God’s waiting room

I wasn’t happy about going to the neighborhood Medicaid mill, but the emergency medical workers said they had to take me to the closest place. So they gave me a spritz of nitroglycerin under my tongue and hooked me up for an EKG. (I found out later it was “irregular.”)

I was settled into my own cubicle sometime around 5:15 am when new patients started pouring into the waiting room, the stretchers lined up against walls and counters. It looked like a war zone.

The ER team dealt with two brothers who’d shared the same bag of strong heroin and were brought in after overdosing. One brother continued to insist he’d only had “one beer.”

“Uh huh. Is that why you keep falling asleep?” the doctor said loudly. “Tell us what you did, or we’ll have to put you on a ventilator. You want to be on a ventilator?”

“No, man,” the junkie mumbled. He admitted he’d injected heroin, and so the nurse gave him a shot of narcotics antagonist that jarred him back to consciousness.

Once the doctor told me he was going to admit me, somewhere around 8 a.m., I just wanted to get out of there and into my own room. I finally got one at 1:30 p.m.

One of the blood tests showed very high levels of enzymes that indicated pancreatitis, which made me nervous because my dad died of pancreatic cancer and the symptoms are the same. But the CAT scan showed nothing and the rest of the blood tests were clear. The GI specialist told me there was no way my levels could be that high and disappear in the rest of the tests, so he thought the high test was probably a lab error. (Grrr. Damn him for making me drink that vile contrast solution for no good reason — and for putting me on a no-eating regimen the whole time I was there.)

Then I had to have a cardiac stress test. Arghh! Nuff said. The guy who took the pictures told me he couldn’t diagnose, but my heart looked good and my effusion rate was pretty damned good. The cardiologist confirmed it, and they finally let me go home.

Home. Sweet home.

Thanks for all the good wishes and donations. Nice to know if I died, people would notice.

18 thoughts on “God’s waiting room

  1. Great to hear from you, and I liked the blow-by-blow, very funny… I think. Whatever you got hit with, it didn’t damage your writing skills. I hope the heroin brothers made it through OK.

  2. Welcome back. Glad things turned out better than hoped. Now I assume you’re going to Live Blog Irene? Just remember, no stress. No stress!

  3. Ah, that is good news. Welcome back.

    A friend of mine felt something funny about two weeks ago. She went to a urgent care office near her home. They begun one EKG and by the time the ambulance came they had one data set. The EMTs started another one on the ride to the hospital and it confirmed the earlier one. Yup, she’d had a heart attack. She ended up having a stent put in and some other procedures done. She was in the hospital for a week.

  4. So glad you got out of emergency-room purgatory. But Nancy above is on to something with the gallbladder. The husband was misdiagnosed with a heart attack when in fact it was his gallbladder swelling up like a balloon (very, very painful and debilitating, but pretty easy to fix). Thing is, if it is the gallbladder, it needs to come out before it pops like an appendix does.

    But I expect the hospitals will be busy this weekend, so maybe it can wait for a bit. Put your feet up and bask in the love.

  5. Well it looks like a few people stepped into the breach yesterday and kept the blog going. Hats off to you folks for a job well done. I’m sure susie was pleased. Somebody once said that, “Getting old ain’t for sissy’s.” Susie can now attest to that truism. Anytime you are completely helpless and are relying on everyone elses expertise and caring, and you come out of the experience hungry, it’s all good. It’s Philly cheese steak time.

  6. I’m assuming you must still be vibrating like a tuning fork. I always recommend a long hot bath as soon as you get home to wash the chemicals off.
    Otherwise, oy. At least you got out.

  7. Good on your gall bladder. Only mentioned it because pancreatitis sometimes accompanies raging gall bladder. You think you’ve eaten glass or something. Worst pain ever.

    I agree with k — at least you made it out alive. That’s saying something today. So glad you’re back. And it’s so heartening to see the outpouring of love and support for you, Susie. You must be a good friend to have it returned to you in such abundance.

  8. Every time I read about what happened to you, I cry. Although I’ve been reading your blog daily for years, I didn’t know cared quite this much. Please take care. Have you ever looked up ascension symptoms? Just a thought.

  9. My mom had idiopathic pancreatitis twice. She’s not a heavy drinker and there’s no history of pancreatic cancer in my family. The first bout was probably caused by her gall bladder so they took it out just in case. But them she got it again. It’s a mystery, wrapped in an enigma. It’s been about 16 years since she had an attack. I understand they are quite painful.
    I’m going to guess that you got something stuck in your plumbing but that it cleared itself out by the time you got to the hospital. Just long enough to inflame and cause intense pain but nothing they could detect once you got there. Well, I hope you enjoyed your ER experience. Too bad we can’t have dispensaries like they have in the military. It’s sort of a cross between an urgent care facility and a clinic. Sure you have to wait but the medical care was good and prescriptions could be filled on site. My sister and I grew up in the military. She was a chronic asthmatic and my family spent a lot of time at the dispensary or at naval medical hospitals. They saved her life on more than one occasion and i think she probably got better emergency care there than she would have at a public hospital. Think of the dispensary system as a US version of the British NHS. No frills, good medical care, low cost.
    If Americans coud just get over their attitude about choosing their own doctors…

  10. Having been on the no-food-for-sixty-days pancreatitis diet, I have profound sympathy for you, Susie. What others have said is very much true: your gallbladder can screw up, back some sludge into your pancreas and BINGO! Irritatingly (both metaphorically and actually) both organs can revert to OK status. My bout, as best as we can figure, was caused by a hydascan, which involves medication designed to make the gallbladder spasm vigorously, which it did, to my pancreas’ chagrin.

    TMI, most likely, but the bottom line is that we were fretful for ye, and now glad it at least weren’t your ticker.

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