Sunday, August 15, 2010

Body, Mind, and (different) Internal Organs- Round 2

I decided to write this for all the Mommy's out there that try to be tough, suck it up, and ignore what their body is screaming at them.  There's a fine line between "tough" and "stupid".

I crossed that line... and it could have been a costly choice.

Yesterday was a normal day.  I woke up at 5:30 AM, packed lunches and cooked breakfast, I fixed the girls hair, and made sure we had book bags, water bottles, and happy hearts ready for school.

I walked Zoe-girl to her class, "Kiss Kiss, have a good day! Muah!" and followed Kyla on to her class, "You look like you're not in a happy mood. What's wrong?" (I'm still nervous about leaving you.  I gonna miss you, Mommy!) "You'll be great! It'll be fun. I'm coming to your class tomorrow, you'll see me every Thursday.  Have a great day, baby!"  and then I toddled along with Leah back to the car to head home.  I was tired, but that was to be expected- 5:30 AM comes much too quickly after a midnight bedtime.

Instead of keeping the plans I had made to meet my dear sweet friends for a swimming pool hang-out time, I decided to stay on the couch with Leah that morning.  We watched Wonder Pets, and Dora, and Backyardigans (Oh, Netflix- I love you!).  Time flew by- and before I knew it, 8:00 AM had turned into Noon.  (Guilt. Leah and I had vegged out on TV for 4 hours???  Amazement. Leah sat still for FOUR HOURS?!?!)

This is when 'it all started'.  I went to the bathroom, and I couldn't... um.... "go".  There was so much pressure and pain, which told me I reallllly needed to... um.... "relieve" myself (#1), but absolutely nothing would happen.  

Weird.  (I'll try again later, I guess)

I stood up- and BAM!!!- "Lord help me!"  Pain. Pain. PAIN.  It was like I had been 'holding it' for hours.  And in that little 1/2 bathroom potty I stayed for an hour.... trying to "go". (Oh, Netflix- thank you for entertaining my little girl!).

Still.... nothing.

It was the strangest thing!  I walked around, got some water, and watched the clock.  I prayed (begged) God to let me "pee" before it was time to leave the house to pick up the girls.

I knew it was something to do with my bladder.  I had been "aware" of some slight pressure in the last 2 weeks when I used the bathroom, but really thought nothing more of it other than the likely need to increase my hydration (which I had been doing).  I even read some information on "Urinary Tract Infections" and took note of all the symptoms:

"Symptoms of UTI or bladder infection are not easy to miss and include a strong urge to urinate that cannot be delayed, which is followed by a sharp pain or burning sensation in the urethra when the urine is released. Most often very little urine is released and the urine that is released may be tinged with blood. The urge to urinate recurs quickly and soreness may occur in the lower abdomen, back, or sides."

After reading the basic symptoms, I decided that I would be just fine with increasing my fluids- I'd yet to reach the severity of the 'infection' status.  I thought I'd be ok.  I didn't have a fever, or any other sypmtoms.

Around 1:00 I talked to my sister, and found myself back in the potty for another hour.  Sadly, after this point, I was beside myself with discomfort, and pain, and pressure..... and it was time to pick up the girls from school.

Desperate people do desperate things- and I imagined myself 'peeing' in my pants during the drive to the school.  How's this for being "real"?  I would have happily dealt with the embarrassment of it, if only to get a bit of relief!  I hijacked one of my 2 year olds' diapers... for just in case.  Really!

Driving the (less than 10) miles to the school proved to be a bad idea.  I pulled over halfway there and cried "God.. help me. Please........!!!!"  Leah was scared to see her mommy crying. "Ew okay Mommy? Ew crying? Whatsa madder?"

I called my husband and (God- you're so good to me!) he happened to be working local (as opposed to an hour and a half away).  I told him I was desperate, and that I needed him to come home NOW!  I hung up, pulled back onto the road,  and made it to the parent pick up line.  The girls got in, and as I was pulling out of the line, I spotted a porta-potty.  I whipped the van beside the porta, and told the girls, "Stay here.  Mommy has to go potty."  They were scared.  I failed the "keep it cool for the sake of the kids" test.  I was crying.

Praise GOD the potty was clean (I wouldn't have cared at this point if it wasn't though).  I sat down (sure did) and I cried and cried and cried.  "God?!  Please!!!!  Help me. Please. Please. Pleeeeaaaase!!!"
(Dribble. Dribble. Oh the pain! But not enough to bring relief!)

I limped, hunched-over,  back in the van and told the girls-

"Mommy's belly hurts. (Understatement of the DAY!) Pray for me, but don't be scared.  It just hurts and I'll be fine in a little while.  When we get home, I need ya'll to be quick to get in the house.  
Take care of your baby sister, and make sure you lock the door."   

