** …I actually started writing this at 3pm on Friday and kept falling asleep on the couch, then went to get medicine and had dinner with Steve. Course, then I fell asleep for the night and now, here we are again… **
It’s no secret that I’ve been feeling horrible for a long time. I’ve mentioned it a few times in here and it’s just been miserable for me the past few weeks.
Yesterday began fairly normal. I had an appointment at the DMV to get my married name on my drivers license, then headed to the bank to deposit the last of the wedding checks. I hit up BJ’s Warehouse for a few items, then was going to hit up Publix for stuff we needed, but didn’t need 843 pounds of it like they sell at BJ’s.
And then it happened as I was walking across the parking lot into Publix. I coughed. And immediately knew this wasn’t like the painful coughs I’ve been having. I felt and heard a POP in my left side somewhere in my rib cage. This is the same area where all the pain has been for the last week, but this was different. I immediately doubled over in pain and forced my way back to my car. Yeah, try walking and being calm when you think you’ve punctured a lung or snapped a rib in half.
Complete and utter pain. On a scale of 1-10, I was at about a 15 or 16.
I made it back to my car, turned it on for the a/c, then called Steve and my mom. I knew he wouldn’t answer as I’d spoken to him when I left the DMV and he was going to sleep. I sat in the car for a while with tears streaming down my face, having a really hard time breathing, and talking to my mom. Finally I did manage to get the car moving and drove about 20mph the entire way home. Any jostling of my rib cage caused even more excruciating pain to shoot through my body.
When I got home, I sat in my car calling various people trying to figure out what to do next. To the normal person, the ER would be an obvious choice. For me, uninsured and extremely underemployed, I was fearing an ER bill. Yeah, I went anyhow. Mom drove me to Homestead Hospital. Not only was it the closest, but a friend works there in the ER room and he was going to be in later for his shift at 7pm. It was currently 2pm and I was hoping like hell to not see him.
Oh yeah, I did. For 6 hours.
We got there just after 2pm, and within 2 hours I was triaged and had 4 vials of blood drawn. As usual, my veins were being funky and the only place she could draw from was the back of my hand. The “quickness” of these events made me hopeful that the ER trip wouldn’t last forever. I stood for as long as I could since sitting wasn’t painful, but standing back up and putting any force on my left side was excruciating. So mom and I waited. And waited and waited.
Around 5 my name was called to “set up the IV for my CT scan.” Um, no. The entire 3 hours so far I’d been told I was getting a chest x-ray, including from the finance person. We spoke to the nurse and she confirmed that a CT scan was, in fact, requested by the doctor. I told her I was self-pay about a dozen times and that I needed to know what it costs before I could consent to it. In the end, the billing department was closed and I declined the CT until I spoke to a doctor.
About an hour later, my name was called again and I was wheeled back for the chest x-ray. It took about 5 minutes and I chatted with the x-ray tech about the CT. She said the x-ray can only tell so much, and that the CT can examine my organs for other problems. Also that a lot of people decline the CT until they speak to a doctor. I felt better about declining the CT until at least the x-ray results came back. She also checked with the registration desk to see how much longer my wait was going to be. They wouldn’t really say, but when I told her I had a friend that worked at 7pm, she knew him and said hopefully he could push things along more.
Right before 7, Shane arrived at work. We chatted for a bit then he went into the back. Next thing I know, he’s bringing mom and I back into an ER room. Uh, yeah, he helped! I got into my hospital gown and managed to tie the back (yay!) and sat on my bed. Luckily, it was angled up already so I didn’t need to lie down. (Lying down has been brutal for the last week since my rib cage pain is horrific.) Shane attempted to insert my IV line for med’s as both mom and I cringed and looked elsewhere. I say attempted as I have the worse veins! They roll around and collapse with the slightest pressure. He started with my right arm (it collapsed), then my left (also collapsed) and finally got in on the back of my hand near where my blood was drawn earlier.
The next few hours are kinda a blur. My doc prescribed a muscle relaxer and an anti-inflammatory through my IV. When the nurse came in to give them to me, he warned me that… one of them… I’d be able to taste. I laughed, but sure enough, a few minutes later I tasted it. To me, it tasted like nail polish remover smells and he said he’d heard that before from other patients. One of the drugs knocked me out as I was soon fading in and out while mom watched TV. Shane kept popping in the room to check on me and see what was going on.
Eventually I was taken back for the CT sometime around 9pm. And let me tell you, lying completely flat on a hard surface with severe rib cage pain is not fun! Having to get up, leave the room, and do it all over again? Well that sucks even more, but they didn’t tell the tech the machine needed to be reset before she brought me in. The hospital room bed was nice and cushy, and on a nice angle to be far less painful. After the test, we had to wait about an hour for the results. During which, I wasn’t allowed to eat in case they needed to do other tests.
Meanwhile, before I went to get my license at 11am, I had a plain bagel. Around 3pm, I had an iced tea and a bag of chips. It was after 9pm and I hadn’t had anything else to eat. Sometime between my first blood culture at 10pm and the second at 10:30pm (2 more needle sites), my father arrived with a bagful of boneless chicken wings from Buffalo Wild Wings for mom and I. Mmmmmm fooood.
...feeling a bit like a pincushion...
My doctor finally came in with test results. The chest x-ray was clean and perfect. Yay! The CT scan had what he described as looking like “ground glass” in my lungs. Basically, they were kinda dirty. Dirty lungs = pneumonia. Apparently whatever that popping business was that brought me to the ER was no where to be found and instead, I have a super super early case of pneumonia. Oh the joy that is my life.
Ironically, the triage nurse specifically told the phlebotomist that she didn’t think I had pneumonia, but wanted to run all the tests for it anyhow as I was complaining of lung/ rib cage problems.
So, yep, after the flu and all the other crap I’ve been dealing with… I have pneumonia. Here’s hoping the medication kicks it out of my system and it never develops farther.
Around 11pm, my nurse came in to hook me up with a 30 minute IV drip of antibiotics and 2 more antibiotic pills to kick start everything. We were still at the hospital until about 1am when I was finally discharged along with a prescription for Percocet for the pain and more antibiotics. I was also told to sleep propped up on as many pillows as possible to make sleep/ lying down flat bearable. Luckily(?) my parents both have back problems and had wedge pillows. I snagged both of them and slept propped up.
So there ya go, my ridiculously expensive day spent at the ER. How expensive? Well, I haven’t received a bill yet but I’m fairly sure the CT scan alone was a couple thousand dollars. Kill me now.
So… how are you?