A Hospital Stay

It’s been a long while since  I was hospitalized for something other than my mental health.

In late February Tyler was just getting over an earache when I started to have earaches and a sore throat. After putting it off for a few days I decided to go to urgent care. The day I went I found I was having trouble breathing and suddenly my breathing turned into what sounded like a rattle. “I think we waited too long”, I said to Jacques on the way there.

When it was my turn I explained to the nurse technician that while I originally was coming for earaches and a sore throat I was having trouble breathing. I mentioned the rattling sound and she said, “I can hear it”. She put my finger in the pulse oxygen measuring things (not sure what to call it!) and suddenly everyone was in my exam room. Someone said, “Do you want us to call an ambulance for you?” and I said yes.

The ambulance was there in no time. Jacques would follow in the car. They tried to listen to my heart but couldn’t hear it over my noisy breathing. They parked me in a room in the E.R. and put an oxygen mask over my face.

 

We called Grant to let him know where we were. He contacted Tyler’s pediatrician who said Tyler needed to get tested immediately for the flu and so did Jacques. Thank God they were both fine.

We waited in the E.R. for a long time. After a few tests they told me I had pneumonia too. I asked if I was going to be admitted and they told me I was but that they were looking for a bed for me.

Although I was grateful for the oxygen it dried me up something terribly. I begged for water but finally got some ice chips.

Finally the E.R. nurse said, “We have a bed for you. We’re going to put you in intensive care”. I.C.U?! “That’s concerning to me”, I said. The nurse said they just wanted to closely watch me through the night.

The next day they moved me to a normal floor. Everybody wanted to listen to my chest and lungs but it hurt so much to breathe deeply, I couldn’t actually manage it. I had to take short breaths. I mostly used a bed pan, too weak to get up. Even changing sides in bed would exhaust and hurt me.

On my second or third day there my heart started to beat fast and I was losing oxygen. Everybody was in my room and got me stabilized. The doctor said I should be moved to a unit that had a smaller nurse to patient ratio, it was a step below I.C.U.

The whole time I was there everyone used a mask around me, it was such an odd feeling! I asked one of the pulmonologists when I could go home and he said, “You have a very serious pneumonia, it’s not going to take days to go away, it’s going to take weeks!”

Jacques came to visit me every night. Sometimes our visit consisted of us falling asleep we were both so knocked out.

They treated me with Tamiflu and a strong antibiotic.

One day the physical therapist came and showed me how to walk with a walker and got me in a chair. That was my routine, eating breakfast, getting washed up and getting to the chair. I also graduated to using a bedside commode. I took lots of naps. It was hard to sleep at night and my daytime activities exhausted me.

The cable t.v. was terrible. Good thing I’m a reader, I read three good books while I was there!

Eventually I finished the courses of Tamiflu and antibiotics. My lungs were sounding better and the doctor said I could go home the next day! I was still on oxygen but was down to a two. I had to go for a test to see if I needed oxygen for home. They deemed me as a two at rest and then I had to take a six minute walk with the walker. I got so weak I was really glad I had that walker! They also put me down for a two for exertion.

I found out that Medicare only pays for oxygen at home if you have a chronic condition, not if you have an acute condition. Acute or chronic, I still couldn’t breathe, right? I was forced to do self-pay. I spent a lot of money on medicines this month, it’s going to be a tough one.

Now I’ve been home a week and a half. I have wanted to write a post long before this but I am extra tired and take two naps a day. I’ve only been out once but tomorrow I see my PCP for a follow-up and next week I see the Pulmonologist who I hope will tell me I can come off the oxygen.

If you learn anything from this tale it is: GET YOUR FLU SHOT!!! I get a shot every year but with my depression and agoraphobia it made getting out difficult. But I learned my lesson!

 

 

 

 

 

 

BlogHer Conference 2012: Looking Ahead and Wondering

For those uninitiated, the BlogHer conference 2011 is coming to a close.  To read my devastation over not being able to go BlogHer’s past click here and here.  This year I was only able to once again, watch from the sidelines.  Next year, God willing, I will have the money to go.  We will have Grant’s disability money and we will hopefully have mine.  It won’t be a lot but we will be like millionaires compared to the way we’ve been living.  We talk a lot about traveling and Grant knows that this is the third BlogHer that I have missed and he wants me to be there next year very much.

