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****Warning**** This post will contain images that someone might find disturbing or troubling. And, I am being brutally honest in my description of personal health issues in the hopes that someone else might avoid the ‘fun’ I had to experience.
If you missed reading Part 1 of my cautionary tale, take a few minutes to do so now.
Visiting the Doctor’s Office ~
Going back through the first post about this ordeal, I realized that I neglected to mention I had found a healthcare provider. And, I had just been in their office less than 2 weeks prior to passing out. It was a long overdue appointment for a general physical and getting blood drawn to test for thyroid problems given a family history. That test came back in the normal range, but on the low end of normal function for T3 & T4. So, I had somewhere to go that morning when Mr. O got home.
I think the boys were a bit nervous about me when we left for the doctor’s office. Hubby had called them upon his return to the house and my insistence that I didn’t need an ambulance for a trip to the ER. This particular physician’s office has urgent care slots and are open 7 days a week for them. They had not started to see regular patients yet and had space for me to be seen, so off we went.
I felt rather self-conscious about going to the doctor’s office in my pj’s. But, I didn’t feel like changing right then and just wanted to be checked out and cleared to come home. There was only one other person in the waiting room and I quickly took a seat to let hubby take care of the paperwork. I didn’t want to end up fainting and felt safer sitting.
After what seemed like forever, they had us go back into an exam room. This particular practice has a husband and wife team. I got to meet my doctor’s husband as he was the doc on deck for urgent care that day. He patiently listened to me describe what had happened and examined me, commenting that the goose egg on my head indicated a pretty decent whack to the head. I still wasn’t feeling 100% normal and really took my time moving between a chair and the table.
While talking about what I had been doing before passing out, he picked up on the fact I’d urinated about a minute before taking ill. He then went into a decent description of how some people can have an extreme vasovagal response after urination and that it could be a possible explanation for what happened. Even though it sounded like a reasonable possibility, I wasn’t exactly thrilled hearing I might have a condition that could lead to future episodes just from getting up and going to the bathroom.
He then had me go pee in a cup while he made a call to get a scan set up to assess if there was any significant damage from the fall. I wasn’t sure WHY I was giving him a urine sample after that whole discussion about reflexes. But, I did as requested and unfortunately came face to face with a full wall mirror in that bathroom to see the magnitude of the swelling around my eye. Not that I needed a mirror to tell me it was growing as I could see the brow area protruding out just by glancing slightly up with my eye.
The Initial Diagnosis ~
After depositing that sample, I returned to the little exam room and waited with hubby. Since I was experiencing a stiff neck post fall, he had a soft collar placed on me until x-rays could clear that area as being uninjured. A nurse came in to put that on as well as administer an EKG test.
It took a few minutes before the doctor reappeared to say we were set for a scan at the local branch of Providence Hospital’s lab and had about 15 minutes until the appointment. I was relieved we didn’t have to drive into Anchorage proper as the roads were quite slippery from a freezing rain the night before.
Then, he proceeded to tell me about my urine sample. He started asking me questions about how I’d been feeling and if I’d had symptoms of a urinary tract infection. I hadn’t had any that I had noticed for quite some time and answered no. Well, that little sample showed blood and cell counts high enough that he was worried I was on the verge of going septic! Hello?!? I would of expected to feel not only miserable, but to have been in serious discomfort and pain.
Before we checked out to head to the lab for my scan, he told me he was calling in a script for a broad spectrum antibiotic to hopefully knock it out rather than waiting for a culture to come back for a more targeted approach.
Then, while hubby did the actual ‘checking out’ (aka paying what they estimated we owed), I took a seat in the now rather full waiting room. There were some interesting looks and one little girl was really bothered by my appearance. Having seen the grown protuberance on my head, I can’t say that I blamed her. I definitely had that ‘monster’ look going. What I didn’t catch either when we signed in or when we were leaving were the off hand comments indicating that it might have been an injury sustained from abuse.
Checking Out My Head~
For those that have known us for several years, we’ve already experienced the thrill of minor brain injury in our family. Hubby made a not so wise decision when we were moving from Ohio to Maryland that landed him in the hospital for a few days after a CAT scan showed bleeding on the brain. So, I was definitely concerned about having a similar issue or finding that there were fractures of bone due to the fall.
Unlike the doctor’s office, the lab was quiet with just the tech and us. I started getting nauseous again when trying to stand at the counter and sign some paperwork. Not a good sign…
Both there and as we walked back to get x-rays of my neck, the tech kept asking me if I was pregnant. I’d gotten that question a few times back at the doctor’s office, too. And, looking back I think that’s part of the reason for that urine sample they wanted. After insisting numerous times that I wasn’t, she proceeded to take the x-rays.
