Monday, September 19, 2011

Episode 1: I hate Hospitals

It took me forever to name this blog.. but here I am, starting a new journey into a new phase of my life, all because this weekend, I got the scare of my life and it opened up my eyes.

Friday I was sitting in my reading group, getting ready to discuss Dostoevsky's short story "Dream of a Ridiculous Man" (interesting story, by the way. I recommend reading it).  With midterms coming up, my grading system not working as well as I like, and after losing one of my best friends, the stress just got to me.  I was sitting there, struggling without a voice in Second Life and then it happened.  A stabbing in my upper left abdomen made my whole body freeze.  It felt like someone was trying to take apart my ribs with a crab cracker or something.  As the pain started, I breathed in deep, thinking of every lamaze class video you ever hear about where they talk about "breathing through the pain" as I didn't want to deal with it and had better things to do. But then... it got weird.

Not sure why, but as the pain increased, the urge to laugh became uncontrollable.  If I tried to sit up, the pain worsened, so I leaned back in my computer chair and laughed to the sky.  I couldn't stop laughing it hurt so bad. My Adorable Husband (AH) turned around to look at me, asking me if I needed to go to the hospital, but I just waved his concern away and kept laughing.  This went on for probably a steady 3-5 minutes. Just laughing. It felt good to laugh.. it felt real... and sitting up wasn't a possibility.

The pain passed, eventually, and I grabbed my cell phone and immediately called the Urgent Care nurse on duty, who asked me a bunch of incredibly mundane questions to try to determine exactly what was wrong with me. After determining that it wasn't indigestion, and probably not a heart attack, she told me to call back if it happened again or got any worse.  It didn't and in fact, the pain sort of faded away.

Until Saturday night.

My left arm has been - and is still - kind of numb.  Not like I can't feel it or anything but it prickles from time to time.  Then my chest started feeling this weird crushing tingly stabbing pain. Not the same as Friday, but still really uncomfortable nonetheless.  I went to bowling with AH to work on some lesson plans and review the tests I am giving for midterms.  AH comes up and asks me if I'm OK. I say I hurt a bit and ask him if my lips are blue. He says go check for myself, so I did.  There was a slight purplish tinge along the lower ridge of my lips and my chest felt like it was being crushed.  AH nagged me a few more times until I gave in and finally went to the E.R.

I hope I never ever ever have to be in an ER at Dameron Hospital again. Ever.

It was gross, it smelled funny, the woman in the next bed kept vomiting and the man one curtain away from her was groaning with a broken nose since he got his butt kicked at a liquor store earlier in the day and damaged parts of his face.  Oddly enough, this all made me feel better, as I wasn't them.  What made me feel worse was that they wanted to keep me overnight, which wouldn't have been so bad, if they had let AH stay with me.

The prospect of staying in the hospital alone, in a weird uncomfortable bed next to a woman who snored and moaned alternatively and also talked in her sleep scared the bejeezus out of me.  It scared me so much, I began to sob so hard that warm salty tears ran down my face and into my ears (I was laying on my back), pooling in little weird eddies in the hollow of my ear.  AH was concerned, and kept asking why I was crying, but I could not articulate the utter despair I felt at a night alone in that place. I just shook my head and kept on crying. They gave me sleeping pills and made AH leave with all of my stuff except my writing notebook and my wedding ring.  I did eventually succumb to a drug induced haze and was only woken up by the beeping of some monitor on the woman behind the privacy curtain.  It was 5am. Damn.

When the doctor came later, after AH came back with extra clothes, I insisted that I was going home that day - right then - if possible.  The doctor dithered in her really thick Asian accent and told me that they wanted to keep me an extra day, as the treadmill stress tests were never performed on a Sunday. I told her in as polite a way as I could that I would not be spending another night in the hospital, that I wanted to go home and that I had better things to do than sit around in a room and watch crappy cable television.  It was really really hard not to start yelling and crying. Finally, they let me go.

A birthday party for a one year old... some video game playing.. sub plans made.. Sunday passed.

Today I decided to change my life (again, with my prodding from AH). I went into a store front and promised, once again, that I needed to change, but this time... I needed to change with a purpose.

Today I joined Weight Watchers... again.  But this time, it will be different.

This time, I am ready to change my life.
This time, I am scared to death of being in a hospital bed again, staring at a ceiling hoping that the pain goes away and I get to see AH again and feel his hand in mine.
This time, I go in knowing that I want to watch my nephews and niece grow up and become who they are.
This time, I want to be a good role model for my students and get my self-esteem and confidence from being a good person, but also from the way that I look.
This time, I am ready to change my life, because if I don't, I may not have any more life to change.

This time, it will work... because it has to if I want to keep living.

In case you were wondering, so far my EKGs and enzymes came back fine. I have to schedule a stress test with the cardiologist and start taking medication for acid reflux just in case it was just really severe indigestion brought on by anxiety and overload.  I have a two week break coming up.  I am going to start using it to change my life... for good.

Thanks for reading! -TL

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