Sunday, November 04, 2012

Dodged A Bullet

Since my bout with Bronchitis a couple of months ago, my sleep/wake schedule has turned upside down. When coughing etc is usually worse in the evening, it tends to calm down in the early hours of morning. This created a stay awake all night and sleep until noon habit. I was at my computer about midnight Thursday, when I suddenly woke up on the floor. In the next either few minutes or longer, I had no concept of time, I was in and out of consciousness a few times before I woke up completely. The first thought I had was get to my blood pressure machine, the second, a phone.

The only problem with that is that I couldn't stand up. Crawling into the living room, I reached both. After taking my blood pressure I was shocked at a reading somewhere  between  70 something and 50 something. For a few years now, I've been taking pills for high blood pressure, then measuring the results after a few hours to make sure it worked.Thursday, I didn't.

I called 911 and was visited by our excellent EMT's at Timberlake Fire District. They were concerned with my blood pressure being so low, but I resisted going to the hospital, since I've never had to stay in one since childhood when I had tonsils taken out, which in the 1940's and '50s was somewhat routine. I told them I would call back if I didn't feel better.

Subsequently, I became nauseous (I won't go into detail here) and decided to get to bed, from where at least I wouldn't fall .  About 4:00 am Friday, I finally came out of my groggy state long enough to realize I was probably in trouble. I called the VA Emergency Room in Spokane and talked to a nurse, explaining as near as I could the course of events. She ordered me to get the EMT's back and have them transport me to the closest hospital.

Driving sedately down the newly opened stretch of Hwy 95, we arrived at Kootenai Medical Center sometime around 6:30 am or so. It was a quiet ride, because I instructed 911 to tell the fire guys not to code, as I didn't wish to wake up the neighborhood. I doubt that anyone in Bayview even knew I had left.

This is where the adventure got interesting. my only experience with an emergency room was this one, plus I was sleep deprived, not having had any at all Thursday evening.At first I was taken into an examining room where I was poked, prodded and stuck with various needles for whatever purpose intended. During my overnight stay, I consumed 5 bags of saline solution, had so many blood samples taken I must have been anemic. After what seemed like about four hours, having been wheeled out into the hallway, I was taken to a third floor room where about every two hours or less, I was awoken for either a blood pressure check, more blood samples or whatever interruption from several departments seemed to them to be appropriate.

My blood pressure became higher as they substituted salt water for blood volume. I felt like a fish. Numerous tests were taken, even a sonogram of my heart. They apparently found one. By this time is was Friday night. By Saturday morning all I wanted was a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. I was wired to a heart monitoring machine, stuck numerous times with needles for what, I didn't care. Just let me sleep. It wasn't to be. Early Saturday morning it became apparent that I was alright and would be sent home Saturday around 11:00 am.

Not to be. They let me sleep finally and I woke up at 11:45 startled that I should have been home by then, but apparently, the sonogram test results had not been evaluated by the heart specialist, so I cooled my heels until after 1:00 pm. After I came home, courtesy of my youngest son Brian, who lives in Spokane, I found out that Skip Wilcox, another Bayview Idaho resident also came home about the time I left. Skip had his heart practically rebuilt, tuned up and he cheated death one more time. Welcome home, Skip. Glad you made it.

I learned two things from this experience. One, you don't get to sleep if you are in a hospital. I think the night shift figured if they had to stay awake so did I. The other thing is, don't assume that your blood pressure won't change, through diet and other causes, ergo, check it before you medicate. Had I done that, I would not have suffered through a week of being strangely angry all week, and of course would not have ended up in the hospital.

All said and done, I was treated very well by the staff. I don't think anyone could get better or more conscientious care than at Kootenai.  I woke up this morning after about twelve hours of make up sleep, refreshed and determined not to assist in any medical accidents anymore.  Actually, the nurses, both RN's and LPN's were friendly, gracious and of ourse humerous which fits me well.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually Herb the EMT's passed me as I was coming into Athol and as usual wondered who they were going to visit. Believe it or not everytime I see an EMT or hear the sirens I wonder if they are headed your way.
Glad you are back and for heavens sake take care of yourself.

Norma Jean