Well, you know how one day you are at work and something bad happens and you think to yourself – or say aloud- this is the worst day of my life? I know I have sure said that a few times in my day but I can most definitely proclaim without a bit of doubt that when I said that yesterday, that statement was true, and likely will remain the pinnacle of shitty days in my life for a very long time. At this point you must be wondering what could possibly have been so bad about it, so I will tell the tale below.
The day started out just as every day, I awoke and took a leisurely stroll around the perimeter of my estate, my two faithful dogs by my side. A songbird flew from a branch of the the old pine tree near the stream, it landed on my shoulder and sang as I caressed its gentle feathers…Then the alarm clock went off and I woke up and fought my way past the dogs to the bathroom. I started the shower, shaved really quick and jumped in. After I had finished rinsing my hair, as I was reaching to turn off the water, someone hit me square at the base of my skull with a very heavy object.
It took a few seconds for the initial sharp pain to subside. I had either blacked out briefly, or the pain had just forced my legs out from under me, either way, I was on one knee in the bottom of the tub by the time I had a chance to look around. I didn’t see the guy with the bat, so he must be really quick, or maybe he was never there, that depends on how one feels about conspiracy theories I guess. The pain was still throbbing in my neck, right at the base of my skull, but I continued my normal routine confident that it would shortly go away. It didn’t.
I staggered naked into the bedroom, thinking that maybe if I could lay down for a minute it would go away. The truth was that the very second my head touched the pillow the pain quadrupled. I sat up and said to my wife, “I need to go to the hospital”. She looked at me for a second, I guess not quite sure if I was joking. We have been together for seven years, and in that time I have never even been to see a doctor, hell, I have only been in the hospital twice, once when I was born and once when I had third degree burns, when I was two. She must have been able to see that I was serious, as she immediately began to get dressed, and called my work to tell them that she was taking me to the emergency room.
As I began to try to get dressed, that was when I really began to worry. There are a few things in life that one should not need help doing, especially at 29. Dressing yourself is one of them, and I don’t mean the color-coordination kind of shit, I mean that I was not able to put on my own shirt, she had to button it for me. I gave up all hope in even trying to get my shoes on under my own power and just slid my feet into my flip-flops, and off we went.
The nearest hospital is at least a thirty minute drive from us, and the roads on the way are very bumpy, which is normally not a problem, but when each bump feels like someone ramming an icepick into the base of your skull..Let me just say that it seemed a bit more bumpy than usual. I was forced to remove the head rest from the seat only a couple miles into the trip, since it was pushing at my head, and thus magnifying the bumps in the road. The problem was that without the head rest my body was forcing my neck to do a bobble-head thing, and honestly I don’t know which one hurt worse.
The thirty minute drive took about eleven years. Actually, it probably took about forty minutes due to being stuck behind people who just didn’t seem to know or care that I really wanted medical attention. As it turns out, the hospital was much like the inconsiderate drivers. I was not able to stand when we arrived there (well, I did walk in, so I guess I was capable of doing it, it just hurt so badly when I did it that I was afraid I may feint from the pain) so I just sat down and let my wife take care of getting me on the list.
I must go off topic for a second here to bitch about the list. This isn’t a fucking night club, its a hospital. So you come in with a knife sticking out of your skull, do they put you on the list behind the guy who is here for a tetinus shot after getting a minor cut from a rusty soda can? Now, I know that everyone thinks that THEIR problem requires immediate attention, but come on. By all indications I had a severe spinal or cervial problem, you know the type of thing that usually ends up in you being restrained flat on a board with your head in a collar while they rush you to x-ray. Not the case here, I guess I wasn’t on “The List”.
I sat there patiently. I waited for over an hour, and every second the pain was getting worse. The pain was no longer just in my neck, my head was throbbing, I could feel my pulse in my eyeballs. I was keeping them closed to avoid the triple-vision thing that was happening each time my heart beat, also, I was pushing the palms of my hands hard against my temples to keep my head from exploding. In hindsight, I guess if my head was going to explode it would not have cared if my hands were there, but it helped to ease the pain a bit. If they had not called me back into triage when they did, I may not be here typing this now.
I could barely walk at this point, and again, I mean that the action was fluid, I could do it, it just hurt so bad. Every time my heart beat it was like I could feel it in every single capillary from head to toe. I walked as slowly as I could to try to give me time to breathe between steps. Upon arriving in the little room, the nurse began to ask some questions while the machine was taking my blood pressure. Now that I am thinking back on it, I can not remember some of the questions, I know my eyes were closed the entire time, I remember her asking my weight, and not believing me, then making me get on the scale. I remember barely being able to do that since I could not look down. I remember her telling me to sit back down and be very still. I remember hearing her say to a doctor something about getting me on a bed and stabilized before I had a seizure. I remember my wife crying, and me telling her not to worry I was going to be fine. Then some guy putting something around my neck that took some of the pressure away. Then letting me sit down, on a bed, and the throbbing receding just a bit.
I am going to go off topic again about “The List”. I guess it is pretty clear that I didn’t die, since I am typing this, but I wonder how close I actually came because of sitting out there waiting all that time. My blood pressure, when they finally got me into triage was 180something over 106, that was why they were worried that I was going to have a seizure. Any time that bottom number gets over 100 it is like a stroke looking for a place to happen (which was why I was feeling my hearbeat in every damn extremity). Why this actually happened to me I am not sure, nor did they have an explanation. My best guess is that the pain had driven my body into shock and that if I had not have gotten the pressure taken off of my neck I may have either had a stroke or gone into cardiac arrest. -But the guy in front of me, who needed a tetinus shot after being cut on a rusty soda can is going to be just fine, thank you.-
I sat on the bed there, wearing the collar, for a time while speaking to various other nurses and telling the same story about a dozen times, every one of them asking me to squeeze their hands (which I am assuming was to make sure that I had not lost use of the muscles in my hands, but who knows). Then they carted me off to x-ray.
