ER, Part II

And so in continues. I went to work Monday and spent the day wondering if I was having an allergic reaction to one of the meds I was on. Cipro seems to have an endless list of side effects and reactions, though I am pretty sure I was on it years ago for a UTI. My head felt as if something was pushing to get out. It did not really hurt; it was more annoying. And my throat felt "fuzzy," as if there was something like a golf ball in there. After awhile that feeling moved down to the top of my chest. I was fine to work, just a little uncomfortable, and I really wanted to get some stuff done in case I had to call off Tuesday, which was seeming likely. Worth noting is these symptoms started as I was trying to fall asleep Sunday night.

At work, I debated whether or not to call my doc, but decided against it because I feared she would just send me to the ER. After 6 pain-filled hours there on Thursday, the thought of going back made me shudder. I could also hear my bank account wailing in the distance. So I soldiered on, got in about 6 hours of work, and went home and took a benadryl, per my retired-pharmacist dad's suggestion. I fell asleep for a bit, had a little dinner, and then later went to bed after taking another benadryl. Unfortunately, I slept fitfully, still feeling those symptoms, so I decided it would be best to stay home Tuesday and be near my doc (and, sadly, the ER).

I called the doc's office as soon as they opened, and described my symptoms, asking if I could have my follow-up appointment that day instead of the next. For the record, I think following up with my doc 3-5 days after the ER visit, per my discharge papers, was unnecessary. My doc had not seen me originally; if I was feeling fine, she would likely just say, keep it up, and call us if problems, and my wallet would be $25 lighter. But now I felt as if I had a reason.

The woman on the phone gave me an 11 a.m. appointment but told me to hold off on taking my meds until she talked to the doc. At about 10, a nurse called me and told me I should call 911 and go to the ER, that it sounded like an allergic reaction. I told her I did not think it was that serious, that I had made it through almost an entire work day and nothing happened. She said very sternly that the benadryl could be masking the symptoms, and I could go into anaphylactic shock, and that my doctor would just send me there anyway if I came for my appointment. I tried to argue a little more, but she  continued to lecture me, saying that this condition likely would come back multiple times, so I needed to get my meds straight. I wanted to punch her through the phone. As she hung up, she asked if I was going to call and ambulance, and I told her, no, my husband would just drive me. She kind of sounded like she did not believe me.

I got off the phone and burst into tears. I did not want to go back there for hours. I did not want to spend even more money. And I was worried that if these meds were not good for me, what if I went on something else and the same thing happened. The thought of this dragging on was heartbreaking. For the record, I was not too worried that anything serious was going to happen to me (though as I was lying in bed not sleeping the night before, I was kind of concerned).

The hubs drove me to the ER, and they saw me within a few minutes and took my vitals. I told the one woman if my BP was high, it was just because I was upset to be back there. I went back out to the waiting room for only about 10 minutes before going to a large room with many curtained areas. I explained my symptoms to at least three different people, and throughout the next 1.5 hours I had an EKG, a chest x-ray, my blood was taken, and I peed in a cup. Fun stuff! I guess when you complain of chest tightness, they worry something could be wrong with your heart. I assured several people that my heart was the one thing I had going for me. My doc told me back in September of 2016 that I had less than 1% chance of having a heart attack or stroke. I have been holding on to that since then (and, yes, things can change, I realize).

Finally, after spending nearly 30 minutes breathing through my sweatshirt, thanks to an extremely smelly guy in the curtained room next to me, the nurse practitioner confirmed what she had said about an hour earlier, that it does not seem like I am having an allergic reaction. She said I was not having trouble breathing, and I had no rash. She said my heart and lungs looked good (as I thought they would), and that I was just experiencing side effects. I told her that I never wanted to come here to begin with and I could not afford to keep running here whenever something happened. Her advice was if I had trouble swallowing or breathing, then to call 911. I would probably do that anyway.

When the hubs and I got home, fortunately not a lot more than 2 hours after we had left, I noticed my doc's office left me a message. I was wondering if the nurse was checking on me, just to be sure I actually went to the ER. But, no, the doc's office left me this message: "This message is for __. This is __ office calling in regards to an appointment that was missed today. A $50 fee will be billed to your account. Please call the office at __ and someone can assist you." I was so angry. I wanted to go to the damn appointment; the nurse instead told me to go to the ER. I realize there was only an hour between the nurse's phone call to me telling me to go to the ER and my appointment time, but come on. How about a little compassion and say something like this instead: "You missed your appointment today. We hope everything is okay. Unfortunately we have to bill you, but please call us to discuss..." As my husband pointed out, this appointment was a follow-up from being in the ER. I could have missed the appointment because I was back in there, for all they knew (not that the seriousness of the issue should necessarily matter). But it is all about the money in healthcare, clearly. Forget compassion. (I did clear it up; the woman I ended up talking to apologized for the breakdown in communication after putting me on hold and speaking to someone else. I told her that I thought the office was calling to check on me, but instead I receive a message about being billed. I hope she passed my annoyance along.)

In any event, I feel pretty good today. I am working from home (fortunately at my job we get two of those days a month, and I saved them both until now). I hate to jinx myself, but I do want to get it on record that this is the best I have felt in a week's time. I am still anxious about everything (anxiety is a side effect of at least one of the meds, which is fabulous considering I am already anxious at times), but I am trying to be positive. For now. When I get these bills, no doubt, my anxiety will return with a vengeance, but looking on the bright side, I bet my mom will play for a plane ticket for me to visit her in TX this summer, so there is that!

And as an important aside: God bless (nearly) every health care worker. I could never do anything remotely related to that industry, whether it is dealing with people on the phone, taking blood, or having to deal with smelly, annoying, or really sick patients.

In the meantime, January, can we please round out the last week in a better way?


bluzdude said…
Yow, what a pain! I hope that's enough ER for you for a long while.
chris h. said…
Gosh, that is a lot to deal with! I hope you are feeling a lot better and for a long time!
Facie said…
Thanks, both of you. I too hpoe I continue to feel better for a long time and stay out of the dang ER!

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