Three days in the hospital is just like three days in Vegas- you never know what day it is, random people are keeping you up to all hours of the night and you are always on some sort of cocktail- except without all the fun. With exactly NONE fun.
I’ve been fighting some form of funk since I returned from California and was on a plane filled with adults who don’t know how to cover their mouths when they cough (and apparently wash their damn hands but I’ll get to that) or sneeze. As the funk tends to do with me, it turned into a sinus infection eventually and I finally gave in and went to the dr for help when I could no longer sleep at night. Those pictures below in the eShakti skirt? I’m on day 3 of the antibiotics at that point.
Cut to day 5 around 1 in the afternoon when I am suddenly shaking with full body chills in a 69 degree house wearing jeans and a giant sweater and when I say shaking, I mean the teeth chattering type that suggest I have just been outside in the snow (we don’t have snow) in a t-shirt and shorts. That was followed rapidly by a wave of nausea and I thought of course, I’m doomed to repeat January’s lovely trick of coming off antibiotics and going right into the flu. I held it together long enough to process the images for the digi photo kids and then crawled underneath a down comforter (still wearing the jeans and sweater) and tried to get warm.
A little later the body aches came, as expected, but they were weird, wrong. If I tried to stand or walk everything hurt but if I laid down everything from the hips down and shoulders out tingled and felt dead like it was asleep. That’s when I started to get concerned that it wasn’t just the flu. My fever was 102.2 but I took some Motrin and drank all the fluids I could get down, thinking that it would pass. I also asked Twitter about Tamiflu since I wanted to die the last time I took it and I was really debating if it was worth going through it again.
A few hours later when my fever hadn’t really budged and neither had the numbness and tingling and we call my primary care (because of course it’s after hours by then) he sends us to the ER or Urgent Care but all Urgent Care’s are closed at this point. The ER is packed and I expect a long wait but we get called back for the initial trauma assessment before too long and that’s when things start to go all wonky. My heart rate is apparently out of control and I am instantly slapped on an EKG. The nurse starts asking somewhat leading questions that clue me into him thinking I’ve got meningitis and then he puts a mask on me which pretty much seals the deal there. I go back out to the waiting room, which is SUPER FUN in a mask (I could feel people wish the room was larger just so they could get away from me) and endure their stares.
They usher me into a room really quick and a very nonchalant doctor comes in and runs down what they are going to do to me: flu test, blood work, CT scan, urine sample and possibly spinal tap depending on how things go. The ran a bag of IV fluids through me at a rapid pace and did all the other tests, so I wasn’t surprised when the big tray came in the room and the nurse asked me if I had an epidural with my son. You know how epidurals aren’t fun with the giant scary needles while you are having contractions and all that? I WOULD DO 100 OF THOSE BEFORE A SPINAL TAP. The spinal tap itself wasn’t even that bad, at least there isn’t that popping in your ears but oh holy shit, your head essentially EXPLODES as soon as it’s over. I have been a migraine sufferer since age 12 and this is the worst head pain I have experienced in my life.
To counter they gave me morphine and zofran. Didn’t even make a dent and oh hey, I was now vomiting. So they gave me some other pain med and zofran again. All the vomit. I was dry heaving at one point. My heart rate that was a “concern” before was now spiking like crazy and they came in and told me I was being admitted. All my tests came back negative: no flu, no meningitis, clean urine, CT didn’t show anything crazy, blood-work shows elevated white cell count.
Finally go from ER to my room around 4am. I go through my extensive history with the nurse and then she gives me the morning round of pain med/zofran and what do you know, I start vomiting again. So I figure it must be the Zofran and ask for phenergan instead. Vomiting stops but it’s a special order from the pharmacy and has to be piggy backed onto my IV which means it takes like 4 hours to show up each time it’s ordered. I’m also given a shot in my stomach to counteract any blood clots from bed rest. A SHOT IN MY STOMACH. It came with a side of lecture about my weight and what the proper percentage of body fat is for a person so that’s always nice.
They take more blood (from the same vein as before because the other arm is tied up with my IV-ow) and order another CT scan. Why? You have one already. I’m wheeled down there anyway and they take another peek at my face and head. Then I’m sent over for an MRI of my lung to look for blood clots. My what for a what? Do what? The tech makes a few annoyed phone calls while I sit in a wheel chair, “I already paid out the $500 for this test”, only to discover it’s not for me, um okay. The confidence I has it. Then back upstairs for another urine sample.
It isn’t until around afternoon time that the diarrhea starts. I inform my nurse. I have it again. I inform my nurse again. The third time I have it, I ask if maybe they want a stool sample or something? Should we be doing something about this? They finally get a “hat” for that to happen in right about shift change. That’s also about the time they show up and announce I’m having an MRI. Like right then. So…you want to stick me, a woman with liquid guts into a tube that she has no control of or quick escape from for however long? I see this going very well.
