Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Details of the Recent Medical Joy

Remember that kidney stone that was so funny ha-ha back at my six-week postpartum check-up. Yeah, not so funny anymore. Apparently I passed the stone recently. I didn't feel a thing. Didn't notice anything that could be remotely odd that would have indicated the stone had left my kidney and wandered its happy route out of my body. Unfortunately, the passing of said stone made conditions perfect for a little E. coli (not the icky one you hear about people dying from due to bad food) to wander into my bladder. Again, I didn't notice anything. My body is still protesting that whole pregnancy thing and is taking its sweet time letting everything get back to normal. The bacteria had a grand ol' time in my bladder and decided things looked even sweeter in my kidneys. That's when I finally noticed something. Back pain. Unfortunately, I attributed this to severe menstrual cramps. Then I got a fever and a terrible headache and started vomiting. Finally, I called the after-hours line and they told me to get in to the ER.

The ER docs quickly diagnosed me with a kidney infection, pumped me up with some antibiotics (took them forty-five minutes and three techs to get the IV in me), and sent me home. Things only got worse the next day, so back we went to the ER. They admitted me to their observation ward (IV was amazingly a one-stick deal this time; that nurse is my hero), and the round of chills to fever to headache to backache continued while they kept up with the same antibiotic. Sometime during that stay in the observation unit, they realized that the infection had found its way into my bloodstream and there was evidence that the lovely little E. coli were already starting to chomp away at my red blood cells.

This concerned me. So much so that I don't think I shared it with anyone. The destruction of my red blood cells, that is. I mentioned I was septic to Mark and family, but I think I kept the image of munching bacteria to myself. I'm not sure what I told to whom, though. That whole fever and drugs thing.

So they transferred me out of observation and into their med/surg wing. I got a new antibiotic, and by now the docs were closely monitoring whether the antibiotic was actually doing its job because the last one hadn't been. Unfortunately, this wing was so busy, that I got very spotty treatment. It took them four hours after I vomited and started spiking a fever before they came in with anti-nausea meds and Tylenol. Therefore, I understandably got worse during my one night in med/surg, and they transferred me down to the ICU the next day.

In the ICU, they gave me another antibiotic in addition to the second one that they started in med/surg. And they put a cooling blanket underneath me to prevent more spiking temperatures. They also put these odd cuffs on my legs to massage me and prevent blood clots. They made the mistake of giving me Ambien to help me sleep one night. I've never been so out of it. If you called on Wednesday of last week, don't believe anything I said. :)

The ICU nurses were great. I particularly enjoyed my night shift nurse. She took very good care of me. She even tried really hard to keep my glasses from falling into a pool of my vomit. Wasn't quite fast enough, but she did get them all cleaned up for me afterward. She's also the one with whom I made a pact to get an IV back in me after my first one "fell" out. We made said pact after four techs had given it a go, one of them with an ultrasound machine to help her find the veins (she stuck me twice without success). We made this pact even after some idiot from the ER tried to stick me in a vein that already had seven pokes all in a nice row from the course of blood draws over several days (when he stuck me there, I came off the bed screaming and crying). And she got the IV in me in one try.

By the way, it is ever so much fun coming home from the hospital looking like a junkie. Both of my arms are black and blue.

Once it was Friday, I was pretty much out of the woods, except for the whole concept of an oral antibiotic I could take so I could go home. I mentioned that the E. coli was resistant to the first antibiotic they tried, and that it took two separate kinds to actually start making progress in my bod. The new problem was that the primary candidate for oral antibiotic was a derivative of a drug I was allergic to. So I was watched closely Friday and Saturday morning while on the pill antibiotic, with a steady saline drip through my IV to keep the vein open just in case things took a dive.

At last they discharged me, and now I'm at home, trying to get my energy and appetite back (I don't recommend this particular diet, but I did lose 10-15 lbs over the course of this illness). I'm hoping that this is the last of the crazy medical dramas in my life for a bit. I was pretty scared for a bit there last week, and I think Mark and a few others might have been biting their nails, too. I'm ready to be healthy for a while now.

No comments: