Monday, December 07, 2009

I'm home from the hospital and getting back to the daily grind. Thank all 0f you who called, texted and emailed. I can't tell you how much your prayers and thoughts meant to me. The hospital is a very lonely place and since it is located in the South Side of town (an hour from my home), it was impractical for anyone to visit me.

I originally went into the ER because I was experiencing dizziness, dehydration, high blood pressure and confusion (more than normal!). After a few hours, the ER doctors contacted my regular docs at the University of Chicago, who requested that I be transferred there. I can't say I really enjoyed the ambulance ride there - I was all bundled and confined, and after 20 minutes I became increasingly uncomfortable. But I guess it's better than being rushed there in a coma again.

The next day (Thursday), they did a whole battery of tests, including a CT scan, numerous blood tests and an echocardiogram. Also, they kept me on an IV drip of fluids. Because I was still not feeling well, they decided to keep me there one more night. As a heart transplant recipient, the doctors take no chances with me and their attitude (and mine) is to err on the side of caution.

But on Friday, I was started on a new medication because my blood pressure was still elevated. Within an hour of taking it, I developed the first of a number of migraine headaches. I have a history of migraines, but obviously the deduced that it was caused by the meds. So they decided against repeating that drug and went to work trying to figure how best to treat my hyper-tension. Of course, this meant another night (at least) in the hospital.

Saturday was a slow day and although my headaches were still prevalent, they only treated the symptoms and kept me on IV fluids. On Sunday, the headaches got worse. They were so bad, that I couldn't watch most of the Cowboys -Giants game. It was a good thing, too. Undoubtedly, it would only have raised my blood pressure if I had.

Later that day, the doctors tried yet another blood pressure drug. However, although it brought down my pressure, the migraine got much worse. Without a doubt, it was the most painful headache I have ever experienced. Besides the lights driving me up a wall, my legs and neck felt like they were in fire. The then gave me Dilauded, which is a morphine derivative. But even that wore off after a short time (and only took the edge off). At that point, the doctors decided that in order to rule out anything horrible (like meningitis, or a bleed in my brain), they were going to to do a lumbar puncture (otherwise known as a spinal tap). This scared the daylights out of me, but I gave permission because the pain was so debilitating.

At this point, they also decided to give me a new pain medication called Fioricet, which is tylenol plus a barbiturate, plus caffeine. Well, within 30 minutes, the headache got much better and the pain in my legs eased considerably. They gave me Ambien to sleep, but it took a few hours before I was able to close my eyes (I'm assuming the caffeine was the cause).

This morning, I was awoken at 5am (like every other morning) to have my weight taken and have my blood drawn (I seriously feel like a pin cushion). An hour later, the came back because apparently the blood they drew coagulated. But I fell back asleep for another hour or two. At 9, after breakfast and another blood draw, I fell back asleep and slept deeper than I had since I arrived there. The doctor (along with the entire cardiology crew) showed up at 12 and woke me up. At that time, I was feeling 100% better. So she said I could go home and that they would write up the discharge papers.

All I really wanted to do was take a shower and take all the stickers (that had been on me to monitor my heart) off. But being rather hairy, that was almost as painful as the headaches! Even though the doc said I was free to go, it then still took over 5 hours to get all the paperwork done. Finally, at 6, I was brought downstairs to the discharge lounge. The problem there was that the nurse who took me down had no idea where it was. We ended up walking around the hospital (well, she walked - I was in a wheelchair) for over 30 minutes. Finally, we found it. However, my ex, who was picking me up, called to tell me she had to take one of my twin boys to the ER at Children's hospital (he's okay - he just has a virus) and therefore could not get me for at least another hour or so.

Well, the lady in the discharge lounge was very upset that it took them so long to discharge me in the first place. I would say she just didn't want to have to wait past her shift (the lounge closes at 8), but she was very nice and caring (everyone at UC was). Anyway, she went to the Admissions office and convinced them to pay for me to take a cab to Children's Hospital (where I would meet my ex, who was now stuck at the ER for at least another hour or two. The cab fare, had I had to pay it, came to $30. So I was extremely thankful.

I finally got to Children's Hospital around 8:30 and I didn't have to wait too long for him to be finally diagnosed and released. So we drove back to my kids' house, dropped them off and my ex took me to the original hospital (which was in Skokie - 30 minutes north) to get my car, which I left there when I went to that ER last Wednesday.

Of course, it snowed in Chicago over the weekend and of course, it took a while to defrost my car. Then, I had to go to the pharmacy to pick up all the nice new drugs the doctor prescribed. I could have gotten them at UC, but it would have been a pain to transfer the scripts next month when I need refills.

By the time I came home, it was after 11. I hadn't eaten anything since noon, nor had I taken any of my meds - including the blood pressure meds I am supposed to take 4 times a day. Thankfully, I do not have a headache. But my back is very sore and because I left last Wednesday not thinking I would be gone a week, I left myself a nice little mess, to boot.

But thank G-d the doctors at UC are so competent and caring. They have saved my life more than once and I trust them completely. Today was a real drag and exhausting. But now I'm back in my own bed and ready to get on with whatever it is I get on with.

Again, thank you to all who cared, called and wondered. Hopefully, I'll be back to blogging again very soon.

1 comment:

Al said...

Good to hear you're home and feeling better.