Saturday, December 13, 2008

Everything's Fine

There are many possible "takes" or perspectives on this story--from accessibility issues to observations about the bureaucracy medical care providers must deal with to how someone flinches when you tell someone one of your medicines is hydrocodone. Medical narrative, patient narrative, requires more than a summary to acquire meaning. The meaning goes beyond the "facts."

But the reality of disability is this. I don't have the energy and creativity for the intellectual rigor I had in the past, for the creativity and insight and cutting observation about anything.

So here's the story.

Since Tuesday night I've had trouble maintaining an even remotely reasonable blood pressure even with Gatorade and salt; definitely I stopped the atenolol that lowers my heart rate. My blood pressure was 75/44 upon waking this morning and stayed that way; I'd had fever with right abdominal pain last night. My husband asked how much lower my blood pressure would have to go for me to do something.

Following a brief conversation on the phone with the internist, we went to the emergency room, despite my reluctance. I just felt dizzy and kind of out of it. Of course by the time we got there, my blood pressure was 140/125 (my diastolic has never been over 80!) and I got "lectured" (too strong a term) about not taking atenolol, thus missing the point. Gradually blood pressure went to normal and my heartrate back up to 110-120. The ER physician was able to get hold of some pending tests to make sure I didn't have gallstones (abdominal pain), my blood pressure cuff was compared to theirs (is fine), and I was soon sent home. Thank goodness; it makes me edgy to be there.

The ER physician said we may need to rebalance the heart medication or try a different one to keep both blood pressure up and heart rate down. So I'll follow up with the cardiologist, whom I thought I was done with (since I was at a real point of stasis, I could have the internist represcribe the beta blocker).

The wait was truly reasonable. I was immediately put in a room, to my surprise, and was in and out in three hours. Waits are legendary around here, so we must have had some luck. I've divided my atenolol in half as instructed since not taking it drives my heartrate up to unreasonable levels and taking it at all drives blood pressure down further.

I find the whole process more than a bit of an embarrassment but am glad it's nothing more. To me if someone needs the ER it's generally more obvious. Back home, my blood pressure returned to 75/44, pulse is at 110 with half an atenolol, and fever went back up. My abdomen feels weird again. I just don't feel right. I want to be doing other things, out and about this weekend.

Maybe I just don't have enough blood to the brain to help me be creative.

Weirdest statement: "is that your wheelchair?" Um, yes. They don't make them that way in the hospital. I guess it was a bit of cognitive dissonance to the nurse to have someone who looks young and in good health compared to a lot of their patients use one. She was nice, though.

It's a Wonderful Life is on television. It is a wonderful life. An angel just got his wings.

Good to be home, here, not dealing with additional issues.

P.S.: I just have this bit of advice. Be very careful not to dial your grandmother's number by accident just before leaving for the ER, especially if what she really wants to talk about are Christmas plans. No, I didn't tell her!


yanub said...

Frida, I'm glad you didn't need to stay in the hospital, but it sounds like you do need to take extra care of yourself for a while.

And what a thing, to call your grandmother accidently on your way home from the ER! So she didn't catch on at all? And you were able to utter the necessary "uh-huhs" at the right places?

FridaWrites said...

Even worse, Yanub, I called her on the way there! And it was humorously difficult to get her off the phone--I *love* talking with her, just not right then! Plus was kind of dizzy. I really don't think she caught on, though I think maybe she sensed *something* was up.

Very glad to avoid staying there any longer too, and I'll follow up. Some days, I just have to ask, what next?