Friday, March 11, 2011

Well then.

What a very strange two weeks I have just had.
I will tell my story as best I can, both for you and for me. I'm still trying to figure out what happened, why and when.

Somehow I ended up very very sick on Wednesday 3/2 at the local ICU getting transferred with sirens blaring to Baystate ICU at 4am last Wednesday night. My chart said "Condition: Poor." I did not know my name. They did not know why I was so sick.

Several days before, I had a cold and chose to work overnight anyway. I felt achy and gross, a bit of a sore throat, but not bad, just a cold. I drank lots of fluids and slept well when I was home during the day. Sunday I felt nauseous and under the weather but not so bad we didn't drive to Keene and buy a puppy training book, all stopping to eat burgers and fries at 5 guys burgers. I was fine, really and glad I'd get to sleep in on Monday.

Monday I slept most of the day and got to bed early. I thought I had fought it off.

The next morning I woke up with an ear ache in my left ear. It hurt! I woke Rob up crying in the morning and told him I was going to butt in front of him in the shower, hoping the steam would relieve the pressure. It didn't. I got the girls to school and went to see my doctor.

When she looked in my ear she said, "Oh you poor thing!" because it is was so inflamed and irritated. She recommended fluids, sleeping upright, heating pads to the ear and ibuprofen.
It hurt so much I couldn't imagine not getting something stronger.
I asked for codeine cough syrup. (As someone in the medical field I am loathe to ask for narcotics because you don't want anyone to think you've got some drug addiction, but I asked anyway.) I was hoping it would knock me out and let me sleep. She told me to call if the eardrum ruptured, they'd want to look at it after and make sure it was healing.

I went to CVS to drop off the script and the pain got worse while I waited. The line was long, people smelled like smoke and they asked 10 questions of the tech then rummaged forever for their card. I was losing it. Once my script was dropped off, I was hungry so I drove to Mesa Verde to get a nice lunch but there was no where to park and I started to fear that I would start crying in public and wouldn't be able to stop, so I drove through Wendy's. Disgusting. I ate french fries, a fried chicken sandwich and a chocolate frosty. I wouldn't' usually eat that, especially if I was feeling sick, but was feeling felt stuck and worried.

After eating my weird meal and whimpering in the car I went to stand in the always enormous line of CVS drug pick -up and waited and waited. I started to squirm, wasn't able to sit still, squirm, twist, sigh. It was agony. The ear was throbbing, sour, aching sharp pain all at once.

Finally I got my script and got to my car using my frosty spoon and getting everything ready to give myself a dose of the codeine when I got halfway home. I figured I'd get zonked out and wanted it to kick in just as I was done driving.

I cried in the car.
Cried really loud with lots of tears.
(Looking back this seems like an obvious warning sign that something was not normal, but at the time I thought, "It's an ear infection. I guess they really hurt. No wonder my kids fuss and scream when they've had them.")

I downed the pink codeine half way home. When I pulled in I let Cookie out as fast as I could and then lay down, but it hurt to lay down! Hurt! I was horrified. It hurt to sit up! It hurt to do anything. The hot-pack didn't help at all. I whined and paced and poor Cookie stayed quiet back in her crate watching me roam back and forth. I kept waiting for the syrup to kick in and it never did. The family got home, did homework, ate dinner. I was kind of out of it in the other room, pacing around. I took one of Rob's last vicodin from his back injury a year ago and that didn't help either.

Just before 5, I called the doctor back and told the receptionist,
"This is too much. I need something. I'm doing my labor breathing. I can't sit still. Can somebody just poke a needle in my ear and release the pressure?" She was startled, "I've never heard of that." long pause.
"I need to talk to the nurse. I need to do something."

She put the nurse. I cried. "I am tough. I'm really tough and I can't do this all night. It is killing me. It feels like my head is going to explode!"

She said sympathetically, "It sounds like you're in alot of pain, let's see. I'll talk to the doctor and get back to you."

I paced and waited. I waited. I finally was able to sit down in the lazy boy upright and doze for a moment. The family went to bed. I was downstairs. I waited. No one called back, but the pain was slightly less and there was ooze coming out of my ear. I didn't have to pace anymore. Then I started to puke every hour. I could sleep between puking. I had to sit on the toilet to vomit because I had diarrhea, so after 15 or so minutes of retching I'd head back to sleep sitting up in the chair.

While I waited I looked on-line and in my alternative healing books for any remedy that might help.
I tried warm olive oil with pressed garlic dripped into the ear "instantly soothing!" Not for me.
I tried putting Sodolite, a blue stone against the ear to pull out the inflammation. Nope.
I tried two homeopathic remedies, Chamomila and Pulsatilla which didn't seem to do much.
Olive oil and apple cider vinegar warmed and dripped in ear. "My daughter's pain instantly went away!" Not mine.
I tried acupressure and massage around the ear "creates drainage and instant relief." Uh Uh.
I tried to do my tapping on the pain but the pain and nausea were so powerful I couldn't focus on anything.
I walked around saying "Help me help me help me."

I could have called an ambulance, woke up Rob, called a friend but I just thought I was having ear pain. I thought it would pass. Everyone seemed to think it was fine. No one was worried enough to call me from the doctor. I was also confused, felt stuck in a cycle of pain and puke.

The night was long. I was getting a bit confused because I put some logs in the wood stove and shut the door, touching the burning glass and frying the skin on my wrist ending up with a band-aid sized burn on my inner wrist, which started to throb. I remember being puzzled that the door would be hot.

It was morning and Rob was handing me the phone. The doctor's office was calling back at 8am and Rob was heading out to work. I told whoever was on the phone my eardrum had ruptured and she fit me in at 9:30am. I hung up and told Rob he was taking me.

He was dressed for work and exasperated. "I don't have any time left, Kat. I can't"
I sat up and said, "You have to take me."
I was very calm and distanced. I knew he had to take me.
"Kat, I have no time. Can you bring yourself?" He had no idea what was going on.
"Nope. You're taking me."
"Where is it? Which doctor?"

I had been there the day before. I knew where it was, but I could not tell him. He looked at me, getting exasperated. "Where is it Kat?"

"Take a right at the bank."

He and Lily looked at each other. Puzzled.

He asked me again, probably more gentle this time. "Where are we going?"

"Through the window." was another reply.

I got dressed and he took me to the doctor.

I saw a lovely woman I knew from work who started talking to me, not only could I not hear her (my left ear was so very plugged) but I also just could not answer her. Could not find the words, the connections the noises that would just let her go on with her day. I just said random things or maybe smiled silently. Then I brought Rob over to a more private area and we waited.

When they called me it was the same tech I had yesterday who did not seem to get the gravity of my pain. She stared at me. Yesterday I had told her, "My ear hurts so much, I cry when I burp." I suppose that was a weird thing to hear. This morning she had me lay down on the short paper-covered table and I slept while Rob and the doctor talked, all the while Rob must have entertained Georgia. The doctor asked me questions. I remember her face near mine. Rob took me out of there to the hospital. My doctor had said I could get a Tylenol suppository to get my fever down. I could get that at the ER. She would call ahead. I was confused when he brought me into the waiting room. What could they do for me there?

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