They were scared.  I didn't blame them.  I was, too.  My tone was comparable to that of a dying monkey.  Mis-er-able.

I turned my hazzard lights on when I got about 5 miles from my house (so people would know to stay away from me) and soon after,  I got behind "granny". "Granny" was behind a big truck. We were only able to drive about 40 MPH.  I'm crying.  I'm pretty sure that something internal is about to explode.  I'm worried about the girls being scared.  I'm worried that something bad is going to happen if I don't get home immediately!

I did what any other insane person would do.  I layed my hand on my horn- beeping insistently-  and tried to pass.  When granny and truck-driver dude didn't take the hint that I need to get past them- I just gunned it, and continued beeping my horn until I got in front of them.  I'm sure they thought that some crazed teenager had stolen his mom's van.....

I got out of the car, remembering to put it in park and turn the ignition off (not even closing the door) and unbuckled my 2 year old- I got her out of the van, and ran her short little legs (as I sped hobbled) inside the front door.  I hollared behind me to my 7 year old  "Hurry.....  Make sure you lock the door when you come in." And I crawled upstairs to the bathtub.  I knew something was going on with my bladder- but I had no idea what!  I ran a hot-hot-hot bath, and put Lavender oil in it.  And I cried.  And I prayed.

My husband was home soon after, and had gotten instructions from our nurse-friend to do just what I was doing.  Hot (as you can stand it) bath.  Try to relax.  

No. Help. To. Me. At. All.

This is where I am certain the Hand of God was on me in these next few hours.  Hubby offered to run to the store for cranberry juice- I was totally cool with it, and thankful for the offer- but then I remembered a study I read a while back about LEMON water being as effective (if not more) than cranberry juice when dealing with the urinary tract. I told him that I'd rather just have lemons and water (but I was also too scared to drink anything for fear of rupturing something since I couldn't empty my bladder).

While he was downstairs, something really strange started happening to me.  I couldn't really see (was I closing my eyes?) I felt dizzy and confused- my hands went numb and I felt as if I couldn't breath.  I knocked on the wall hoping Joshua would come upstairs; I'd have hollared, but I couldn't talk.  I crawled out of the tub and sat on the toilet, leaning my head against the wall- breathing slowly through my nose- wondering if maybe I had just gotten too hot in the bathtub?  I knocked on the wall again- but was too weak to make it loud.

Somehow I made it from the toilet to the bed in our room without passing out, hoping the a/c in our room would cool me off enough to create some sort of coherency-  so that  I could think straight enough to figure out what could possibly be happening to me.  I was laying on the bed face down- for about 10 seconds when something in me was flashing a big "Warning! Warning! Warning!" to the idea of laying down.  I forced myself back up, planning to sit in the tub with the cold shower running over me- to keep me awake.

In the few steps it took to get from the bedroom to the bathroom, I willed myself NOT to pass out- muttering as best as I could "Joshhh.... Help.... Me......." right before I made it to the tub.  The shower came on and lucky (blessed) me it was on the hand held shower head setting.  I sat back a bit in the tub- and held the shower head on top of my head, letting  the cold water keep me as awake and as alert as possible.

My fingers are still numb at this point, I'm having a hard time breathing- I can't open my eyes, and I can't really talk.  I refuse to move- afraid that everything that's going on is a result of something supremely terrible happening internally.  My bladder has yet to release.  The pain is missing- in it's place, this total weirdness that has me concerned that I'm honestly about to die.

Joshua is standing beside the tub asking me something- not sure what- but I remember thinking "Please God tell him what to do- because I can't!"  He asked me a bunch of stuff that I couldn't answer and finally asked  "What do I need to do"??  I still had no idea, I just knew that I probably shouldn't die right there in my bathtub, so I said the first thing that came to mind "call....9-1-1".

He asked me question after question, maybe he was unsure that he needed to get help of the medical kind?-   before I heard him finally say "Is this Hall County.....?" mixed in with "She's 30 years old" (29!!) "I don't know what's wrong" "Bladder" "Numb hands, Hard time breathing" "Ya. Somewhat coherent.  Not really, though."

He brings a towel to me and starts to dry me off (while I'm still sitting in the tub- which has been empty for who knows how long; I'm motionless from fear that something super-wrong is going on).

I became that "pregnant person in labor" that snaps at whoever comes near her because it hurts soooo BAD and whispered madly "Don't. Touch. Me.  Please.  Please don't touch me."

