Feeling Saint-Like

(…you know, like George Weasley said, “I’m holey…” 😉 )

Hey folks.  I’ll get through this as quickly as possible because I’m still feeling weak & need to sleep relatively early this eve.

To start, can I just say that spending multiple nights in a hospital sucks ridiculously yucky rocks?  Blech.  So, here’s the rundown:

  • Over the last week or so, I was getting winded by just walking across the parking lot, so we went to the Quick Care clinic to be cautious about possible heart issues (this was on Saturday).
  • At the clinic, they did a few tests, found a few issues, and they referred me to a cardiologist.
  • We lucked out & got in b/c of a cancellation the next morning (Tuesday).
  • The cardiologist checked things out & was about to recommend changes in diet, exercise, etc., but he had ordered a stress test just to cover our bases…
  • The stress test was the point where we all realized there was a serious problem.  I did not get very far along when I started feeling like I couldn’t get a complete breath.  If you’ve ever had something go down the wrong pipe & started coughing and gasping to the point that you felt like you couldn’t get air, that’s what it was like, only way more extreme.  They stopped the test, had me rest a bit, and then I met with the doc again.
  • He said 70-year-olds do better than I did, and that something was definitely wrong (not just my being out of shape).  He scheduled a heart cath for the next morning (tube down an artery to the heart to see if there are blockages, damage, etc.).  We then left to do pre-procedure blood work.
  • The next morning while at the cath lab, the doc came in and said that blood work showed that I had an extremely low blood count (hemoglobin), which could definitely account for the stress test results.  He ordered some more blood work to verify the findings.
  • My blood count was even lower (I believe they said normal hemoglobin is 12-15, and mine was 7.3 and then 7.1), so the doc cancelled the heart cath (wouldn’t be able to do it with that count anyway) and admitted me to the hospital for more testing.
  • Thus began an exhausting 4-day stay at the hospital.  It was filled with a marathon of “let’s find Cristy’s veins.”  The pics above show the many attempts to start IVs and take blood.  Yeowch!  Apparently, like my mom and sister (who’ve also had experience with extended hospital stays), I have “roly, superficial veins” (meaning they move around the needle and are close to the surface, so are not only difficult to get the needle into, but are also tough to stay within without the needle “blowing out” the other side), so every attempt to get to my veins (and there were a LOT) produced at least 2 more holes.  Ugh.
  • They said I was extremely anemic due to blood loss, but they weren’t sure from where the blood was being lost.
  • In the meantime, they gave me a unit of iron and checked my blood every few hours to check the levels.  They went up slightly but not to the docs’ satisfaction.
  • They decided to give me a blood transfusion, so they had to take MORE blood to match type and all that (Why couldn’t they use some of the previous blood, you ask?  I have no idea, but seems kind of counterproductive to me when the problem the patient is experiencing is blood LOSS. *sigh*).  So, they gave me a big ol’ bag of blood (I’m O Positive, in case anyone’s wondering), and my numbers improved a little bit (low 8s).
  • That first night was a real nightmare (Wednesday?).  Some of you know that I’ve had back issues for a while now.  Well, let me tell you, a hospital bed is the WORST place to have a person with back problems sleep.  I could tell it was sagging my spine at the beginning, but what choice did I have?  After a short few hours’ sleep, I woke up to excruciating pain.  I felt so bad for Tom and the nurse on duty in the middle of the night because I was just in agony.  I couldn’t support my own weight, but lying down hurt even more, so I was trying to stretch and put my body in positions that would feel better, and I couldn’t find any relief.  Miserable.  Blech.  We finally stole the visitor’s chair from the empty space next to me in the room, and Tom and I both slept in the chairs.  MUCH better.  That’s how we slept the rest of my stay.
  • The next day, they still didn’t know for sure where I was losing blood FROM, so they brought in a doc who deals with various “-scopy” procedures and asked for his input.  Later in the day than I would’ve liked, they finally decided to schedule me to get probed from both ends to try to pinpoint where I might be losing blood.  If you’ve ever had to prep for a scope from the lower end, you know just how much delightful fun my last 6 hours or so of the day were.  Yay for jugs of deceptively clear GoLytely liquid.  So. much. fun. *sigh*
  • So, the next morning, I got my world analyzed (<– see what I did there? 😉 ), but when I woke up, I found myself in another lab under a monster machine with no idea what was going on.  Eventually, someone came and told me that they hadn’t found anything specific in the procedures except something slightly concerning in my stomach, which my doc took a biopsy of, so they were looking at my world via “nuclear medicine.”  Sounds fun.
  • We then spent lots of time waiting and getting blood drawn & sleeping & watching marathons of Property Brothers and Rehab Addict (rehab’ing houses, silly) with no news.
  • The next day (?), the docs finally gave us an update.  The nuke med procedure came back negative, and the “-scopy” doc concluded that they were not able to see the source of the bleeding probably because it had clotted over, but his best guess was that it was in my stomach or involved with my (sorry, male readers) menstrual cycle.
  • Possibly the day after that (Who knows?  I’d lost track by this point.), some other docs came in and said I was going to get to go home, and they gave me LOTS of instructions (and some more prescriptions – yay!) for what I can and can’t do for a while.
  • Bottom line is I can’t go run marathons any time soon.  JK, as if…  Seriously, though, my blood count was still low when I left the hospital (in the low 8s), and they said for me to take it very easy, and then only attempt activity as tolerated, and I’m now on iron pills and some stuff to reduce acid in my stomach and to build up the lining of my stomach, and I’m to go to the ER as soon as any bleeding starts so they can try to identify where it’s coming from while the leak is still open (ew).

So, there you go.  Healthy as a horse!  Hmm…  Or maybe a chicken?  Anyway, this whole thing has screwed up my school semester because I’ve already missed more than a week’s worth of classes and will probably not be leaving the house for the next week or so.  I’m looking into requirements for taking Incompletes for the classes I’m in, but I have no idea what that will involve.  Stressed about it?  Yes.  But, trying my hardest not to feel guilty.  My sis, Sharee, who just became an RN this summer, but has been working in hospitals forever, reassured me that any time the hospital resorts to giving a patient blood, it’s nothing to sneeze at, and I shouldn’t consider myself a wimp.  I’m trying to take that to heart and take it easy and not let myself worry as much as I usually do.  We’ll see what happens.  Will keep you posted.

Your very sore & VERY tired,

Cristy

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4 thoughts on “Feeling Saint-Like

  1. Wow! I’m sure you are sore and tired. My grandma had something similiar happen and it is so, so scary! Nothing to feel guilty about! Enjoy a semester off as you recover. Hopefully you’ll get back to normal very quickly.

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  2. Hope you get your strength back soon!

    I don’t know how hospitals expect you to relax in recover during your stay. If it’s not an uncomfortable bed, it’s people yelling and hollering down the hall, or that they wake you up to poke you some more, or the machines beeping, or whatever else.

    I always have to have them draw blood from my right arm, because I have “rolly” veins in my left. Found that out “the hard way” too. Last time in, I had to tell them to use the one behind my left thumb.

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