Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dymphna’s Excellent Medical Adventure, #463

So I was standing in the hall the other day minding my own business when all of a sudden my knee just gave out and I went hurtling to the floor. Well, okay, I more or less slumped but at the moment of impact I felt like a thrown object. As I lay there, probably in mild shock, what flashed through my mind was the Zippy cartoon strip in which he is found as a stow-away on a big ocean liner. The captain angrily has ol’ Zip tossed into a small rowboat in the middle of the ocean. His reaction, quintessential Zippy, is to look back at the ship rapidly disappearing over the horizon and declare, “first I was in a big boat, now I’m in a little boat”. So I looked at the rug, whose pattern I could now observe quite minutely and said to myself, “first I was standing up, now I’m lying down”.

I lay there for a while studying the rug and considering my options (made a mental note to clean the rug if ever I were vertical again). Obviously, the Baron was upstairs and wouldn’t hear me if I yelled; anyway, even when I’m mad I’m not a good yeller. So my choices were to either wait until he wandered by or…to attempt to get up and see if any body parts rebelled more than usual. [The last time I was in the hospital (a few years ago now), the physical therapist showed me how to sit down and the floor easily and how to rise again. Because of fibromyalgia I had to re-learn something I’d taken for granted when I was a “normie”.]

After poking about a bit and not discovering any pain I did those p.t. moves and was up on my feet, seemingly none the worse for the fall. My ‘trick’ knee, acquired a few years ago whilst caught between a ladder and a fig tree, had simply buckled without warning. Even though the shredded meniscus was promptly removed, that knee has never done anything like that before. However, as my son observed, once one gets older seems like most injuries are the result of earlier injuries. Hmmm…so the slings and arrows simply repeat themselves?

For the next several hours I was fine. Good thing, too, since it was a snowy night and the roads weren’t so great.

As time went on, my left side, up past the abdominal quadrants doctors divide your torso into and into my ribs, began to ache. The pain increased enough to warrant a discussion with whichever doctor was on call. We went over symptoms - no fever, no nausea, the pain didn’t move toward my back, etc. (in other words, no apparent injury to the spleen) - and decided it was safer to wait it out until office hours the next day rather than risk a long, dark trek to the Emergency Room during bad weather.

By the next morning the pain was a bit more intense. After the doctor’s physical examination of my rib area, it was a good deal worse indeed. So they did some lab work and everything seemed okay - e.g., white blood cell count was normal. My blood oxygen level was a tad low, which was a concern, so they took more blood for the bigger lab and said they’d get the results and call me today, even though it would be a Saturday.

Well, they didn’t like whatever it was they saw on the D-dimer blood test this morning. My doctor called, saying she’d arranged for a look-see at the hospital to rule out a pulmonary embolism.

That’s one way to bring your Saturday to an abrupt halt.

Thus we had to go into town after all, but at least it was daylight and at least we got to skip the ER terminal tedium before being sent eventually to radiology to get a CT of the chest/rib area to rule out pulmonary thrombosis. The “false positives” on this test are rather high, so I wasn’t concerned…umm, make that “I wasn’t too concerned. As we’ve learned to do over the years for all the various hospital/medical procedures, we packed up coffee, food, reading materials, and my pain medicines. I bought along Wretchard’s book to while away the time since we’d certainly have to wait for the test and then wait again for the radiologist to come down to read the test and then wait some more while he conferred with my family doctor.

But there was no waiting for this one. All testing procedures should be so smooth. The longest part was a brief spell (we spent the time in the hospital cafeteria. Both of us enjoy food we don’t have to cook ourselves so the baked chicken and salad were just fine with us. Hospital food is good. Really.). When we got back to radiology the doctor had come and gone and everything was okay. No clot lurking in my chest; we were free to go home.

Home?! Not hardly. If we have to go to the Big City where there is real latte and Lowe’s and an Indian food store, we weren’t going home without a few geegaws. Poha at the Indian store, plus paneer and coconut oil and whee! - jaggery! Lowe’s was particularly exciting: zipping around on the electric cart trying not to hit anyone as I picked out a new trash can and a lamp shade and some foaming sealant for the storm windows. Our last stop was Starbucks, amidst the Beemers and hybrid cars. Unfortunately for the Baron I didn’t realize the latte was a sharesie until it was all gone. Oops.

