For the last week, I have been having problems with my sleep. Some days I don’t sleep at all, and others I sleep soundly for twelve to fifteen hours straight. As a result, I am a little off schedule with my daily meds. My doctors say I must take them at the same time each day twelve hours apart. That is hard to do on the best of days but impossible of late.
Yesterday, I woke up at four am from a fifteen-hour nap, having missed two complete doses of medication. I was sitting at my computer when my chest went crazy. My heart was pounding, I could feel my pulse beating in my temples and suddenly I was having trouble breathing.
Hubby was still sleeping and I hurried in to tell him I needed to go to the ER. And hour later I was assured I was not having A-fib or any other type of heart problem but more research was needed to determine what was going on. After five hours and dozens of containers of all kinds of fluids, both being withdrawn from and inserted into me, it was determined I had an infection that was not presenting itself with the usual set of symptoms. After some IV antibiotics and receipt of several prescriptions, I was released to come home. Once at home, I slept for another twelve hours.
While lying in that bed in the ER between all the pokes and prods and X-rays I got to thinking about the countless times over my lifetime I have been in this position, or with someone who was. I’ve spent so many hours in emergency rooms over the years that I feel as if I not only know the staff by name and can recite their routines, but, could have paid off the mortgage on my house with the expenses incurred.
Once, about twenty years ago, my first husband and I set a record. We were the first couple to trade places, during the same visit, to this emergency room. At that time, I had an office job but worked my days off as a checker in a supermarket. About half way through my shift I began to feel strange. I finished with my customer and knew I would not be able to continue with the man who was next in line. In fact, I told him that I thought I was about to pass out. The man ran around the checkout counter in time to catch me as I began to fall. I was later told that he was yelling for someone to call 911. When the store manager got there he was sitting on the floor cradling me in his arms. He refused to let go of me until the paramedics arrived and he was the one who lifted me onto the stretcher.
I woke up in the ambulance and was told I had a seizure. I had been in the ER for what seemed like forever being subjected to all sorts of tests but was feeling much better. I had been left alone in the room for a long time when my husband finally came walking through the door. I knew the moment I saw him he was in distress. I jumped out of bed and had him lie down. I took the oxygen monitor off my finger and placed it on his. Immediately, all kinds of bells began to go off on the machine it was attached to and several nurses came running into the room. They were shocked to find my husband (not me) in the bed and clearly in serious respiratory distress. Before they could ask who he was and where he came from they had to deal with his emergency.
My husband suffered from COPD and I had been trying for days to get him to go see his doctor. He refused. The stress of being called away from his job, combined with the long walk from the parking lot to the correct ER room (without using his inhaler) had trigger a major event for him.
Long story short, I was released and my husband was sent to the ICU where he stayed for over a week. At one point (after he was put on life support) I was told I should go home and plan his funeral because they doubted he would leave the hospital. This was just one of many occasions when he proved them wrong. He did leave the hospital and lived another six years, but he never returned to work.
Back to my story, I was diagnosed with the first of many stress-induced seizures. They were the result of being a diabetic who worked three jobs while trying to care for a family of four (my husband, his brother and our daughter). My husband and his brother suffered from serious illnesses that required a lot of medical care. Along the way, I had no time to think about taking care of myself.
I wish I could say that I learned my lesson. But, sadly, this last week proves I still have not. For the last nine years, my dear (second) husband has been the one making sure I eat right and take my meds on schedule. Many times he has set the alarm so he could get up and wake me to take my meds. This last week, he was also sick, recovering from a bout of whooping cough. Left on my own, I failed to realize I was coming down with something and missed two doses (in a row) of my meds. So now I guess I will be the one setting my alarm to remind me every twelve hours to shallow that handful of pills.
When you have to spend three days in the hospital(for monitoring) to see if you will be allowed to take a little heart pill, missing a dose of that little pill looms much larger than just forgetting to take a vitamin. This tiny pill is experimental and some people have had fatal reactions to it, which is the reason for the hospital stay. It is also why I got scared and ended up in the ER yesterday.