Saturday, March 15

A Record of My Two Days, Sick in the Hospital

Deciding how to write this story has been quite the challenge, and I really haven't decided yet how I want to write it, but I want it done, so I am just going to do it and see how it turns out.

I started to feel "weird" on Tuesday evening. My skin was crawling, my body was achy, and I was very irritable. It was a difficult feeling to describe, and mostly I could only describe it by saying I couldn't describe it, I just felt there was something wrong. The evening before I started to feel weird, I noticed that my lower right abdomen was a bit sore. I wasn't terribly worried about appendicitis because a sore side was all I was experiencing. On Tuesday when I started to have the strange feelings I called my Mom to ask her about it. (most of you know she is a nurse) She felt if I had appendicitis it would not get better with Ibuprofen, so I should take some and lay down, if I didn't feel better by morning then I should go to the doctor. I thought that sounded good. Nate was a little more worried, and he got on the net to look up more info on appendicitis. When he found some descriptive symptoms he read them with a bit of worry in his voice. I had all the symptoms. So we dropped Clara off at the neighbors at 8:30 pm and headed off to the emergency room. I had never met the doctor who treated me, he took my blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, he felt around my tummy, (though he was not very thorough) he did some kind of dizzy test, checked my blood sugar took my blood pressure again, laying, sitting and standing. All tests came back normal. So he sent me home, and told me to return if I developed more severe side pain or a fever.

That evening, my symptoms worsened. I had used our in ear thermometer to take my temperature before we went to the hospital, naturally Claralynne had taken off with it, and it was no were to be found. I was so shaky and my skin was crawling and sensitive, I laid on the couch and watched about 10 minutes of Anne of Green Gables before I fell asleep. Very uncomfortable I headed up to the bed, I shook frantically the whole way, it was very unnerving. I dozed in and out feeling worse and worse, until about 3:00 am when I did not sleep again, I got up to use the restroom and again shook uncontrollably. I knew I needed to check my temperature but had no idea where I could find the thermometer and did not have the energy to go looking for it.

The next day, I awoke feeling slightly better. I found our old under tongue thermometer and decided I would use that to check my temp throughout the day. I had the symptoms of fever all day and felt terribly sick, but never cracked more than a 98.0, it was very confusing. As the day progressed I felt worse and worse, by evening I took some Ibuprofen to ease my ache, 30 minutes later I took my temp, 101.6. I showed Nate and he suggested we go back to the ER, I was frustrated they had not given two bits the night before and I didn't want to go back and waste any more of our time. I called my Mom at work, I told her what my temp was, she was very frustrated, she had been the night before, when the ER doctor did not give me an ultrasound or do anything else definitive, to rule out my appendix indefinitely. She ranted for a few minutes in frustration when she brought the situation to the doctor in the room, that doctor said I needed an ultrasound, as did everyone else on my Mom's floor. She and the rest of Sky Ridge Cardiac floor ordered me to return to the ER and told me I was not to leave until I was given an ultrasound. After gathering nurse and doctor's opinions alike, it was clear, my appendix may not be the only possible problem, gall bladder and placental abruption were also possible problems given my symptoms.

We dropped Claralynne off at the neighbors again, and made the very painful trip back to the ER. My temperature had been 101.9 when we left. When I entered the ER I saw a doctor with a bald head and little white sample patch of a beard on his chin, Dr. Shumaker, I have come to be very fond of him. Dr. Shumaker treated Claralynne when she choked, and has seen both her and I for a few random walk-in clinic visits, I know he is a wonderful doctor, I prayed hard he would be my doctor tonight. I gave the front desk my paper from the day before and told them I was experiencing the symptoms they had told me to return for. They did routine blood pressure heart rate and temperature, then we walked to my room as I shook. I was flooded with relief when Dr. Shumaker walked in the door. He felt around my belly and it hurt all around my belly but it did hurt more on the right side. He informed me my blood pressure was uncomfortably low, while me temperature and heart rate were high, he ordered a blood test. As he was about to leave, I grasped his arm crying, telling him of my immense gratitude he was my doctor tonight.

When my blood test results came back so did Dr. Shumaker, he was concerned with my white blood cell count, it was high. The tests needing to be done (like ultrasound) could not be done at the hospital we were in, in the evening, it is a very small hospital. The only test available at that hospital, that could give him answers was a CT scan and he was not going to do one on a pregnant lady. He told me he had been on the phone with the general surgeon, Dr. Johnson, in Petoskey, they both felt I needed further testing. I would need to transfer there, and I would need to go in an ambulance. My heart raced and Nathan's heart raced, and I signed the papers for an ambulance transfer. We made a call to our neighbor's the L'Alliers, and told them it was going to be longer then we expected. They have been wonderful neighbors ever since we arrived here in Michigan. I called my Mom and let her know I was going to a bigger hospital where they could do an ultrasound.

