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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My Mind Numbing Adventure Part # 2

At some point I fell asleep, hard because next thing I know I wake up in some other part of the hospital and my mom has a blanket on her in the chair next to me. It's 8am and we are STILL in the ER. I still have NOT had an MRI. And I still have NO answers. A new staff has come on duty. I ask what is going on? I'm told that the MRI staff has to "fit me in" around their already scheduled patients. I'm told I'm admitted, but they are waiting on a bed to "open up". I'm told they can't feed me until after I have the MRI with no time in sight.

I lose it for the first time (there will be another time too).
I said "I want to know what's going on?"
Nurse (N): "What do you mean?"
Me: "What do I mean? What do I MEAN? I've been here all night and I still don't have any answers."
N: "Well we can't get you into the MRI until they are ready to get you."
Me: "I don't understand."
N: "What is it you don't understand?"
Me: I don't understand why my neuro tells me to get here asap and to call an ambulance if necessary, but when I get here you do an EKG & stick me in the waiting room for over an hour. I don't understand why I've been here all night and I still don't have my MRI done. I don't understand why nothing is happening when my neuro is the one who said this was an emergency situation, but none of you are treating it like it is!"
N: "What is it that you want us to do? We don't have a room yet and they aren't ready for you in MRI?"
Me: "I want you to get me some answers. Wait, You know what? Get my neuro on the phone. I want to talk to him myself."
N: "Well we can page him and ask your questions."
Me: "No. I want to talk to him myself. After he returns your call, I want to talk to him."
N: "But we'll have to get you out to the front desk and you can't get of bed."
Me: Your problem, not mine. I WANT TO TALK TO MY NEURO!!!! NOW!!!!"
N: "Fine. I'll have him paged."
Me: "Thank you."
Within a half hour, they say he's on the phone and after several attempts to transfer him to the phone near me, they finally wheel my whole stretcher/bed out to the front desk.
Neuro: Hi Tamera, what's going on?"
Me: "I'm still in the ER. I still haven't had my MRI. I haven't been allowed to eat, even though I told them I don't need to fast for an MRI. No one has done anything to treat this like an emergency and I don't know what to do."
Neuro "We have to get you out of that ER. They don't know how to treat you there."
Me: "I know!"
Neuro: "I'll tell them you can eat. And I'll see about getting you into a room faster and find out why your MRI hasn't been ordered. I did that last night."
Me "Thank you"
Neuro: "I'll have to see if your neuro has privileges there, if not I will come. If it's me, I will be coming. It just will be later tonight."
Me"That's fine as long as someone is coming from the practice."
Neuro "I will. Get some rest and hopefully we can have some answers soon. I'll see you later.
Me :"I hope so. Thanks. Bye." Hand phone back to desk nurse.

Me to my nurse "He said I can eat & he's coming later."
Nurse: "Ok I'll see about getting you some food."

Around Noon, my husband has come back to see me for awhile and my kids are in the waiting room. I tell him to take them home, but I want to say goodbye first. Now since I am STILL in the ER there are signs posted stating "No one under 12 yrs old may visit". I get that. However...

I am still in the ER, but "admitted" but they don't have a bed for me yet after 16 hrs. Not really my problem. So a medical assistant comes in, now I know what you'll be thinking, but I did get names of most of the staff that helped me. I missed hers.

She comes in & I tell her I want to see my kids before they leave. She says children aren't allowed back here. I tell her I understand that, but that the hospital doesn't have a room for me yet & if I did I could see them. I'm admitted and they are scared and need to see me before they leave.
She says, "well they can't come back." So I tell her to bring me out to them. She refuses that too. I tell her one way or another, I will see them.

She tells me no and that I'm on an IV and that they can't come in under 12. Foolish girl doesn't know me. I told her I absolutely will see them and that I am still waiting for my food.
She says, "I'm sure someone ordered you a tray."
That was all it took. "Oh, you're sure are you? Are you really sure? Because I'm sure that I've been promised food since 2 in the morning and I'm still waiting. So don't tell me your sure someone ordered one for me. "
She said, "You know, you can leave." I'd love that." She says well it'd be against medical advice." Me: "Honey, I would leave if I could. Unfortunately, I need medical help to figure out why I can't walk, so I'm stuck here. Now let me see my kids!"
She said, "no" and walked out.

