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Monday, September 26, 2011

ER featuring Dr Ross mentions, but not actually that ER.

So I wasn't entirely sure about posting this.

A few reason - 

1.  If I read the same story, I would assume someone affected by this affliction (*cringey typing*) is unhealthy, unfit, and overweight.  Unfit is the most you could try and pin on me, but even that isn't entirely true on account of the twin tornado and Miss5 keeping me on my feet 24/7.

2.  I'm still trying to feel my way through what is appropriate public property on the interverse.  So, originally, I wasn't telling.  But, in hindsight, I think it's an important message to put out there.  Kind of a reminder that it literally can happen to anyone.

3.  It is reaallllyyyyy long - even by my standards.  But there's a mega good point at the end of it, so I think it's worth it.  (I know you're all just scrolling straight to the bottom to find the mega good point and ignore the rest, right?)

4.  It's a serious post.  Which isn't my style.  Having said that, it wouldn't be me without a few grossly inappropriate and poorly timed jokes.  So look out for those if you're not into serious PP, and you prefer the inappropriate PP.

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At work last Saturday I was typing away, happily enjoying my 2nd flat white and the silent child-free office.

Out of nowhere, my left hand got a severe case of pins and needles.  It wasn't painful, but it was very strong, and encompassed my entire hand from the tips of my fingers to my wrist.

It went away after all of 7 - 8 minutes, so while I'd found it strange, I resumed typing, fretting about RSI and never being able to blog again without the aide of an assistant prepared to type for cask wine.

Within minutes I noticed the words on my screen didn't seem to make sense to me.  The words were mixed up, the letters were mixed up, and I couldn't understand those that weren't mixed up.  Thinking it just another odd idiot moment that I'm  SEVERELY  somewhat prone to, I tried to continue.

I couldn't type a full word.  Not even the basics.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't communicate between my brain and fingers.  And I couldn't even get it right when trying to say it in my head.

So I phoned Health Direct - which is where I discovered I couldn't speak properly either (helloooo....ME, not able to speak?  That's a sure sign something's wrong!).

Finally, I managed to string together enough words for the nurse to work out what was going on, and after confirming both sides of my face were working (all symmetrical, chubby-cheeked, squinty-eyed grin staring back at me from my reflection), I was told to call an ambulance, and get to a hospital immediately.

My first stupid thoughts were...

"Sure thing.  But I have to phone the boss and apologise, shutdown all the systems and close the office first.  As soon as I've got everything squared away here, then I'll go."

Only after doing all the other generic office crap that is far less important than my health.

"Ambulance? Ooh...pricey.  Don't think our basic-level health insurance covers that, and we certainly don't have the $500 to pay for one.  I'll just drive myself, having currently been assessed as being at risk of possible seizure or stroke at any given second."

Totally not thinking of the lives of everyone else on the road that I would be putting at risk by driving myself 20-30mins to the nearest hospital.  Brilliant thinking by my malfunctioning brain.

You see, I wasn't in pain.  I wasn't panicked.  I wasn't totally "out of it".  I simply had a couple of symptoms, and I was mostly just feeling...puzzled?  Confused? 

And so #1Hubby was advised - which set in motion his immediate meltdown.  #1Nana and #1Brother were dispatched to collect me, and 15 minutes later I was on the way to the hospital.  Sans ambulance, because I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about.

I asked #1 Hubby to stay at home with the kids, because I was quite sure it was nothing, and I knew I'd only end up a panicked and emotional mess if I saw him and the kids.

We had two options - the hospital with the highest number of Emergency Room patients per month IN THE WHOLE OF AUSTRALIA, or the hospital that came second.

Having not read that report in the day's newspaper, we went, blissfully unaware of its status, to the #1 Hospital.

Where, despite the triage nurse confirming I was in pre-stroke status, I was sent to sit and wait with the other 30-ish patients with various ailments.

Note : I am not bemoaning my having to wait my turn.  Hospitals are under-staffed, under-bedded (ahem...my word), and doing the best they can.

However...I have one hot tip for you, when dealing with ER admission and trying to get seen quickly - based on my observations, after sitting and waiting for just over 3hrs (not a long wait, by all accounts)....

Attending with any sort of bandage on your limb will get you in first.  Even just a few bandaids over a thumb - which  I watched take precedence over a woman with an oddly shaped shoulder that had to be wedged into the corner of the wall for support (and also ended up being the only single person who had been in the waiting room longer than me, by the time I went in), a lady regularly visiting the toilets to vomit the life force out of herself in-between moaning in her seat - among others who, at least on the outside, appeared to be in much more dire medical need than the 2 girls with a couple of bandaids on their thumbs who arrived within 20 minutes of each other and were seen almost immediately, and the guy who walked in smiling, laughing and chatting, with bandages at identical levels around his calves (who later came out with TWO BANDAIDS on said calves....).