We get down to MRI and the tech informs me the MRI is ONE HOUR LONG. I inform him I have liquid guts and I am concerned about my ability to complete the test. He makes a call, they decide to put me through it anyway. Y’all. I had to stop the test three times and that was with going to the bathroom twice before we started. The MRI ended up being almost TWO HOURS before I just couldn’t do it anymore and it wasn’t even done because he had to essentially start over every time we stopped.
I get back to my room and give them the stool sample. I spent every half hour-hour back in the bathroom all night long and then they showed up again at 7 am to take me for the rest of the MRI that I didn’t finish the night before, this part with the contrast dye. Somehow I make it through that with only one bathroom break (mainly because it was under 30 minutes) and I am sent back to my room. They take more blood.
A man shows up with a giant machine to ultrasound for the blood clot in my leg and when I look at him like he’s a martian he leaves the room for a while. When he comes back he tells me that he’s not doing the test because, well surprise surprise, it’s not for me. *sigh*
I just don’t even care anymore. I can’t eat anything but saltines (that I basically just suck on) yogurt and drink flat sprite or ginger-ale. Yet the menu they keep giving me isn’t an altered diet at all. I’m weak and exhausted and in the bathroom so much I have to request baby wipes. Happy Thanksgiving.
The stool sample doesn’t come back during this day at all. The dr says he’s pretty sure it’s ulcerative colitis and c diff even without it at this point and I’ve been given gut specific antibiotics.
I get a new night nurse this night and she changes everything. She asks me if anyone explained the side effects of all the individual meds they have been giving me. The answer is no. Pepcid? Adds to liquid guts. Naproxen? Adds. She informs me that if I am walking around I can refuse the daily shot in my stomach. I start refusing meds that are making the guts worse (WHY WOULD YOU GIVE THESE TO A C DIFF PATIENT?) I pace in my room so I can refuse the shot. She also tells me that the protocol is 2 days after liquid guts stop before release even though the dr said I would get out sooner. I cry.
After refusing meds, the guts slow down. (a bit)
The final day of my stay (HOORAY) I get physical therapy and have to walk the halls and do exercises with a physical therapist. Then the occupational therapist shows up while I’m brushing my teeth and I have to do more exercises with her. You know what really gets the guts a churnin? Exercise. *sigh* My room is on contact isolation so everyone has to wear gloves and plastic covering to deal with me. I feel like I have the plague.
The dr comes at lunch time and asks me some questions, confirms his diagnosis and then asks me if I can eat yogurt. I respond that I can so he tells me he’s going to let me go home and laughs when I tell him how excited I am to take a shower. He also informs me that my white cell count is now normal, which is one of the reasons he’s letting me go.
I stay until my next dose of antibiotics so I can keep on schedule and they can work up on discharge stuff while we wait. Willy and I watch Sixteen Candles while we wait. My day nurse laughs when I tell her I’ll walk instead of waiting for a wheelchair out.
I think that’s all of it…I’m probably missing some, wait. I know I’m missing some. Like the fact that the neuro consult they sent me is one I have been to before and absolutely CANNOT STAND. He’s horribly snotty with a terrible bedside manner and kept me waiting over an hour in an exam room for him once and didn’t understand why I was annoyed by that. He actually ARGUED WITH ME for being upset about it.
Random fact for you: alcohol doesn’t kill c diff, only bleach can breach its exterior shell, so Purell? Does absolutely dick to keep you from getting it. Hand washing like mad is really the only thing you can do on your person to try and prevent ingesting it. But of course it could be anywhere and you would have no idea. The night nurse who was free wheeling with info asked if I had recently been to a nursing home or to visit elderly relatives because that’s one of the most common ways they see it but nope. Lots of people have it in their gut already and will never have a problem with it, it’ll only show up when antibiotics kill all the good bacteria. In my case, my dr said that 1) the length of time I had been on them wasn’t long enough and 2) the type of antibiotic wasn’t strong enough. I also take probiotics everyday and increase them whenever I am on antibiotics.
Clorox wipes? Don’t contain bleach. They sell true bleach wipes but for medical settings. You should just make a bleach solution yourself.
The headache that happens after a spinal tap can last anywhere from 6 days to two weeks. The only OTC pain med that doesn’t aggravate c diff/colitis is acetaminophen which means you can take nothing that will actually help it go away. My head still hurts.
I have been following a BRATTY (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, tea, yogurt) diet for 48 hours now. If I make it past the 2:30 mark without an episode maybe I’ll celebrate with something exciting tonight, like a sweet potato.