The ride was very bumpy and uncomfortable to my abdomen, it is a 45 minute drive. The EMT was one who came to the rescue when Claralynne choked back in September, the paramedic was also one who came. The EMT was very friendly. Dr. Shumaker had given me some Tylenol back at the hospital, so I felt less sick for the ride down. When we arrived at Northern Michigan Regional Emergency, I was greeted by a very seasoned nurse named Jane. She took my temperature, that was not so high anymore because of the Tylenol, she took my heart rate which was still high, and my blood pressure which was still low, and would continue to drop over the next few hours bottoming out at 88/38 (a normal blood pressure is around 120/80). After all the routine stuff was done Jane let me know Dr. Johnson would be in shortly. When he arrived, he told me of how doctors do not love operating on pregnant women, yet he was very nervous about my appendix considering my current symptoms, and that if I had not been pregnant, he would have gone in and taken it right then. He wanted to get on the phone with my OB, Dr. Wilcox, and talk about getting a CT scan done so he could get a good look at my appendix and intestines. They both agreed that given my gestation (28 nearly 29 weeks) the benefits outweighed the risks and a CT scan was ordered. I was wheeled into CT about 10 minutes later, and it was all done just as quickly. When I returned to the ER I was started on IV fluids and informed we would be staying the night, I would be operated on immediately if the CT showed a bad appendix and if not I would be transferred up to OB and get an ultrasound in the morning to better look at my appendix, my gall bladder for infection, and my uterus to rule out placental abruption (though no one was extremely concerned about placental abruption because I was not bleeding or having contractions). The CT came back looking fine, but the doctor still had concerns and did not want to rule out appendicitis completely. I was taken up to OB after being given some pain meds, which I don't recall working very well, and I asked the OB nurses if they could move my IV from my middle arm, which was very uncomfortable, and put it in my hand which was much more comfortable. We called the L'Allier's again and told them where to find Claralynne's sleeping stuff and thanked them for taking her overnight at such short notice. I was comfortable enough to try and rest, but did not get much sleep. I worried over Nathan a lot of the night as he slept on a plastic recliner, worried how Claralynne would sleep not being in her own bed and worried about my poor baby James stuck in his sick Mommy's belly. I dozed in and out throughout the night worrying least about myself, interestingly enough, I guess that is what it means to be a Mommy.

When I woke to pee I realized it was no longer get up and go. I was attached to the wall via IV and would have to take the machine along, so I got up to unhook it, only to be welcomed by my not missed in any way, very irritating and frightening violent shakes. I shook to the bathroom, on the toilet, all the way back to bed, and in bed for several minutes, my heart feeling as if it would jump out of my chest, I decided I better call the nurse and let her know. She covered me with more blankets, even though I had no sense of being cold, and let me know I was going in for my ultrasound shortly. My body calmed down just in time for my retrieval to ultrasound, again I shook uncontrollably all the way, it was exhausting. When I got back my blood pressure was still low, I was not allowed anything to eat or drink because it was still uncertain whether I would need surgery, so I was given ice chips, but craved water like I have never craved it before. I really wanted Tylenol again, to ease my aches and shakes, but that too, was to be avoided with surgery hanging in the air. My ultrasound came back normal, and my severe pain was still unexplainable. Dr. Wilcox came in to feel my tummy and with pain on both sides of my lower abdomen, decided to order a catheter draw, to test my urine, urine samples taken with a catheter contain a lot less contaminates and give more reliable results. We all seemed to have an epiphany, my kidneys. Heather( my sister) had a kidney infection last year, I had a lot of the same symptoms. Alas, the urine test came back normal and we were in the dark again. It was about 4:30 pm and I told a tired Nathan he should head home and retrieve an even more tired Claralynne who had not fallen asleep until 2 am and awoke at 7 am that morning, I knew she needed to be home, in her own bed and they both needed to get some rest, so he left and I was alone. After my temperature had climbed and climbed, my heart raced, and my blood pressured lagged throughout the day, Dr. Johnson was very nervous. I do believe he came very close to operating, especially after my 102.7 temp and the next part of the story.

