I’d had the sign before: shortness of breath. Always cured with decongestants and Benadryl — hay fever.
Only this time it wasn’t.
And another sign: sitting on my recumbent exercise bike my exercising heart rate for the last few days was not 84 or so but 100+. HUH?
March 1st — woke up because I was having difficulty breathing, took the usual pills, which didn’t help. Charlie woke up and I took her to the bathroom and then to her sunroom — I was out of breath. Over the next few minutes it got worse. For practical purposes I couldn’t breathe.
Not being completely clueless, that is, if you beat me up the side of the head with a clue-stick, I called 911.
You know what’s scary? Trying to tell the 911 Operator what’s wrong when you can’t breathe and talk. But a few minutes later the paramedics showed up at the door and I let them in. They quickly clued in on what was wrong and I was on my way to the hospital. The initial treatment they gave me was helping — I didn’t feel good, but I was no longer scared spitless.
Emergency wasn’t busy — a lull between spates of overflow beds in the hallways — and I had a room with nurse, doctor and treatment. (This was 5 am on Saturday morning.)
Charlie called Mike and Sandy and Sandy came to spend time with and help her and Mike stayed with me most of the day, until I was finally admitted and given a bed in the main hospital.
X-Ray machine brought into the room — hmmmm . . . possible congestive heart failure.
Later a CAT scan.
At any rate, there is too much fluid in my lungs and I don’t get enough oxygen. I get steroids to reduce inflammation and bronchial dilators. They work and I feel better.
About 2:00 pm a bed opens up in the main hospital and I get admitted upstairs. It’s a nice double room and I’ve got the window bed — a view of the parking lot and other hospital buildings. I’m feeling better but going from the wheelchair two steps to the bathroom and toilet and then to the bed convince me that ten steps is more than I’m ready for.
Nice bed and get fitted with monitor connections, etc. Nurses and aides come by and introduce themselves and doctor tells what drugs I’m going to get by this rather large catheter in my left arm and other treatments via face-mask and pill — all explained again when the nurses actually give me the stuff.
I get a roommate who came into Emergency about the same time as I, some of the same symptoms but with a different problem — blood clots in the lungs. When I checked out, they had just told him that he was staying at least one more day under observation. (He’s 6′ – 7″ a coach and former basketball player and the bed isn’t quite long enough. And, yes, every new nurse and aide at shift changes asked if he played basketball.)
Mike returned with a couple of books and my cellphone and charger and earbuds — ahhh, music and I can “read” the e-editions of my newspapers.
The hospital social worker got Charlie in touch with a homecare service to stay with her and her brother, David, also came over to spend some time and help out.
Without going through the minutia of things (and I got a vaccination for pneumonia) my condition gradually improved, although I still got no more than a few minutes of sleep in short bursts during the night — better than my four-day stay at this hospital a dozen years earlier when I got no sleep at all and left feeling worse than when I’d come in but for a different reason.
They were going to release me at noon today, but ran into problems with our insurance, meds and the pharmacy. That took a couple of hours to clear up. Then I was released, Mike and Sandy picked me up, we went to the pharmacy and got my drugs. (Which Mike paid for as he’d taken my wallet back to my house rather than leave it in the hospital after they’d photocopied my insurance, Medicare and ID cards.)
Ah, home at last. My wife and cats were happy to see me, but not, I think, as happy as was I to see them.
Sunday — March 3rd
Do you know what I appreciate? Waking up in a warm bed next to a sleeping loved one and her cats curled up around my legs. Then rising and, after feeding the cats, having a delicious and hot cup of coffee. My stay in the hospital would have much closer to pleasant if they’d allowed me coffee.
Monday — March 4th
Woke up this morning feeling better. Fed the cats, had a cup of coffee and read the papers. Di woke up and I got her going. Ate a banana and took my vitamins and drugs with a glass of vegetable juice. Went to the med center and got an appointment with a new doctor (my GP retired a few years ago) for tomorrow morning. Came home and printed the test results from my hospital stay (I doubt my new doctor will have them from the hospital before I get there tomorrow.) from their on-line access. Breakfast, another coffee and I’m ready to, slowly, continue with my day, which includes taking Di to the dentist this afternoon. Thanks for your concern folks, but it seems I’ll be around for a bit longer.
Tuesday — March 5th
911 Update: I’m still doing OK. I’ve a tickle in my throat which leads to some coughing but no breathing issues. Saw a new PCP today, my first younger doctor. He says my lungs sound good with very little congestion. I’m to keep using the Advair inhaler for the next several months and also the BP pills I was given at the hospital – high normal readings. Full physical next Wednesday. Thanks for all the good wishes.
Remember that things come in threes? Well, we have Di’s tooth, my ARDS 911 and now — wait for it — the water heater doesn’t heat water. Called the plumber and he’ll be out early tomorrow. Hope it isn’t serious or take too long as Di has a dentist and two doctor appointments Wednesday. Ghads, retirement can be exciting.