One Foot in the Grave and the other on a Banana Peel, and then I Slipped


     It’s been a bad few weeks and I don’t even know where to begin.  I guess I’ll start with the bladder infection, only because any time I get an infection of any kind my blood sugars spiral out of control very quickly and I end up chasing them.  It doesn’t work, I just get sicker and sicker and the sicker I get, the higher my blood sugars get and all cognitive function and reasoning flies out the window.

     All I could do was sleep, and that should have been my first clue that things were going to spiral out of control.  I just didn’t see it.  I had a change in my pain meds, and some other meds and I attributed my sleepiness to that.  What a fool I was, and this time it almost cost me my life.

     My daughter Sarah came home on Friday and immediately knew that something was very wrong.  I had been vomiting and she emptied my basin for me and told me I needed to get to the hospital.  I’m ashamed to say that all I could do was beg her not to wake up her dad and I do remember telling her that if I didn’t feel better the next day I would go.  It was extremely unfair of me to put that burden on her.  If I had died I can only imagine how she would blame herself.  When I see her this weekend I’m going to tell her that when I’m that sick she should ignore whatever I’m saying and just do what she thinks is the right thing.

     Rudy was getting an idea already that I was getting pretty sick, but I’ve become a master at hiding from him just how sick I am.  The rest of the story is based on what I remember, which is pretty sketchy and filled in by what Rudy, Sarah and the Doctors and Nurses at the hospital told me.

     It was now Saturday and I don’t remember if all of this took place before or after Sarah’s shift at Walgreens.  I remember that she was pretty mad at me for not going to the hospital like I promised her and for not letting Rudy know just how bad it had gotten, I didn’t realize how sick I really was.  It must have been late, he had fallen asleep on the couch and he tells me that something, he doesn’t know what, but we credit it to God woke him from a sound sleep telling him that he needed to check on me.  He said he could smell the acetone on my breath as soon as he opened the door and I remember him saying that I had to get to the hospital.  Even then I tried to argue with him that I wasn’t that sick.

     He said I was slurring my words and I looked like I was dying.  I heard him tell Sarah to call 911 for an ambulance, even then I thought he was overreacting.  I remember him dressing me before the ambulance got here and I remember him saying that if it didn’t get here in a minute he was going to put me in the truck and take me himself.  He picked me up and carried me out of the bedroom into the living room.  I remember seeing the ambulance pull up to our door and Rudy lifted me up and carried me to the gurney and walked me outside.

     Our town just within this past month went from strictly EMS service to advanced life support with paramedics, and what a blessing that was to me.  Rudy walking me outside is the last thing I remember before getting to the hospital. 

     I remember only a few minutes of the ER., and I’m ashamed of every one of them.  I was surrounded by doctors and nurses and it seemed they all had their hands on me at once cutting off my clothes and doing things to me, all without talking to me and I was extremely combative.  I remember trying to fight them all off of me and in my head I was thinking I just needed them to slow down and tell me what they were doing.  That’s the last thing I remember and the next thing I knew was that I was in a room and there was a cna in there and I asked where I was.  I was told in ICU and then I asked what hospital I was in.  I had no sense of time lost even though it was almost 3 days later.

     It was my husband who told me I was intubated in the ER.  Evidently my efforts to breathe was not moving oxygen.  I do know that my first day of awareness, I was hallucinating.  I don’t know if that was residual effects from the sedation drugs or not.  I kept hearing Rudy call my name when he wasn’t in the room.  I also remember thinking or knowing that I was hallucinating but not to tell anyone or I’d be heading to the “One flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” hospital.

     This is what I know now.  I’ve been sufferring from anxiety attacks ever since I’ve been home and I’m afraid to fall asleep when I’m here by myself.  I don’t know if you can get PTSD from a hospital stay, but I really do feel shell shocked.  The ER doctor told Rudy that had he waited another hour I would not be here.  I’m frightened,  and I don’t remember ever feeling quite so vulnerable as I do now.  I don’t know how to cope with this, it’s beyond me.

On a Mission


     I love my primary care doctor, he’s been wonderful to me and actually listens.  However, he’s almost 30miles away and we’re not even in the same time zone so I thought it would be good to have a pc doctor in the same town I’m in.  So last week I had an appointment with a female doctor about 5 miles from here.  I’d heard some good things about her.

