Saturday, October 9, 2010

My ER Visit

Several weeks ago, my boss sent me a nasty email. I responded as I usually do to a nasty email - I could feel my blood pressure and heart rate increasing as my face got red and I thought "why do I work here, anyway?" I went home and ranted and raved to my poor husband. And then I realized I had a headache. And I thought this is stupid; I have given myself a headache. I need to learn to take things more in stride. But that damn headache lasted 5 days, and no pain reliever would make a dent in it.

Then my annual severe cough - slight fever thing, where I can't breathe - came along. This thing lasts for weeks and I hate it. When I talk, I cough, and when I cough, I can't stop, and then I can't breathe. That came Thursday night.

On Sunday night, I went to bed and realized I had a severe headache. I managed to come downstairs and get some aspirin but there was no change. And then, to my horror, I felt nauseous. I am quite proud of my record of not throwing up for 22 years and intend to keep adding to that record. I have a huge terror of throwing up. I realized the light was causing part of my pain, as was any noise.

My husband came up to bed and seeing my clutching my head in pain, suggested we go to the emergency room. I said no, it's a headache. I'm embarrassed to go to the ER with a headache. I went to the bathroom and turned the light on and realized the vision in my left eye was completely blurred. That part freaked me out. So I said ok, let's go. He asked if he should call an ambulance and I said no way; you have to lie down in an ambulance and I was already nauseous and I get motion sick.

So I threw on some sweats and off we went to the ER, at 1:30 AM. I expected a full lobby but it was empty. I was put in a room and sent down for a cat scan. About an hour later, an ER dr came in and said most likely nothing was wrong, but the radiologist saw something of concern on the cat scan and suggested an MRI. So they were calling in a tech to do an MRI. Another hour went by, as I imagined the brain tumor or aneurysm bursting in my brain. The tech arrived at 4 AM and I was wheeled down for an MRI. I could hear the MRI tech talking and she mentioned she was talking to the radiologist, so I assumed the MRI would be read right away.

Many hours passed, but at least I was getting anti-nausea drugs and morphine in my IV so I was kind of out there. To make a long story short, we waited several hours for the MRI results. Finally the dr came in and said the MRI was fine and she noticed my eye was red - did my eye hurt? I said actually, yes it did. She brought in another dr and they tried to take the pressure in my eye. They said their results showed very high pressure but they wanted an eye dr to check it. They told me to see an eye dr now in the building and to return to the ER.

So off we went to see the eye dr. He took my pressure. I never knew much about glaucoma and eye pressure, but he seemed very concerned. 15 is the norm and my left eye was 70. My father had lost the vision in his eye when his was at 50, I later found out. So the eye dr did a laser surgery and the pressure moved down slightly. He said he had never known the laser surgery to fail. He called a glaucoma specialist, whose office was down the street, and sent me there. He said she was waiting for me.

So off we went to the ER, who said there was something on the cat scan and MRI that was of concern and a neurologist suggested admitting me for further work-up. We said no, the eye was a critical problem.

We got to the glaucoma specialist's office and my pressure had gone up. She gave me drops. The pressure did not go down. She told me I would not be happy with her, but she had to stick a needle in my eye. It's a good thing I was still doped up from morphine - I cannot handle anyone coming near my eye under normal circumstances. She stuck the needle in my eye, did another laser surgery, gave me pills and more drops and told me I had come very close to losing my vision.

We got home at 5:00. Never ate anything all day but had no appetite.

Had to go back to the glaucoma specialist the next day and the pressure had come down. Someone called it a medical crisis. The next day I had to get the laser surgery in my other eye.

Since my dad lost his vision after a botched cataract surgery that resulted in the removal of his eye (and macular degeneration in the other eye), I have always wondered how anyone can live with no vision. I am very thankful that it was caught and that drs were willing to drop what they were doing to spend the time treating me.

Still have the damn headache but am feeling lucky after this ordeal.