Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Whatta Week (and it's only Tuesday!)

Yesterday UNR announced a new list of possible budget cuts, including the elimination of the Philosophy Department. The mood at work is not good. My personal mood isn't stellar right now either. Monday will be a year since Mom died, so I've been very aware of the events that led up to that.

Maybe it wasn't too surprising, then, that today I woke up with a migraine. I haven't had one of those for years. I did what I usually do: have a bland breakfast, take Tylenol, drink some coffee, and hope it doesn't all come back up.

It came back up. It kept coming back up. The tiny sips of water I took to try to rehydrate came up too. All in all, we had four very unpleasant episodes of Coming Back Up, between which I lay in bed, literally moaning in pain. This was very unusual. Usually stuff comes back up once, I take a nap, and when I wake up I feel all better. Not today.

So I made other arrangements for the class I was supposed to teach today, covering for a colleague who's on bereavement leave after a very tragic loss (have I mentioned that the mood at work isn't good?), and -- after a phone call to a nurse hotline, which advised me to be seen within four hours, and to my primary-care doc, who couldn't get me in today -- arranged for a friend to drive me to a local Urgent Care. The Urgent Care I usually go to is moderately far away, so I was pleased to discover that my medical group has one much closer, right across the street from the assisted-living place where Dad used to live. (It's a measure of how whacked-out I was by the migraine that at first I didn't even recognize the name of the street.)

I'm not sure I'll be going back there, though.

Here's the procedure I'm used to: you walk in, you're checked in right away, you're seen by a triage nurse within a few minutes, and then you're sent out to wait more minutes or hours, depending on what else is going on. At this place, I didn't even get checked in for half an hour. There appeared to be no triage nurse. Half an hour after I was checked in, I felt cruddy enough to actually lie down across two seats in the waiting room, at which point my friend Linda went up to the desk and said, "My friend really feels awful. When will she be seen?"

Well, after that they took me immediately back to a room, let me lie down, gave me a blanket, cooed over me, and dimmed the lights. A medical assistant took my vitals, which were fine, and then a Nurse Practitioner came in, asked me what was going on, and gave me the most thorough physical I've had in years. She actually touched my body! My primary-care doc never does that anymore. She decided that I could use some IV rehydration, which was exactly why I'd gone in.

Then the fun started. The medical assistant tried to start an IV in my right arm and blew the vein. This was a slow, bizarre process: she had to go in and out of the room about fifty times to collect the supplies even to start the thing, and then she kept anxiously peering at various bits of paraphernalia, and I kept anxiously peering at her long, painted fingernails, which, for hygiene reasons, would never be allowed in the hospital where I volunteer. After she'd placed the IV, she had another staff member come in and inspect her work. The two of them peered, poked, prodded, bit their lips while staring up at the IV bag, which wasn't dripping properly, ascertained from me that the IV site was indeed burning, and decided to pull the IV and start again.

Medical assistant #2 decided to start the new IV in my right hand. (Both of them had assured me cheerfully that I had nice fat veins.) This was an inordinately painful process that didn't work out any better than the first one had, so they pulled that, too.

Then the Nurse Practitioner showed up. All three of them examined my left arm, making helpful comments like, "These are nasty veins." I commented that the downside of Urgent Care is that they probably don't have to start many IVs and therefore aren't adept at it. The Nurse Practitioner told me that they start lots of IVs! Two or three a day! (I thought, but didn't say, lady, where I usually hang out, that would be two or three a minute.) The NP decided that she was going to attempt the IV in the left arm; she'd been an ICU nurse before she became an NP, she told me, and was very good at IVs.

She got the needle in fine, but then she couldn't get the IV tube attached to it. "This is a new kind," she said. "I don't know how this works." Oh, terrific. She finally, with a lot of painful twisting of the needle, got the tube connected. Everyone recommenced staring anxiously at the IV bag, which once again refused to drip properly, and I complained about burning at this IV site too, so IV #3 was a bust. (I now have very colorful bruises on both arms, especially the left one.)

"We're not going to poke you again," the NP said soothingly, as MA #1 brought me a warm blanket. (I'd told her that they needed blanket warmers like the ER has; she put my blanket in a microwave to warm it up for me, which was very sweet.) "We're just going to give you a GI cocktail and a lot of water to drink and see if you keep it down."

I kept it down. My head still hurt like nobody's business -- probably, at this point, because I'd had nothing to eat all day and it was almost dinnertime -- so the NP decided to give me a shot of Toradol. She was very patient with the questions I fired at her after researching the drug on my BlackBerry. About half an hour after the injection -- three and a half hours after getting to the Urgent Care place -- I was finally feeling a bit better, and they let me leave.

I don't believe there was a doctor in the building. I only saw four staff members: NP, the two MAs, and a young woman whose role I never determined, but who looked about twelve. They were all very sweet; they all apologized copiously for the blown veins, praised me for my sense of humor through the ordeal, and told me repeatedly that they hope I feel better.

I still don't think I'll be going back there.

I'm now, as per NP's orders, pushing diluted Gatorade. If I can't get a certain amount of that down by 9 PM, or if I start vomiting again, I'm to go to an Emergency Room, where the staff will presumably be better at starting IVs. I don't think I'll need to go to the ER, although I'm not sure I'll be going to work tomorrow.

I'm going to bed early, that's for sure.

On the bright side:

My friend Inez can come to WorldCon after all!

An acquaintance from college called last night, and we had a long and pleasant chat.

I've actually started knitting my first sweater! It's for a baby, but it's still a sweater!


  1. What a miserable day you've had......I am so sorry thay you are suffering. Mom used to get migraines and would take to her bed for days. I will think warm and comforting thoughts for you. Get well soon.

  2. Anonymous5:22 AM

    I'm glad you're feeling better. Migraines suck, as did your urgent care visit. Talk about adding insult to injury -- or possibly, injury to injury!


  3. Anonymous3:45 PM

    Oh, Susan, what a day! I hope you feel some better by now and get well soon,


  4. wow.




Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.