Friday, July 23, 2010

Admitted or Committed?

I am a hypochondriac. I acknowledge it, accept it, and even think that sometimes it can be a good thing. I don't create illnesses, but when something is wrong, I always go to the doctor--no matter how insignificant it may seem. I once went to the emergency room for chub rub.

My cousin's husband got an ingrown toenail one summer when he was in college. Six months later the infection spread and his entire body turned blue. This is the kind of shit that would not happen to me, because I would have a doctor's appointment after a week of my toenail feeling "funny".

Anyway, I had a huge wake-up call when I actually had a (perceived) medical emergency last month. I was at work and all of a sudden I started seeing spots. I thought maybe I had looked into the sun or a bright light and tried to ignore it--until I couldn't see anything. Then, just as fast as it came on it, went away. Weird.

Next, my hand went numb...and my arm, face, neck, mouth, and throat. I was having trouble speaking. I was confused and dizzy and in a room with 15 kindergartners. I thought about writing, "Get help." on the board, but then realized, "Shit, they can't read!" I was freaking out and started sending kids to find another adult to come in so I could leave. I texted my coworker "Come to my class, having stroke, no lol..." Even when I think I'm having a stroke, I still have a sense of humor. Unfortunately, he was down the hall eating the food from the cooking class.

Finally, I took the entire crew and wandered around until I found an occupied classroom. I told the teacher what was happening, and she tried to call 911. Now, because of my history, everyone is always on my case about going to the doctor, and I would never live down calling an ambulance if nothing was really wrong. I managed to convince her that I was OK, but I needed to leave.

I called my doctor, and they said to get to the emergency room immediately, but not to drive myself with my numb extremities and all. No shit.

Five minutes later, I drove myself to the emergency room.

On the way there, I started having this throbbing pain in my head. When I checked myself in, I said, "I can't see, can't feel anything but this throbbing pain in my head, and I think I'm having a stroke."

They gave me a pager like you get at Panera and told me to go sit in the waiting room. What do you have to have wrong with you to be immediately admitted? I once saw a man with a head wound, visibly bleeding sitting in the waiting room.

By the time my freaking little pager started going off, I had to be wheeled into the triage area, because I was too dizzy to walk. The first thing the nurse did was to inject me with pain meds. And let me tell you, they inject that shit right into your IV. It was amazing. Thank god my mom got there to fill out the paperwork, because I spent the next hour and a half out of my mind on pain meds. It was awesome.

I had all kinds of blood tests and a CAT scan, for which I was totally incoherent. Then, after 3 hours, I was next in line for an MRI. When you get an MRI, they make you fill out this release/patient history form. On the paper, there is a little box that asks if you are claustrophobic. Next time, I will know to check the box, circle it, and write in, "If you put me in an enclosed MRI machine, I will lose my shit!"

I should have known that I was going to freak out. All of my anxiety triggers were present. I was too cold and uncomfortable, my medicine was wearing off and I was exhausted, the technician was annoying me off, and my head was THROBBING.

The first 20 minutes inside the MRI machine were fine. I was holding onto my little panic ball with my eyes closed, feeling somewhat relaxed. And then I realized that I had to pee. This was not your normal, "I have to pee soon" feeling. This was a, "I just had two IVs and I have to pee RIGHT NOW!" feeling.

I somehow managed to wait about 15 more minutes before I squeezed my panic ball and told the nurse that I had to pee. She told me that I had two more minutes in this scan, then they would pull me out.

Those were the worst two minutes of my life. I tried to sing the happy birthday song in my head but was so messed up from the meds that I couldn't remember the words, which only had me freaking out more. I could feel the panic attack coming on. Though I understood why I couldn't get out in the middle of the scan, I couldn't believe that she told me "No". I felt like I had no control over the situation which is ultimately what I believe led to what I can only describe as "When Crazy Charm lost her mind in the MRI machine..."

After those two minutes they pulled me out. I said again, "I have to pee, right now."

The nurse looked at me all strapped in and said, "Sorry, you still have 8 more minutes after we inject your with this dye."

I could not even comprehend what she said. "I don't think you understand. I have to pee right now. If I can't pee, I'm pretty sure I'm going to freak out and panic." I said as my grip on the panic ball is getting tighter.

"Well I can give you a bed pan."

I had my undies on, I was wrapped in three blankets, and yes, I had my period. I started having visions of peeing in the bed pan and then going back into the MRI machine and getting electrocuted from the pee that would inevitably dribble down my legs and onto the machine. And that was when I had had enough.

"I'm freaking out! I am panicking! And I am going to the bathroom NOW!" I screamed this as I started squeezing my panic ball like a maniac. Then, I somehow managed to wriggle myself from the neck restraint, sit up, and rip the ear plugs from my ears. I can't even describe the technicians reactions. It was kind of like they don't usually see someone escape from the MRI machine.

I could tell she was really mad as she wheeled me down to the bathroom, but I could not wipe the relieved, medicated, crazy looking smile off my face.

Two hours later, I got my diagnosis. I had a complex migraine with an aura. Which explains the stabbing pain in my head. Since then, I've had one other migraine. However, I've figured out that if I take 2 advil the moment the aura starts and then proceed to sleep for 6 hours, I'm basically fine.


  1. After reading this, I guarantee you that the next time I get a headache it will take me a least 20 mins. to convince myself that I am not seeing spots or losing my sight. Sadly, I know that somewhere deep down I am looking forward to it.

  2. Very funny post - although at the time I'm sure it wasn't very funny.

    Glad you are OK, I just found your blog and would miss your writing.

  3. You are hilarious! I really enjoyed your post.

  4. G-It was really scary the first time it happened, when I didn't know what was going on, but the second time, when I knew what to expect, it was actually pretty

  5. Great story. Sorry you had to have the mother of all scary headaches to produce the story. :P

    I get the pretty kaleidescope semicircle (ocular migraine) that starts small and takes exactly 20 minutes to get big enough to be out of my line of vision. It's sometimes followed by a single eyeball headache, sometimes not. Your numbness was a very scary element, though. Glad it all worked out and you got to go make your bladder gladder. :)

  6. Nice story.......I was doubting the stroke diagnosis because you were able to have coherent thoughts and send a whole text. I once thought I was having a stroke because I was 'can't sit up, or even THINK about walking' dizzy. Turns out I had something called labrathnitis....still have it but it's nowhere near as bad. But it still stinks at times.

  7. Lord have mercy darlin'! You should have just taken a pee right on that nurse's shoes. I mean, I have the utmost respect for medical professionals but sometimes I think they need reminders that they are working with real live people!