Now I know, I'm not a Doctor (not unless you count when I play Scrubs with the kids and I get to be the head of the ER), but I saw a number of those limb-bandage-people come out sporting a small bandaid.  Seriously, no exaggeration.  Perhaps there were stitches, perhaps cleaning and re-dressing cuts.  Either way, I don't see how it takes precedence over the elderly in incredible pain, those covering the toilet walls in vomit, those with misplaced limbs, and those who may possibly be about to suffer a stroke.

To be fair, I had regained most of my verbal skills by this point, and I wasn't actually in any pain at all.  I felt great.  Hungry, thirsty, a bit of a headache, and mostly just kicking myself for only having 2 coffee's and a yoghurt all day.  So I probably didn't present as a dire case, on account of my normal, calm exterior.  I certainly didn't appear unwell on the outside.  However - my admission form still stated pre-stroke.

And despite my ability to annunciate fairly normally, the Nurse didn't seen concerned when I couldn't say my own maiden name or my kids' names, and when I was told Miss5's name I seriously questioned if it was correct - because it certainly didn't sound right to me.  Also, the name of the hospital, my own street name, my personal details - all foreign to me.  I would've disputed them even being words, in fact.

But, by all means, put my file to the back in lieu of the tragic 20-something with mascara stains down her face, and a bandaid on her thumb.

That soapbox whiney moment isn't the point of this post (it just makes me feel a lil better).  So, moving on.

I had some tests, fretted about the dodgy Nana knickers I had worn that day (now on display via the gaping hole at the back of my fetching hospital gown), had some nasty type needles (aren't they all?).  Then I waited for 6hrs for the crucial head CT scan.  When I finally got seen, it took all of 3 minutes.  Including time for my awesome orderly to wheel me around and recount tales of army life.

Then I waited almost 3hrs for someone to look at my CT scan.  Because it was now night time, and the Radiographer's are all high tech and work from home Saturday night (as I would too, given the technology).  Only, it was the final half of the West Coast Eagles vs. Carlton sudden-death final.  So I'm pretty sure that at least one hour of my wait was taken up by the assigned football-mad Radiographer being glued to his TV for the nail-biting, three-point finish.

Semi-understandable.  No doubt totally false and unrealistic.

#1 Nana and I passed the time by whispering inappropriate jokes about pulling a sheet over my head to get instant service.

Whenever we heard bells, we whispered

"NURSE, 10CC's...STAT!"
"PAGE DR ROSS!"
"CODE BLUE...HE'S CODING!"
"GET ME THE PADDLES!  CHARGE TO 400.....CLEARRRRRR!"


Paging Dr Ross...please come take my temperature


Then we got annoyed when they half-shut my curtain, because it was like being situated in the middle of an episode of ER or RPA - we were right in the middle of the Emergency Room and it was AWESOME!

Obviously, bereft of any near-death patients or blood and guts, because then it would've been totally inappropriate to say it was awesome.  Rather, a distant moaning here and there from a poor elderly patient, a screaming child telling its mother to piss off (had to wonder if it was one of mine when I heard that), a few drunks who were making more war than love (and therefore had their own accompanying security guard), and a dear old couple opposite me - the Mister in the bed, looking very weary and annoyed at having been there so long, and the Mrs patting his hand, licking her finger to smooth his eyebrows down, and then whipping out her cuticle cream to do his cuticles.  Bless.

Anyways....the end result is that I did indeed suffer a pre-stroke episode.

At age  25  32.  Oh okay, 33 in November, so I may as well get used to saying it now - at age 33.  Within my healthy weight range, and with all my blood and other tests coming back within healthy and normal range - I had indeed suffered the first stage symptoms of a stroke.  Almost totally pain-free, and without even raising a panic in me (but many laughs, on account of my totally inappropriate sense of humour having been inherited from my mother, my companion for the epic 11hr event).

No idea what caused it.  No idea if it will ever happen again.  I was sent home with nothing more than a few extra tests for my regular Doctor to organise, and a stern warning to proceed immediately to hospital - preferably by ambulance - should any of the symptoms show up again.

But...and here's my reason for posting this...

(For those of you who scrolled straight to the bottom to find the mega good point - stop scrolling now.)

