Sunday, 9 September 2012

An Underground Expose on the Nunavut Health Care System (or) How I got my first I.V.!!

Somehow, I have made it to 40 (almost 41!! 2 weeks, yo!) without having spent more than a few cursory visits to the hospital. There were multiple (and I mean MULTIPLE) stitches visits to the emergency room from childhood up (the last major visit when I was about 13), and a few when I discovered I had a heart murmur (sometimes it tells me to do bad things, but I resist it…….but for how long….how long…..), and a few when I discovered I had some pretty major anxiety. But other than brief emergency room visits, or visiting friends/family, etc., I had avoided any major health-style incidents!

Until Nunavut. (heh heh…place being rather irrelevant, but ominous sounding, non?)

**Warning, this post is sometimes a bit gross, and often quite pathetic, and I guarantee will not be my best. In some spots it’s funny, but if you don’t like gross or pathetic, give it a miss!**

Sunday, September 2, 2012

So, I took Friday off so I could have an extra-long weekend, which was apparently a good thing, since it became an extra-short weekend. After spending a lot of time pissing around on my computer, watching movies, actually walking around the pond once or twice, and just generally living in pj-pants and filth, Sunday night I got up from my laptop and had the most intense “spins” I had ever had in my life. Like, the world literally started to revolve around me, spinning like a top, and I was watching my counters and calendar and bookshelf go round and round. It was awful, and I felt sure I was passing out, having a stroke, or being abducted by aliens! I was hoping it was something nearer the first, nothing to do with the middle, and only the last if it was those sexy aliens, not those little grey buggers.

I was sure I was going to upchuck dinner, and grabbed the phone pondering ambulance time (yet, Oh North, still aware in my sickened state of the high costs of your ambulance services!), when it started to settle. I was woozy, kind of scared, but getting under control. I figured I had spent way too much time on the computer, and would just take the phone to bed, and see if I could sleep.

Monday, September 3, 2012

I did indeed sleep, and woke up a little woozy, but not really worse for wear. I still had a whole day of holiday left (being Labour Day and all), so I could just relax and take my time. My pal Lynn was home from a brief leave of absence to the south, so I knew she was a couple doors away, and I just puttered about my day. However, I had two more very brief bouts of dizziness. In my hatred of all things “hospital” I felt nothing was so out of whack that I needed anything special happening, and so just tried to be easy, kept the phone with me, and decided if it still felt blerghy the next day, I would head to help. The dizzy was NOT fun, and at one point I was brought to my knees in front of my dryer, and I’m sure anyone peering in the window would think I liked laundry a little TOO much, but I still got the clothes out and folded! Boo yeah!

 Chores trump all!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

(PS: I am picturing these dates in a rather Stanley Kubrick-esque, “The Shining” kind of way, with the sound of mashed and discordant string instruments or clash of symbols or something creepy after each subheading! Tuesday: CLANG!)

I made it into work, glad it would be a four day week, and though I was tired and a bit headachey, I was mostly thinking of all the stuff I had to do. So. Much. Stuff (said with as much self-importance as an “administrative officer” can muster). I made it all morning with only minor weirdness, but then, after lunch, things got what I can only term “interesting.” No, wait, not interesting…“fucking shitty!” Yep, that’s the term.

As I started back to work, the room suddenly started to spin so violently that I was positive I would upchuck lunch into my keyboard (you can never get vomit out of a keyboard!), or start mumbling something in some sort of demonic language that would only end up in me getting fired…or possibly promoted…on the spot!

I was whisked to the hospital, and I had kept everything pretty together (she said proudly in the face of adversity), and I got checked in with my little armband, and then I sent Renee back to work in case I had to get nekkid at some point, and waited to get to the back.