That was a pretty amazing turn of events, eh? Let the guy sit out there waiting over an hour, then when you decide to see him you see that there is a real possibility that the guy may have a very major problem. So after an hour in the waiting room they got me into triage, and in less than twenty minutes after that I was in x-ray.
Once I returned from the x-rays, there was a guy waiting there with some pain killer. He wanted to inject me with pain killer. I am not big on needles, but I really didn’t want to be injected with the pain killer. My logic was that I do not use any drugs, except nicotine, caffeine and alcohol, and wanted to be able to walk out of the place if they were to release me at the end of the ordeal. The guy went and checked on this with the nurse, who then spoke to me, and we agreed that I could take a percacet in lieu of a debilitating shot. At this point, the man who brought me the percacet took my blood pressure again and it was down to 153/80, which is not really all that great by any stretch, but the fear of seizure was not there anymore. It occurs to me that had they gotten me into the collar to stabilize my neck, oh, say an hour earlier, there might not have been an issue with the blood-pressure?
At any rate, due to the nature of symptoms, combined with the blood-pressure they observed when I first got into triage, they wanted to do a CT Scan. I was in no position to argue, what being hardly able to walk, plus a good lie down seemed like a good thing at this point. The guy said that the scan would last for about twenty minutes, but I swear the second I laid down, the guy said I was done. I vaguely remember whirring noises as I was being pushed through this ..thing.. but I could swear it was nowhere near twenty minutes. -Them percacet pills must be good stuff-
So the good news is that the CT Scan showed that I do indeed have a brain (I have often wondered) and beyond that, my brain is normal. Well, they didn’t ever use the word ‘normal’ so I guess what they were getting at is that my brain did not have any huge clots or hemorrhaging, so I did not have a stroke. In even better news, I did not have a brain tumor – you see I have this recurring dream where I have a tumor in my brain that they must remove, and when the do the surgery I lose the use of my legs- So the problem is not with my brain, or my bones, so I am golden, right?
Not necessarily. My official release papers say that what I have is a ‘cervical strain’, and that I should use prescription ibuprofen and muscle relaxers(if/when necessary). Oh yeah, and wear one of those neck brace donut things. But they ( CT Scan and X-ray Techs )also said that it is possible that what I have is a herniated disc in my neck,(which the x-rays can miss) so if the condition does not improve, or if it worsens, that I should get a referral from my doctor for a head/neck MRI. Why the hell didn’t they just do that sometime in the 4 hours I was in the damn emergency room?
Now I certainly understand why I have this phobia of the hospital. I just can’t figure out what in the hell their agenda is. If I had died in the waiting room, you know when I was so close to having a seizure or stroke, would they not be held accountable since they had not yet seen me? If so, is that what they are going for? So if they are gonna die, let them do it in the waiting room, if they can live for an hour we will go ahead and treat them. Perhaps that was the reason that they did not let me read or sign the liabilty statement until they released me?
Once the blood-pressure went down, the pain was just in my neck, that is a kind of pain that I can endure. Mind you, I still have a problem if I try to bend completely down to pick something up off of the floor, but as long as my head stays above my heart I seem to be doing pretty well. I took enough ibuprofen on that first day to kill a goat, as well as a muscle relaxer, on top of the percacet, and I slept pretty well. In the morning the pain was all in my neck, just imagine the ‘crick’ you get in your neck from sleeping funny, then multiply that by about ten and that is the pain that I am feeling even as I write this. Yet, if I lay in the bed to let it heal, my back begins to hurt (and that is something that I have been battling since I was 16 or so), so I must pick my poison. The more I move my neck about, or even just using the muscles to hold it in place, the less the pain becomes as I move. I am certainly hoping for a speedy recovery, but this was certainly the ‘worst day of my life’.
On to happier thoughts. I have not shown any pictures of my beloved dogs here yet, so I will do so now. Keep in mind that they are beloved part of the time, kind of tolerable part of the time, and a nuisance all the rest of the time. They are pretty obedient, especially Warlock, he will do whatever you tell him to. Zelda, on the other hand, is not quite at the same level of obedience. We give her a bit of leeway since she is not fully grown, but she is nearing the time where her puppy antics will result in a swift smack to the snout.
As always, click on the picture for a larger size view.
This is the newer of our two dogs. We named her Zelda. She is quite a good little dog at least like what 30% of the time, the rest of the time is spent chasing her around to take whatever it is that she is chewing on out of her mouth. Sometimes she is chewing on our shoes and the such (as puppies do) other times she will be chewing on electrical cords, whcih puppies don’t really ever do if they want to live to wag another day.
This is our other dog Warlock, he is quite the ham. He will pose for any damn picture any damn where. If he sees that little box in your hands he knows that it is treats, when it turns out to be photos instead he really doesn’t seem to care, just as long as all your attention is focused on him. In the larger photo you can definitely tell that he is expecting a reward… the truth of it is that we were trying to take pictures of Zelda at the time, but I just really like this pose.
Zelda is also just a bit too quick to get a good shot of her. In a few months I am sure that she will calm down a bit so that we can get a few clean shots of her, but as for now we takes ’em like we gets ’em.