Monday, July 02, 2007

The TC as patient

I went to the ER last night. As a patient, not a worker. Three weeks ago, in an episode that had NOTHING to do with a drunken limbo contest, (seriously) I hurt my back. Huge knots under my left scapula. Over a few days, it improved. Then Friday, I must have slept the wrong way, because it came back. Back rubs, hot showers and ibuprofen didn't really touch it, but it was bearable. Then, last night, I was nursing the baby, I rolled a little one way and AAAHHRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!

Now, please believe me when I tell you that I try not to go to the ER unless my eyeballs are on fire. Especially the one up the road, where I used to work. It's a great ER but also a level I trauma center and if they get a trauma, me and my little back problem will be laying on that stretcher for a loooong time.

Anyway, I get there, still in spasm and am greeted by my long time buddy Aldair, a CCT from Haiti. "Cherie! Ca Va? Q'est ca fait-tu ici?" From there I was greeted by a succession of old co-workers as Aldair wheelchaired me back. "No, I can walk." "Non, non. Ah push you."

Which brings me to my second reason for the avoiding the ER. I do not want to look like a wimp in front of my friends. "You came here for back pain! At 2 in the morning?" I repeat my tale of woe to the triage nurse, the doctor, the PA and the RN who gives me my flexoril. "But it hurt, really bad. Spasming and pain!" Yeah, total wimp.

I climb onto the stretcher, broken, of course(the stretcher, not me-I'm only slightly bent). Aldair brings me TWO pillows and TWO blankets. Now, if you've ever spent a night in the ER, you know this is the equivalent of a gracious host saying, "Please, pick one of daughters to sleep with." I mean, it's unheard of. I tell my husband this later and, with eyebrows raised, he says, "Whoa. You rate."

So when the doc, who I do not know, comes in, he asks me what I want for pain. Oh, God. What to say? I know, from past experience what works and what doesn't. Flexoril, not so much, but I know the ER doesn't stock Soma, so I ask for and receive a flexoril. He asks if I want a valium. Do I? Is this a test? I don't think I've ever had a valium. So I decline, because I don't want him to think a. I'm pushy and b. I'm looking for drugs.

As predicted, the flexoril doesn't do much and I can't even sleep because my back still hurts. He checks on me in a little while and asks me if I want something else. I do, but again I don't know what to ask for. When I had my wisdom teeth pulled, they gave me Tylenol #3. It was 4 hours of waking nightmares that I'd rather not repeat. I've had darvocet in the past and it didn't really do anything. Do I run down the list of narcs I don't like and sound like a drug seeker? Do I say, have you got anything that'll take the pain away without making me see the walls breathe? He suggests percocet and I take it.

Quickly I'm fast asleep, still in pain but too high to care. I've been awake since 7am the previous day and it's now about 4am. I guess I doze for about an hour when the wake me to see if I'm better. Some things never change. "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here." I take my prescriptions, get a cab home and sleep for a few more lovely hours.

Next time, I'm passing on the limbo.


PJ Geraghty said...

Lordy. Between you and me, the live-patient-caretakers still have considerable business.

It is embarrassing to go the the ED among friends, but I think it's still better than where no one knows you. At least where you went, there were a few folks who cared about you enough to go the extra mile.

Don't take two percocets at once unless you are around competent adult supervision. And we'll work on the "how this happened" can do better.

mo said...

Wow are you me?
I had blown two discs and was having 10 out of 10 charlie horse leg cramps. The pain that comes with vomiting and some screaming. I cannot tell you how wonderful everyone was. I know I got extras because I work there but they treated me with such incredible kindness and an IV with lots of morphine and a neurosurgeon who operated soon after with wonderful results.

What is weird is once you have a pain that rates a 10? No other pain will ever come close.
I think you could pull out an eyeball and I would rate it a 5.
Another reason why I hate that stupid pain scale.