We resisted getting every single thing on the “Next Time We Go to Town” list. My limited energy always calls a halt to foraging expeditions anyway, but I was extra careful not to push it this time and end up with a two-day fatigue. I didn’t even go to Whole Foods for organic chicken livers (for pâté) or to wander the store looking for free cheese samples. That place is much easier to resist if you never walk through the front door in the first place.

Our family doctor had left a voice mail while we were gone. She was very relieved the pulmonary embolism was indeed ruled out. All I have is a severe contusion on that part of the chest wall. No bones were hurt in the making of this crisis, thank heavens. As the Baron remarked when we got to the front door, “all in all that was definitely a very minor blip on Dymphna’s health radar”.

Indeed it was a minor blip. A small trip amongst the many we have Taken to Town for Applied Medical Indignities. As they say in the Midwest, “it could’ve been worse, thank you”.

So it’s back to doctor’s orders: bed rest (some), pain medication (more than usual), liberal plasters of Lidoderm as often as allowed, and repeated applications of Wretchard’s book till I’m done.

Thanks, y’all for the kind notes and comments. Reading them makes me feel better! I’m so glad we’re home now and the Baron is back where he should be: sitting in front of the computer reviving his carpal tunnel syndrome.


Zilla said...

Aww, I'm sorry that you had such a scare and that you got hurt! I too love with a chronic pain condition and I have knees that sometimes buckle for no reason, so when I say "I feel your pain", I mean it. :)
You share the name of my favorite Saint. I hope that you'll be feeling better soon & that you have more good days than bad days - as a fellow chronic pain sufferer, I'm sure you know what I mean by that.
(((gentle hugs)))

Zilla said...

Oops, typo, should be LIVE with chronic pain, not love, LOL.

Unknown said...

After I have had an fall-accident in open fields with my horse, where I broke all the bones in my right side - and my heart-friend through 25 years did not get a scratch!- I have been in pain.

I got the message, from the doctor who operated me and from my own doctor too, that this pain should I learn to live with for the rest of my life.

Sh.. ! I have still not been on the back of my dear Sultan and maybe I never will.

And I have been on horseback for more than 50 years.

And on Sultans back from he was 4½ year - he is an purebread arabian and I have had him since he was 4 months old!

Love from Vivi in Denmark

Freyja's cats said...

@ Dymphna,

Hey, you like those free cheese samples at Whole Foods, too?


I'm very glad you're relatively okay and on the mend. I was worried about you. My own bum knee commiserates with yours. Be better soon.

@ Vivi,

I have a similar horse story. I mounted a wild one when I was about 10, bareback, as I often did. Took off like a rocket through a savannah, but suddenly he hit deep rut with one hoof. All of him came down on top of all of me. I was a pancake. Sure was one helluva ride, though! :)

no2liberals said...

Sure sorry to hear of your medical adventure, but very pleased to learn the feared malady was mendacious.

I've often been told that many of our ailments are a result of our youthful activities, as well.
However, I must admit that, other than a much larger waist line than I've ever had and a lot less hair, I have no other health issues.
I played all sorts of sports, went to war, served in law enforcement, rode motorcycles since I was 10 and many other activities considered dangerous or risky, yet to this day I have full use of all digits, joints and limbs, I don't require corrective lenses and have hypersensitive hearing. The last one is truly remarkable, having fired well over a million rounds of ammunition and attended dozens of rock concerts.

I just reached 60 last month. My two older brothers also reached that mark a few years ago, which on my father's side of the family is remarkable, we are the first generation of men to attain that age in 3 generations.

So, I have resigned myself to the fate that my demise will come suddenly, and with my history, probably accompanied with fire and a loud explosion.

All that said, Dymphna, I wish you good health and happiness. May all of your health concerns be followed with good news, a pleasant post and a good attitude. I consider you one of my favorite all-time blog buddies and hope we can maintain that relationship for many more years.

Jewish Odysseus said...

Hope you feel better, Dymphna--hang in there!

Green Infidel said...

& here in Europe we were led to believe that America was lacking in healthcare...

Glad that you are OK, and that nothing more serious has happened... Keep on blogging. the Counterjihad needs you!

Ex-Dissident said...