Nathan had been gone about an hour and by early evening, after soring temps, it was time to see how James was holding up, they strapped on the monitors and his heart galloped along, seemingly unaware of the trouble his Mommy was in. 30 minutes he would be monitored and in the first 10 something very scary started to happen. I started to contract. They came every 7 1/2 minutes and lasted about a minute, they hurt in my back but I didn't know if it was because they hurt or because I was sick. They tracked them and saw regularity, and reported it to the on call OB, Dr. Ryder. She came in and we talked about what needed to be done if I was in preterm labor. She would try first to get some Tylenol in me, and bring down my soring fever, if that did not work I would be given a mild (I can't remember the name) pill that should stop them, if it didn't I would be given a shot of Terbutaline, and I would be given it a maximum of three times, if that did not work, I would need to be transferred to Detroit, because the neonatal facility at the hospital I was in was not equipped to handle such an early baby. I called Nate to come back and he packed some just in case bags. Frantically, I called my Mother and told her I might be in labor. I had been very dehydrated throughout the day and that alone could trigger early labor, aside from extreme low blood pressure, high heart rate, and fever. Dr. Ryder wanted to get my fever down, Dr. Johnson wanted to get my appendix out. He had been avoiding surgery to avoid this very thing, preterm labor, if I was already in it, and removing my appendix would fix it, then my appendix needed to come out. Thankfully Dr. Ryder and Dr. Johnson both felt after looking over the ultrasound, the CT, and my blood samples, there were no real red lights going off from my appendix, it seemed I was fighting off some kind of infection and needed a blood draw done to test for viruses. They concluded it was best to try and bring my temperature down, and stop what was going on with these mystery contractions. So I was finally given Tylenol and the pill to stop contractions. I was taken of the monitors and everyone hoped the contractions would stop within the hour, they did slow but did not stop. The phlebotomist came to draw my blood and he also wanted to say a prayer for me, I said that would be wonderful, and he took my hand and gave me his prayer, it was a great kindness. I was given the Terbultaline and Nathan arrived with Claralynne a little while later, we put on a movie, and I wrote down what time I was having contractions and how strong they were. They contractions tapered off and the doctors and nurses felt my uterus was very irritated, from the number of things going on in my body, and I was having more Braxton Hicks as a result. I was finally allowed clear liquids but no solid foods, because appendicitis was not completely out of the question, so I got some cranberry juice and jello. Dr. Johnson was feeling confident enough appendicitis was not the problem and would not be operating today although it was not tossed out completely. You could see the relief in his eyes, and he told me all of his staff was equally relieved there would be no operating on a pregnant lady today. By 8:30 pm I knew it was time to let my sweet family go home, even though I had never been away from Claralynne longer in her whole life.

I was kept overnight again to be monitored, and would receive more blood tests in the morning to see what my white blood cell count was doing, if it continued to raise and I continued to be very sick I would receive another ultrasound and I imagine we would go round and round again. Nathan called me on his way home, very distraught, I can't imagine what was going on in his head, and I think this taste of single fatherhood was more than he had ever wanted to experience. I was given Tylenol right before bed, so that my fever would stay at bay, I also asked for a pain reliever I had been given once before, called Dilaudid, to help me sleep, and it did just that. My blood was drawn at 6 am the next morning and by 8 am the results were in, I had a normal white blood cell count, a number 8 down from 16 (I think). My temperature was normal, even though my blood pressure was still a little low. I was still having regular Braxton hicks contractions, but my OB Dr. Wilcox had returned and checked my cervix again, he came to the same conclusion Dr. Ryder had, closed thick cervix, irritated uterus. he said I could be going home by 11 am, and that had this been appendicitis, I would have only gotten sicker by today. Dr. Johnson also came by a few minutes later and gave the orders for me to have my IV out and get some solid foods. Nate headed up to the hospital, and I ate a little of a very yummy breakfast, I still did not have much of an appetite, and I was very happy I did not have to take the IV machine to the bathroom with me anymore. Nathan and Claralynne arrived around 11 am and we put Shrek 3 on, I fell asleep and when I woke up, I wanted to know when I could go home, a few minutes later the nurse came in with the papers, she got a normal temp, a normal blood pressure and a normal heart rate, I was released.

Upon release I was still pretty sick, we still don't not know exactly what it was I had, and I still have a little, we do know very many things it is not. It turned out not to be the original worry appendicitis, it was also not a gall bladder infection, gall stones, placental abruption, preterm labor, or a kidney infection. The conclusion we have come to is, I had a true case of Influenza, or in layman's, the flu. I had insane low blood pressures, insane high temperatures, heart rates, and serious dehydration from fever, I am glad we went to the hospital and, really serious problems were ruled out. A blood serum test was drawn while I was in the hospital but it takes a few days for the results. I am sure I will be getting a phone call on Monday with news that goes something like "Hello Mrs. Hatch, the results from your blood serum test came in today, and they show you had a case of Influenza, it has been going around a lot this year, and I hope you are feeling better". I could not have know all I was feeling was not appendicitis, when pregnant, it is better to be safe than sorry. It has been a scary, intense total mix of emotions, few days, I am glad to be home, I think Nate and Claralynne might be gladder. I am sorry this story is so long, more for you it is for me, as a journaling of the experience, it has been the most sick I have ever been, and it was when I was pregnant, just my luck. I hope everyone stays healthy!