Oct 17, 2011

Part 2: And then it got worse

If you missed it, you can read Part 1 here.

I vaguely remember them rolling me down the sidewalk. THANK GOD I HAVE THAT HORRID PICTURE MY SISTER TOOK TO REMIND ME. I remember with stark clarity the moment the gurney bumped over the threshold into the ambulance, as it felt as though my C-section incision was going to rip apart in protest.

And by the by, if you were to Google "cures for a migraine," do you know what you would NOT find listed among the hundreds of pages of results? You would NOT find "a bumpy ambulance ride down a mountain with the siren blaring, the interior fluorescent lights on, and a grumpy female paramedic trying to find a decent vein to start an IV while also monitoring your blood pressure minute by minute." Yeah. You won't find THAT.

Never mind that at 3:55 a.m., we were literally the only vehicle on the road. I have no idea why we had to use the siren. Sigh.

I was so swollen at that point that the paramedic was unable to start an IV en route, but when we were still a ways out from the hospital, she called in to let them know we were coming. Here's how that went:

"I've got a 38-year-old female, complains of high blood pressure, but I've taken it twice and it's 140 palp. History of migraines, just had a C-section on Monday, released from Brookwood yesterday afternoon. We're 15 minutes out, admitting patient for ... um ... a bad headache."

EXCUSE ME? A BAD HEADACHE? It was a good thing I was tied down to that gurney, because I wanted to pop up and throttle her. Just because she didn't get the BP readings that the firefighters had gotten did NOT mean that I was just coming in for a "bad headache." Color me pissed.

When we finally pulled into the ER bay, my migraine had moved into territory I'd never experienced. I couldn't open my eyes because the lights made me feel like I was literally going to pass out. I felt like my brain was going to leap out through my forehead ... the pounding was constant and debilitating. They rolled me out of the ambulance (again with the bumps that made me feel like my incision was tearing open) and into the ER itself.

Then I guess they had to check me in or something, because they left me on the gurney in the hallway for several minutes. I shielded my eyes with my arm and looked around briefly, to find myself alone on that gurney in the middle of the place. If it hadn't been me, I might have actually thought it was kind of funny. But unfortunately, it WAS me, and my head was getting worse by the moment, it seemed.

They wheeled me to a room with a door, where a nurse told me that as soon as she got me set up, she could turn the lights out for me. I could. not. wait.

Unfortunately, I was so swollen with fluid that she couldn't access any veins in my hands or arms. I was petrified that they'd have to start a Central Line instead, but two other people came in and tried, and one of them was, thankfully, able to get an IV in my right arm. Then came the drama with the blood pressure.

They were taking it every five minutes since it had been 181 at home. First time in the ER, it was 187. Second time it was 191.

The nurse told me she was going to try to start a second IV in my arm. When I asked why, she said, "Oh, you know, just in case we have to push some more meds, and we need a second site to do it."

That didn't sound so promising to me.

She wasn't able to find a spot for the second IV, though, and right about then was when the third BP reading came in at 207. Even in my migraine-addled head, I kind of got worked up about that. I knew it was too high to continue rising without risking a stroke or worse.

Internet, you know how you've always thought that if you were in the hospital and had a brain bleed or something, that you'd want Patrick Dempsey to be your brain surgeon?

I'm gonna have to give you a big NEGATORY on that. When you are in the ER and a doctor comes in and tells you, "Katherine, this isn't normal. I'm afraid this is something bigger than your typical migraine, and I'm going to send you down for a head CT right now," you just want a normal-looking doctor, not someone whose good looks will distract you, not someone you feel like you've got to suck your gut in for or put on your best sparkling smile for.

When I asked my Average Joe ER Doctor why I needed a head CT, he said, "We have to see if there's a brain bleed. As I said, this isn't normal." That was when I began praying about as hard as I've ever prayed in my life. "Ohhhhhh, Lord. PLEASE don't let this be a brain bleed. PLEEEEEEEASE don't let this be a brain bleed."

Sometime in that last hour, Grayson had arrived. His presence calmed me down a little, but he wasn't allowed to come with me as they rolled me out of the room, back into the painfully bright lights, through an endless warren of seemingly identical hallways, down a floor on the elevator, and into the CT room.

It was now a little after 6 a.m. on Saturday, and I had no idea there were six more painful days of hospitalization in my future.

To be continued ...


Jenny said...

Oh my word! So thankful you are okay. This is horrific!

Rachel said...

Oh sweetie! I'm so thankful you're okay. I'm reading this thinking how awful for you and at the same time I can't stop reading... :( Kiss that sweet baby for me.

Martha said...

Mercy Maud! I'm so glad I know that the ending of this story is "...and now I am at home, holding Amelia...." and please tell me "..relaxing and eating bonbons!" I can not imagine the stress you were under. Did they ever tell you what caused all this? Edema? Just pregnancy? Oh, I can't wait for installment 3 -- but I WILL wait if it means that you can get some rest!

Erin said...

I agree with Martha. I can only read this knowing you're now at home with your family. Good grief, you make me want to take a nap.

I remember the doctor that jumped up and down on my throat trying to get a central line in after M was born. I will remember every detail of his face for the rest of my life. And if I ever see him again in the wild? GAME ON.

Sewconsult said...

I just want to do a sympathetic-throw-up after reading this. Folks who have never had the hellish nightmare of a migraine have no clue what you might have gone through. I am not saying that mine have been that bad and hope they never will be.

Gentle hugs for you and Amelia. Big hugs to the boys.

Anonymous said...

Knowing you are home and okay now didn't keep me from crying. I can't imagine how terrified you must have been.

RLR said...

I typed a whole rant - there are so many "what's wrong with this picture?" moments - but what I really want you to know is this:
I'm so, so sorry that you had to experience all of this. And, once again, I'm glad I know that you are home with your family.

No Greater Love said...

Is it really bad that all I can think of while reading this is, "I hope that ambulance driver knows how wrong she was."

Hmmm...maybe I have a little more work I need to do in the whole "love my neighbor" area.

I am so glad you are doing well...

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