I understand the thought process that this doctor went through very well. He was surprised by the low oxygen saturation and started thinking about what could be causing it. Your symptoms of flank pain didn't fit the pattern of a pulmonary embolism but the fact that you were lying on the ground and unable to move for, at least in the doctor's mind, "unknown" amount of time was concerning. If this period was longer than you described that could be a predisposing factor for a pulmonary embolism. He probably still thought it was unlikely but just to reassure himself decided to get a d-dimer blood test. Unfortunately the results of that test were not reassuring, and hence you needed to go to the hospital to undergo a CT scan with IV contrast. In retrospect, your low oxygen saturation was likely the result of lung atelectasis. This can happen when you're resting and don't take good deep breaths. Being in pain, especially around your rib area, will also lead you to use shallow breathing. One mechanism our body has to prevent atelectasis is yawning and if you're ever in this situation again when there is an unexplained low oxygen saturation try it. Force yourself to yawn often or ask you can use a device called insentive spirometer. Anyway, it's great to have both you and Baron back to full operating capacity.

In Hoc Signo Vinces† said...

In hoc signo vinces

Dymphna, :-)

Contemplationist said...

Ditching grains, legumes and sugar can really help with any metabolic syndrome + auto immune conditions.

Eating lots of meat,seafood, eggs, vegetables is the way to reverse diabetes, avoid cancer, rheumatoid arthritis.

Baron Bodissey said...

Contemplationist --

I hate to tell you this, but Dymphna is already on a very low-carb high-meat diet. No sugar, wheat, rye, potatoes, or other starchy vegetables. Lots of meat, cheese, cream, eggs, greens, and other non-starchy vegetables.

Zenster said...

It's good to know that things turned out as well as they could. May things only get better in this New Year.


Luddite said...

Hope you're feeling better soon, Dymphna. As a fellow fibromyalgia sufferer, I know exactly what you're going through. My last fall was in the bath, and got me two broken ribs. I'll say a prayer for you.

Dymphna said...

Thanks to everyone!


no2liberals, you are one lucky fellow! The Baron is extremely healthy but having been far-sighted in his youth, he finds the computer screen harder to deal with was funny to see him in glasses at first since he'd never needed them. Now he can never find the 'right' focus.


Luddite-- stay outta the tub! I go there as seldom as possible. With fibromyalgia, our proprioception is all messed up; having water falling on your head is just going to take away what little depth perception you have.


You described it quite well. In fact, because of the tendency to shallow breathing I bought one of those little devices that you blow thru to increase lung capacity. Swimmers and runners use do people with asthma. I have an oxymeter too, so I know what the level of the 02 in my blood is, plus my pulse rate. If I know my oxygen level, I don't over-use asthma meds. The base pulse rate for people with PTSD is always higher than normal but I like to practice bringing it down and focusing on the # helps.

Anyhow, it was the fibrin count that worried my doctor. That's why she sent me in...

And medical care here, even for us po' folk, is very good. I was in and out of radiology with a clean bill of health in less than an hour. My family doc had the news before we left town, judging by the time of her voice mail.
Contemplationist --

The only grain we eat is rice on occasion. No starches, sugars, etc. Lots of greens, meat, eggs and such. It really does lower the pain level. The Baron is such a jewel: he went on this regimen with me so it would be easier for me to remain compliant. He was pleasantly surprised to find that he lost weight and has more stamina...says he wouldn't go back to the old way of eating anymore.

rickl said...

I'm glad to hear you're doing OK, Dymphna.

no2liberals said...

Dymphna, yep I'm lucky.
Not really looking forward to the crash and burn, though. :)

Contemplationist said...

Oh cool. You guys already have the paleo decoder rings :)

Professor L said...

I'd have posted earlier on your little adventure had my internet not so rudely cut out. But better late than never.

I was just thinking as I read this that I'm lucky as a fairly young man to have not actually broken any bones (my most recent injury involved falling off a golf cart. An amusing story, but one that left me limping for my brother's wedding and bruised on my knee for a few days).

So I was thinking that, as I am presently not getting much work and am trying to save, that in lieu of cash you might accept a few good years of my youth, plus several weeks more for your trouble. Believe me, if my Nan is anything to go by, I'll have plenty to share!