24 August 2011

I've got you under my skin (Right lung, to be exact).

Pulmonary Embolism - "A blockage of the main artery of the lung or one of its branches by a substance that has travelled from elsewhere in the body through the bloodstream (embolism)."

Last Friday, very early in the AM, one of those low single digit hours you didn't realize your clock had two of, I woke up a little chilly.  That by itself is unusual, my thermostat usually runs hot, but this one became more unusual as I started shivering.  Catching the chills is bad enough, but mine was made worse by a back spasm.  Ever had both?  At the same time?  It's a fun ride, let me tell you.  After what seemed like an hour but was probably only a minute or two, I was finally able to relax enough to stop the spasm and chase away the chill.

Woke up as normal about 7, some pain the the right ribs, and behind my right pec (such that it is).  Called in to work and laid back down.  A little over an hour later, I get a call from work. "Where are you?"  "Didn't So-n-so get my voicemail?" "Oh, she's not in today!  We knew you wouldn't just 'not show up,' so we were worried"  Well, that explains that, so I went back to bed.  

About 11:45, I noticed a wheezy crackling noise in my right lung.  "Great.  Upper resp infection, maybe, MAYBE, a touch of pneumonia.  Need antibiotics."  Thought I still had some old Amoxicillin, so I VERY nearly blew this off.  Good thing I didn't.

Well, the Amox was expired, and hunting online revealed that it's probably too far gone to be effective, So I start getting ready to go to South Salem Urgent Care, I've been there a few times and have never had to wait more than 15 minutes.  As I'm gettin dressed, I cough up a nice wad of gunk into the bathroom sink: bright red.  Okay, even I'm smart enough to know that ain't right!  "Houston, we have a problem."  

I hurry on in to SSUC, and the doctor comes in.  I describe my symptoms for about 10 seconds, and she writes "ER" on my chart.  No, no, I came down here because I DON'T want to go to the ER!  She's the first one that says "pulmonary embolism."  I wasn't positive what that meant (though my guess was correct), but I knew it wasn't good.  So I pile back into my truck and head to the hospital.  On the way, some responses come in from my Facebook crew that my suspicions were confirmed and that if they didn't call an ambulance, it must not be immediately life-threatening. 

I get to the ER and there's one guy ahead of me: a prison guard who'd been conked on the head.  He lifted the gauze pad once, and I could see just a little blood, so he was probably okay, though I never saw him again.  They get me into a room, hook all kinds of stuff up and start the Waiting Game for a chest xray and CAT scan.  I'm already seein dollar signs rackin up likie the National Debt.  But what can you do, right?  Coughin up blood isn't a "walk it off, rub some dirt on it" kinda thing.  So I get the xray, and Doc says it looks good.  That's ONE good thing, at least.  And hour or so later, they do my CAT Scan (an american shorthaired named "Bella" if I remember correctly).  Now all this time, I have my resident nursing experts, Michael and Deborah Eastes explaining what's going on and what all the big words mean.  Then Cindy Culpovich arrives for more moral support, plus a visit from Michael & Deb's daughter-in-law, Carla.

This is a good spot to take a sidebar.  I have the absolute BEST Community Group at Morning Star.  I know, some of you think YOU have the best, but my folks are leavin ya in the dust, and I told Pastor Wayne that when he dropped by.  Michael and Sam are as close to me as brothers; closer, really, since I've never had any contact with my natural, pre-adoption brother.  These are men that add a richness to my life that cannot be over-estimated.  Half the group ended up visiting me before my stay was over, and the whole group was praying for me.  I've led groups like this before, sometimes singles, sometimes couples, sometimes just guys, and I don't in any way mean to denigrate any of the wonderful people who have passed through my life at one time or another.  But this group has something really special going on, and it ain't me!

Back to the ER: Doc comes in and says, "Yep, that's a pulmonary embolism, all right." "No, that's the wrong answer!  You're supposed to send me home with some pills!"  Not this time.  Well, crap, I didn't prepare Rascal and Smokey for Dad to be away overnight!  Again, the group jumps in, Michael and Deb doing yeoman's work to get Rascal set up.  Unfortunately, he was not so keen on the idea.  Well, some of it might have had to do with Michael's cane falling next to him, causing him to jump 3 feet in the air and retreat to the corner under the bed.  Have I mentioned what a brave little dog I have?  He's only 8 pounds, but he's attacked a kid before, thinking the idiot was trying to hurt Elizabeth.  He was going down swinging!  Fortunately, another CGroup member, Carla (not that same Carla from above), drove down from Portland to take him.  He stayed with her for a couple of months back in the winter while I was moving into this new place that allows dogs.  He couldn't possibly be in better hands!  He loves her and she loves him!    

So anyway, I end up spending the weekend in the hospital, the first 2 days in step-down ICU.  I dread seeing this bill.  I'm guessing $25,000, probably more.  But they sprung my on Monday, and although I have to take Coumadin for six months or so, and in the short term, I have to give myself shots of Lovenox in the stomach for a week or so until we get the Coumadin dose regulated.  I'll try to post updates every so often, but as of now, it looks like God will put up with me a little longer.  Thanks to my family and friends everywhere for your love, support, and prayers!

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