Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Emergency Room Blues
Went to work today. I had been undermedicating The Legs because I wanted to be clear headed to talk to my boss about my inability to travel and my declining health and work. I did take some "minor" pain medication this morning (trammadol) even though it makes me very very nauseous because I don't think I could have been able to take the pain of driving to work without it.
I got to work and got busy very quickly. I trained the new guy on how to fix some things in the system, and with a few people on several projects, and spoke with the clients up in Michigan. They are very nice people up that section of the country. If it wasn't so durn cold I would be tempted to move there! I made a mistake by hitting ENTER too soon and then was able to show the new guy "Look this is what happens when you aren't paying attention and this is how you fix it!" I don't think database maintenance and pain killers are a good mix. I suspect if I checked the information the pharmacy gives me with my meds it would be there under cautions: "Use caution when operating machinery or when working with large groups of data".
I had a talk with my boss. (Did I ever mention how much I love my job? My bosses (three active and two retired) are a big part of that.) I explained about how I just am not able to travel anymore, and how I don't feel I am pulling my weight, or doing my part. I stated that I am disappointed in myself and feel that because I cannot tell from day to day sometimes how I will be able to function I am letting the entire company down.
The Big Guy let me know that he thought that I was doing pretty well despite my misgivings. He said that he would make sure I did not travel this year, and that it was time for the Junior Varsity team to step up to the big time with traveling. I said I could travel if they absolutely needed me to, but that he would need to expect that I would miss work recovering from the trip after I got back. He said, no I could stay back at the office, and just be available to them on site by phone.
I told him I could not say what the future holds with my declining health, and that I could not even say to any certainty what kind of schedule I could handle. He said to just do what I can and that would be good enough for them, and he would let me know if it wasn't. He said he was satisfied with my work even if I wasn't, and that I was always able to keep going at what he considered a great level of quality. I guess I'm glad I'm not my own boss because I would be chewing my butt right now because I just feel like I'm struggling. By the way, have I mentioned I love my job lately?? Well, I do! And it seems like I will be keeping it for awhile longer...and I won't be traveling. Big sigh of relief!
I guess all my worrying and doom and gloom was for naught. I just have awful luck (as you can tell from all my health issues) so I was just certain that my ride was over at work. I could not concieve being able to continue working at my reduced hours. I just felt like I was not able to think and perform at the levels I am accustomed to. I tried to lay it on the line warts and all and was told let's just take it as it comes and do my best, and that my best was generally much more than they expected. That was so nice to hear because my morale really needed a boost.
All my coworkers were glad to see me too, even when I feel my abscences put much more pressure on them. I don't want to work anywhere else - I want to be able to retire from here. I was ready to do it today if my boss felt it was time. I'm glad I can hang around a little while longer because there is always something new and challenging for me to do!
I worked seven hours today but didn't really feel well. Driving home this evening I was still in town when I felt like I couldn't breathe. I pulled over and tried to breathe slowly. If felt like an asthma attack. I had several cold induced asthma attacks in Michigan, and this felt like that also. My PCP had thought that I may have had pneumonia with the flu a few weeks back but had gotten over it. My chest and ribs hurt in addition to the pain I was already having with The Legs and The Belly and The Head. I decided to go to the emergency room to make sure I didn't have pneumonia because the pain didn't seem to be decreasing.
Once you have had cancer every time you go to an emergency room they are going to run blood work and possibly x-rays. Once you have chronic pancreatitis every time you go to an emergency room they are going to run blood work for elevated enzymes, especially if you are having abdominal/chest pain. Giving a health history is time consuming and tiring. I have noticed that the electronic medical records used by my in-network emergency room has eliminated some of the repetition.
I got an IV set installed, although I did not receive an IV. The nurse listened to me after the first dry hole and used a pediatric set in my wrist and it went in the first try! Then she did a trick I had not seen before to get the four vials of blood for the labs ordered. She pulled the tops off the vacutainer tubes (what they put the blood in) and took the end off the IV lock and then let the blood pour out of the unrestricted IV site. Mine didn't really pour out but she was able to get three vials, and then used a syringe to suck the rest out for the fourth vial. She said you need to twirl the vacutainer as you spill the blood into it since vacutainer tubes are coated with an anticoagulent on the inside. She said she worked with babies and this is how you had to do it with them if their veins were too tiny.
I wasn in more pain than I realized. The Legs were especially bad at the jumping can't keep still stage. My blood pressure was 168/96 when I arrived and soon climbed to 208/102. This makes the automated blood pressure cuff monitor alarm start beeping. It beeped for almost three hours! That caused The Headache pain to increase and the position I was on the ER bed made The Belly pain worse. Augh! Finally the pain overload I was experiencing started to decline and by the time I left at midnight my BP was back down to 170/86. The doctor offered me pain medication and I told him that I had plenty of pain medication at home but it doesn't work if you don't take it. He said maybe I should review my pain management strategy as my blood pressure was proof that not medicating was a bad idea.
The end result of a nuclear lung scan, blood tests, and a chest XRay was a diagnosis of bronchial spasms and a bronchial infection. I came away with scripts for new inhaler medication and antibiotics. I am sure this will help me breathe and feel more energetic. I had a borderline high test called D-dimer which is why I had the nuclear lung scan to make certain I did not have a pulmonary embolism.
I made it home, and I did take some dilaudid in addition to my regular evening meds. I am now tired, but in less pain. I think I am going to bed soon. Hope you all have a great day today!