Friday, February 18, 2011

3 Times Crazy

Third admission is behind me.  If there is a fourth, it will be in a city about two hours from here, a city filled with world-famous really good doctors.

The last admission went badly from the moment we walked in to the emergency room.  Strike that, it went badly in the hours prior, too.  Lots of anger and fear and irrational outbursting on my part.  Plus going into shock, which involved six blankets in a 70 degree building, with one of the stronger space heaters I've ever "known" blasting full-tilt in my face while I still got colder and colder and colder (my temp in the ER was under 96).  And me whining about the cold and the fact that the heater "didn't work."  And a spectacular and very mis-placed, poorly timed, and inappropriate display of anger. 

In the ER, we found out that the orthopedics doctor on call was the one that I would never let touch me, ever.  Not even with a ten-foot spaghetti noodle.  She wanted to attempt to aspirate the fluid out of every joint that was swollen, to make sure it wasn't infected.  That means nine joints on one hand.  Nuh-uh no way, not a chance.  Stab through skin and the deeper tissue that we already know is infected and full of bacteria, and into joints that may or may not be infected?  Many times over?  No way.  Especially not her.  We told her that - including the not her part.  She yelled.  Derek yelled.  The ER doc yelled.  I yelled.  She refused to call a hand specialist (she most definitely is NOT) because "they work all day and have lives, too."  The ER doc refused to call because she did.  He refused to call my regular doctor.  Refused to allow us to have a second opinion.

They took me to a room that, well... let me just say it triggered some massively bad memories.  Bad enough that I cried and vomited uncontrollably for the two hours we sat in it.  With grumbling and "harrumphing" from the nurses on the floor they then moved me to, it was off to a different floor, different unit, different room.  I refused to "make a decision" about the aspiration until after the timeline the surgeon set forth, since she had to go home because a full day of surgery awaited the next morning.  Score.  If she was in surgery, I wouldn't have HER anywhere near me with a needle, right?

Not so right.  I consented at about 10:15 PM, too late for the night and I knew it.  But that consent kept me from having to sign an AMA form.

The next morning at 6 AM, my nurse mentioned that this doctor would be in to talk to me about the aspiration and figure out when she could squeeze it into her schedule.  Ahem.  This is not what I planned.  So I told the nurse that I was refusing to see the doctor, at all.  That she could not touch me or have contact for the remainder of the stay.  The nurse said that since I was admitted under that doc, I couldn't get rid of her completely.  And I said I didn't care if she managed things from afar, so long as she didn't get near me.

They informed me later in the morning that I'd be going to interventional radiology, and the radiologist would be doing the aspiration - of one joint.  Seemed much more reasonable, but I've had needles in joints before and knew it would hurt.  Probably a lot, given the amount of inflammation.

My regular doctor came up to see me.  I was freaking out about the procedure for reasons only partly related to the procedure (this is one of those deliberate withholding of information things).  He stayed with me.  Tried to get me to squeeze his hand.  I don't squeeze hands in pain.  Especially hands of people I don't want to hurt.  The procedure itself didn't hurt terribly.  Meaning it didn't make me scream or cry or pull my arm away.  No, they didn't have it restrained in any way.  Just draped and laying on a foam thing.  The grating sound followed by a crunch was the worst, both audibly and feeling-wise.  It was when he was pushing through the joint capsule.  The capsule is very, very inflamed - it looks kind of cool on ultrasound, actually.  Fluid came back clear initially, but the bacteria in my hand are gram-negative so they don't pick up a gram stain.  The culture was taken Wednesday, and since day 5 is Sunday, won't actually be checked until Monday. 

They discharged me yesterday.  Said if the culture grows anything, then they'll call me and I'll have to be readmitted for I.V. antibiotics for a week.  Again.  Meanwhile, that joint is so big and hard and massively swollen and hot, as are the two next to it and the one above it.  The redness on my hand is accented quite well by the purple marker they used to mark the edges (which have expanded well past the marker). 
As I told my doctor when he said "just hold on a while longer, Jenn," - I am all done.  I am out of hold on.  I am out of gritting my teeth and tolerating.  I am out of being patient.  I am all done.  All done.  Maybe in the next couple days I'll get some fight back, but for today, I just don't have any left.

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