First ER visit on Feb. 2
Side note in 2013, I had viral meningitis. I was in the hospital for 5 days, LOTS of pain meds and a pic line...with a 5 month & 3 year old boys at home. But that's a whole other story.
Back to the ER visit. I mention to my nurse, I've had viral meningitis, and this headache feels like before. She asks me to bend my neck, chin to chest. I bend as far as I can; "you're ok, if you had meningitis, you couldn't go that far. Follow up with your doctor on Monday.'' By Monday I am in unbearable pain at home. I pack a few things for my doctor visit because I'm about 99% sure they will admit me to the hospital.
My husband drops me off outside my doctor's office. He's already taken our boys at school & debating if he should take our daughter to the office with him. I walk inside and barely make it to the elevator. I looked BAD. The woman in the elevator with me, comments, "I know how you feel. Mondays, right? I was supposed to be here 30 minutes ago." I give a nod while I grip the handrail for dear life. The doors open and I'm debating if I can make it to check in without falling. I go for it...and make it to the closest chair--we're talking maybe 6 feet. I sit and try not to cry because of my headache and the ridiculous amount of energy it took to walk 6 or 7 steps.
In about 10 minutes I work up the energy to check in. My doctor touched my neck, turned it to the side, and I cried. Uncontrollable tears. So.Much.Pain. "Can you walk to the ER downstairs?" No. I'm by myself and I barely made it here without falling.
After blood draws, IV fluids, a CAT scan, a couple conversations I don't remember having, the ER doctor asks if I want to do a spinal tap. I've had one other spinal tap when I had viral meningitis. In my experience it was like getting an epidural while your'e in labor, but instead of contractions, your brain and spinal cord are swelling and affecting every part of your body. I won't go into detail here, but I have scoliosis, my spine is "S' shaped--which makes a spinal tap or epidural very difficult. This spinal tap took 5 needle "pokes." UGH.
Hope was a nursing intern that day. She wasn't allowed to do much of anything. I remember her standing near the door while two other nurses were drawing blood and starting an IV. She came back in later by herself and I got so nervous--no offense Hope, but I was a little scared at this point, and there way no way in hell I was going to let her near me; but luckily she was there to only ask me questions. My name, birthday, address, etc. Hope was the one closest to me when I was getting the spinal tap. She was the first one to reach out and hold my hand. Because that crap is PAIN. It was Hope, a nurse, another nurse peeking her head in the room, the ER doctor, and anesthesiologist all in the ER room with me.
I never saw the anesthesiologist's face, but I do remember his voice. The first thing he said to me was my hips were really out of alignment. He pushed on them hard...not like I was in any other pain but I get it, that's his job. I don't know if I was doing something wrong or my back was just THAT jacked up; after the 4th "poke" I could tell he was getting frustrated. He paused for a minute, maybe one nurse left to get something for him. I truly don't remember. I do remember Hope. Holding my hand the entire time, helping me through it, and staying with me during the whole thing. The senior nurse told Hope she could take her lunch now--MID SPINAL TAP--and sweet little Hope said, "no, I'll stay." I don't know if she was supposed to be in the room, if she felt like she needed to stay with me, or it was one of those things you geek out over when when you love your job. Whatever it was, I needed Hope with me.
I'm waiting for results and almost pleading for pain meds in my IV, when my husband walks in the room. Thank goodness, he took over. That state of mind when you're in pain, alone, scared and doctors are telling you IMPORTANT things you have to remember...NOPE. Not happening.
Bacterial meningitis caused by strep. 72 continuous hours of IV antibiotics in isolation. Blood work comes back the following day, I have mono as well. It could have been a very different story if we waited. Nothing for pain except Ibuprofen, because antibiotics. Isolation meant I couldn't leave my room and everyone who came in my room had to wear booties, a gown, gloves, and a mask. My husband even got called out a couple times for not wearing them. I didn't see a single person more than just their eyes, from Monday at 2pm until Friday at 2 pm. Except for my Thursday overnight nurse, her badge slipped out of her gown and I saw her photo. Tears. Isolation messes with your head. Hiatus #3
Hospital stays all blend together. My husband was there when he could. My in laws drove from Nebraska to watch the kids. My parents & our kids "Oklahoma Grandma" were my only visitors--she brought me nail polish and fake eyelashes--and they were perfect. I was a fall risk. I was allowed out of bed, but it was stressed that I call a nurse if I ever wanted move. They changed my IV three times. My brain was still swelling. When I became more coherent I remembered I was wearing an eye mask when they admitted me; which meant I had no idea where in the hospital I was, and hadn't seen anything but my room. I wore my eye mask most if not the entire time; the light hurt my eyes and head too much. I didn't open the blinds for five days. All I wanted was a shower. They made me wait four days. I gained water weight from fluids. Lost it all plus more when I felt sick from the eight meds I was taking at home. My last nurse told me to rest but try to get out a little, "Depression is real after meningitis." Hence hiatus #3