I worked from home for the rest of the week. On Friday, I went downstairs during a break to visit with Mom and the ladies from her book group. One friend wanted to know how to look something up on Google and I volunteered to show her using my laptop. I brought it down and slipped as I started to sit down. Fortunately, I fell into the chair and laughed about being so clumsy.
Shortly afterwards, I went back to work and finished the work day.
On Fridays during Lent, Mom and I go to an informal church supper. After supper, we attend a prayer service; the Stations of the Cross.
We went to the supper as usual and had a nice time with the others who were there. Before we climbed the stairs to the church, we were told that we should take a pebble from a dish and that would be explained to us later. I took a pebble and a prayer pamphlet and knelt in a pew.
Something wasn't right.
My lips were tingling; all pins and needles.
All at once, I asked myself whether I was having another hemorrhage? No headache, but I'd had stomach pains, I'd lost my balance and now tingling and numbness. And it struck me that the likeliest source that I could think of was an off brand of acetominophen may have included some blood thinners by accident.
I was frozen for a few moments and then I realized that I should call my doctor's office. By then, it was 7pm on a Friday night. The service hadn't started yet and I whispered to Mom that I thought that I was having a hemorrhage. I told her that I would call my doctor's office. She asked if she could do anything and I told her to stay where she was.
I excused myself from the pew and then found the pastor, apologized that I was having a medical emergency and that I would have to make a call to my doctor.
The pastor was very supportive and said, "of course, of course!"
I went outside to the front steps and called the doctor's office, which was picked up by the nurse on call. She was sympathetic, but she told me that if she paged him, it could take an hour. The other option would be to go straight to the Emergency Room.
I asked the nurse about letting the doctor know. She told me that the ER would send the information to him in most cases, although we weren't sure what would happen if I went to Mass General.
At this moment, Mom came out of the church with two friends; both friends were nurses. I still had the doctor's office on the line and told the symptoms to our friends and they confirmed that my pupils were very dilated. Suddenly, the pastor came out and quickly administered the Anointing of the Sick. I was overwhelmed by their kindness.
I thanked the doctor's office, ended the call and we walked to the car. I was unsteady on my feet and one of our nurse friends helped me. Naturally, it was parked at the far end of the lot.
I wanted to go home first. I wanted to get the medicine that I thought was suspect. As I was about to get behind the wheel, when one of our friends stopped me.
It just hadn't occurred to me. Again.
Mom drove and one of the friends followed us home.
When we got home, I went upstairs to get the medicine and then asked if I should call 911 or an ambulance. No answers came from my ad hoc advisory team and I dialed 911. Just as I finished, our friend said oh, call the ambulance company. I stopped the call and called 411 to get an ambulance.
A police officer came in less than five minutes. It did not occur to me to question why he was there. I explained the situation.
The police officer had been an EMT when he was younger, although everyone looks young to me these days. He listened to my symptoms and waited until the ambulance came.
The ambulance came with a fire engine.
Our neighbor across the street came galloping out of her house as I walked into the ambulance. I learned later that Dad told our neighbor, "why couldn't the Good Lord take me instead.?"
The EMTs asked me about my symptoms and I asked to go to Mass General and they told me that they could not do that as the protocol was with my symptoms, they had to go somewhere close by. I asked to go to Saints Hospital.
Mom came in the ambulance and rode up front.
My bp was really high at first. Something like 157 over 90. It came down as we got closer to the hospital. By the time we arrived, it was 132 over 80-something.
I'd given them a pre-printed list of my medications and when I take them. I told them that they could keep it.
When we arrived, the EMTs explained my symptoms and I was sent to a Trauma room. I explained what happened and that I thought that I was having another hemorrhage. I told them about the cavernous malformation, the tumor and no, I didn't lose facial nerves; that was a result of synkinesis from the surgery to remove the tumor.
The nurse was sympathetic but the doctor was kind, but skeptical. She ordered a CT scan and blood tests anyway.
It was Friday night and there was a concert in town. Some people must have mixed things together that shouldn't be mixed.
There were quite a few officers there and these patients kept the ER team busy.
About an hour after the CT scan, the doctor came in with a dazed look that yes, in fact I was bleeding and that this hospital did not have neurologists available. I would have to be transferred.
I asked to be transferred to Mass General and she agreed. I called Dad to let him know and that is when he told me that he wished that the Good Lord had taken him instead. I told Dad that was not right, that I saw this as a blessing.
"Look, I was stressed at work and God gave me two nurses to make sure that I went to the hospital. We caught it early. This is a blessing, because it gives me a better perspective."
I don't think that he agreed with me.
After wishing Dad a good night, I told Mom to call our friend who came home with us to pick her up and take her home. It was about 9.30.
Our friend came soon and took Mom home. I hugged them both and breathed a sigh of relief that Mom was out of this mess.
This was a big task, which was assigned to the nurse, Lucas. The ER at MGH, but by 12.30am, he had worked with another nurse named Josh at MGH that I would go straight to the Neurological ICU. I had some naps in between, but the commotion in the ER meant that a lot of people had to move around to do their jobs.
An ambulance came and they had to switch out the monitor leads so that I would be using theirs. We arrived at MGH at about 1.30am and I was moved into a room in ICU.
There were three nurses: Josh, Giovanna and Essie. They took tests, hooked me up to the new monitor and EKG machine. Several neurologists came. One resident came from my own neurosurgeon's office and later another came from a neurosurgeon who had a specialization in vascular issues. I had to explain a lot to the new specialist.
I was able to get some rest between doctors visiting and nurses taking tests, but the rule of thumb was no more than an hour's sleep at a time. I understood that they were collecting information and probably did not want me to fall in a deep sleep in my condition. But the bed was brand new and very comfortable, even if the room was chilly. I asked for a second blanket. I did want to sleep. heh.
By 5.30am, Josh had taken me, bed and all to get an MRI. The bed sounded as though it had a motor and I felt as though I was on a Zamboni machine, but without the fun of a skating rink.
When we arrived, one of the MRI technicians heard me ask for another blanket and he gave me a warmed one. I was so happy and thanked him profusely.
Head MRIs generally take about 40 minutes, but we didn't leave until 6.45am.
Josh took me back upstairs and Giovanna and Essie got me settled again. We laughed because by this time I had at least three blankets, although I said that it was probably 100. They agreed that they didn't like the cold either.
They left at about 7am and then the day nurse, Erin came. She came in while I was on the phone with my folks, letting them know that I had arrived okay and that I'd had an MRI. She went away to take care of other patients. Mom told me how my sister was worried and that she had notified friends and family, and even people we knew from high school. There were a lot of kind and thoughtful messages. We also heard from as far away as Togo; a friend who is a priest would say a Mass for my healing. I didn't have any update on my condition, and I was overwhelmed by the support from everyone.
Erin came back and introduced herself. She was funny, she normally works nights and she kept on saying about what would happen tonight. She caught herself and we chuckled over it. I asked if I could eat or drink and she was understanding, but she shook her head no, as it was known yet if I would have to go to surgery.
Just as she had told me no, one of the doctors came by. He'd reviewed the MRI results and the decision was no surgery! This was very good news as the surgery is very risky and at this point, I am not eager for another hole in my head. I asked if I could eat breakfast and he said yes.
Erin was in the room as he told me and she laughed as I did a little dance in the bed. She called out to the doctor, who had already left the room, "She's dancing!"
I was very happy for some coffee and toast.
I was given medication to reduce risk of additional bleeding and was transferred to a regular room later that day. I didn't get the green light to come home until Monday morning.
More to come later.
Thank you for your kind thoughts, words and prayers.