So, silly me thought I’d just be at CMC Mercy for a few hours while they ran some tests. So I was certainly surprised to find I would spend 3 days there. But honestly, I was in so much pain, and they were so wonderful, that I actually wanted to be there. I knew I would be just as miserable at home with the pain, and at least at the hospital I got morphine!
Sunday I got more visitors. Scott came by and I was actually alert and awake the entire time he was there, which was a first for me. Colleen and Kevin came again, and both of my parents came by. Jeff had come back on Saturday afternoon after trying to get a few hours of sleep, and he stayed the entire rest of the time. He had to sleep in a recliner (which actually reclined almost fully; he said it was comfortable!) I told you yesterday that Amy came by on Saturday but now I’m wondering if it was Sunday – can’t remember …
Part of the reason I can’t remember when she came is because I not only had morphine in my system, but they also gave me an anti-anxiety pill to take before my MRI because I am claustrophobic. And I gotta tell you, that worked! I was so out of it that I actually fell asleep during the MRI. If you’ve ever had one, you’re probably shocked by this because it makes such loud noises that I had to wear ear plugs. But I was snoozing away; I actually had a dream that I was part of a tour for Pink Floyd. It all seemed very psychedelic. And yeah, Amy and her family came right before then so I don’t remember too much about what day it was!
Because of the fainting, and because things like needles make me feel like fainting, and because there were needles everywhere (I had 2 IVs over the 3 days, and they would draw blood every 5 hours, and I got at least one shot … it was pretty much my worst nightmare), I wasn’t really getting better. I even got to wear this super-cool bracelet (for the record, I’m still wearing it!):
I had zero privacy while I was there (and since I’ve been home, too!) I had to have someone in the bathroom with me. Even being in a wheelchair was making me feel sick, so whenever I would need to go anywhere for tests they would take me in my bed. I had to have help changing (they actually didn’t force me to wear the awful hospital gown. As soon as I realized that I ditched it for my pajamas.)
I did get a super-cool ice bag – Jeff said if he could find a stash of them he’d use them to make sandwiches to bring to work:
So, basically what they were trying to do was figure out why I was fainting. They wanted to make sure it wasn’t something awful like a brain tumor or something. So I had every test known to man it felt like. Countless x-rays. A CT scan and an MRI to make sure my brain was ok. Sonograms of my heart and my neck (arteries.) Countless blood work. Three EKGs (hook a bunch of things up to hear my heart) and an EEG (hook a bunch of things up to hear my brain).
And what did they find? Everything was perfect. In fact, I even was lauded for my diet with my blood work – they said even my potassium was at the right levels, and no one ever gets enough potassium! I was super proud of this as I’d been really trying to balance my meals – clearly it was working!
So, every time I’ve fainted in the past I and everyone else assumed it could be “low blood sugar.” Nope. Blood sugar = fine.
So, they had one last theory. On Monday, I was not allowed to eat or drink anything all day long until this last test (which happened around 6 p.m.). They did the EEG on Monday. It was funny because I wanted to take a bath so badly and wash my hair – my hair had not been washed since Friday. They said I couldn’t because I was hooked up to a heart machine that was watching me, and I couldn’t take it off. And just as I’m thinking my hair is so gross, they did the EEG. Which means they put a bunch of nasty gunk in my hair so the electrodes or whatever they called will stick to my head.
And then afterword Colleen came by to see me on her lunch break. And she took the rinseless shampoo and washed my hair. That’s love, people. She didn’t even think twice about spending her lunch hour washing nasty gunk out of my hair.
So, back to the last test.
The only reason left to test for was vasovagal syncopy. They told me this was the very best case of fainting – it basically means fainting in response to a certain stimuli. They told me something about the way the vaso nerve (or was it vagal nerve?) doesn’t respond properly and it sends a message to my brain which causes my blood pressure to drop. And I have low blood pressure normally – which would be a good thing were it not for this vasovagal thing.
So, I did a tilt table test to see if I indeed had vasovagal syncopy. When they told me what a tilt table test was, I thought it was a joke. Basically, they strap me to a table for 20 minutes, lying down, relaxing. Then they lift me up to standing for 20 minutes on the table to see if I faint. If I don’t, they lay me back down for 20 minutes, and they give me medicine to increase my blood pressure as if I were walking. Then they stand me up with that medicine. If that doesn’t work, they lay me down and give me medicine to simulate running, then stand me up with it.
I have never ever fainted from walking or running. No way was this going to work.
But sure enough, I made it through the first 20 minutes lying down, no problem. Then 10 minutes into the standing up (no medicine!), I almost fainted. I was clutching on to the tech’s shoulder, trying to lay my head on his shoulder, begging him to let me lay down while he held a bucket under my face in case I threw up. I could not believe I almost fainted just from standing up.
(They did tell me later that active people rarely faint from the walking or running round. We’re either gonna go out the first round, or not at all.)
But it proved I had vasovagal syncopy. Which is a good thing – it is harmless, unless of course I hurt myself. Which I had just done. I guess I should count myself lucky – I faint in response to needles, blood, talk of blood, etc. But some people have it much worse than I do – some people faint from urinating! Or coughing! Or having sex! I’m sorry, but that makes me laugh.
So, Monday night I got to go home from the hospital. Recovery has been slow. I’ve had around-the-clock care – Jeff took time off of work to help me. I’m on a zillion drugs right now, and they make me woozy and dizzy. Not to mention the pain, which has just started to feel manageable in the past couple of days. I am on a drug that raises my blood pressure, and it helps my body to retain salt longer. And, get this – the doctor told me to get more salt in my diet! Who gets that kind of directive? Awesome. My primary care doctor doesn’t want me to be on that blood pressure medicine for long, though. He actually said that it could cause me to retain water weight – uh, no thank you. And, randomly, the antidepressant Paxil has been known to help keep people from fainting – it has nothing to do with being depressed, it just happens to help. So I started that the other day and I’ll continue it even after I finish the fat drug.
I even downloaded an iPhone app to help me remember to take my medicine. Otherwise I would get so confused! It’s called RxmindMe if you ever need to take a lot of medicines. It’s been a lifesaver.
My face has been healing. This is me about 4 or 5 days ago:
I got my stitches out on Monday and my last scabs came off so I do look better now, but my lips still look like Angelina’s (but not in the sexy way!) My Hitler mustache is gone, but it’s replaced with an icky scar:
I went to the dermatologist on Tuesday and she suggested I use Mederma, so I’m giving that a try to reduce scarring. She said I probably will have a small scar because of the way the cut landed on my face. But I’ll just hope for the best. Considering how awful I looked at the beginning, I’m just grateful to be as healed as I am.
I still have my teeth to fix. They are hurting really badly, and one of them is chipped. The chipped one is really, really painful and really cold sensitive. I’m going to see my favorite dentist (my father-in-law) next week, and my awesome dad is going to drive me down to Florida to see him. Hopefully after that, this nightmare will be mostly over.
And, I couldn’t have done it without all of your support. Kevin came to stay with me at home one day while Jeff was at work. Jeff took every day off of work except for the one. He had to go out of town for work – he postponed the trip by two days but eventually did have to leave. But everyone else has stepped in.
Rebecca took me to the doctor on Tuesday. Colleen brought me medicine and a visit on Tuesday. Pippa is coming today to give me a massage. Scott is coming tonight to check in. Anil is coming tomorrow morning for the weekend. My dad is taking me to Florida early next week. Heather sent me cookies and a kick-ass Wonder Woman card. All the emails and Facebook and Twitter support, all the blog comments, everything has really lifted my spirits. Thank you so much!
And if you want to come visit me – I have cookies!