Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Emergency Room Blues

Ready To Start Feeling Better

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!


  1. I'm so glad you're employer is understanding. I hope today is better for you, Winny!

  2. Steph: at home today, hopefully will be better soon with some antibiotics. The inhaler has been a great help already!

    My employer rocks!

  3. You are such a lucky to woman to love your job as much as you do, and that they are willing to be so very flexible to allow you to keep working. Most people don't even get to do jobs they like. I'm so happy that it has all worked out. One less thing to worry about, huh?

  4. Migrainista: Yes - One less thing!!! Yeah!!

  5. Wow, you have one awesome employer!!! My employer could have cared less about me, or anyone. If you could not do 110% the whole time you were there, or scheduled, oh well, you'd be gone. I am so happy you have a employer like that. I did not know they still existed!!

    Hope that you are feeling better. I have asthma, so I know how scary that can be. I too take Tramadol. It takes a slight edge off.

    I am very happy you have that one less thing to worry about. Now feel better!!!!

    God Bless~
    Debbie Jean

  6. You must be an awesome employee! They are just as lucky to have you as you think you are to have them.

    I so wish that I could fix you.

  7. Geez Winny!
    Don't stop taking your pain meds! 208/102 is ridiculous and I don't want you stroking out!

  8. Debbie Jean: I have worked for businesses that were like your employer. I agree - my bosses are AWESOME! I had to call in today, and my boss just said take your medicine and come in when you feel better. sigh of relief.

    Princess OEATS: I don't feel like an awesome employee. I am a pathetic employee sorta sad sack at present, but have great fun when I am able to work! I wish you could fix me too!!! I would promote you to Empress OEATS, fixer of broken people!

  9. Jessica: I think that's why I got the lecture from the doc!! And the worst of it was I was only at about a 7.5 on my personal pain scale. Chronic pain messes with your perception of how bad you hurt. Sometimes I think I am at the end of what I can stand, and another day that level seems like nothing.

    I am trying to behave...I have taken a small amount of dilaudid today. My worst problem is that two days of dilaudid or oxycontin means the next two days are increased pain with The Headache because it does not like anything in the opiate or artificial opiate family. Tonight The Headache is really starting to romp. Argh!

  10. Funny thing is...I was recently given Oxycontin for my head...but I notice while I'm on it I'm ok...not pain free...but a little better...but as soon as it starts to wear off...I'm dying. I can't tell if it's the med or just my head. Everyday is different!

  11. Jessica: Had Oxycontin but it only lasted about 4 hours instead of 12 but got the lowest dose. Unfortunately for me that was 4 hours of vomiting.

    Dilaudid (I am trying to take 1mg every 6 to 12 hours instead of the 4mg tablets I have) makes me nauseous too, but it does help the pain which I know is on the severe side of things but today I am paying the price The Headache is acting up AGAIN and the stimulator can't keep up, so no pain killers today. Seems like one pain killer works for one type of pain and not another. Augh!!!

    Hoping the oxy helps your headache. I know a few people on Kadian which is similar and it helps them. The pain sucks up all the dopey feeling and just leaves you feeling normal which is good.

  12. I'm so thrilled you had that talk and it went so well. You're intelligence has been noticed and your work ethic rewarded. Happy feet dance for you tonight.