So. Many. Youth. Why are doctors so YOUNG now??? I felt ancient watching these youngun’s zooming around with their stethoscopes! Finally, I saw young intern S, who seemed miffed at everything I told her. She would ask me a series of questions, poke something, then go and consult. Ask, poke, consult. Ask, poke, consult. The vertigo had staved off again at this point, but didn’t feel far off. There seemed to be only three choices: a) a virus in my eardrums, b) the stones in my eardrums were off alignment or c) I don’t know so just go home and see what happens. No blood tests were taken, though my temperature was normal, and I didn’t seem to have specific pain, etc., so we tried option b) stones.

Benign Positional Vertigo can apparently happen when small “stones” or crystals in your ears are out of alignment, telling your brain you’re dizzy…or something or other. The way to fix this is to have you go from a seated position to a rapid laying position with your head tilted one way, whip your head the other way, roll on your side, and sit up. I am not a small gal, nor do I have a great back, and I’ll admit, when you feel the spins, thinking you’re going to whip your head around is kind of panic inducing. However, I was all for giving it the old college try. So, I flung my rather large frame into the hands of a girl the size of a small bundle of kindling twigs, and hoped for the best.

However, after flinging me around for a while, nothing shook. No dizzy spells, no “not” dizzy spells, so what the??? After a consult, I was sent home with Gravol, a prescription for some drug to settle the ears, and the hope that things would sort themselves out.

I got home around 8pm, called Lynn and then my mom to tell them what was happening, hung up the phone, and then promptly got dizzy and started vomiting everything I had ever eaten in my life out my word hole! I tried to get a Gravol down, but nope, there it was in the toilet! Since this wasn’t an Irvine Welsh novel, I left it there and tried another (hipsters and pretentious author types, note my crazy reference! Boo yeah!). I kept trying to lay down, but at one point I had to run to the bathroom, VOMITING IN MY OWN HANDS!!! At least I didn’t wreck the carpet!! And, though I swore to myself I would try to keep my dignity and not tell my own secrets so freely…since it’s so freaking funny AND pathetic in one foul swoop, I may have been vomiting hard enough to actually…well…pee a little…in my pants. HEY! Don’t judge me! I was sick and on the bathroom floor, so who the hell cares! I spent a lot of time making great friends with that toilet (oh god, porcelain is so cool on a hot, sweaty face!). I had long passed puking food, and only yellow bile was coming out (a taste I shall not soon forget), until finally I was so tired and done that I slept for a while.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

After a rough night, Lynn, who had her friendship bond sorely tested through this ordeal!!, got my prescription for me and helped me get a pill down. By the way, the pills are meant to be taken with food….HA HA H AHA HA HAAAA!!! Yeah, ok. It didn’t really matter as that didn’t stay down all that long either. I called Lynn back, told her what was up, and she said she was coming to take me to the hospital!

My growing number of hospital wristbands.

I tried to rally myself for the trip, but by the time she got to my wee bachelorette pad, I was back on the bathroom floor in slightly biled (but not peed!) pjs, and was not in any space to do much about it. Lynn, the amazing creature that she is, bustled around and got stuff I would need in a hospital, found me a baggie to barf in on the way, and then hauled me off to the Qikitani General!

She got me re-checked in and then sat with me as I barfed bile into a baggie in a room full of strangers! I tell ya, kids: That’s some crazy friendship right there! She even took the used baggie, tossed it, and got me a new one so I wouldn’t have to keep the old one under my schnozz! The spins were not quitting, and so we finally got back to triage, I got a bit of poking and prodding, and then we were back in the comfy chairs to wait it out. After quite a while we were moved to a bed, and I started to rally a bit. Lynn saw a hilarious sign for protective gear that had a small dog in a frog costume (what the ???), and took a pic, but she can’t get them off her cell phone! I may update at a later date!

I went about a half hour with no disgusting junk coming out of me, or spins, and was just talking about, “Ain’t that always the way! You get to the hospital and are miraculously cured!” Yeah…as the doctor walked in, the spins had started again and I was basically barfing stomach butter into a new garbage bag! I couldn’t even talk, and have only a vague awareness of Lynn giving some information (hopefully not about that incident in Tijuana! HA HA! Joking!) (PS: Why does Tijuana get such a bad rap…sheesh…I’m sure many lovely things, like weddings and birthdays, also happen there.) and then I heard, “Yeah, let’s get her on an I.V., get some Gravol in her, and then I’ll come back when she can talk.” Heh heh…spooked the doctor away!

