Part 1: I asked to go to the hospital
This past weekend was a bit of a bad one for me. I was asked, “Do you need to go to the hospital” more than usual and for good reasons. I wasn’t feeling very good at all Sunday morning, and this was even after sleeping for almost 9 hours. We had planned to go see a movie and I was determined to do it no matter what. I did a neb treatment, packed up my EDC bag and we headed out the door. Elysium (2013) was great and I highly recommend seeing it. Neil Blomkamp really knows how to address social issues. During the film I opted for some rescue inhaler puffs instead of busting out my nebuilzer and I did another treatment during the credits before leaving. We went home and I immediately started another treatment. I know some people’s guts don’t always steer them well, but I tend to know what’s going to happen when my asthma flares up. This time I knew I was going to end up in the hospital.
As I continued to feel worse I decided to tell my friend, Andy the paramedic, what was going on because he always has a funny way of telling me what to do. About the same time I was filing Liz in on the situation and told her I probably need to head into the hospital. I usually avoid going at all costs, but Andy reminded me the longer I wait to go, the longer I end up staying. Liz got some work stuff together, I packed up all my meds and documentation, and we headed out the door. I don’t know if it’s all in my head, but whenever I finally decide to get help, it’s like I finally let my body act and react like I’m in respiratory distress. That 15 minute drive to the hospital always seems to take longer than usually driving to that part of town, and of course the shortness of breath and coughing continued to worsen.
I often hear people complaining about going to the ER or the Emergency Department. They tell stories about waiting in line to check in at the front desk, sitting in the waiting room for hours to be seen and never quite satisfied with the speed of service or attention to detail. I’ve never experienced that before, well…maybe once. As usual I wasn’t even halfway to the desk and someone was rushing to get me a wheelchair. Liz got them some basic information to get things going and I was immediately wheeled back to a room where four, maybe five, people got to work. Two people were trying to get an IVs started on my arms and were successful on the fourth attempt with an 18 gauge. Seems like whenever I’m bad the veins like to hide. A third person was talking about “bagging me” while getting some neb meds going but fortunately they didn’t end up putting me on a respirator. They pumped me up with salumedrol and ativan to get things calmed down and gave me cough syrup to try and suppress that horrible dry cough of mine. As soon as things got slightly better I received my first ABG and then we waited to see what happened. Once things got under control they ordered a 2nd ABG to compare numbers. Arterial blood gas tests are when they take blood out of an artery instead of a vein meaning they stick a needle into your wrist and try to not gouge too many nerves. At least this respiratory therapist knew what she was doing and was quite patient about waiting until she was certain what has happening.
The doctor overseeing me was the same one from our last visit there and she recognized us right away. I’ve obviously been back in the area long enough because ER staff recognize me again. She was aware of and remembered my issues – I’m pretty sure that helped get things under control more quickly. Bloodwork, X-rays, CT scan, etc were ordered. Around this time a couple of the nurses popped their heads in and said, “Hey – I can’t hear you breathing any more!” That’s usually a good sign. The test results all came back as expected. The X-rays showed no fluid or ambiguous masses and the CT came back with evidence of air trapping and small airway disease. While I wasn’t nearly quite as bad as when I arrived, things weren’t quite good enough to let me loose after 7 hours and they decided to admit me for observation.