Last week-end I drove myself to the emergency room. I had some sort of bug for a few days and was finally feeling slightly more like a human. So why the ER? Well my right leg swelled up so big that I knew something was wrong. And since I don’t feel it, I figured I better get it checked out.
My husband was teaching Sunday School so I took myself to the hospital, checked myself in and called to let him know there I was. I thought I would just quietly go… no fuss necessary. I was feeling down as my youngest child moved out of the state that morning and I knew I was going to miss her like crazy. I knew I needed to go to the hospital but didn’t want to talk to people.
I didn’t feel the best but I wasn’t in any pain. (0 on the new pain chart.) However, word got out at my church that Sunday morning and my friends texted and called. Three of them, plus my husband, came over to the hospital to be with me. I thought I wanted to be alone but God knew better. He knew I needed friends that day. We probably annoyed the staff but I was quickly grateful for dear friends who made me laugh during the crap that comes along with a visit to the ER.
It took SEVEN attempts to get an IV line in, which made me cry a little. I hate getting IV’s, even after all of the tests and surgeries I’ve endured over the years. For some reason I am a horrible stick and they never get it the first, second, third time. Once it took 14 attempts. This time even a medic with an ultrasound machine could not get that darn needle to work.
Once they finally got that in, the nurse came in to swab me for the flu. I guess that was because I had previously had a fever of 103.8 with the shakes, chills and other flu like symptoms. She asked me, “Are you ready for a frontal lobotomy?” Well how bad could a simple flu swab be, right? Dang… she was not kidding! She put this long q-tip with little brushes on the end up into my sinuses and it literally felt like she was scraping my brain. Holy cow! It hurt. And then she had to do it to the other side which was worse because I knew what was coming. Now I’ve had all kinds of tests over the 27 years of my paralysis but this was about as unpleasant as you can get. I was grateful for my husband’s hand holding mine as I squeezed it from pain. Next time I am saying “no thanks” to a flu swab!
The ER doc came in and looked at my leg. Now my friend, Mari, who was a trauma ER nurse and my niece, Danielle, who is studying to be a nurse, both looked at my leg and said it looked like cellulitis (an infection in your skin). I had googled all of my symptoms and it seemed like a classic case of it. And you know… Webb MD is always right. But this doctor did not think so. She had me tested for a blood clot which came back negative. So she was going to send me home. I seldom question doctor’s or stand up for myself yet I knew my leg would not swell this large for no reason. My one friend, Jeannie, has a son who is in and out of the hospital and Mari, the ER nurse, knew that I should not be sent home so they questioned her. I was very thankful for them because that doctor sent for a second opinion. I probably would have just gone home despite knowing I needed medical treatment.
Well Dr McDreamy (a 27 year old resident) entered, as well as another resident and their supervising doctor who all took one look and confirmed it was cellulitis. The head doctor decided I needed to be admitted and put on IV antibiotics. I tried to negotiate a release time as I was getting a haircut the next day. My normal girl is on maternity leave (Emme who had the sweetest baby girl, Caroline), but I couldn’t wait any longer so I tried to get him to agree to a release time. He, however, said he was keeping me until I was better. Well that was vague and not very helpful. He told me to cancel my appointment. If you know me at all, you know I am not particularly fond of hospital stays and am always negotiating my release. This doctor didn’t budge despite my best negotiating tactics.
As soon as the doctor and residents left, I made my friends shut the door so we could all ogle over the attractive resident. Now we are all middle aged women with sons. And two of us have sons the same age as that handsome doctor. I felt a little creepy but I can still appreciate a cutie patootie, right?
By this point, my husband and two friends had gone home, leaving me with my long time friend, Kristin. They were transporting me to a room, which meant Kristin had to follow us so she could bring my wheelchair to the new room. Once I had asked Kristin to get me a glass of water from my manual chair. Forty-five minutes later she brought me a glass with approximately 1/2 inch of water. So I wasn’t sure how this would go. Neither was the doctor who ended up on the elevator with us. The elevator stopped on his floor before we reached our floor and looking at Kristin, he said, “I will just wait and ride back down.” He had watched her maneuver the chair onto the elevator and felt safer staying in the corner with his feet out of harm’s way.
Once we arrived and I was settled into my room, I needed to take care of my bathroom needs. Afterwards I said to Kristin that I needed a wet, soapy paper towel to which she brightened up and said, “I just saw wipes outside your door. I will grab you some.” I used a few to wash my hands nice and clean and she looked down at the container and gasped. It said, in big letters and pictures on the container, “DO NOT USE ON SKIN.”
Her facial expression was priceless as she realized that she gave me wipes to use only on metal services and were not good for people unless you were wearing gloves. Mortified, she said very concerned and serious, ” Oh my gosh… I am going to give you a skin infection!”
I started cracking up. After all, I was just admitted to the hospital for a skin infection.
I reassured her that I would be fine since I was going to be on IV antibiotics for a skin infection anyway. We both laughed and realized that no matter what was going on, we always managed to have fun together. And just for the record, my hands are fine. No sign of infection there.
She had to eventually leave but Steve came back as well as one of my teen girls, Chelsie; my son, Zach; my sister-in-law, Jenny; and my niece, Danielle. The last two visitors actually came to scold me because I had been very sick for 5 days prior and they had been encouraging me to go to the doctor for awhile. But since my daughter was moving to Virginia, I wanted to spend her last few days in Pennsylvania with her as well as watch her dance one last time at the Reading Royals . I alway say I will probably die, neglecting my health because I don’t want to give up something fun.
This little hospital stay wasn’t really a big deal compared to other stays. Yet it showed me something I desperately needed that day. I was loved.
I have friends and family who will drop whatever they are doing to be there for me.
They will stick up for me even when I won’t.
They will comfort me when I’m scared.
They will make me laugh when I don’t feel like laughing.
They will scold me when I make stupid choices.
They will love me when I’m at my worst.
So for everyone who came to visit, called me, texted me, prayed for me and showed me love last week… thank you.
And to my husband and all six of my kiddo’s, thank you for being there, checking in on me, calling me and loving me. You are truly the most important people in my life!
Living life in a wheelchair isn’t always easy. But knowing I have such an amazing support group to share my burdens makes it easier.
My swollen, rash-y leg
Kristin following me in my wheelchair
The toxic wipes
Neglecting my health but watching my dancer dance in Reading one last time.