Archive for the ‘emergency’ Category

Autoimmune Disorder, Allergic Reaction, Help Please!!!

May 7, 2009

 

urticaria_resized

 

First, this picture is not me. I found it on google images. I WISH i looked this good…

Not good, people. Not good. I was given the drug Plaquenil to  add to my autoimmune disorder arsenal by my doctor a few weeks ago with the goal of weaning me off the prednisone.   I am now covered in a rash from hell over 75 percent of my body. EVERYWHERE  you can think of and don’t WANT to think of.  And the non specific lupus type disorder I have is gleefully helping the reaction to reach its fullest potential.

Long story short, the morning that my slowly developing rash blew into a full blown stage 3-4 allergic reaction, I also fainted and broke my ankle. So I spent the day in the ER, and was admitted. They were more worried about the fainting in case it signified something serious. It didn’t. AFter mega dollars in testing the fainting was attributed to an episode of low blood pressure.

I look like a monster. I feel like a monster. I have red, elephant ears. You can barely see any skin beneath the eruptions. My face is masked with them…Does anyone have any recommendations for excriating itching? I”m taking steroids and antihistamine but topically nothing is offering much relief except ice packs. Oatmeal bath – so so.. Coritsone cream the same…. wahhhhhh!!!!  😦

Stroke Signs

January 20, 2009

brain-stroke

If this can save ANYONE, ANYWHERE, I will be so happy….

Most people know the main signs of a stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

But these are not so well known, and are routinely used in the emergency room.  They were used with me when I stroked. I actually check myself with these when I am having fears of another one:

1. Ask the person to raise both arms

2. Smile and show their teeth

3. Ask them a question that requires a coherent sentence for an answer

4. Ask them to stick out their tongue (it should come straight out).

If ANY of these are even questionable, rush the person to the hospital. If they arrive within 3 hours of the onset of a stroke, there is a drug that can completely reverse its effects.

For more information go to the American Stroke Association.

If I Were to Die Today (Part 1 – Relationship with God)

December 17, 2008


20070315093644_stranger_fog

 Copyright Jupiter Images 2008

 

What if today is the last day of my life?

These are the kinds of things you think of when you’ve had a stroke. I’m having symptoms which are scaring me, but I’ve spoken to my internist, and my rheumatologist’s nurse. Neither thinks its an emergency. She’s comfortable waiting for the rhuematologist to get to the office in a couple of hours to run my symptoms by him.

But I’m thinking it might be an emergency. For that matter, anything in life might be. A car accident. A heart attack.  Getting struck by lightening. I got struck by my stroke four years ago this month, actually. You don’t exactly expect these things.  But once you’ve had a stroke, and you read the statistics for recurrence, you become acutely aware of your physical vulnerability and of course your own mortality.  

Most days I remember to thank God that I’m alive and alert and have no noticeable loss of physical function, from which He miraculously spared me.I thank him for my family, and my work, and for every beautiful aspect of the four seasons as I experience them, day by day.

Of the legions of doctors I’ve met with for my various health issues, no one can believe that the perfectly normal looking, active professional woman sitting before them matches the carnage of a brain in the MRI also sitting before them.

But today I’m more focused on wondering if today is the last day of my life. No one, of course, knows the date of their death. Yet every living creature, on one particular point in the line of time, wakes up one morning… and no longer exists the next. 

Think about that. Wakes up one morning and no longer exists the next.

So feeling as I am this morning, I have to ask myself…what if? And what comes to mind, first, is that I have not managed to get into a personal relationship with God. With Christ.  Other Christians talk about it but I don’t know what that means. (If my sister is reading this I’m in deep trouble!)  

A personal relationship with the Almighty????  I picture the Almighty Presence, that gorgeous glow in the sunshine, spilling through the tree leaves and the clouds. I feel Him, and I see Him, in the wind. I pray to him and to His son. I thank Them. I beseech Them. I acknowledge them. But..it doesn’t feel personal…. more like wonder from afar…

The Christians I hang out with “walk closely” with the Lord.  I go to bible study with them but truthfully it feels like The Emperor’s new clothes when they talk of their relationship with the Lord, of their experiences of deep connection with Him. I myself have felt a deep connection to nature, His creation, since I was a child. ..But that’s not what they’re talking about…. So if today is the last day of my life, and I go to meet my Maker, will He welcome me? Will he know me?

I have no doubt of heaven. None. I know. I’ve had signs. I feel it in my soul  to be true that I will be going home again. And my earthly family members who have passed before me will be waiting there to welcome me…with much rejoicing, to use a biblical word.

Then there are my husband and kids.   But I’m getting tired now, and that’s another whole post. (There will be a Part 2 to this post not long from now.)

