Monday, September 2, 2013

A Surprise Weekend in Hospital or How Not to Spend Labor Day

No, seriously.

"Do u want me 2 take u 2 ER?" text was received early Friday morning from a friend/co-worker and I was at the hospital in a half hour. I had to promise to call for pickup when finished and tests results finalized.  He's not from around here. I knew it doesn't work that way.  One can sit for hours in the ER waiting room before being admitted, and they don't do anything quickly - just thoroughly and then some.

I was so bad off (guess I looked it, too) they admitted me within 15 minutes of arrival (no chance to go back home to pick up a few necessities - which I regretted not one second) and whizzed into an exam room where initial work was begun.  I kept dozing off only waking to answer questions. 

I was rushed by gurney for a CT scan to check for kidney stones (yes, they found one, Not the problem.), then to x-ray for pics of the back and chest. Returning to the ER exam room, I could tell by the long faces on the nurse and doctor that something is really wrong.

The doctor asks: how long have you been anemic?  I answer, never.
Doctor: well it looks like you are now.

Then he proceeds to ask the usual questions about blood in urine, stool, etc., but of course, they won't take my word for anything. I had a low grade fever of 100.7, my words were slurring, and I kept losing my train of thought. My blood count was dangerously low (I don't understand the numbers right now) at 5.6 and 11 respectively. 

A potassium supplement prepared, what a nasty thing that was. More tests and a full blood workup was ordered.

I was asked if I had ever been transfused and I answered, no.  There was an anxious look on the nurse's face as he explained the pros & cons and possible side effects. Being weak and dizzy I don't care and figure I'll take my chances. Three units of blood were thawed and as my room was prepped upstairs, I began receiving the first of the three. 

For 5 hours I was poked, prodded and asked the most ridiculous questions about anemia which I couldn't answer because I was unfamiliar with the condition, my mental faculties were just shorting out from weakness.  I couldn't make a fist.  No kidding.

A morphine cocktail was ordered to ease the back pain, cramps and headache. As soon as it hit I took a nap as they continued to poke and prod. I didn't care.  I woke to a bunch of colored wires attached to various points on my chest.  It was a heart monitor and the tiny control box made by Phillips felt like it weighed a ton.

The second unit of blood was setup as it was announced that my room was ready. So, up I go on the gurney with the blood moving in the breeze. A bit unsettling, that. I was taken to the top floor consisting of two sections, the ICU and something called the PCU.  I had a private room in the PCU, but  as soon as they moved me from the gurney to the bed with magic fingers** nausea set in, head began to pound, and I began trembling with chills.  When that subsided all I wanted to do was what I had been doing for the past week - sleep.

It was not meant to be. Labs were taken every 2 hours, cardiac blood work every 4 hours and on and on. I was a captive; right arm attached to the blood drip, left arm sporting a blood pressure cuff (which inflates every hour to be sure I'm still alive) attached to the heart monitor.  I wasn't hungry, but the head nurse talked me into a little supper consisting of fresh blueberries, hot tea, banana, and a sherbet. And of course, lots and lots of water.

No pleasant sleep was had that first night. I was fussed over and made as comfortable as possible. The nursing staff was the absolute best. The third unit of blood was connected at around 2am while the other various technicians were hovering nearby waiting their turn to do their thing. 

I felt little physical change on Saturday morning, but more tests ordered and more visits by other departments for evaluation and suggestions kept me confused and everyone else busy.

Friday & Saturday all urine and stool (if any) was sent to the lab to check for blood.  The vampires ran out of places to draw blood at one point but eventually some genius found an untouched gold mine and had her way with it.

Saturday PT dept. visited, we took a short walk as she evaluated my abilities, as it were. The department physician arrived in late afternoon to inform me that there was no blood in either stool or urine, the ultrasounds of the liver and spleen also proved negative. My heart was fine and my blood pressure, while bouncing around quite a bit, stayed well in the safe numbers especially following the 3 units of blood.  Go fig.

Saturday evening, the head nurse tried to give me a break from all the poking and annoying intrusions in hope I could get a good, quiet night's rest.  Well, that wasn't meant to be, either.

An oncologist paid a visit and decided that my blood count was not up to where he hoped it would be and I would receive another 2 units, a diuretic (Lasix?) and another anti-inflammatory. In order to get to the lavatory (which was as frequent as every 15 minutes) I was unplugged from the Blood Pressure cuff for the night so I could drag the hat-tree bag holder with me to the john as needed. There was usually a nurse nearby, just in case.  That was a comfort.

By 4 am on Sunday morning the worst was over; I was dehydrated and exhausted. A special breakfast was ordered, which was wasted because I was just too beaten up. Oh, and no sense of taste.  I ended up having Cheerios, Banana, Blueberry muffin and a very good, hot cup of coffee. 

I felt like death warmed over when the dept. physician arrived to tell me I could be released, if I felt well enough.  I mentioned I had a headache, stomach cramps, and felt feverish. He insisted there was no fever and suggested that I think seriously about going home.

Half hour later, the nurse arrived to do the vital's thing, and found that, indeed, I had a fever - of 102.4.!!! Not good. I asked that she take the readout to the physician immediately.  She did.

Surprise!!! There was a sudden commotion at the nurse's station and 3 nurses deliver a beautiful basket of fresh flowers, mostly carnations (my fave) and other blooms from my bosses at Dos Locos. The carnations actually have their real scent and everyone stuck their nose in to verify that fact. Sure cheered me up, even with the fever.

Meanwhile the physician and Oncologist seemed to have had a differing opinion about my condition. The Oncologist clearly won the debate and I was to finally get my full night of restful sleep.  The morphine cocktail was administered after a light supper and I was out by 7:30 last evening. Sure they did their usual poking stuff, but thankfully, I experienced nothing but peace. 

Woke today feeling better and was told that my blood count had reached acceptable level; the extra 2 units had done the trick. The dept. physician arrived asking how I felt and told me the Oncologist was pleased with the BC.  He also wanted me to schedule an appt. for a bone marrow biopsy, since all signs point in that direction.  

The hospital sent me home by taxi this afternoon and it feels good to be in my own space and in my own bed again. I have 2 scripts to have filled tomorrow, (an antibiotic & painkiller) a little grocery shopping, then a call to schedule that appt. for the biopsy, which I can hopefully get out of the way on Wednesday.

I've lost 10 lbs. and it shows. I didn't know until today how close I was to sleeping through heart failure and dying over the weekend. Instead, I'm still here for whatever comes next.

** A new computerized hospital bed designed to help alleviate bed sores. It has sensors that activate various mechanisms that move the mattress in all directions to make the patient more comfortable. I found the bed most comfortable, considering…

And so it goes.


  1. Holy crap. How terrible! So sorry for all that you're going through :-( I hope to read about your continued recovery.

  2. Gee, Cajun first Ron and now you or is it the other way around. Also I told Ron that a couple of months ago I was laid (and not in a good way) up in the hospital for gall stones. Hope you both are feeling much better soon. Randy in NEB.

  3. OMB, dear cajun! :(

    we got your back, baby...sending good healing vibrations/karma your way. love you!

  4. Hope you can still travel to NOLA where you will enjoy rest and the company of good old friends.

  5. Good grief, that's a whole lot of suck (and not in a good way). I'm very thankful that you are home and improving, and that you did NOT sleep through heart failure! It's good to hear from you. Keep us informed.

  6. So glad you decided to hotfoot it to the hospital when you did.
    Hospital stays are never fun....

    Rest and get better!

  7. So glad we didn't lose you over the weekend. We still have a lot of living to do!

  8. I just got to the 'beginning of this'.....


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