It could so easily have gone the other way.  And the only single reason I even thought to call Health Direct, or go to the hospital, is because of all the ads on TV that tell you how so many people ignore the symptoms of stroke and heart attack.  They assume it couldn't possibly happen to them.  That it's just something else, a twinged nerve, a dull ache, an annoying pain that seems to keep coming back.

By the time I got home - after midnight - I no longer cared about being the idiot who turned out okay.  I was no longer embarrassed for causing a fuss over something that saw me walk out of there as fit and healthy as always.  I was still apologetic for taking up a bed that some poor paper-cut victim may have desperately needed.

I got home, went straight to check on the slumbering kids - and then thanked my poorly attention span for obviously taking in something from a TV ad, and noticing the warning signs.

Better to be safe than sorry.

PS - If you see me out at a bar, that is just me.  It's not a symptom of a further pre-stroke, more a symptom of my affections for Mojito's.

PPS - Just to reiterate, the hospital staff were awesome.  They did an awesome job.  They work crazy hard, and smile and chat their way through all of it, even the abuse they cop on the front line, for the bureaucracy-based decisions that I assume cause many of the bedding and staffing shortages.

Hospital staff are Legen-wait for it-dary


12 comments:

  1. You're brave for posting! So glad everything turned out OK in the end, unbelievably scary!

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  2. Oh goodness! I'm so glad you're OK. How scary. I'm very impressed that the events haven't dented your sense of humour - if it'd been me, I would have lost my shit and had a bit of a mental breakdown! In fact I have done that several times lately, over completely trivial, minuscule things.

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  3. Well I'm gonna disagree with you. I think the staff were not legendary - to wait so long when you are considered pre-stroke is bullshit, because who is to say it doesn't progress to stroke and then you're fucked. I would be complaining loudly and writing to the local paper too. I know they're understaffed and underpaid, but the triage system and waiting times is completely fucked for such a serious case.
    Glad you're OK, I'm still freaked out from when you told me (I'm so cool I knew before everyone else). x

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  4. Got to agree with Glowless here, the wait you had was not cool. Pre stroke comes before actual stroke, I'm pretty sure, and once you're stroking if you don't receive medical attention right away you risk permanent brain injury.
    Apparently serious cases should always go by ambulance. My sister was in acute renal failure and I didn't want to bother the ambos (fully covered here in QLD), she was conscious, she could talk, she was just slowly dying. I got such a bollocking for taking her to the ER and putting her in the paper cut queue, much to my shame.
    Very glad you're ok. Now go buy ambulance cover. It's not that much, seriously.

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  5. God I hate hospitals. Not the staff, but the political bullshit that decides when someone gets seen and someone doesn't. I also hate people who attend A&E with a bandaid... I always ring ahead to find out if we are sick/bleeding enough to need a doctor. We have that luxury living rurally!

    I agree... get yourself ambulance cover, because if you are serious enough to need an ambulance you shouldn't be putting your life in the hands of a triage system that sends labouring women home because they don't have time for them!

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  6. Thanks Sarah. I think I was the least scared by it, out of everyone. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose!

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  7. Thank you - my sarcasm knows no bounds!  If I ever lose it, then I'll know I'm in serious trouble

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  8. I know you're right - I just didn't want to whine and bang on about "poor me, having to wait".  The staff I did get to deal with were awesome though.  I am totally bringing you with me if it ever happens again.  Inbetween cracking inappropriate jokes, you can demand better service for me!

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  9. Guess what?  We do have ambulance cover.  Yes, I am that stupid - but I won't be next time!  Glowless is always right.  She is The Oracle.  Not just on all things bloggy, but also in life.  I shall defer to her for better judgement in future!  I hope your sister ended up okay?  It can be so hard to know how serious the situation is when the person involved seems to be semi-okay.

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  10. I am with you - people needlessly taking up ER queue's makes me angry.  That's probably why I tend to think "oh it'll be okay".  Not next time though, I have learnt my lesson!

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  11. OMG!!!  What the...???
    That must have been pretty freakin scarey!  Perhaps more in hindsight.
    Well...I am resolved to look after you girlfriend, when we do finally meet IRL in Melb next yr, we are going to get up and wander around the bar to the toilet and back after every drink or two...Okay???!!!
    Phew...seriously that is some scarey shit girlfriend! Thanks for posting and sharing - it really can happen to anyone, huh?
    Sending you love & Cyber- Mojitos
    Jolene x

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  12. soooooo glad that you are ok Georgia! what a scary experience for all of you. i'm glad there was a happy ending and a very good point/message to all. just like the ads say 'well if there is anothing wrong , then that's the best outcome possible' (or something like that!)
    it is certainly better to be safe than sorry.
    take care of yourself hun x

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