And since I started writing this, I got a message from my doctor not to worry. No emergency.  Thank you God that its not my time today.

At least I think not.

Jennifer Hudson “Domestic Issues”

October 25, 2008

By now we all know that Jennifer Hudson’s mother and brother were recently murdered. The media, noting that there is a male suspect,  reports a history of “domestic issues”. 

That phrase, or its twin “domestic dispute” is a  terribly  insidious euphemism. It suggests an issue or dispute over who left the socks on the floor or disagreements over household operations. When you hear it often enough in the news, the real meaning becomes so diluted that its impact upon society  becomes diluted.

For purposes of my post this morning, let me give you the exact definition I found at good old dictionary.com: 

euphemism – the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt.

Of course domestic violence is what’s really being substituted here.  Bland domestic disputes don’t result in a woman calling the police for help. Bland domestic disputes don’t invoke public outrage or action.  I worked for two years in an agency for battered women. Speaking from first hand experience, here are what “domestic disputes” and “domestic issues” look like. And yes, these images are offensive, harsh, and blunt.  Just like the domestic violence that was committed against women such as these. 

 

One out of every four women is assaulted by an intimate partner every day. We need more public awareness, education, advocacy and funds to help a cause much closer to home than we might think. Domestic violence crosses all socioeconomic lines.  It could happen to you, your sister, your mother, your daughter. It’s about time the legal system stopped protecting the public from offensive, harsh reality and started protecting the victims of the offensive, harsh reality.
If you need help, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.
        

To Be or Not to Be a Hero

October 24, 2008

Someone recently brought up what I thought was an interesting perspective on being a hero. We all wonder what we would do to save a stranger. Would we jump in front of a Mack truck to push a child out of harm’s way? Would we step into a vicious group attack on a single person in a rescue effort? I think we all hope our finest instinct would propel us toward risking our lives for the sake of another human being. Our highest selves. There is no thought in such a situation. One acts. 

But here’s the thing that was called to my attention. If you save the life of another human being by losing your own, then that person’s  family is spared the trauma and loss of the death of their loved one, but the hero’s family suffers it instead. The hero trades his/her life for the life of the original victim…Is that fair to the hero’s family?

I don’t know where I’m going with this… Any thoughts, anyone?

How Hospitals Can Kill You

October 7, 2008

I read a really scary article in Live Science that is hardly comforting to people with chronic illness. I mean really scary, at least to me. Every time I’ve been rushed to the hospital I’ve felt safer the minute I was triaged into the noisy, flourescent, bustling emergency room. So many people watching you, sticking you, taking your body fluids and analyzing them. They’re not gonna let you die, right?

Wrong. I mean, we’ve all heard that hospitals screw up sometimes, but this article put it all together into one punch in the stomach whole.

The article How Hospitals Can Turn Deadly by Robert Roy Britt

mentions, in part,  the following:

Superbugs – staph infections which apparently thrive in hospitals, increasingly resistant to antibiotics, and according to the CDC responsible for 99,000 deaths in 2002. If you’re young, not to worry.  Most younger people survive such infections, its the elderly who die. People like your grandparents.

Noise – causes staff stress and more errors.

Exhaustion – overworked residents and other staff are sleep deprived. A study showed that they were three times more likely to report a fatigue related “significant medical error.” I have always wondered about that when I watch Grey’s Anatomy. Not to mention all the doctors missing in action in the on call rooms. (Those scenes are accurately depicted, by the way. I used to be married to a medical resident.)

Bad timing- Whatever you do, don’t have an emergency during off hours or on the weekend. You’re more likely to wait longer for help and at a higher risk of death. This is cited in a JAMA published study on heart attack victims.

Really scary,  but along the same lines, the article statees that “babies born at night are at least 12 percent more likely to die within 28 days, according to a different 2005 study. The reasons are thought to include fatigue and inattention related to shift changes.”

Really getting burned- This one freaked me out, I’d never heard of such a thing. Apparently, in Pennsylvania,  “every year about 28 patients are burned during surgery by fires, such as when oxygen inside a mask ignited. Extrapolated nationwide, the data suggests 550 to 650 surgical burns occur nationwide each year, including one or two deaths, according to a recentMSNBC analysis. Cathy Lake, the daughter of a surgical burn victim, createdwww.surgicalfire.org to highlight the problem.”

Medication mistakes-    A 2006 study found that medication mistakes injure more than 1.5 million Americans every year.

In all fairness none of these things has ever happened to me, and I’m a frequent flier to hospital staff in the various states I have called home.  But in all fairness, shouldn’t hospitals be more closely monitored for careless mistakes?? Research and exposure to the pubic about these things is one thing. But how about consequenses? We all know that in medicine, like anything other business, money is the bottom line. How about the government fining hospitals for careless mistakes? I’ll bet you that would decrease those stats.

