Thursday, March 27, 2014

a long day

What a long day yesterday.  And not a particularly good one.  I have had some stomach problems plaguing me for the past couple months.  Well, yesterday I was so cramped up and sick with this condition that I was barely able to walk from my chair to the bathroom (where I hoped the remedy would lie).  By 2:00 PM Mary was so tired of hearing me moan and groan and carry on like the sissy I deny being, that she hauled my sorry carcass to the emergency room at the hospital.  By this time I had already seen three doctors about this nausea and constipation and constant bloated feeling with no tangible results.  I didn’t expect to find a remedy at the ER, but was hoping for some kind of treatment that might ease my discomfort. 
But before they could begin any treatment I had a massive panic attack that must have convinced them that something was actually wrong with this guy who merely complained of a stomachache. Mary conjured up a Valium from her purse (her purse has everything a person could ever want or need.  One time she pulled a hammer and an anvil out of there. I swear it’s true) and pushed it down my throat like you would feed a pill to a dog. I didn’t ask where the Valium came from. I don’t want to know. But it did calm me down so the nurse could hook me up to an IV, to get me hydrated. That IV must have had some kind of magic ingredients mixed into the concoction because the panic attack was calmed and I returned to being the benign lovable person we all strive to be.
Panic attack, you’re wondering.  What’s that all about?  It seems I have a really strong aversion to hospitals and medical personnel. Ambulances scare the bejeezus out of me.  But what it really is is a reaction to being helpless and controlled while knowing something is wrong with me that I don’t want to be.  As soon as I get put on a bed and the medical people start doing their thing I go all rigid and start breathing fast and shallow and then I start to shake uncontrollably while clenching my teeth and making unearthly noises.  Possessed would be a good way to describe it.  This has happened three times before, all in medical situations.  It scares the crap out of me and embarrasses me because all those people are watching me make spectacle of myself.  Of course my Parkinson’s symptoms are exacerbated by all this and so they kick in, adding wild dyskenesia to the mix.  It’s not a pretty sight and not a lot of fun to go through. 

Anyway, the ER doc ordered a CAT-SCAN of my stomach and the surrounding organs.  I had had an ultrasound done on the same area just a few days ago, but it wasn’t clear enough to show any great detail.  Naturally, hospital tests never get done in the now.  Expediency is not part of the job description.  So we waited.  By this time, the supper hour had long passed, Mary was whining about the famine she was suffering, and we had been there for around seven hours, or long enough to get to know the entire ER staff, their names, their birthdays, their political leanings (4 Democrats, Three Republicans, two Independants, and a couple of guys who could have been Birchers, and some refusers to commit), whether they wore boxers or briefs (men) and bra sizes (women, and one questionable), all of their children’s names and vital statistics as well. There was Mark, John, Sharon, Shannon (I always get those two mixed up), Al, Betty, Art, Mike, Stephanie, … get the picture.  They finally wheeled me into the room with the necessary machinery and spent all of five minutes dissecting, ressecting, and doing some other mumbo-jumbo technical stuff that only an alien could understand. Then we had to sit patiently as patients for the results to be read by a radiologist in some remote corner of the world via computer (there was no one with the necessary credentials on staff at this hospital.)  I pictured an Indian named Patel sitting cross legged on a prayer mat in the Mumbai market, playing a flute with both hands intent on mesmorizing a swaying cobra while punching computer keys with his dusty toes to the rhythem of a  twanging sitar played by his cousin Kanu.  The CAT-SCAN images were read by the guy in the next tent who had the computer.
Finally the results of all that technology were delivered to the ER doc who then delivered them to us.  Everything was normal.  According to that report I am the healthiest human male in the four county metro area.  I quote:
Lymph nodes:  unremarkable
Hepatobiliary:  unremarkable
Spleen:  unremarkable
Pancreas:  unremarkable
Adrenals:  unremarkable
Kidneys:  unremarkable
Vascular:  unremarkable
Bowel:  unremarkable
Mesentery:  unremarkable
Bladder:  unremarkable
Ureters:  unremarkable
Bones: unremarkable
Reproductive organ: incredible, fantastic, an
                                  amazing specimen to be
                                  used as the gold standard of
                                  reproductive organs through-
                                  out the known world.
Other:  unremarkable

We eventually were released from custody and made it home having discovered that I was feeling no different or wiser than before we got there. My stomach problems are still a stomach problem.  The nausea in my stomach resisted any attempt to quell it.  I felt like crap when I got there and I felt like crap when I left there.  The only difference was that I was more tired and discouraged than ever.  And then the fun began.
We got home around 9:00 PM feeling defeated and ready to crash.  When we opened the door we heard a chirping sound coming from somewhere in the house.  The noise was familiar but not immediately identifiable.  As I walked into the living room the chirp became louder and definitely identifiable.  It was either the smoke detector at the top of the stairs or the carbon monoxide detector around the corner in the hallway.  I hurried as best I could, which is none too fast, up the stairs to find what the ruckus was about. It wasn’t the smoke detector.  The carbon monoxide detector was causing the commotion. 
We had a carbon monoxide event back in the late eighties that we discovered just in time to get us out of the house before any of us was overcome.  Still, Mary and I and both kids spent the rest of the day in the hospital with oxygen masks pumping clean air into our bodies. I immediately flashed back to that incident and yelled for Mary to open the front door and call 911.  I could swear I was feeling woozy and lightheaded while standing in the hallway upstairs. I crouched down to pull the detector out of the electrical socket to stop the alarm and when I stood back up I nearly fainted.  I stumbled and bounced off the walls and nearly fell to the floor with my head dizzy and my eyes seeing stars.  I stumbled down the stairs and went to the front door, which Mary had opened to let in fresh air, expecting to find her out on the front porch safely out of the house.  But she was blithely wandering around the house turning on lights and hanging up our coats as if all was normal.  She said she didn’t smell anything so she thought everything was all right.  I had to explain to her that carbon monoxide has no odor.  That is why it is so dangerous.  She did do what I had asked her to do though, which was to call 911.  I was convinced that we had narrowly escaped a tragedy when I heard the sweet sound of sirens getting louder and louder, the flashing lights of the emergency vehicles visible blocks away and heading in our direction.
The response was overwhelming.  A big ol’ firetruck, an ambulance and two cop cars were spread down the block, all there just for me.  And of course for Mary too. The EMTs headed into the house to inspect it and test for the poison gas.  Two of the responders stayed outside on the porch with me asking if I was all right.  That’s when the second panic attack of the day hit me. As I sat on the porch steps shivering in the cold, I went all rigid and started shaking uncontrollably.  Then they hauled the gurney out of the ambulance and headed my way with it.  I’ve already told you how ambulances make me feel so now I started breathing faster and faster and got into full panic mode.  That was the worst one ever.  They strapped me down on the gurney and rolled me toward the ambulance.  The way I was acting they thought I was having a seizure or some kind of strange reaction to the events around me.  Mary finally came out to the ambulance to explain to the paramedics that I was in full panic mode and that she would shove another Valium down my throat and all would be fine.  So she did.  And I calmed down.  And then they explained that the house was clear and safe with no trace of carbon monoxide detectable.  The alarm was faulty and was giving a false alarm.  My near faint and stumbling around was caused by my crouching down to pull the alarm and then standing up quickly, making my  blood pressure drop.  That drop in blood pressure was caused not only by my sudden rise but also due to the fact that I had not eaten all day.  The paramedics and their cohort were incredibly kind and understanding when they helped me back into the house, assuring me that all would be fine now.  And it was. 
How’s that for an interesting Monday?  Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you about….but that’s another story for another day…

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