Monday, February 06, 2006

Play by Play

Friday evening 5pm:

I go to kick the soccer ball, my foot slides over the ball, my feet fly out from beneath me and I fall backwards on the asphalt. My head goes TWACK, hard (which I keep having flashbacks to, by the way). Ouch. I hold it for a second, and realize I can see and move, so I stumble over to our neighbor's house and ask them to come outside. They give me an ice pack, and sit with me until G. gets home. I rest, but the pain doesn't subside and I start throwing up.

7pm: to ER. Have to sit in the waiting room for over an hour. I feel like I have the flu. The boys are losing it, so they finally find a gurney for me and park me in the hall by the quiet room where the boys can sit. The Dr. says he thinks it's just a concussion but orders a CT scan just in case.

10:00 pm: Boys have had it. G takes them home and I go to get the CT scan. I think as I'm going in..."Well, if by chance I have an undiagnosed brain tumor, at least they'll catch it."

10:30 pm: Dr says to person on gurney in front of me: "Hey! Got half your blood tests back and they look great!"

Then he walks to me and his face gets more serious. He speaks slowly, and I know immediately it's not good news. I think, "Crap. I do have an undiagnosed brain tumor." But no, I have a skull fracture, but what's more concerning is that I'm bleeding into the lining under the skull - an epidural hematoma. He's talked to the neurosurgeon at the center 20 miles away, and he wants me transferred to the ICU there to evaluate me for surgery. "You're kidding," I say. I can't believe it.

The nurse is a genial fellow, and I'm joking with him. Then I think, "Don't do that! It's always the cheerful, coherent patient that ends up crashing suddenly and becomes a Sobering Reality for the staff! I've watched enough ER and Scrubs to know I was the patient marked for tragedy in the first 5 minutes of the show.

Greg gets a neighbor to look after the boys and asks my sister to come to the house to take over and returns to the ER. He goes to look at the CT scan. I asked if the bleeding looked big, and he stammered, "Well, you know, you can see it, but it's kind's there's not that big." I can tell he doesn't want to tell me how big it is.

12:00am: They send me in a ambulance to the other hospital. The paramedics are also genial, but they are watching me very closely. I get taken to the ICU, where everyone says I don't look sick. I pass the neuro test with flying colors, except for some blurriness in my vision. The doctor says he doesn't think I'll need surgery, but I will have to stay for a couple of days. The nurse wakes me up every couple of hours to ask me if I know where I am and what day it is. I take a wild guess that it's the 4th, and fortunately I'm right. Greg sleeps in a chair next to the bed. The doctor says that I can eat and drink since it's unlikely I'll need surgery.

7 am: Nothing's about my status has changed the next morning, so I'm transferred to the neurosurgery floor. I get another CT scan, and a new doctor comes in a few hours later to report the results. Let's call him Dr.Ray of Sunshine. He walks in and gapes at my food tray. "I wouldn't be eating that." He says the clot is measuring a little bigger, but it could be a measurement error between this scan and the first hospital's machine. He seems to think it's more likely that I'll need a craniotomy. He says that by eating, I've increased my risk of aspiration dramatically and if I need emergency surgery, G. "would have to make some tough choices." He says "You look really good and clear, I mean, it's amazing, but still..."

I say that I've been clear for a while now and isn't that kind of unlikely to change? He shrugs and says, "Well, you've heard of the lucid interval, right?" Yeah - that period right after a brain injury when the patient seems coherent and not badly hurt, then they end up falling into a coma or something. I say "I'm probably out of the danger zone for that though, aren't I?" He replies, "You could be an outlier." Oh, shut up. The other doctor said I was one of those disgustingly healthy people who just do remarkably well. Well, great, but I'd rather be normal than extraordinary. That would make me feel less like a walking time bomb.

Then Dr. Ray says that he has low blood sugar, so I offer him some juice from my tray, since I can't eat it anymore. He opens it and spills it all over his shirt. I ask when he'll be off duty, since my confidence in his surgery skills are slipping. He laughs. He leaves, and G and I are freaked out again.

To be continued....


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