April 19, 2011

What Does It Feel Like?

I consulted my trusted blog advisor, Steven, about what I should write for this post, and at first said I didn't want to divulge too much about what's been happening in my personal life lately. I've since changed my mind. I think what's happened to me this past week is important, and I need to write about it, just in case it might save the life of someone else.

Last Monday was a typical day; however, I noticed a little soreness in the upper part of my back. As the day went on, the pain grew worse and I decided I had pulled something. The pain spread across my back and into my chest, and I noticed it was getting harder to breathe. By the end of the day, I couldn't take in deep breaths because of the pain. 

I was supposed to Skype-cook with Steven that night, but knew he had a cluster headache (trust me, they're terrible), so I at least had a reprieve until he felt better later. We talked and decided ibuprofen and an hour of rest might help us both. An hour later I felt slightly better, and we cooked our meals together via Skype (same recipe at the same time with our laptops in the kitchen). Total prep, cook, and talk time was somewhere around 2 hours, maybe a little less. Once dinner was ready, we logged off and ate on our own. I was beginning to hurt again, but only had one ibuprofen left, so I decided a heating pad might help. It did. To the point that I fell asleep in a comfy chair with my laptop, phone, and TV remote all in my lap. I woke and decided I should have gone to bed a couple of hours ago. 

It never occurred to me to take my heating pad with me, so I simply went through my usual routine and went to bed. Hours later I woke, unable to breathe. My back and chest hurt. My first thought, of course, was that this was something a hot bubble bath could cure. No. It did help relax me and ease the pain, but it was no magical cure. I remembered the heating pad, put it on the bed and turned it up to high. Ah yes, that was what I needed. By morning I would be a different person. Little did I know...

When morning came, the pain and painful breathing were still there, so I called my doctor to see if I could get an appointment to get a muscle relaxer. I got the doctor's nurse, and we went through a series of questions and I could tell where this was headed -- heart-related problems. Um, no. I did my best to convince him it was muscle, and he did his best to convince me to go to the emergency room. I have a phobia of hospitals, so, um, no. I was determined to talk him into the muscle theory. He was having none of it.

Go. To. The. Emergency. Room. 

I finally agreed, then called my mom, who came and got me. Right now, moms are the best thing ever invented! I called Steven and let him know what was happening, and to assure him nothing was going to stop me from boarding a plane on Saturday to see him. I also called work to let them know I'd be late because my doctor's nurse was insisting I waste time and money going to the emergency room.

My mom and I drove to the Valley Hospital and Medical Center in Spokane Valley, and once I told them the list of symptoms the phone nurse insisted I write down and give them, I was immediately escorted to an area to have an EKG, which was normal. Yay, because I told everyone within ear shot, several times, no matter what they found, they must fix it in time for me to board a plane to Texas on Saturday.

Next up? Drawing blood. Ha! No easy task where I'm concerned. My veins are difficult to find, so they have to take it out of my hand. What's worse than having blood drawn from your hand? Having an IV inserted into your wrist, again because they can't find veins. I was then whisked away to x-ray and brought back with results shortly to follow. No problems with the x-rays; however, the blood tests showed signs of elevated....something that means I could have blood clots or an extreme inflammation somewhere. Next step? Whisked off to have a CT scan.

I've never had a CT scan and apparently having an IV in my wrist required the consultation of three people before they could proceed. I also made sure I informed them that they were to find nothing because I had to be on a plane to Texas on Saturday (this was my theme for the day). They finally decided the dye or whatever could be injected into my wrist and did so. Once the scan was over, I was again whisked back to my little room where my mom was dutifully waiting. A short time later, the nicest doctor in the world (seriously) came in and asked if I wanted good or bad news first. Hit me with the bad. "You're not getting on a plane to Texas on Saturday." That was all I heard and I began sobbing.

Again, moms are the best invention ever because she heard everything he said. Once he left and she calmed me down, I had to ask her what was wrong with me. I had blood clots in my lungs, better known as a pulmonary embolisms. I could have had a stroke or died on the plane.

They did an ultrasound to find the root of the clot, which turned out to be behind my left knee, then checked me into the hospital for five days of absolutely no rest and a massive amount of confusing information.

All this is to say that we all feel aches and pains, but some need to be taken seriously. If mine hadn't happened to affect my breathing, I probably would have popped ibuprofen for days thinking it would go away, then I would have boarded that plane on Saturday.

Don't ignore aches and pains that stick around for a while or have no real cause. Call your doctor immediately. Believe me, it's better to have some tests run and find out all is well than to die because you thought your pains were normal. I'm a healthy person. This was proven by the million other tests they ran on me. So it can happen to anyone. They believe my pulmonary embolisms were caused by a medication I was taking, but it could be genetic. We're hoping I'll only have to take blood thinners and go in for routine tests for six months. Fingers crossed.

To anyone who made it this far in this long post, I know you've heard it all somewhere before. If I can help save someone else by posting my story, then this whole blog thing has been worth it.

April 3, 2011

Is This Amount OK? Um, No.

OK, I have to share another pet peeve of mine. When I use my debit or credit card to checkout at any store, the machine always asks this question, to which I'm unable give an honest answer, "Is this amount OK?" Hmm. To be honest, no, it's not OK. I'd like to pay you 50% less, but you're not giving me that option, so I guess I'll have to say yes. The more appropriate question would be, "Is this amount correct?" or "Is this amount accurate?" 

Maybe I'm just being picky, but honestly, every single time I want to answer, "No, I want to pay less." I've mentioned this to several cashiers and they've laughed and agreed it is a dumb question. 

So there's my rant for the day. Will someone kindly tell the makers of the credit/debit card machines to please restate the question? Sigh. Probably not. I suppose I'm just stuck with this pet peeve, unless I want to go back to using cash.