Saturday, July 26, 2008

Disaster strikes!

I woke up the morning of Dad's b'day party and couldn't move my arms without crying out in pain. My hands were a swollen mess and my wrists, elbows and shoulders were heavy and painful. I couldn't move my neck, it was stiff and felt like it was locked in spasm. I don't know what brought this on but it did not bode well. As the day progressed it got worse and by the time everyone was arriving it was becoming unbearable. Anna finally convinced me to let her call Lynn and get her to tell me to go to the hospital. Lynn of course, did and off we went to the hospital, Rick and Mark and I and the second part of my vacation adventure was about to begin.

After five hours in the emergency room at the hospital, I was finally seen by a doctor who seem quite concerned about all of this and suggested that I might have meningitis which apparently is quite serious, I was moved to a room in emergency, all by myself while they did tests including a spinal fluid removal thing with a very large needle. They took four vials of fluid for the test and my nurse "Paul" was great, he told me that the fluid was clear and that was a good sign, I had a fever and my blood pressure was not good. They gave me Tylenol for the pain and started me on intravenaeous fluids and antibiotics. Rick and Mark stayed with me throughout and finally left after I began to fade out.

Two days in emergency, with vampires taking my blood it seemed like every hour and visits from doctors wearing masks. The sign on my door read infectious and everyone had to wear a mask when dealing with me. It hardly inspires confidence. They continued to run tests, CT scans, MRI's, blood work and Xrays, slowly but surely the pain began to recede to a dull roar but I still couldn't move my arms and I could barely hold anything. I was however, fairly mobile since my legs still worked so I could with some effort get up and go outside for a cigarette. It would have made a funny video watching me bob my head down to reach my hand for a drag. I couldn't light my own smoke since my hands wouldn't work but there was always someone around that could help. After two days in the emergency room and varying diagnoses from the doctors, I was moved up to a semi-private room eight floors up.

I had the room all to myself when I first got there and my first thought was a shower, if I thought that a video of me smoking would have been funny, me taking a shower would have been a laugh riot. No curtain on the shower, a hand held shower nozzle and me with no strength in my arms, I think I only washed half my hair but boy did it ever feel good. Getting dressed was interesting, that goodness for Mark and Rick n Anna. The bed which actually had a pillow was Nirvana and I was hopeful that I would be able to sleep but that wasn't to be the case. My new roomate had arrived and they drugged him up to deal with the pain he was having but boy could he snore. Needless to say I made more forays over the course of the night outside for puffy breaks, if you can't sleep, smoke, I always say. By the third day, I was able to move my arms but still had little strength in my hands, sleeping was still difficult but Anna brought me a couple of extra pillows and they helped a lot. There was a phone in the room and even though we had to share, it was nice to be able to talk to Lynn and as things began to finally loosen up, it got easier and easier to move around and yes even comb my own hair, what a treat! I used the handicapped shower and that was an immense improvement over the shower in the room, you could sit and shower and that made everything that much easier. As I started feeling better, I began to dream of getting out and my doctor wanted to make sure that the infection had been beaten into submission before allowing me out, so I was stuck until at least friday. That was not good news, even if she was probably right. They still had no idea what had caused the infection, nor any idea why it had the effect it had on me although they thought it might be related somehow to my neuropathy. The effect of the infection was to make my arms neck and shoulders feel like the worst pain I have ever had in my hands which is where my pain usually is. The swelling continued to go down and slowly but surely I became more and more capable. By the time I was still a day from being released, I was chomping at the bit to get out. All the while this was going on Lynn had to deal with the insurance company from the airline who were constantly trying to get my status from either her or the hospital. I knew I was going to be free once they removed the IV from my hand and then there was going to be no stopping me.

I met some very nice people while in the hospital, 99.9 percent of the staff were great, the .1 percent included two doctors and one nurse. In the end I was released without any answers but with my mobility back. My hands are still a little weak but getting better.

Lynn couldn't get me on a flight until Sunday, so that meant I had two more days to stay at Rick n Anna's so I could finish my vacation on an upbeat. Mark and Mila took me to see Batman, which was wild and I got to take a bunch of pictures with them and Dad too.

Before I knew it, it was time to go and even though Anna was cooking gnocci and buttertarts, I couldn't wait to get home.

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