The preferred method for it was to have me standing facing different directions. I thought I could handle doing that. And, I was fine for the first 2 poses. Then the nausea started to hit hard like it had back home. Thankfully, there was a chair close by that I could sit on. For a few seconds, I thought that was enough. Yet, it persisted and all I desired was to lay across the tile floor. I didn’t get that wish, but did get to lay on a table and have cold compresses brought to me. When the wave of nausea started to subside, she continued with the x-rays with me laying down for them.
Can I just say that I HATE being anywhere in public (or in this case somewhere with an unfamiliar individual) and feeling like that? The one upside for that bout was that I knew what had happened that morning wasn’t a complete fluke experience and something was definitely wrong inside.
Now, the neck x-rays were just the first part. We then had to walk across a hall to the open CAT scan. Feeling yucky and then being told I needed to stay completely still actually combined to make me feel a bit anxious over the process. In retrospect, it’s a lot like getting an epidural during a painful labor and being told to not move a bit during that long, painful contraction or you could end up causing permanent damage. Both during administration of an epidural during labor AND during the CAT scan, I did what was the sole source of strength…prayer! In times like that, I really love having prayers like the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be to gravitate towards. There is comfort in ritual and rote prayer and that’s what I needed.
Unlike the doctor’s office, there was no immediate answer in the lab. Instead, we were told we could head home and someone in Anchorage would read the scan and x-rays within a few hours and get back to us. So, we headed home with a pit stop at the pharmacy to pick up my prescription. The pharmacist cautioned that I needed to look out for back pain and call the doctor if it developed. It was only later that I connected in my mind how I’d felt under the weather for a few weeks and then experienced lower back pain the prior week as possibly being signs of an infection.
True to the lab tech’s word, we were called a few hours later and told the scans came back fine in regard to injury. I could take the soft brace off and not worry that there were fractures or bleed spots. However, they found something else during the scan… my sinus were impacted indicating a nasty sinus infection left unchecked! Thankfully, the antibiotic already prescribed was expected to help clear that out as well.
The Healing ~
Hubby stayed home the rest of that day and the next. He pushed fluids into me, even when I didn’t feel like drinking a drop. He also kept encouraging me to eat a bit, even though I had little appetite. And, he helped to keep a certain toddler from climbing all over me when I needed to get some rest. I was so wiped out after we’d gotten home mid-morning that I could barely keep my eyes open while laying on the couch. Eventually, I gave up on trying to stay in the living room and just headed back to bed.
As expected, I started to feel better physically within a few days as the antibiotic began to work its magic. I wish there was a pill to have healed the outside, though.
The next morning, I woke up to discover the swelling had spread and I could not even open my left eye a crack. It was also a lovely blend of purple, black and red with a hint of green. By that evening, I was finally able to open the eye a little. Otherwise, I was starting to wonder if another doctor’s visit was going to be in order.
Then there was the migrating bruising. I had no idea that an injury in one part of your face could lead to bruising covering a majority of your face. Hubby actually was more worried about this spread than the extreme swelling on that second day. No amount of make up would cover this stuff up, either.
Going out in public was interesting for a while. The first time I went to the store with hubby and one son, my husband stayed several feet behind me. Just like at the doctor’s office, you could almost hear people murmuring their thoughts of how I got my lovely bruising.
Just 2 days after the initial excitement, we made the conscious choice to attend a potluck dinner for couples at our church. I had been looking forward to this Valentine’s Day themed gathering and insisted on going. I figured it gave me a test run on stares and questions before going to Mass the next day. Thankfully, I knew most of the people at the event and no one was passing judgment or hinting that I might be making up what happened. Father had the couples renew vows and gave a blessing upon our marriages before we ate dinner. I really needed that night out, although there were times I was not sure I could get through the night. My body was still trying to battle off those infections and probably would have been happier if I’d just stayed home for the night. (So much for truly listening to my body as I basically willed myself through the party for a few hours while fighting off a bit of light headedness and nausea. And, I felt like that during Mass the next day as well.)
Beyond the forced rest to give my body time to heal, there was opportunity to face some other personal issues that had been nagging me for months. See, there’s this little thing called a relationship that can go awry as well and have an impact on your health. But, that’s a whole different post and one area I am still actively working on in my life…so no great revelations at the moment. I’ll just say that having the physical illness helped me to face emotional turmoil as well and begin to heal and grow in that area. But, like all things, it’s a work in progress.
My Quest for Health has begun in earnest. I do NOT want to have another surprise like that one. Neither infection was something major, yet could have developed into a more severe infection had it remained unchecked. I want to be healthy and able to enjoy life with my family up here in the wonderful creation God has given us for a backyard. And, I want to be able to truly listen to my body and catch problems before they mushroom.
Coming soon…. an update on my quest for health!