By the time I was getting my first I.V., I think they could have asked to slice my head open and I would have been relieved something was happening. I hardly felt it, and was so done at that point, I didn’t really care. I’m glad, as the thought of a needle pumping crap into a vein in the tender back of my hand would normally not have gone down so well. I was still sick as a dog, but I did calm down enough to talk. The doctor again indicated that maybe they needed to flip me around until they knocked something loose in my head (a suggestion I’m sure many a friend, family member, or professor has had in the past!) but he wanted to give me some rest first. Knowing it would be several hours before anything happened, Lynn (who had stayed till 11:30 p.m., holding my hand, rubbing my back as I vomited, taking pictures of my I.V. at my request, and just generally being awesome!) went home.

Since I can't currently access the actual I.V. shot, here is the pinprick on the back of my hand. Much less thrilling, but there you go.

I spent a LONG and exhausting night in the E.R., as they closed the curtain and I attempted to sleep till morning. At around 5am, I had to shout for a nurse to help me get to the bathroom, peed (not in my pants! Huzzah!!!! And thanks to kind Nurse A., who was a doll!), and then after I got back into the bed vomited for a while, and then dozed off. And man, those beds ain’t the kind at the Ritz!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

When the doc got to me in the morning he used the ol’ tuning fork on me, but my tinitus fooled THAT plan by hearing sound LONG after it had receded! He then decided to try the flippy thing again, and I was thankful I got through it without vomiting on his pants (which he also thanked me for!), and was surprised HE didn’t vomit on his pants from my bile-breath. He said my eyes were jumping around like crazy, but he wasn’t sure what was up, and then asked if I wanted to go home to try some Gravol and see what happened. I answered by vomiting into the kidney-shaped bed pan and crying, so I got admitted. If you ever need to get admitted to a hospital, you now know what to do.

I was so grateful for the whole “We will move you and your whole bed and roll you into another bed” thing that I was profusely thanking nurses and everyone who passed! I got put onto the baby ward in the hottest room I have ever been in (like, Sauna hot!), next to a poor wee, though noisy, 5-week old baby. Wee ha! I was pumped full of saline and Gravol and slept like a monkey on saline and Gravol who had just survived a tough night in the hospital.

At some point a little man put some lunch on a table. I attempted to indicate “no lunch” by sort of waving my bed pan at him, but he left it there “just in case I got hungry later.” Thankfully when Lynn came to check on me she had it removed. I was pretty out of it still and man, I was hugging that bed pan like a beloved ragdoll! Seriously, the kidney shape makes it fit into your arms and cradle your boobs perfectly! I was supposed to see a doctor, but he never came, and nurses only came to change my bag of juice and take me to the bathroom. Finally, around supper time (which was again left on my tray and had to be removed by a nurse before I puked on her shoes) I started to rally. I was hot as dog’s balls in the desert, and thankfully Lynn had found a fan at lunch to blow on me, and I was starting to hear babies crying even when I’m sure they weren’t. I still hadn’t had my blood taken, and was sure I was going to be forgotten in this weird hot room forever.

Around dinner, I started to slowly rally again, and noticed that I could see the clock, and that I hadn’t thrown up in a while. I went pee, and then made it back to bed myself! I again had dinner removed (I have no idea what it was, but it smelled like death!) and then had a visit from my pal, co-worker and work overlord, Janelle. I was so thankful to see her, but I have never met a more “animated” person in my life! It was bloody nice to see her though, and I badgered her to catch me up on work stuff, and then off she went again.

