Thursday, June 30, 2005

Vote for your favorite title...

Wow... it's been a while. I have a good excuse, though...

After summer school on June 22nd, I wheeled (I used a wheelchair while at summer school this year, because I can move much faster in a wheelchair) to the restroom. I can tell you I was in a stall without letting you know in too much detail "which I had to do", because when you can't put weight on on leg, it's best to sit down for both numbers.

As I hopped twice and sat back in my wheelchair, I felt very winded. This had been going on for about 14 hours or so, and I was thinking it was because I was getting a chest cold (I'd had that feeling in my chest since about Monday...). I turned to open the stall and wheeled backwards out of it, and then it happened...

The entire world started going away. I was short of breath and I'm not in the best of health anyway, so my first thought was, "I'm going to die right here in the bathroom at school."

The next thought was that scene in the movie "9 to 5" where the custodian finds the dead body in the wheelchair in the bathroom and says "We've got another stiff in the john." I'm thinking I might change this title to that exact quote, once I get it off the DVD.

Job one for me was to stop myself from passing out. I just told myself it wasn't allowed and started wheeling my way out. As I went out the door, I thought, "This is going to end in the hospital."

I saw Adam, the Social Studies teacher on our team, walking down the hall away from me. I called out "Anderson", in what I thought was a loud and clear voice. He told me it wasn't, and what I heard sounded like I was far away when I said it.

I called out a second time and he heard me. He asked what was wrong, and by this time I was feeling a touch better, so I said I wasn't feeling well, and that I almost passed out.

We discussed, and another teacher showed up. Since I hadn't eaten since about 6:30 or so the night before, they opted to get me some food and drink. The other teacher, John, brought me a drink and started mentioning the emergency room. Adam had to run help someone who needed something from the gym, and I only vaguely remember telling him, "I'm fine now, thanks."

I called my doctor, but his office was closed for lunch. When I told John I had to call back in 10 minutes, he got a little more adamant about the emergency room. I figured he could see what I looked like better than I could, so I agreed.

Once we were outside in natural lighting, he asked, "Do you think we should call 911?" I asked him what he thought, since I wasn't very objective at that point (part of me didn't want to cause such a big to-do).

So, 911 was called and I got to spend time in the ambulance as they got all my vitals. At this point I started figuring whatever it was (I was somewhat convinced it wasn't a heart attack, because it didn't FEEL like one), for some reason it was important to me that I keep making dumb jokes. I thought if I was going to die, I wanted the last people to see me to think I was funny.

Backtrack: Before the ambulance arrived, John loaned me his phone and I called my sister. I told her I was short of breath and light-headed, and was heading for the emergency room. She asked if she should head that way, and I told her not to worry about it. Apparently, when I got in the ambulance John hit redial and said I was making it sound less serious than it was and asked if she was going to the emergency room (if she wasn't going, he was).

They checked some stuff in the ambulance, and then took me to North Kansas City Hospital. It was after all the flurry of doctors and nurses around me, when I was alone there in room number 5, that I realized why I should have asked my sister to come: When you're in the emergency room, thinking you may die at any minute, you don't really want to be alone.

Ruth showed up about the same time the x-ray folks showed up, and I nearly bawled my eyes out. Fortunately we don't share emotions a lot in my family, so I kept it somewhat under control.

The next bawl-fest was when the doctor said, "We've ruled out all the big stuff." Again, a short-lived one.

Lyndsey showed up sometime in there (John called her), and Tricia showed up some time after that (Lyndsey called her). Due to how both of their fathers left this world, they weren't in the best shape when they arrived.

Tim the principal showed up. He'd arrived at the school and heard all the news and came to see me. Alice and Patrick showed up (Tim, the principal, called her).

Leigh showed up some time after that.

For the purposes of my internal clock, by the way, everthing at the hospital happened at 1:30 in the afternoon. I was shocked to learn it was evening when they wheeled me to ICU. But I get ahead of myself.

A gaggle of doctors came through. Dr. Ryan (the emergency room doctor) told me I had a blood clot in each lung. They figured it came from my surgery on my leg. Apparently this sort of thing happens 20% of the time. He went on to tell me about treatments and how they didn't want to use TPA because bad things could happen (internal bleeding, blood on the brain...). I agreed those were bad things.

Dr. Bowlin arrived. He was taking over for Dr. Ryan. He told me the same things, especially the part about why we wanted to avoid using TPA. Okay, I'm officially sufficiently frightened of TPA at this point.

Dr. Hawa (I might be making up that spelling) arrived and said the same thing, making sure that I associated TPA with a bloody, brain-damaged death.

Then they checked out my chest with the EKG/Sonogram thingy. Well, apparently the right side of my heart was trying so hard to push blood past the clots in my lungs that it was almost twice the size it should be. Normally there are 25 thingies of pressure on it, but I was at 70 thingies. "Use of TPA is indicated," Dr. Hawa says after he explains this to me.

"So you're gonna use the scary drug?"

Welcome to bawl-fest number three. (I have to clarify, these weren't actually bawling fits, but tears appeared in my eyes in front of other people, which never happens).

To wrap this up and save more for a later post:

They put me on TPA in addition to the Heparin they already had me on, and I was afraid to go to sleep that night because I didn't want that to be the last thing I ever did.

I just got out today, and I'm happy to say I feel pretty good (other than being tired, because a hospital is THE WORST PLACE to sleep... especially when they keep coming in to take your vitals and your blood and fix the lead that fell off and so on and so forth). I'm going to see my leg doctor here shortly, and we'll see what he says about me walking on it.

There's much more to this tale, but I want to eat lunch now. The clots are gone, and I'm on Coumadin to keep my blood thin until I've been active on this leg for a while. Thanks to lots of people (a list will be coming), especially John, who made me get this looked at.

Oh yeah, did you figure out that the blood clots would have to have gone thru my heart to get to my lungs? That took me about 24 hours to work out, and I freaked out a bit at that.

Okay, enjoy your day. I'll post more soon, I hope.

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