Thursday, December 1, 2011

I'm Alive

Alrighty then.  Sunday, November 27th, I felt FINE.  My leg was sore and looking icky, but the surgeon had SEEN it looking icky and didn't seem worried.  My husband and I spent the night talking and watching a few episodes online and then did some snuggling.  About four thirty, I went to sleep out on the couch, because it hurts my leg like crazy to be touched.  At six AM, I woke up and started throwing up more violently, and with more... substance... than I thought a person possibly could.  It lasted about ten minutes.  Derek helped me get cleaned up and then I went back to sleep, for about fifteen minutes.  I woke up again, feeling like I needed the bathroom - I knew things were going to come out both ends.  I stood up, and could hear blood rushing in my ears and feel my heart pounding.  I took about eight steps - enough to get me into the bedroom, next to the night stand.  Everything went black with sparkling lights, and I felt my body crumple, bouncing off the nightstand.  I heard myself vomiting... and then it was blissful, black, silence.

This part, is just what I've been told.  The ambulance was called, and I was loaded up into their stair-chair. 

Halfway down our stairs, I woke to someone digging their knuckle into my ribs and saying "Jenn, look at me.  Look me in the eyes."  I wanted to do so, wanted to be the obedient patient... but I could not see a thing.  Nothing.  Just blackness.  Then, silence. 

The next thing I remember is waking up with a paramedic on each side of me stabbing my arms.  They wanted to get an IV started, desperately, and so both were trying.  After many, many tries, Grumpy Lady finally got one in.  Nice Man retreated to the front to take me to the Little City hospital because I was so unstable.  Blood pressure was 48/25.  They put my feet way above my head and started pouring in fluids - heated fluids.  My temperature was 102.  Half way to the Little City Hospital, my vision cleared and I was able to start speaking.  When we got there, they had to put the stretcher flat to move me, and everything went black and quiet again.

By the time we left Little City Hospital to go to the Bigger City Hospital, my temperature was 104.8, my BP was only up to 60/30, and I'd had three liters of fluid.  As soon as they put me back in the ambulance, they angled my feet way up and I was awake again.  Each trip to flatness knocked me out as effectively as a hammer to the head would have.  On the way to the Bigger City, I started realizing just how sick I was.  I could feel different organs beginning to hurt - really hurt, like they were caught in clamps.  First was up under my ribs on the right.  Then it was all up and down my left side, too.  Then it was as if I'd been punched in the right kidney... the left followed a few minutes later.  I threw up again, and I could feel the sore spot on my ribs where I'd hit the nightstand.  I could also feel the scuff on the end of my chin where I'd hit... something.  My head started to pound loudly with every heart beat and was throbbing with pain.  My vision was coming and going.

I faded into nothingness again when they put the stretcher flat to wheel me into the emergency room.  I woke up on their bed with my feet way higher than my head was.  I had an IV in each arm and I was mumbling to Derek about who he should call.  Then they kicked him out, and drew blood cultures and ran two and a half more liters of fluid - putting my total up to 6 in 2 hours.  My BP stubbornly stayed down at 60/30, and my heart rate was steadily climbing.  My temperature was 105.  Blood work showed kidney and liver problems as well as the presence of extra-large platelets, which were clotting off and getting in the way of things.

Someone said "We need to get a central line in her."  Someone else said "We can't.  She can't be sedated right now.  Not at all.  And she's so feverish that lidocaine wouldn't be terribly effective."  "Well, we'll just do it right here.  Clear everyone else out."

And they did.  Not fun.  Not fun at ALL.  I get why people get sedated for it... I'd have given anything for some nitrous or even just some pain relief.  Halfway through, I hollered that they were hurting my neck, and the assured me that wasn't possible.  They got the line in, did a chest x-ray which showed fluid on my lungs and a central line that had flipped and gone up into my neck.  They needed to start the medications for my heart though, so they let it slide momentarily.  They came in and did an ultrasound to check blood flow in my major organs, and then I got an injection of something to break up clots.  Then things got quiet for a while, while they waited for the heart and blood pressure meds to start working.  My husband and my best friend both came in and were there.

I was so convinced that I was dying, that it took everything I had to resist the urge to say "Goodbye" to them.  Alarms were constantly going off.  We were just waiting around to get me down for a CT of my leg.

My friend came in, and held my hand and offered comfort and kept me from killing the surgeon, as the surgeon operated on my leg right there in my room.  There was no option for sedation, as I was far too sick and my lungs, especially, would have failed under anesthesia.  Because of how sick I was and how infected my leg was, the lidocaine was... useless.  Hurt like crazy going in, and offered no numbing effect at all.  He finished and packed a bunch of gauze into my leg, and then a different surgeon came in.  My friend left, and the new surgeon said "I'm here to re-do your central line" and I LOST.IT.  I was DONE.  I psyched myself up for this horrible repeat of earlier... instead, she put a wire through one of the catheters to hold her place in the artery, pulled the old line, threaded the new one over the wire, I felt a bunch of pressure, and then this crazy tickling sensation by my heart.  The next chest xray showed lungs even more filled with fluid, but the central line was in the right place.  It felt good to not get a burning, full feeling in my neck every time they gave an IV injection.

Respiratory therapy came up and did a breathing treatment to help get rid of the fluid...

and that's how I spent the night.  Nurses constantly doing things, monitors beeping and alarms grating and beginning to wonder if I had enough drugs in me to compensate for embalming procedures.  Yes, I still thought I was probably going to die.  My feet were still over my head and I still felt absolutely horrible.

About 24 hours after being admitted though, things started turning around... faster and faster and faster.  I even got a PCA for the leg pain (couldn't have it before because I was too sick).  I was getting a lot of heparin shots, and there were never fewer than five IV bags hanging and dripping various things into my central line.  And every 30 minutes someone would come in with yet another syringe full of medication for me.

By Thursday afternoon, I was well enough that the doctor said "Okay, you may as well go home."

That kind of recovery, after that kind of sick, is nothing short of miraculous in my book.  I have found out since then, that the doctors were quite certain I would not make it through the first night. 

To GOD be the glory - I want to go to heaven, but I don't want to go so soon that it tears at the hearts of those I love.

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