I looked at my husband and told him to go stand by the front of my "curtain" and see who he could see. He looks and says no one.
Keep watching. He says he sees a blonde nurse. "Oh that's Diane! Get her."
What do you expect ME to do?"
I don't. Just get her attention. He does.
She comes in.

I say, "Diane, look I know I'm being a pain in the ass..."
D: "no you're not."
Me: " I am, but my husband has to go to work & my mom needs to go home to sleep. The problem is my kids have been waiting to see me & their scared. I just want to tell them good bye and not to worry."
D: "How old are they?"
Me: "Only 10 & 6 years old. I know your sign says 12, but I should be in a room already. Please can they come in or can I go out? I have no IV hook up or anything." (I never did have an IV. The last MA saw the old stand behind me. )
D: "Absolutely, Sweetie! Let me get you a wheelchair."
She wheeled me out & said to let her know when I was done. I visited for about 15 mins and then came back in. The best part was wheeling in right past the girl who said there was "no way I'd see my kids."
Don't underestimate me.

Best part is after they left, my food finally came. As I lifted the lid to reveal some questionable food, my friend arrived with a hamburger & fries plus fresh fruit and homemade soup.
Look at me living it up. :)

I finally got into a room at 3pm on the neuro ward. The staff up there and even any other staff I met through transfers etc. were wonderful, patient and kind. The neuro nurse was really angry when she revealed at 3:00 AM orders were put thru that I needed an MRI STAT. It was 3:00 PM. She definitely got stuff moving then.

Eventually I regained feeling in my arm and both legs. I'm in PT now. My number one lesson I take away from this is I will have my neuro call ahead BEFORE I leave for the ER and have the neuro floor ready for me. Live & learn.
I'm still waiting on food. She says, "I'm sure someone's ordered you a tray.'

My Mind Numbing Adventure Part #1

Adventure. Adventure? I'm not too sure. Definitely a first for myself. I would count this trip to the hospital my first "adventure" there directly from MS. I did have a 24 hour stay in October 2011, but technically I went because of an allergic reaction to antibiotics meant to keep OUT of the hospital. I had the threat of a urinary tract infection and when you are receiving IV Steroids for a MS Flare they lower your immunity to fight off infections, at that time they wanted me to first get started on some antibiotics so the UTI didn't turn into a more dangerous infection. Ironically, I was allergic to those meds and they are what sent me to the ER, MS kept me overnight for the IV Steroids. But I digress.

This time it was MS that took me there and admitted me for 3 days. Adventure? Hmmmm. It was interesting. It was scary. It was unexpected. It was unpredictable. There was drama. There was suspense. There was fear and even some comedy bits thrown in. I suppose these are elements needed for a great adventure, but to me it felt differently.

As I told you in some of my last posts, I have had lots of drama surrounding my MS with repeated tests for MS diagnosis, including a spinal tap. I also, was in an MS Flare brought on by the stress of all of this, not to mention the Summer heat. So, the spinal tap was Tues. 6/19th followed by 2 days flat, in bed, bored and with every other muscle in my body in pain because of this lack of movements and lying in bed for 48 hrs. This was followed by 2 days of IV Steroids and a blood patch (when they take some of your own blood and inject where the spinal tap was given to encourage your body to clot the hole created by the spinal tap) since the headache was still growing.

All that was completed that Friday 6/22nd, but by Saturday afternoon the headache was returning. I filled the pain prescription originally given to me for the spinal tap, if needed. I needed it since it was the weekend and I wanted to try to hold off to talk to my dr on Monday. The meds helped a little. On Sunday, my family helped me delivering newspapers. My husband & daughter took my regular route to throw papers door-to-door, or really porch-to-porch. My son & myself, sat in the car and put flyers with sample newspapers into bags and eventually headed out to throw them out the window into driveways. Both tasks are time consuming, but the sample throwing was less of a strain on my body.

I came home with my son around 9am and my husband and daughter returned by 10am. Normally, I would not get home until 1 or 2pm on Sunday, so the help was invaluable. Once, I was home and settled, I plopped my butt in our recliner and wrote thank you notes for my MS Walk and Family Game Night donations. I got a really good start, but didn't finish them all. I didn't really get a chance to take a nap before my body decided to rebel against me.

