I said I was going to write a post about my crazy medical adventure and here it is! Well, the first part of it, at least. As I started to write it out, I realized that it was too long for one post so I will get to the rest of it another time. Mostly, I want to document this for my own reference but maybe a few of you are interested in the details as well. This all kind of unfolded on Facebook via my ever worsening status updates but a bunch of stuff got left out and I know how much everyone is dying for the (literally) gory details!
Let’s go back to mid-February. I’ve been at my current job for over five years and during that time, I have only had one boss. In late 2011, she announced that she had given her notice and that her last day would be February 17, 2012. I was pretty stressed about this — change is scary and I really liked my boss in both a work capacity and as a friend. What would my new boss be like? Would I like him? Would he like me? What if he hated and wanted to get rid of me? I spent much time wringing my hands and fretting over this. Perhaps it was this anxiety that caused me to get a bad cold during my boss’ last week of work. I was out sick Tuesday through Thursday (February 14-16), curled up at home feeling like I wanted to die. Adding to my misery was the fact that it was my new boss’ first week and I was missing it! It vexed me greatly that his initial impression of me was that of an invalid.
SEVERE COLD > MIGRAINE
February 19 & 20
That weekend, on Sunday, I ended up with a migraine. I get them on a regular basis but being all stressed out about work probably didn’t help matters. I used an Imitrex nose spray to combat it — it did nothing. I tried another one — no good. Then I turned to Vicodin — nothing. Monday morning rolled around and I was still suffering but there was no way I was going to miss another day of work and add to the perception that I was some kind of feeble sicky who couldn’t be relied upon. So, despite having eaten nothing in over 24 hours, I figured another Vicodin was the way to go.
This was a mistake.
I got to work and before I could even make it to my desk, I had to detour to the bathroom to throw up. The next hour or so was spent trying not to pass out and after staggering around the department, my co-workers decided that I needed to go home.
‘I’m fine,’ I argued as I dizzily lurched my way into a chair in order to avoid losing my balance and face-planting in the hallway.
Luckily, my co-workers ignored my protestations, bundled me up into a car and took me home. I had forgotten my keys so I had to pathetically sit outside my apartment for a little while until my boyfriend returned from running errands. Eventually, I was able to crawl back into bed and the migraine subsided. When I returned to work the next day, I sheepishly admitted that double-dosing Vicodin on an empty stomach was not one of my more brilliant plans and I assured my new (and very understanding) boss that the past few days — the cold, the migraine — were NOT typical. I promised him that I was not always this feeble and lame.
Famous last words.
SEVERE COLD > MIGRAINE > BLADDER INFECTION
February 23 – 25
I made it through the rest of the week just fine but on Thursday, I noticed a bit of pain on my right side. It wasn’t major; just more annoying than anything else. It made it a bit uncomfortable to sleep and Thursday night was spent tossing and turning. Friday, the pain was more pronounced (although still nothing terribly intense).
Every afternoon during the work week, a co-worker and I take a little break to walk to a store on the lot to buy a snack. On the way back to the office, we take an alternate route and stroll past the sound stages; it’s not a particularly long distance. On that day, I remarked how funny it was that I was getting so out of breath on our walk. I figured it was just lingering effects of my previous cold.
That night, I was more uncomfortable than ever. I finally gave up on sleep at 5:30 Saturday morning and got up — it was no longer just painful to lie down, it was also getting hard to breathe in that position. Still, I didn’t think too much of it. I figured that I had just strained a muscle or something. I made a flippant post on Facebook about it and everyone and their mothers urged me to go to urgent care. Since I was certain that it was NO BIG DEAL, I went to my hair appointment first because good hair is entirely more important than being able to breathe.
I joked with my hair dresser that I was in the middle of a medical emergency and to make me look my best for the walk-in clinic. Keep in mind, I’m still not feeling terrible at this point. Even while I was at the clinic, I was doing okay. It kind of hurt to breathe deeply but, even then, not too badly. The physicians assistant who saw me ordered an x-ray, urine test and blood work. We didn’t even get to the last bit before the urine test came back showing that I had a ‘raging UTI’. I was given a prescription for antibiotics, told to follow up with my primary physician on Monday and sent on my way. Got home around 2p, ate lunch and then walked over to the pharmacy an hour later to fill my prescription.
Holy. Mary. Mother. Of. God.
Almost as soon as I left my apartment, I was overcome with the most intense pain ever. Well, probably not most intense ever because if it was that, I doubt I could have walked at all. But trust me, it was bad. BAD. Why didn’t I turn around and head back inside? Why didn’t I make my boyfriend drive me to the pharmacy or, better yet, send him off to pick it up for me himself? Because, at this point, I was still convinced that it was NO BIG DEAL. I figured it was bad gas from lunch or something and would subside soon enough. So I whimpered and hobbled my way to the pharmacy. I sat in the waiting area, rocking myself and trying not to cry. I lost that battle on the way home and nearly crawled up the stairs into my apartment.