I was starting to feel better and better, and actually was allowed some apple juice and water! Lord, that apple juice tasted SO good. Well…anything would have tasted better than what was swimming around in my mouth! By the time Lynn came back after supper, I was starting to feel less crazed in the brain, and after she helped me wash my hair and face, brush my teeth (OH GOD! SO GOOD!!) and get some clean clothes and such (like I said, friend bonding, man!) I was feeling a lot better. Then another work pal showed up, Lindsay, and brought me granola bars and fruit and books. Unfortunately at the moment I could not handle any of it, but it was so lovely to see her! One thing about Iqaluit: people come see you in the hospital! Makes you feel pretty damned special, though I’ll admit, it’s a special I could have done without as I would have rather seen them at home! *sigh*

After visiting hours were over, I was actually starting to feel kind of starved and did NOT want to be in bed, and the bed was SO uncomfortable! I asked if I could have crackers, but apparently there were none. I was sad. Sad for crackers. I heard a rumour of snack time, and some digestives, but I didn't remember to ask for any, and missed them! Needless to say, I dived into Lindsay’s bag of tricks and ate a handful of almonds and part of a nut bar like an animal. It all stayed down, and the spins were still at bay, so I suddenly felt like fleeing! However, one more night in the Qikitani for me!

Friday, September 7, 2012 FINAL DAY!

After one of the most uncomfortable nights of my life, including no sleep, lots of having to unplug my I.V. machine to take trips to the bathroom, beeping of machines, the bed being bent at ALL the wrong angles no matter how much I monkeyed with it, and my I.V. hand itching like crazy, I was pretty done. Since the doctor had not made it to me the day before, I was praying I was on the top of the list for the morning. After washing up a wee bit I made friends with the grandma of the baby next to me, and heard her life story! I spoke to some other baby mamma’s and daddy’s, and pestered the nurses till I’m sure they were ready to bitch slap me back into Vertigo City! I was ready to be sprung!

 The doctor finally came to see me, pronounced me generally healthy (at least neurologically speaking!), and I could go in a bit. Lynn came at lunch again, and like a good luck charm I was suddenly sprung, with the promise to get further check ups at a later date. Lynn did not come alone…she came bearing a big flower bouquet and …wait for it…a helium dinosaur balloon!!! All from the gals in the Policy Dept. and is it bad that I loved the dinosaur even more than I loved the flowers?? Though I loved the flowers, too. So spoiled.  

Gifts from the Policy Gals!

Made me so happy!!

I literally could not get out of there fast enough, and though I was still pretty weak and weird, I just wanted to bolt! I think my first foray into being sick enough to go to the hospital was pretty over. And I very much hope to not repeat it any time soon.

And now…

I’m feeling a lot better, though I think my fevered brain was thinking that as soon as I wasn’t dizzy anymore, I would be totally fine. I kind of forgot to factor in the not eating, violent vomiting, on fluids, etc. things. So, I’m slow, tired, and still pretty headachey. The verdict is that “we may never know what it was” which is not exactly satisfactory, but I’m wondering if it was a viral infection that needed some time and sleep to deal with.

Regardless, I’m bloody grateful the hospital was there as I would NOT have been able to deal with that state of dizziness, not keeping food down, etc. on my own. And I’m desperately thankful to Lynn for taking me in hand (once again) and keeping me going! I’m even more grateful that the curse a local witch must have actually cast on me is over, and that they have relented, as what else could it really be.

I am not grateful for bile. Though I suppose it was satisfying to throw SOMETHING up when you’re gagging. So, maybe I am slightly grateful to it. Heh heh…disgusting.

Ok, not a very exciting post, and not very fun, but ‘tis better than telling this sad story several times over. I promise you this! I will never go on a merry-go-round or any “spinning” device for the rest of my life! GAH!!!!

Peace all! And keep healthy!
PS: Lindsay: I made a "make me feel better smoothie" out of your gift fruit when I got home! Hee!

My smoothie with nectarine, kiwi, and banana from Lindsay!

Of course I'll feel better after this!