(You may want to stop reading here if you do not want to be shaken to your core and be made very upset.  Okay, you have been warned.) 

People always say that I have got to be more positive, more optimistic.  Well friends, I tell them that I am not pessimistic, I am REALISTIC.  These past few weeks I have come the closest I have ever felt to dying.  Two weeks ago I was having a fever every day, freezing, sweating, nauseous.  I had wounds that were not healing, that would bleed profusely by me absent-mindedly scratching a mosquito bite.  The pain was off the charts, the medicine for it, a joke.  Two weeks ago, when my fever was running and I could not get out of bed or barely speak, I swear I felt God next to me.  “Do you really want to die?  Well here is what it feels like.  Be careful what you wish for.  Death is not the peaceful, calm you think, at least getting there sure isn’t”.

I was crying.  I thought of Grant and Tyler and my cat.  I thought about the things I enjoy, just for ME, writing this blog, my voiceover work, my book club, Twitter, Google+, and then I realized…life is fun.  Not just with Tyler.  There are fun things in MY life.  There are still books to read and places to go and candles to be lit and beautiful but cheap things to have. Money is coming.  I WILL travel.  I will take Tyler to Disney World one day.  And then I said to God, “Stop!  Stop!  I don’t need to see this any more.  I don’t want to die.  I thought I did but I DON’T.  I want to live, not just for Tyler but for ME, God please let me live, I still have living to do!”

And then, it was either God the steroids or both, I got better.  Not better like I am trying out for the Olympic team but…my fever went away.  My mouth sores were gone.  My wounds healed.  I bought that “Imagination” candle I had been thinking about from the Disney Store and the Alice in Wonderland Vinylmation and my surprise “Buy one get one free” Vinylmation “Pete” from the Mickey Mouse Club House show.  And all three things are with me right now, bringing me joy.

Last Tuesday, I went to the hospital again.  I had horrific abdominal pain, with all of the symptoms of an appendicitis.  Unfortunately whenever I go to the hospital I am such a complex patient that they often do not want to treat me.  They gave me an ultrasound on my stomach and then up my…well let’s just say I could have had a career in pornography, I took it like a champ.  There was a lot of waiting, a lot of blood-letting and peeing in cups.

Throughout this my feet were swelling, like they have never swelled before.  They were purple and red, as if I had not been walking on them, as if they were starting to clot.  They looked like….like the way my father’s looked as he lay dying.  Like the feet of death.  The only feet I had seen looked like that were my father’s.  All discolored, painful.  I kept asking if they would examine my feet, if they would treat my pain, but they didn’t want to do much until they figured out what was wrong with me.  Alone, in a private emergency room, I started to pray, I started to beg and cry.  “Dear God, Jesus and Daddy.  I have a little boy that I have to make it for.  You can take me, but please, not now, not until he is a teenager and he no longer needs his Mommy.  That’s all I want!”  People on Face Book were praying for me, people on Twitter and Google+ were praying and I thank them very much.

And suddenly, I was getting better.  My feet cleared up.  My diagnosis was spastic colon or a possible flare-up of my Ulcerative Colitis.  That was a lot better than, “You need surgery on your BLANK or your BLANK.”  They had been almost positive I was going to be needing surgery of some kind!

And then I was discharged.  And Grant and Tyler came to the hospital to take me home.

So, where was I going with this, what the Hell does this have to do with BlogHer’12?  Well, the truth is I am being REALISTIC when I say I may not be there…or here.  How lucky can I get?  When God wants me, he wants me, I can only continue to pray that I live to finish out being Tyler’s “Mommy”.

Really, where will ANY of us be in 2012 anyway?  Any one of us could get into a car accident tomorrow.  Our plane might crash, we could get breast cancer.

Yes, any one of us.  But for people like me, with Lupus and other serious, worsening chronic conditions, we REALLY have to ask ourselves, where will I BE?  Will I even be here to make it to an event that for three years now has been so unobtainable?  When I have the money for next year’s BlogHer…will I really…be here?