There was no escaping the pain. I tried laying down but that hurt even more. I tried leaning back in a chair but that was unbearable. All I could do was sit upright in a seat and stay as still as possible; only then was the pain manageable. I asked my boyfriend if it was normal to hurt this badly; he told me that UTIs can be really, really painful but that I should start to feel better once the antibiotics kicked in. I called my mom and was also assured that I would feel better soon. I took a Vicodin and calmed myself down; after a few hours, I wasn’t in quite so much pain. I still hurt, I still couldn’t lay down, but I could deal with it and looked forward to Sunday when I was convinced I would feel improved. I spent the night on the couch, propped up by a gazillion pillows.
SEVERE COLD > MIGRAINE > BLADDER INFECTION > KIDNEY INFECTION
February 26 & 27
Sunday came and, while I did feel a bit better, I was still in quite a bit of pain. Even after 12 hours on antibiotics, it was intense so I decided that maybe a trip to the ER was in order. I was still under the spell of the NO BIG DEAL notion but I figured that my pain could be better managed by professionals. And was it! When I got there, they hooked up an IV and, in addition to some heavy antibiotics and anti-nausea medication, gave me Dilaudid. For those who do not know, Dilaudid is basically like .. synthetic heroin. I went from a pain level of 7 (out of 10) to a 2 in a matter of seconds. They injected it into my IV line and almost in that same moment, it felt like I was like being covered in a warm, heavy blanket; I was instantly relaxed and a little drowsy. My boyfriend and I were there for a few hours before they sent me home, telling me that my bladder infection had become a kidney infection. They advised me to continue the antibiotics I had been prescribed by the walk-in clinic and to follow up with my doctor. That night, thanks to the pain killer they had given me at the ER, was much more comfortable than the previous few. But still, it hurt — A LOT — to lay down so I spent another night propped up on the couch.
The next day (Monday), I went in to see my doctor. I told her what happened and she gave me a look over, extending my course of antibiotics from three days to a week. I mentioned to her how the pain in my right side extended all the way up to my shoulder and across my right breast, especially just beneath it. She thought this was odd and that it wasn’t due to the kidney infection. The best she figured was that I had pulled a muscle so she gave me a prescription for a muscle relaxer so I could sleep more comfortably.
I went home, took my antibiotics, muscle relaxers and Vicodin before curling up with and propped up by the pillows on my couch. And that is how I spent Monday and Tuesday, hardly moving from that spot.
SEVERE COLD > MIGRAINE > BLADDER INFECTION > KIDNEY INFECTION > PNEUMONIA
On the discharge sheet from my visit to the ER on Sunday, they advised that I return to the hospital if my temperature rose above 101. Tuesday evening, while my boyfriend was out and about, I was feeling kind of crappy so I stuck a thermometer in my mouth: 102*. When my boyfriend got home around 8:30p, I told him that I needed to go back to the ER and we did just that.
When they were checking me in, they took my temperature and it was only 97.6 which made me feel really stupid. At that point, I wanted to just go home because while I was feeling crappy, I didn’t think I was feeling that bad. Still, they admitted me and hooked me up with an IV again.
There was more waiting around this time. Someone came to check me out. An x-ray was taken. Wait, wait, wait. Finally, a doctor came by and told me that I had pneumonia and that they were going to admit me to the hospital for a few days. My boyfriend, Drew, admitted that he suspected that they would admit me and, to be honest, I was not terribly surprised by the diagnosis either. After all, I had done some Googling earlier in the day and the internet never lies.
*A few days later, Drew discovered that our thermometer was actually broken and permanently stuck at 102. This was a stroke of luck because if I hadn’t thought I had a fever, I wouldn’t have gone back to the ER and who knows what would have happened to me. So, thank you, thermometer. Thank you for being a cheap piece of shit. You may have saved my life!
SEVERE COLD > MIGRAINE > BLADDER INFECTION > KIDNEY INFECTION > PNEUMONIA > PULMONARY EMBOLISM(S)
I don’t know why the CT scan was ordered; I don’t remember how that came about. But somewhere between them telling me that I had pneumonia and actually getting admitted to the hospital, they sent me down to get a CT scan. This was PAINFUL. Very, very, very, extremely, incredibly painful. Why? Because you need to lie flat for a CT. Flat and still. Remember, lying down was excrutiating for me. Even though I had been given Dilaudid via IV, it was still incredibly difficult to bear. I cried the entire time but I managed to stay still and get through it. When it was over, the attendant told me I could sit up — I was in so much pain, I couldn’t say anything other than ‘Help! Help!’ and even that, I only managed to sob out. He had to help me up from my prone position and adjust the gurney to its most upright position.
I was sent back to the ER to continue to wait for a room to be available for me. After a time, the doctor returned and let me know that on top of the pneumonia, the CT scan revealed that I had a pulmonary embolism on my lower right lung, two of them actually. While I had been expecting the pneumonia diagnosis, this one came as a surprise and was a bit more scary. Pulmonary embolism. People die from that shit! Things just got serious.