OK, I’ll give them a break on the resistant staph thing. Who knows? Maybe its extra-terrestial or something.

Tim Russert’s death means life to many

July 9, 2008

I read a moving essay in today’s NY Times, by a man who might not even be alive today if he hadn’t remembered the well publicized facts and symptoms of Russert’s heart attack. He notes that apparently  many, many men are arriving in emergency rooms, better safe than sorry.

Its so worth reading…

My Sister’s Accident

May 1, 2008

I’m realizing how totally self absorbed I’ve been since my stroke and lupus diagnosis… not to mention last week in the hospital.   I’ve become accustomed to my family worrying about me, doting on me, and frankly I’ve been eating it up like a starving little girl… For too long it was the other way around. My family role was caretaker and honestly once I got sick and had to accept some emotional care taking I’ve thought, “Well, this part isn’t so bad!”

My only sister has become my dearest friend, support and nurturer thru all this. She’s four years younger,  but she has somehow morphed into my big sister and I’ve thought of her as indestructible. Also, for the first time since we were children, we live close enough to be in and out of each others “rooms”…. around the corner from each other….so nice….

Last night she was in a car accident. The car was totaled. Emergency people said they thought she could’ve died when they arrived and saw the vehicle.  She escaped with a fractured wrist in one hand and a burn on her other hand. Even in the ER she was protecting me…wouldn’t let her husband call me because she was afraid I’d get too upset!

This afternoon I spent the day with her. She was so upbeat and grateful to be alive. It was difficult for her to allow me to do simple things like make us our tea or fetch anything she needed.  

She was so upbeat and grateful to be alive that I found myself mirroring her, and not saying what I really wanted to: I love you Sis with all my heart, and I sooooo appreciate you, and I can’t even imagine how I could handle it if things had turned out differently.  I need you in my life, not just for nurturing me but just for you : your goofy sense of humor, your intelligence, our shared childhood history,  your eccentricity, your love of God, your creativity, your kindness and generosity, the way we laugh together!

Anyway, Pinhead, this is what I really wanted to say today as we both walked around acting like nothing serious had happened…  but it did. Your life was spared and I felt (not just knew) how very important you are to me in my heart and soul.

 

Message for Therapist from God

April 27, 2008

Hi All…well I’m home from the hospital and should be grateful to be alive…which I am…but I’m having a delayed reaction to the whole emergency experience. One minute you’re feeling as normal as anyone else (which you’re not, of course, no one is with a chronic potentially fatal disease like lupus)   the next minute you’re in an emergency room, delirious with fever while doctors fight to save your life. You’re vaguely aware of what’s going on, including the fear in your husband’s eyes, but mostly you just slip in and out of the the delirium. 

Stabilized, they find you a bed and you remain for five days till there is no fever and vital signs remain normal. Tests are performed from head to foot in order to discover the source of the infection, but it is never found. Nor could it be since they pumped me up with IV  antibiotics the minute I got to the emergency room.  One doctor told me later that I would have been dead within 24 hours had I not been given the antibiotics.

Maybe that last statement is what has really got me. How close I was to death. I’ve licked death beyond all odds several times in my life. About ten years ago I flipped my car over on black ice. It was completely crushed and I was hanging upside down. No one could believe I managed to extricate myself and crawl away from the crushed car before the emergency people arrived… but somehow I did. No one should have survived the stroke I had in 2004,  nor the Stevens Johnson Syndrome I developed after that, but I did.

Maybe what really has me is how many more times can I beat the odds? I am an at risk older female. All the time.  You feel so infantilized in the hospital. They are always  watching you, taking care of you. By the time you get out, it somehow feels scary to be an adult again. You kind of want to crawl back into the womb, even though you thought you wanted to get out. It was constrictive, but safe…

I wanted to go back to work this week, but I just can’t. Half of it is that my body is telling me I need to rest. But the other half is the post trauma effect I see in myself.  I have to help myself before I can help my patients. Yet then I feel like I’m abandoning them.

On the other hand, I had no idea how many caring friends and neighbors I have here in the community in which I live. We’re “weekenders” here so you never really feel like you belong. Yet flowers, people, sweets, cards and prayers just came pouring in. I was truly astounded and moved. Who knew?  

 So since I know that God is always trying to  teach me something, maybe this is what it is, the clue phone for the therapist, a message from God: ” You always teach your patients about the importance of a sense of connection to a supportive community. What makes you think you are any different? When are you going to realize that being a loner is lonely, even with a husband and kids?”

I’m getting it, God. I’m getting it.