My husband.... (who really has no idea how bad this is for me)  is concerned for my 'modesty'.  He's trying to encourage me to get out of the tub so I could get dressed before the paramedics arrived.  I shooed him away, asking him to go take care of the girls.  (I didn't care if the entire COUNTY saw me nekid at this point!).  My sister was on her way, and Joshua corralled the girls into the playroom.  He came back upstairs with shorts and a t-shirt.  If I was able to say something mean, I'd have told him to eat those clothes.... I didn't want to move.  He managed to get my shorts on to my knees (I wasn't moving!!) and the shirt over my head (how he got my arms in- I'll have to ask him about...).

He tried again "Amber.  Stand up- let's get your clothes on!!!"  (He's never had a baby.  He doesn't know that any single tiny ounce of modesty that a person could possibly have goes OUT-THE-DOOR when a person is in that degree of pain).  I was ready for the paramedics to get there and get me out of misery, and if they had to see every-inch-of-everything-I-had.... I couldn't have cared less.

Again- Joshua coaxed me- "Do you wanna go ahead and stand up?  Maybe try to go downstairs.  It'll be easier for them to take care of you if you do...."  (Inside my fried-foggy brain- I was confused with his reasoning- "We're hoping to make things easier on the paramedics?!",  I wondered)  I had full expectations of those paramedics coming up my stairs with a stretcher so that I had to do NOTHING but be completely still.  The pain was so intense if I moved, but it diminished if I didn't.   I was in COMPLETE "fight or flight" mode.  Not mentally, but physically my body was under intense stress.

Here's what was going on with me in these moments: (According to the doctor at the hospital)

The sudden flood of epinephrine, norepinephrine and dozens of other hormones causes changes in the body that include:
  • heart rate and blood pressure increase
  • pupils dilate to take in as much light as possible
  • veins in skin constrict to send more blood to major muscle groups (responsible for the "chill" sometimes associated with fear -- less blood in the skin to keep it warm)
  • blood-glucose level increases
  • muscles tense up, energized by adrenaline and glucose (responsible for goose bumps -- when tiny muscles attached to each hair on surface of skin tense up, the hairs are forced upright, pulling skin with them)
  • smooth muscle relaxes in order to allow more oxygen into the lungs
  • nonessential systems (like digestion and immune system) shut down to allow more energy for emergency functions
  • trouble focusing on small tasks (brain is directed to focus only on big picture in order to determine where threat is coming from)
All of these physical responses are intended to help you survive a dangerous situation by preparing you to either run for your life or fight for your life (thus the term "fight or flight"). Fear -- and the fight-or-flight response in particular -- is an instinct that every animal possesses.

The paramedics came in the bathroom.  My eyes are shut, I'm sitting up, hunched over- legs to my chest- hands to my forehead.  Almost in a defensive 'oval'.  

They take my Blood Pressure.   168/112.   I hear them call it, and I start crying all over again.  My blood pressure is usually the epitome of perfect.  NEVER above 120/80... averaging at about 117/78....   The number they call out terrifies me.   
My eyes are still shut.  Who knows how many dudes are in that bathroom with me (eh- who cares?!)  They ask me some questions- I try to answer.  Is Joshua in there, too? I don't know- can I open my eyes or can I just not see?  I don't know.  I bet Joshua knows.  I'll ask him later.

I cry when they tell me to stand up.  "I'm too scared to move."  The main guy- um?- I'll call him "Ken"- got behind me inside the tub.  He lifted me up, and felt my stomach. "Sweetie- it's soft.  Whatever's going on, you don't need to worry about anything rupturing. Okay?"  
I felt a twinge of embarrassment as he tried to help me get my shorts pulled up.  Akward situation- for both of us.  Once I was standing, I didn't want to change positions again.  That's when it hurts the most- they had brought a chair up to use to carry me down the stairs; and like a 4 year old- I cried all over again "I don't want to sit in that.... ..... (but?)...... I'm afraid to walk."
Ken told me that he'd hold onto me, and some other dude stood in front of me.  I held onto the stair rails for dear life and somehow made it outside where they had the stretcher....... more crying.......  I didn't wanna lay down.   

Ken said I could sit on it, and just lay to my side.   I curled up on my side and let them strap me.  My eyes were closed, so I couldn't tell where the ambulance was parked or who all was around me.  
It seemed like they rolled me and rolled me forever!  (Were they parked down the road?!?) I cracked open my eyes to see where I was- and I was still in the driveway.  
They lifted me into the ambulance (ouch! ouch! ouch!) and proceeded to work on me.  

By the way!!!?!?!   Did you know that Paramedics use LOGS as needles to start an IV? 

