon over seeing me so sick and watching too much House with us where people go in feeling sort of bad, then vomit blood and then die, but she still earned the five dollars and the little pink cat.
So that’s my story. I’m heading to physical therapy this week, and who knows, maybe steady drugs and some good exercises will cure this. Or maybe this is a slipped disc or something sciatic or something else an MRI could tell me about. But I don’t want to spoil the farts in technicolor, so I’ll just keep waiting. And keep Lynette’s number handy.