I’d thought I’d been pretty sick before but I’d really had no clue. The nausea that overwhelmed me was horrible, deep and lasting. It didn’t matter how much I had evacuated, it was still there. I still hadn’t thrown up. After I’d made my way to the car and was lying in the seat, I wondered what would happen if I died. It was something I couldn’t even consider so I tried to snap out of it. I closed my eyes and tried to think of other things. It seemed as if eons had passed but it wasn’t more than half an hour before the cavalry rode in.
The person who answered the phone was there with backup. One of the biller/collectors had come with her. She had some knowledge of medical things and they not only brought towels, they had moisture-proof bed pads spread out on the back seat. For a wonder, I hadn’t had to go to the bathroom since I’d been in the car though the nausea and weakness was still with me.
They helped me to the car and I collapsed on the seat. They told me they thought I was dead when they saw me in my car, reclined with my eyes closed. The fact was, I couldn’t sit up and it took too much effort to keep my eyes open.
I’d quit having diarrhea but now the vomiting took over. I gasped out that I was going to throw up. The girl riding shotgun was leaned over the back seat making sure I didn’t fall into the floor and she managed to hold me with one hand and a towel with the other. Here it came! She expertly kept it from anointing the car. I had hoped the very act of upchucking would make me feel better but it didn’t.
With all the excitement and distraction, it was a wonder that the driver was able to maintain but she did and admirably. She pulled up to the ambulance entrance and I can’t for the life of me remember how I got into the emergency room. The important thing was, I did.
Our local doctors covered the ER then so I was well acquainted with the one on call that day. The nurse did her thing and here he came. He checked me over and made some comments that made it sound as though he was going to discharge me. I couldn’t go home! I pleaded with him to at least put me in an observation bed. It wasn’t hard to sway him so he wrote the order and put the name of his partner as the attending.
The nurse called for help and I was loaded onto a gurney and put into a room. It was a private room, thank goodness. I couldn’t have coped with a roommate at that point. Then everything started up again. I would soil myself and when that was cleaned up, I’d throw up. Here the longsuffering aide and housekeeping crew would come. I got so, when I felt the salivation preceding the coming up of the stomach contents, I would pull myself over to the edge of the bed by hanging onto the side rails and only mess up the floor rather than the floor and the bed, too. The aide would climb up on the bed with me and clean me up when it was the other end involved.
I was getting dehydrated and there was no way I was going to keep even water down. An IV was essential to get the much-needed fluids into me. Several of the nursing staff gathered around. They took turns trying to start the IV. I counted six times I was stuck with no success. A veteran nurse was called upon to try it the 7th. She came in and announced it had been years since she’d started one. I could only hope she was joking. She expertly palpated my hand and slipped the needle in. It held! If I’d had the energy, I would have hugged her.
The IV fluids were rehydrating me but they weren’t stopping the nausea and resulting vomiting and diarrhea. One of the staff came in with a contraption I’d seen but I didn’t know what it was. I was soon to find out. It was an NG tube connected to a suction device. The tube was stuck up my nose and I was instructed to drink water. Oh! I didn’t want that water but I was willing to do just about anything then to get relief. The tube went down to my stomach with the water and the suction was turned on.
As the contents of my stomach were vacuumed out, the nausea lessened somewhat. Then an anti-nausea drug was injected into the IV and I was just about out.
Then the chills hit. I couldn’t get warm. I asked for more blankets and for the heat to be turned up. Anyone coming into the room was shocked by how hot it was in there but I was still shivering uncontrollably from the cold. Someone thought of the Bair Hugger in the operating room and brought it in to warm me up. Oh! it felt good!
Between the Bair Hugger and the anti-nausea drug, I was out. Not the least was having my stomach pumped of the offending contents. All I wanted to do was lie in bed and vegetate. But it wasn’t to be. The doctor had ordered an abdominal x-ray. The tech brought in a wheelchair and cheerfully announced she was there to take me back to the department to carry out the order. She said for me to get up and get in the wheelchair. She had to be kidding! But she wasn’t. I told her I couldn’t sit up. Then she thought I was joking. Making light of anything was the farthest thing from my mind at the moment. She finally believed me and went for a gurney. Then she wanted me to move from the bed onto it. It took more convincing for her to ask for help to move me. Then again from the gurney to the x-ray table.
Once back into bed, I was allowed to rest for a few minutes. Then here came a nurse to quiz me about my medical history. She gave up after several tries and left me to sleep. I was exhausted.
“Tommie” “Tommie!” The voice sounded familiar but far away. A hand was shaking my shoulder. When I was able to pry my eyelids open, there stood DH’s brother and his wife holding a basket of muffins. They’d had no idea I was a patient instead of part of the workforce and they had come to bring me a treat. If there was anything I didn’t want, it was food. I kept drifting off, back to sleep so they didn’t stay long. If I’d had the energy, I would have felt bad about it.
When I was able to communicate, I asked someone to call DD and let her know what was going on and to email my sister in the Great Northwest. She tended to worry if she didn’t hear from me.
After my doctor came in to see me again, he wrote an order for me to be admitted as an inpatient. According to the x-ray, I had a paralytic ileus and I was beginning to have a fever. He wanted to keep an eye on me until I recovered. No going home that day.
Or the next. But there were some things that had to be done even if I felt like I was knocking at Death’s Door. Every month, I had to do a collections projection. The formula was something like, go back 90 days and calculate a percentage of the revenue to come up with a number. I felt like I was looking into a crystal ball but it was a required exercise. One of the girls from the office brought in the figures but she’d come no farther than the doorway. I don’t know if she thought what I had was contagious or if she was just put off by my being sick. We came up with a number and she agreed to fax it.
I woke up enough that afternoon to notice that my hands were uncharacteristically plump. That night, I needed to go to the bathroom to pee but there was no way I could navigate by myself. What was I to do?