Thursday, July 26, 2012

May the Fourth Be With You - The Beginning

It was a dark and stormy night…

Actually, it wasn’t stormy, but how can you begin a story of any import any other way?  And besides, it really was dark, so the title is at least partially accurate. 

Perhaps I should back up a little and set the scene.  May 4, 2012 was a very productive day for Jennifer and me.  It began for us near Rocky Point, NC in the home of some of our friends.  We left fairly early in the morning to get a good start on all of the activities that we had planned for the day.  Our first “order of business” was to secure a room for Wednesday evening Gospel Meetings in the town of Leland, NC.  In order to do this, we made our way to the office of parks and recreation in Bolivia (also North Carolina!) and scheduled a total of five meetings.  We then headed back to the library in Leland where we industriously created and printed “posters” to announce the meetings both in English and in Spanish, following which, we visited various localities around the town where we hung up the said posters.  In the early afternoon, we traveled on to Marion, SC where we had arranged to have Sunday Gospel Meetings in the month of May.  After verifying that our room was secure at the Chinese restaurant where the meetings were to be held, we proceeded to hang up announcements in English and Spanish for those meetings throughout the town.  Finally, weary but satisfied, we headed for Sumter, SC, our place of lodging for the weekend. 

Our activities once we reached our destination that evening were very few.  We all took walks.  Mine was shorter than normal after I discovered that walking seriously irritated my gnat bites.  I made my way back to the house when I could stand it no longer, conscious of the fact that if gnat bites were my biggest problem, I was in pretty good shape! 

After a delicious supper and a nice visit around the table, I headed to my room to get my things situated before rejoining Jennifer and our hostess in the living room.  While there, I began to feel uncomfortable and decided to lay down for a little bit and wait for the discomfort to pass.  As time went on, however, I began to feel worse instead of better.  Jennifer came into my room about 8:30 and was a bit surprised to see me in bed.  “Good for you!” she said.  “I’m so glad you’re going to bed early!”  I told her I wasn’t feeling so good right at the moment but was waiting for the Tylenol I had taken to take effect so I could come out and join the visit.  Our plan was to attend the air show the following day, so I found the website with information about the events taking place, and Jennifer left the room to do some further investigation.  By the time she returned, about 15 minutes later, I was in agony.  It was clear that this was not something Tylenol was going to fix.  Seeing that I was in distress, after piling blankets on me to “stop” the chills that had started, Jennifer offered to call one of our friends who is a nurse.  Her recommendation was to take some Motrin and put a heating pad on my stomach for an hour.  If the pain hadn’t gone away by then, I should go to the ER.  By that time, I could hardly sit up, but I managed to swallow the Motrin.  However, when the heating pad hit my stomach, I knew that would not work at all.  Heat caused the pain to intensify quite dramatically.  I really wanted to “follow orders,” but I realized quite quickly that it was beyond my level of endurance to keep that heating pad there.  “Do you think we should just go to the ER?” Jennifer asked me?  “I don’t know,” I replied.  At that point, Jennifer knew that we would be making a trip to the hospital.  She knew me well enough, even at that point, to realize that the fact I hadn’t ruled it out completely meant this was serious business!  She headed to her room to get ready to go, and I began vomiting.  (Pardon the details!)  The lady of the home came in with a housecoat and some slippers, which I meekly put on with effort and help.  Jennifer told me later that when she returned to my room and saw me in that outfit, she knew without a doubt that I was sick!  

I remember vaguely the trip to the hospital.  I alternated between shaking with chills and seriously chattering teeth and what I can only describe as hot flashes!  Poor Jennifer kept busy cranking up the heat or the air conditioner depending on my rapidly changing condition!  She claims I made at least one nonsensical statement during the trip, but I have absolutely no recollection of that.  J  I do remember mentioning at one point that my hands were tingling.  Later, the tingling moved up further into my arms and also spread to my feet and legs. 

When we got to the hospital, I told Jennifer to just park anywhere; I could walk.  However, she pulled up to the door of the ER, got out of the car and came around to open my door.  My thought was to open my own door and get on out to expedite this process.  What I discovered was that I couldn’t make my hand move to the door handle.  Interesting!  When Jennifer opened the door, I made another discovery.  I couldn’t move my legs.  To my way of thinking, that moved beyond interesting to a little (or a lot) bit scary!  I informed Jennifer of this development, and she headed inside to get someone to help me out of the car.  A nurse brought a wheelchair and guided (essentially lifted) me into it.  Out of the car, I looked at my hands and saw that my fingers were curled up into my hand and stiff.  I couldn’t move them either!  The nurse kept saying, “You need to slow your breathing down.  You’re hyperventilating.  Breathe more slowly.”  The nurse took me to the registration desk, and Jennifer parked the car. 

If I remember correctly, the first thing the lady at the registration desk asked for was my name.  Of course, I always have to spell it, so I proceeded to do so.  I think by the time Jennifer got the car parked and joined me, I had at least started on my last name.  I couldn’t seem to get the words/letters out.  With Jennifer’s help and the nurse’s patience, they finally got all the essential information, and we began our wait in a city ER waiting room at 10:00 on a Friday night.  J 

We finally got called back to a room where we were at least able to wait in privacy.  Finally a nurse came in and gave me some meds in my IV for pain and nausea (which, incidentally, had by now both pretty much passed).  I also had blood work done.  Then came orders for a CT scan.  But first, I had to drink a tasty little beverage.  I took one swallow and told Jennifer it would be a miracle if I could get it all down and keep it down.  Now I was glad for the nausea meds!  Despite my doubts, I was indeed able to drink the whole bottle.  Then we waited for them to come take me for the scan.  The scan itself didn’t take long.  Then it was back to the room to wait for the results of the scan.  Do you get the feeling that most of what we did was wait?!  Finally, the doctor came in and said the blood work showed my white count to be a little high.  The CT scan was normal.  Looked like I was fine.  They’d get the paper work ready for me to go home.  I’m fine?!  At this point, bed sounded really good, and I was feeling better, so I didn’t argue.  And thus ended our night and began the saga.   

Me drinking the delicious fruity CT scan beverage
(The smile on my face is fake.)  :-)

The clock on my bedside table when I finally got in bed.  
Approximately six hours in the ER, most of it waiting, to be sent home with no answers - a bit frustrating.  But at 4:25 in the morning, I really didn't care.  

Modeling my hospital outfit at a later, much less painful date

If you made it all the way to the end, you're a real trooper.  The rest of the upcoming posts should be shorter.  :-)

I'm back (FINALLY)

When you get as far behind in blogging as I have, it's a bit overwhelming to think about getting caught up, especially since I haven't been keeping a list of "Things to Blog."  However, I'm going to try and at least get started today.  I've missed being a blogger.