Tuesday, August 02, 2005

In Which Our Heroine Gets Heroin

Okay, okay, it REALLY wasn't heroin. It was morphine. But still....

So last Saturday night I go to bed with a slight headache. Several times during the night said headache wakes me up, but since I AM such a lazy little cow I just go back to sleep and hope it goes away. Needless to say, it does no such thing. In fact my apparent disregard for it seems to make it grow stronger and nastier. By the time 8am arrives it is a tyrant of a headache. I immediately get out of bed (I started to say "hop out of bed" but the pain does not allow any fancy sudden movements) and take three Extra Strength Tylenol.

I go down to breakfast only after making the hub shut ALL the blinds, as light causes a not-so-delightful stabbing pain in my ocular region. I nibble some toast and bacon and quickly flee back to my darkened room hoping a little nap added to the Tylenol and food will cause the headache beast to flee.

Fat Chance.

Every four hours, on the hour, I gulp down now FOUR Extra Strength Tylenol and retreat back to bed where I keep my head covered to block out any sneaky rays of light. My headache laughs at the Tylenol. I might as well be chomping Flintstones chewables. Probably would have the same effect. My brain feels like it is trying to escape the confines of my skull by brute force. By Sunday night I meekly proclaim that if the headache beast is still in residence Monday morning that I will hie mine self to the MedCenter.

Monday morning I wake up and start THROWING up. Every fifteen minutes. For about five hours. Then I weekly cry "Uncle" and call the hub home from work to take me to the Med Center. I throw up again while waiting for them to see me. I throw up again in the exam room. They are much more concerned about the headache. I feel like such a pile of shit I don't CARE what they want to focus on I just want. it. all. to. stop.

I'm still cold and shaking from throwing up when they decide I'm dehydrated (hmmm, imagine that) and the literally POUR a bag of fluid into me. Even with a heater in my room and lying under a pile of blankets I shiver so hard my teeth rattle. A Physician's Assistant asks me questions. Her name is Livingston. I'm too sick to make jokes. She asks me if I could be pregnant. I ask her if she is TRYING to make me throw up.

An actual Physician comes in and asks me questions. A SECOND actual Physician comes in and asks me questions. A few pow-wows later they tell me they are calling ahead to the hospital saying I'm on my way. To get a CAT scan. Hub literally pales. I say "okay" because, as I may have mentioned, I feel like hammered crap and I just want someone to figure out what the hell is going on.

I am SO sick that I don't even comment on the fact that the last Doctor's name was Dr. No. Oh yes, I was THAT sick.

After a lovely almost two hours in the ER waiting room, where I snooze on hub's shoulder due to lack of sleep and some kind of drug, they finally call me back. Thankfully they put me in a darkened room. Apparently they've seen this kind of thing before. Whoopee. The doctor comes in to tell me that, contrary to what the check-in person told us, my CAT scan had NOT been ordered yet. Yeah, we're not really surprised by this news. Then the doc, who is going off shift in an hour, gives us the low down.

First I will get the CAT scan. If it turns out okay I will get a Spinal Tap. Now it's MY turn to visibly blanche. Although I had epidurals with both my preganacies, the first one was bad. When I say bad I mean I heard crunching. I tell the doctor this. She says is I can be sedated. Since I'm pretty much always game for a little sedation, I fell better about this information. She says if everything looks good and goes according to plan I will be out of there in about three hours. Hub and I both laugh at her estimate the minute she leaves. It is about 6pm.

The good news at this point is that I haven't thrown up since we got to the ER.

I lie in the dark, waiting for them to come take me for my CAT scan. I ask hub what he is thinking. I'm sure he lies because he doesn't say the words "tumor" or "blank number of days left to live" or "life insurance". I ask him if he can think of the name of a city that rhymes with "beaver". I had been trying to spice up "I see London, I see France, I see someone's underpants" by changing the last line to "I see someone's hairy beaver" but I can't find a city that rhymes. While he ponders this problem I come with the alternate, "I see London, and Milan, I see someone's bearded clam". Hub and I then have a discussion regarding whether you pronounce Milan so that it rhymes with "lawn" or "can". I of course argue for the later because lawn obviously does NOT rhyme with clam.

Finally I get my CAT scan. I wait for the results and a small part of me hopes they find something small and silly so they don't have to give me the spinal tap. Hub points out that things founds on CAT scans may be small but are rarely silly. Spoil sport. Spinal tap doctor comes in to tell me the "good" news - CAT scan looks good. She says nothing else complimentary about my, I'm sure, big and beautiful brain. She is probably too obsessed with poking holes in my spine.

I feel I should mention that she told me they don't call it a "spinal tap" any more because that scared people. Gave them anxiety. Now they call it "lumbar puncture". For some reason this shiny new name does not exactly alleviate MY anxiety. I tell her they need to hire a new procedure-naming person. She's blond, young, cute AND she laughs. I still hate her.

Since I don't come out of sedation well (as hub found out when I had my impacted wisdom teeth removed several years ago and came to crying and yelling and thrashing) we decide I should just get some good painkillers and I could just suck-it-up during the spinal, er, lumbar puncture. I wanted to be lucid for the results and whatever might follow. To her credit, Blondie does a good puncture. I keep waiting for crunching pain that never comes. Goodie.

Eventually a doctor comes in to tell me that my spinal fluid does contain white cells which means I have meningitis. They are still not sure if it is bacterial or viral. They will be admitting me to the hospital. By the time they send me upstairs (to the neurological ward - which FREAKS hub out) and I get settled into my new bed it is 3am.

After two days in the hospital and a couple more doctors later (including a specialist on infectious disease) they decide I have the viral flavor and we all breathe a little easier.

Strangely enough I have lots of male nurses and nurses assistants. They CONSTANTLY offer me pain medication. Many seem surprised when I tell them I'm doing okay. Again, my hearty peasant stock ancestry comes to my stead. I don't need no stinking pain medication. Okay, maybe to help me sleep. When I finally ask for some I tell the nurses assistant to have them bring me something below "Jim Morrison" level. The male nurse is my new best friend because, as it would turn out, he is a huge Morrison fan and he thinks my comment was hilarious. He also thinks it's hilarious when I later ask him to up my meds to "groupie" level as they don't seem to be working. Yeah, I'm the darling of the neurological ward. Probably because I don't shout constantly (like the old man next door to me) or wet myself.

Hub's work sends Peace Lilly both to the hospital AND to me when I get home. Apparently there is some "Handbook of Appropriate Flower/Plant Gifts for Every Disease" and under "meningitis" it says "Peace Lilly". Curious.

So now I am pretty much back to normal. When my mother-in-law heard that some of the symptoms I might exhibit during recovery would be "forgetfulness" and "clumsiness" she said "Oh GREAT!".

I just figured no one would notice.