So. I’ve spent the better part of the last week in and out of the hospital, which would explain why, although I managed to keep people updated via Twitter, I haven’t posted a single thing on the old blog.
Today I’m going to fix that. I’m going to tell you what happened, why I spent so much time at the hospital and what I noticed while I was there. This may take a while, so I’m going to split all of this into a couple of posts, maybe more, spread out over the next couple of days.
First up – the 2 am phone call that started it all!
Actually, it was 1:56 am when my phone rang (I just checked the call log). As is typical with any such late night / early morning phone call, my brain reacted with a ‘Bwuh?’ as I staggered over to the desk (where I hook my iPhone up to the iMac to charge over night) to answer the call. As it turned out, I was too late and missed the call. It was my friend Andi, so I immediately called her back. She was in pain, you could hear it through her voice as she said, “Please come take me to the ER?”
This is how my week at the hospital started. I threw some clothes on, jumped in the jeep and took off. Andi lives about 30 minutes away, 20 on a good day with no traffic and 2 am is a great time of day for no traffic. I raced down the freeway, C470, to get to her. There was some construction in her neighborhood, so I had to take a different, alternate route to get to her, but I managed it. Got her in the car and asked where the nearest ER might be – she had no idea.
Have I ever mentioned I love the GPS map app on the iPhone? I pulled it up, pushed the ‘my location’ button and did a search for ’emergency room’ – it found one right up the highway, Exempla Lutheran, and off we went. I found out from Andi that she was having severe abdominal pain and vomiting. It had started at midnight and continued unabated. We even had to stop once so she could get out and vomit.
We got to the ER, got inside and the people were quick to get her admitted while I filled out paperwork. They took her in the back and told me I’d be able to go back when they were done running some tests, so I sat down and waited. Then I paced. Then I sat down again. Paced some more. I had her phone and my phone, her wallet, my wallet – just in case. More pacing. Watching the clock. I had no idea where she was – they’d taken her ‘back’ and I couldn’t see her anymore. Had no idea what was going on.
After an hour, I went up and asked about her, the girl behind the desk clicked a couple things on the monitor and told me I could go back to room 6 if I wanted, which I did. Turns out, they hadn’t really done anything yet. Well, nothing to alleviate the pain. They’d taken blood and urine samples and had her curl up on a bed – that was it. I was annoyed by this, but I told myself that they have to do things a certain way and it wouldn’t be long before they had her on some meds.
I was wrong. Seemed to take forever.
They came in and talked to her, by ‘they’ I mean a couple different nurses and a couple different doctors. They each seemed to be in a real hurry. I later found out that they were short staffed and slammed with over 60 cases all at once, which meant they were rushing around trying to help everyone.
During all of this, I was also tasked with keeping her boyfriend, currently in Nevada for another week or more, and her sister, currently in Maryland but planning to visit in just a few days, apprised of the situation and everything going on. I did the best I could, but there didn’t seem to be any good news to spread for some time.
Meanwhile, Andi was writhing in pain on the bed. I held her hand or talked to her or played music on my iPhone for her – anything I could think of to distract her mind from the pain. I don’t think it worked very well, but it’s what I had so I used it. She had a couple more bouts of vomiting, and they did more tests, asked more questions.
Eventually, I want to say a couple hours into all of this, they hooked her up to an IV because she was dehydrating from the vomiting, and they shot some pain meds into that IV as well, and some anti-nausea meds as well. This had the effect of calming her slightly. It didn’t take the pain away, but it dulled it enough where she could at least breathe, though not a lot.
They did this twice.
In the end, they diagnosed her with a urinary tract infection (that’s what ended up on the chart) and gastroenteritis (that did not end up on a chart, but the doctor said it and a nurse confirmed it). One doctor ordered an ultrasound, thinking that it just might be her gallbladder causing the problems, but the second, younger doctor came in and started pushing on her abdomen, which caused her to see stars, and decided that there was ‘no localized tenderness’ and, therefore, cancelled the ultrasound. They discharged her with scripts for vicodin (for pain), ciphro (antibiotics to kill the infection), something for nausea and something for stomach cramping.
I took her home around 9 am. We stopped at a Walgreens where I got her some juice, some bread & crackers and myself a frappucino so I could make it home still conscious.
I walked her dog, got her settled at home, called into work to let them know I’d been up all night and would not be in, slammed the frappucino, then drove home, ate something (scarfed it down), and went to bed. I slept Wednesday away, waking only to check on her via text. She was still in pain but I told myself we had to give the meds time to work.
I was sure it would only be a matter of time before she was back to her old self again.
…and I was wrong.
More on this ordeal tomorrow.