The Day My Life Changed – Part 7: Emergency Room

If you weren’t here yesterday, you find out how I got to the Emergency Room in Part 6.

The EMTs wheeled me through the ER, down the hall, past all the rooms, to a strange little room in the very back. The room had white tile on the floor, and the walls were tiled to the ceiling. There was a second door that looked like it went straight outdoors. It looked like it might have been an operating room for the ER? Yikes! Please don’t cut me open today.

They unstrapped me from the stretcher, which was faint relief, and I was instructed to strip down and put on the hospital gown. Interesting. I’ve never had to wear one of these before. As I said in the beginning, I’d never really been admitted to a hospital. Like the EMTs, the ER staff people were all awesome. The doctor was a little Filipino man. He spoke to me deliberately and slowly. There was a nurse with a Latin accent who took my vitals and info. She was really sweet. Somebody put one of those flexible plastic needles in my arm and took blood, and pumped me full of Ativan and who knows what. That’s when things got interesting.

I was needing to use the restroom already. I’d been eyeing the restroom attached to the treatment room, but I was in the bed, in nothing but my backwards cape, and I didn’t want anyone to yell at me for trying to climb out of bed with a crapton of Ativan flowing through my veins. So, when the nurse brought me a bottle and asked me to pee in it, all I could manage to say was, “thank God, yes! I need to go!” They stole some of my blood. Then, this young dude with a northern-ish midwest accent came in with an X-Ray machine. Like everyone else, this tech was very pleasant and likable. The machine looked like freaking Glados from Portal 2 on wheels. Dude introduced himself and started adjusting Glados, snapping her joints into position, each detent clicking loudly into its lock. The drugs were doing a number on my perception by this point, and the lens head on the machine looked like Oleg Volk in a fever nightmare. They had shewed Jennifer out of the room by this point. Because radiation, doncha know.

He draped a lead blanket over my hips, from navel to knees, and commented, “that’s to protect your boys from the radiation.”

“Hey, I appreciate that,” me, not knowing what else to say. But, “I appreciate that?” Really?

So, he snapped a few shots of the inside of my chest, took back his testicle blanket, collapsed Glados, and wheeled her away, just like that.

Next, they wheeled me to the CT scan. “Computed tomography,” for those of you who might not already know. I’ve been told after the fact that you’re not supposed to look into those things. They either didn’t tell me at the time or I was so high on the ER goofballs that I didn’t understand. But, I watched those red lights with fascination. That was COOL! I’ve also been told after the fact that the red lights don’t exactly move so much. But, I swear, they were spinning clear around my head. Or, that’s what I saw, anyway. They told me that they were going to give me an injection of contrast fluid for a second round with the CT scan.

“Is this the stuff that makes you feel funny?” I asked with as much vagueness as should be expected from the sedatives.

“Um, yes,” the nurse/tech said, with great patience, “some people say it feels like you need to pee.”

“Yeah, okay. I’ve heard of that,” I mumbled.

So, she took this CAULK TUBE! I swear, this tube of contrast fluid was a good inch and a half in diameter and at least six inches long! And, when she injected it through the needle that was still hanging out of my arm, it felt thick going in. If the blood in your veins has a viscosity like watch oil, this stuff was like 80-weight gear grease. It only took a second before I felt it through my body. It didn’t make me feel like I needed to pee so much, but I get why people say that. It was more like everything got warm all of a sudden; not like going into a warm room, but from the inside. Suffice it to say, it was weird. They stuck my head back in the CT scanner for yet another dose of radiation, and spinning red lights, that aren’t really spinning, that you aren’t supposed to look at anyway. For a huge chunk of this time, they’d wired me for sound and had me hooked up to the EKG. I watched that for a while and tried to consciously change my vitals to freak out some pros. I’d been able to do this before, but it wasn’t working for me that particular day, for some strange reason.

Doc told me that I couldn’t drive. Initially, I thought this was medical advice. I wasn’t about to try after all that medication. But, in Oklahoma you can’t legally drive for six months after a seizure. Without looking up the actual code, it reads something to the effect of “losing consciousness involuntarily,” which is kind of stupid. So, if Party 1 puts a sleeper hold on Party 2, then Party 2 can’t drive for six months? That just doesn’t seem right. Doc also told me that I needed to see a neurologist. The EMTs and nurses had pre-warned me about this, and also warned me that it could take up to six months to get an appointment with a neurologist, and I’d probably have a similar wait for a subsequent MRI. Doc recommended a couple of names to see for a neurologist. As it turns out, we personally know one of the neurologists he recommended! I’ll tell you more about that in a bit.

Jennifer asked Doc, “We are scheduled to work a convention at the Fairgrounds over the weekend. Is he okay to do that?”

Doc paused, “Um… Yes, as long as he feels up to that, it should be okay. But, only if he feels up to it.”

“I will…” I don’t think anyone actually heard me.

At some point in all of this, I called my parents. I vaguely remember talking to them. I was high as a kite. I told them that I’d had a major seizure, but I was okay. I’m in the ER, but I think they’re going to let me go, so they don’t need to come or anything, I just wanted to let them know what was going on. No biggie, right? They were right there before I knew it, of course. At the beginning of the year, we switched our medical insurance from a PPO (I think) to an HSA. The deductible is a lot higher on the HSA, but the hook is that it will totally pay off in the long run if you don’t need to use the major medical anytime soon. Like, yeah. It’s way worth it just as long as you don’t have to have an expensive ER visit because your stupid brain decides to reboot all of a sudden. Because when you’ve been paying into your HSA for long enough, nothing comes out of pocket anymore. The deductible, co-pays, everything comes out of your Health Savings Account, as long as you’ve paid into it. But, if you only started a few months ago, and your head freaking blue-screens on you, you’re up a creek. Fortunately, the cute little Latina nurse gave us paperwork for an application for an interest-free loan. I was in no position to sign off on it, but Jennifer’s signature was good enough, apparently. As long as we pay it off in seven years, it should be good. We weren’t on the hook for nearly as much as I was afraid, and we can pay the loan pre-tax. I can think of a whole bunch of stuff I’d rather spend that kind of money on, but it will be alright. *Humph.* So, since my parents were still at the hospital when they discharged me, and our car was still at the Fairgrounds, they gave us a ride home. I slept the sleep of the gods that night.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you how the rest of the weekend went in Part 8.

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