It started with some tension in my neck which isn't unusual as I get tension headaches. While I had received my nerve blockers, I had yet to start physical therapy (PT) to help alleviate them further. So tension in my neck that then seemed to spread down to my right arm and was not only numbing it, but making my arm seem very heavy. I comment to my family about it, but no one seems overly concerned at this point. (I get it. Sometimes my health is so overwhelming that it can cause indifference. With everything I've gone through in the past couple of weeks, this last week took a toll on them too.)

Then the numbness and heaviness starts to go into my right leg as well. I tell my family who want to know what this means. I don't know! I decide to call my neuro on the after hours line. I tell the operator what is going on and she says she will contact the dr on call. 20 mins pass. The recording before the operator did mention that the neuro may not call back if he determines your issue can wait until regular business hours. I find this weird because who would call that if there wasn't a real emergency or at least what the patient feels is NOT normal? However, there are all kinds of people in the world who do create more drama then necessary. I call the answering service again and explain it's my second call and that I had a spinal tap recently including IV Steroids and this is my second message for the neuro.

I decide to call my dear friend, Kelly Q. who not only has MS, but has her pharmacist license. Her boyfriend tells me their about to sit down for dinner, but I say I need to talk to her about my health and it's important. I'm NOT the person to push on petty things so she comes to the phone knowing it must be important. I tell her about my numb arm and into my leg & she asks if it's just numb or is it also heavy? I tell her I just used that exact word, heavy, to describe how it felt. She says that if I don't talk to neuro soon I need to go to the ER because this is one of those things that if let gone too long can determine what nerves do and do NOT come back. Permanently. We speak about other things I should be telling the ER and my other line rings from the neuro. I say good bye and switch lines to tell neuro my story. He says "Go to the ER. Don't mess around with this. Go to the ER now. I don't care if you drive or call an ambulance, but go now." I said ok and thanks. I hang up and tell my husband who immediately thinks the worst. I call my mother to take me so my husband can stay with the kids and I can stay relaxed.

I know what you're thinking. My husband should take me and my mom should stay with the kids, right? No. I'm sure we all know those people who are good in a crisis and who are not. We also know the people who don't do well waiting. My husband does not do well waiting at the hospital. He becomes uncomfortable in the crappy chairs, as we all do, and has no patience waiting for doctors. Basically, his being uncomfortable and being inpatient feed into his fear and then he starts to get angry at what is taking so long. This then causes the effect of me worrying about him and stressing over every little move or groan that may lead to an outburst. Don't get me wrong. I have an amazing husband who is supportive and caring in so many ways. For this, I have learned I need him to stay home until there is a reason he NEEDS to be there. Bringing my mom, I know she's uncomfortable, but she's there for the duration and willingly. As long as I can keep her from going "Terms of Endearment" ala Shirley McClain on the emergency staff, we're good. ;)

My husband helps me to the car and I tell the kids not to worry and off we went. We went to the hospital in the suburbs rather than the city one where I normally go. People always ask why I don't go to the suburb one cuz it's "less busy" and "you'll avoid getting put behind all the gun shot wounds". It's in Detroit, not smack in the middle, but on the Detroit border. A good hospital where I was born as well as both of my children. I decide to buy into all of the pressure from said comments. Mistake. This hospital is in the same group as far as the name, but not all of the privileges given at one hospital transfer to this one. Also, the recent closure of the bi-county hospital has caused their hospital to go into overload. When we arrive, I can't feel the left leg either and can barely lift both now. I'm taking in by wheelchair to sign in. When they take me back to triage, they do a quick EKG and then stick me back into the waiting area.

This confuses me as my neuro made it sound pretty urgent that I get there. After an hour and a half, I'm finally brought to the back am helped/lifted into bed, stripped of my clothing (that was a little humiliating that I couldn't take off my own clothes.) and told they have a call into my neuro. Once they speak with him and have the resident dr see me they order a CT Scan with blood work. After that, back to bed in ER. I fall asleep, mom in chair beside me. Morning comes, nothing has been done. I'm told they spoke with neuro and he ordered me admitted and an MRI at 2 am. Unfortunately, they don't have any beds for me yet. (End Part #1)