On Tuesday May 13, 2014 I ended up in the emergency room with an IV in my wrist. The doctor was concerned I was having a stroke or an aneurism.
That morning I woke up like any other day. I had been having headaches on occasions, but I thought nothing of them. I did my usual morning routine like any other day.
I arrived at work and made plans with a co-worker, as we had to make a community presentation that morning. Halfway through the community presentation, with a table of professionals I felt a headache appear instantly. I continued to do what I had to do and tried to ignore the aching pain in my head.
I sat back at the table and began to listen to another community member discuss what her job title was. The ache in my head began to get worse until after a point all I was able to focus on was how uncomfortable I was feeling. Maybe it was the coffee I had or maybe it was those flourescent light bulbs. This was not a regular headache.
I contemplated leaving the room, because the noise was getting intolerable. My coworker decided at the end of the presentation, that she wanted to continue this conversation of getting to know people. I am usually a friendly person, but in that moment with my head feeling like I was banging it against a brick wall, all I wanted to do was scream at the top of my lungs and run from the room.
I did none of those things. I stood patiently as the conversation did not seem like it was ever going to end. I was at the point of exhaustion and I could feel my body quickly going downhill. I was crashing pretty quickly and I needed fresh air as my life depended on it.
In the car ride back to work I told my co-worker that I think I needed to go home for the rest of the day. I told her that I had a bad headache and I was not prone to having an experience so painfully heart wrenching. My co-worker continued to talk, but I don’t remember the conversation.
Back at the office, I spoke with my supervisor about the situation. She became concerned and inquired if I should go to the hospital. At first, I said I just wanted to go home and rest but the longer I stayed there the worst the pain became and the more worried I got.
My supervisor called the ambulance and my co-workers mobilized around me and brought me to the sick room. I don’t recall who was there, as my eyes were shut, as I could not even open my eyes. I heard voices of concern and my close friend came into the room and began to rub my back.
I began to cry because when you are not prone to migraines, you really have no idea what s going on inside your body. I felt like in any moment my head was going to explode and I truly wanted the explosion to occur because then the pain would be gone. I was scared. After awhile, I heard two male voices enter the room and began asking me questions about my pain, my name, my age and the usual ritual of questions paramedics ask.
They took my blood pressure, hoisted my almost lifeless body onto the stretcher and took me out of the building. I think I remember whimpering as I drove to the ambulance and I said several prayers for God to take the pain away. I think I also asked him “why?’ the usual phrase I ask when my life has been turned upside down.
At the hospital, I was wheeled into the waiting area and the noise was so loud I wanted to jump off the stretcher and run. I kept my eyes closed and continued to whisper as I heard the paramedics try to find out where I was supposed to go.
Finally, one of them came up to me and told me that they had to put me in the emergency room.
I began to cry and told him, “I will be here forever, and I know how this hospital works.” He told me that I would be seen faster going through the emergency department. I continued to cry, because you usually get seen by a doctor after waiting for six hours. I was trying to imagine how I was going to survive that long. The paramedic handed me my purse, wished me well and left.
I sat in a wheelchair, with my purse under my blanket, which was covering my head for over an hour. I would cry on and off. The pain in my head was throbbing and was not letting up. The throbbing pain was right across my forehead, my neck was stiff and I could barely turn my head to either side and my back was in sheer agony. I had no idea what was going on and it scared me.
Finally, the triage nurse came and took my information. At this point I was very uncomfortable in my own skin and irritable. Apparently, this nurse needed to shine a flashlight in my eyes, which really annoyed me.
I kindly asked her, what a flashlight was going to do and maybe she should go get me some Advil and make herself useful. I know it was rude, but when you’re in such pain your usual cheerful personality takes a backseat to surviving.
The nurse then wheeled me back into the waiting room for another hour before I could be transported to the area where the doctors are. I sat there, trying to sleep but also trying to stay alert for when they called my name. Also, I did not want anyone to steal my purse from me, because I don’t think I would have had enough energy to scream, “he is robbing me!”
Finally, I heard my name and I scrambled out of the damn wheelchair because soon I would have some kick ass pain killers in my system to fight back. Things had changed at the hospital in my town. They had renovated some of the rooms to create mini waiting rooms. Apparently, there were not enough beds anymore for sick patients. I was shown a chair to sit in and wait to be seen. This was ridiculous and even in my pain; I swore I would be writing a letter to the hospital cursing the horrible new system of medical treatment.
I was able to open my eyes at this point and I was surprised to see how young these nurses and doctors were. It felt like a scene out of Doogie Howser and it scared me a little to think, that these young professionals had enough medical experience to tell me what was happening to me and to diagnose me properly. I did not want any of them to make an incorrect diagnosis and send me home, only to find out later that I had some curable illness that if found on that day would have saved my life.
I surveyed the mini waiting room and observed the other sick people around me. I think I was mostly, trying to figure out what illness I may possible leave the hospital with. There was a couple sitting across from me; the woman had her head on the man’s chest, an IV standing in front of her and a puke bucket on her lap.
Next to them sat a woman who was reading and then answered a very personal phone call about some situation with her daughter who was in counseling.
Next to her sat two other women, one who had apologized for having her friend meet her at the hospital and was scheduled for an x-ray.
To the left of me was the son of the woman who sat next to me in a wheelchair. She may have been 70 to 80 years old and she was trying to sleep. She was later wheeled away for an MRI and I think I fell asleep, because I never saw them again.
I began to think about what awful illness I was going to be diagnosed with. I began to think about my children and which one of my friends would step up and take care of them. I became tired and fell asleep and then was awoken by a nurse who said it was time to see the doctor.
I walked ever so lightly to a little room because walking intensified the pain in my head. The doctor came after another thirty minutes of me finally having a chance to lie down since being hoisted from the stretcher.
The doctor decided that he wasn’t sure if I was having an aneurism or a stroke and wanted to rule things out, so he was sending me for a CT Scan. I whimpered a little prayer to God, asking him to not give me anything I couldn’t handle. I laid all my problems on his lap and waited for the news.
The nurse came back in the room and put an IV drip with morphine in my wrist. She said this would help with the pain. I was wheeled to have my CT Scan and then wheeled back to the mini waiting room to wait for Dougie Howster to tell me the results.
I fell asleep for what seemed like hours, waking for moments when the throbbing in my head hit me like a ton of bricks. I cursed the morphine drip and asked for it to at least give me something to be happy about. I think they must be watering down morphine because I remember the last time I was given this drug I was out like a light for hours. This stuff was nothing to the stuff I had in 1998.
Finally, I was called to go back in the makeshift patient room for my results. I was fine according to the CT Scan. I had a tension headache and was told to take some Advil, rest and that I was free to go home.
The migraine lasted for another three days but by then I knew how to handle the pain. When it started, I immediately clutched my fist together, tightened my lips and went on a painful journey until it subsided. I took Advil and Robaxin and tried to stay a step of the pain.
I decided that I was going to quit smoking finally because I truly wanted to change how I lived my life. I want to worry less about my life stresses because some things I cannot change. I have blocked my (cheating ***hole) from contacting me because he compounds the stress in my life because he is pretty useless for me and my children.
I haven’t written my letter to the hospital yet to complain about the horrible system change to medical treatment in my community. I am just thankful that for today, I am not having a migraine and I am alive. I am on day four of detoxifying my body from nicotine. If it took a three-day migraine experience to scare me straight off nicotine, then at the end of the day it was probably the best thing that happened to me.