     Oh my goodness she is definitely not going to be my new doctor.  She argued with me about my diabetes when I told her my endocrinologist is fighting with my insurance company to get approved for an insulin pump.  She said I didn’t need one.  Also told me that I wouldn’t get pancreatitis as often as I do if I would just stop drinking so much, and while she was on the subject I go to the ER far too often.  I explained to her that when I do go, I’m almost always admitted to the ICU unit and I swear she looked at me and laughed.  Wow, I would have walked right out if I wasn’t on my last insulin pen and needed a script for more.  In fact I was out of quite a few of my meds and needed scripts for most of them.  All but my pain meds because I have a pain management doctor for that.  She also thought I should be off the pain meds as well and should take NSAID‘s instead.  Told her the last time I tried that I ended up with a GI bleed that put me in a coma needing a blood transfusion.

     So, I’m thinking my quest has only begun.  I will not subject myself to a doctor who won’t even listen to me.  The search continues.

Reflecting


     I know I really missed my mom when all of this was going on.  There’s just something about being sick that makes a girl want her mom.  As good as my husband is now taking care of me, believe me he didn’t come out of the box that way.  He fixes things and gets frustrated when he encounters a problem he can’t fix…aka me.  I think we’ve been together long enough now that we’ve already fought over and negotiated the perils of marriage when one partner is not well.

     I had one sister in Rehab, another sister who is so judgemental of everyone, myself included that I think she’s a narcissist.  She came to see me one time.  It can be very scary being in the hospital.  The pancreatitis attacks seemed to be coming more frequent and more painful.  As long as I was in my small town hospital I do believe my pain was frequently  under treated.  That situation always improved when I was transferred to another hospital.  I’m not sure why that was, but it did seem like there was a whole other culture in the other hospitals when it comes to pain management.

     The medical blogs I’m reading now mostly feel that anyone coming into the ER with pain are drug seeking addicts.  I can’t deny that I was drug seeking…of course i was.  I was in unbelieveable pain.  It wasn’t chronic at that time, just several acute things going on.  I will say that I rarely went to the emergency room that didn’t require admission.  A huge part of that is that I hate going to the ER or just being in the hospital in general so I would have a tendency to wait and try to treat myself at home, so that by the time I did get there I was really sick.

     I remember one time on the med/surg floor seeing other patients walkin in the hallway with their IV poles and they would have one or 2 med bags hanging off their poles, then when I looked up at my own I saw 8 bags of meds.  I had a panic attack, it was like “OMG, I’m really sick here.”  Fatigue was just kicking my ass and even now I don’t have the energy I used to.  I hate the fact that when my youngest daughter looks back on her life, what she’s going to remember about growing up is that her mom was sick all the time.

     While I’m on that subject I can’t fail to mention what a wonderful daughter she has been to me.  She helped me with the colostomy when I had it and now she pretty much helps me with anything I need her to.  My mom had chronic pain and I don’t remember being as patient with her as my daughter is with me.  My mom would work all day, put her eight hours in and for the most part when she came home she was in her jammies and was just spent.  She always said she had given as much as she could for the day.  I would like to tell her that although I didn’t get it then, I surely do now.

     When my husband started his own company with his dad, we went without insurance for a period of time, which is why I currently owe my small town hospital somewhere in the neighborhood of $250,000.  There were a few trips to the ICU, a couple surgeries, countless antibiotics and it all added up pretty quickly.  We see no way to ever be able to pay those bills and the only answer we see right now is bankruptcy.  Do I think we need health care reform?  Absolutly, I just don’t know what it looks like from here.

     We didn’t set out to go without insurance.  My husbands job disappeared when the owner went into retirement, and I got laid off right before I would have been covered, not that I would have been able to work for much longer with as sick as I was getting.  We got some quotes for insurance but between DH’s bad knees and what I’d been going through, there was just no way we could have afforded it.

     The colostomy was very hard on me, not just physically, but mentally as well.  I don’t care how long you stand under the shower, it’s just hard to feel clean when you’re wearing a bag of poop at your waist.  It’s also hard to feel pretty or sexy in any way.  Thank God for my husband, who turned the lights on, took my robe off and kissed me from head to toe telling me what a beautiful woman I was.  I also got on the internet and found message boards just for people with ostomy’s and that also got me through it.  To actually be able to talk to people who were living with a colostomy and were probably going to be for the rest of their lives.  It made it very hard for me to feel sorry for myself knowing that mine was only temporary.  Continue reading