Ya. That's what if felt like.  Dudes couldn't find a vein.  (see above responses to "flight or fight"- constricted veins)
They tried to get a needle inside a vein on my wrist!!  Look at your wrist.  Bend your hand back away from it.... see that big bulgy vein-looking thing that sticks out?  That's the "vein" they stuck the log needle in.  (Vein- Tendon.... big diff)

The ambulance sat in our driveway for quite a while- my sister sat in the playroom with my children (so they wouldn't freak out)... for quite a while.   Thankfully they were sheltered from the trauma of their mommy being carried away by an ambulance.  Sadly- my nephew didn't get the luxury of that sheltering, and he was mortified.  I didn't know it until later, but he was pitifully upset- running up to Joshua and handing him a silly-band to give to me later.  Sweet, tender-hearted nephew of mine.  

The paramedics finally found a vein on my other hand, and called in my info to the hospital in seek of "orders" on how to administer care.  Morphine and Zofran.   It took the edge off.....  

During the ambulance ride I had another 'attack'.  I felt like I couldn't breath, my fingers went numb all over again- I was dizzy and everything was foggy.   "Ken" assured me that I was taking in oxygen; I had an oxygen tube in my nose.... of course I was getting oxygen.   But I couldn't breath.    I started crying all over again, asking "Do you have any idea what's wrong with me??" and saying "I'm really scared......" over and over.  Poor Ken.  He just sat there- watching my vitals, rubbing/patting my shoulder- He had no idea what was wrong with me.

My morphine kicked in a little better just before I got to the hospital, and inside the little room I was able to think (somewhat?) clearly.  My wrist was KILLING me from the 'mis-stick", I looked over at it, and there was a large piece of gauze wrapped around my wrist- soaked through to the top in a circular figure with blood.  On my right hand, the IV line that is inside my hand was filled with blood.... these guys must've really had a hard time with my veins?!

The nurse helped me get my clothes off and into a gown-  afterward I begged her "Please.... can you get a catheter.......??"   The pressure was still so intense!   Nurse-lady got around to my (desperate) request, and to my complete SHOCK- said to me "Honey, you've hardly got anything in that bladder- only 60 cc's.... "   

My brain is swimming... How is that possible?!?!    If I were to compare the pain I was in- it would be pretty comparable to being in pitocin-induced-labor, at 3 centimeters, just after your water had broke.  (That's the extent of labor pains I experienced before my epidural).  Pretty harsh stuff!  

They scanned my bladder (empty), and took my Blood Pressure again.  This time my BP read 115/60.  (Was it the morphine?)

After taking my blood, and scanning me over.... after administering Demerol, and feeding me a Turkey Sandwich- the doctor came in to explain the diagnosis.

"You have a raging Urinary Tract Infection...... as a result of the pain, you basically had an anxiety attack in your body-  it went into "Fight or Flight" mode....This explains why you were having trouble breathing, why your blood pressure sky-rocketed,  and what was happening to your body.  You were really lucky ........ to have had the symptoms that you had today...  "

This is when it actually hit home for me- It clicked that this scenario was all too familiar for me a few years ago.  But it wasn't me that experienced it, it was my sister.  
My sister went to her doctor with a high fever of 104 and was dismissed with a "Welcome to the Flu Season" casual response.....
A few days later, she found herself in the Emergency Room, hooked up to IV's... fighting for her life.  Septicemia had set in as a result from an undiagnosed Urinary Tract Infection.  Prior to her high fever, she had experienced no other symptoms.

Furthermore- my Papa died of Septicemia- after having a gallbladder attack, and not getting treatment right away..... he was hospitalized and treated... but he was too sick and too old to fight it.

For my mere {raging} UTI, I was given 2 separate pain medications, an anti-anxiety medication, and a hard-core antibiotic.  

In the past 3 days I've diligently taken my antibiotics, and unhappily taken my pain medication.  I've had more water than I can measure, and 3 liters of cranberry juice.

And.....I've been miserable

(a) because I'm freaked out that my body was infected and I didn't realize it... it's scary to think that I had no control over what happened to me- and that I had no way of knowing it was happening.... and

(b) because I have to take this crazy  pain medication, and it makes me feel all funny and 'out of it', and tired... on top of already being fatigued.

It all still feels surreal.  Like? I have to double check that Wednesday actually really happened.   I never want to experience it again...... 

This is the second time in the past MONTH  that I've seen the inside of those Emergency Room walls.  The second time this month that I've been treated with antibiotics and pain medication for an ailment that offered me no symptoms and no warning.  

I don't know what's going on ............

1 comment:

  1. Oh Amber! That sounds awful! I used to get horrible bladder infections constantly, and would always end up in the ER! I went to a urologist and he 'widened my urethra' though (tmi?) and it HURT but I haven't had but one since!