Friday the 13th: new book, the emergency room and puffy fish lips

So how does an award-winning freelance writer, blogger and newly published author celebrate the release of her book? Why, by going to the emergency room, of course.

I’ve been battling bronchitis for six weeks now, and after seeing the doctor twice, doing antibiotics and steroids (oral and inhaled) I was still sick. So I went back to the doctor late on Thursday, and he sent me for a chest X-Ray and blood work Friday morning.

I expected when he called with the results that he would tell me that I had pneumonia, prescribe me in some antibiotics and call it a day. Instead, he said my chest is clear (no pneumonia) and my blood work was normal (no sign of bacterial infection). There was, however, something off in a test he ran to see if I was having a blood clot issue.

Apparently when you tell your doctor that you’re short of breath and feel like a cat is sleeping on your chest, it makes him wonder if you have a blood clot in your lungs. He’d done an EKG in the office the day before, but I didn’t connect that he thought my chest pain might be an issue with my heart. I’ve coughed so much over the last six weeks I’m in pain all over. He said, “I want to do an EKG” and I said, “Sure, yeah, whatever you want to do.”

When he gave me the results of my chest X-Ray and blood work, the conversation went something like this:

Him: So everything is normal. Except your blahblahblah level is a little higher than normal.

Me: Huh, so what does that mean?

Him: Well, when you said yesterday your chest hurt and you were short of breath, it concerned me a little that maybe you had a blood clot, so I ran this test. It tells us if you may be having a blood clot issue.

Me: Should I worry?

Him: Well, it’s really only slightly elevated.[He pauses here; I can tell he’s thinking] I’m a little concerned. I mean, it’s probably nothing. If you’d had a blood clot before I’d be worried.

Me: I haven’t. But you know my family has a history of stroke and blood clots, right?

Him: OK, now you’re kind of freaking me out.

Me: OK, now you’re kind of freaking me out.

It’s important to note here that I was not totally freaking out. Just kind of. This is a new doctor for me, and when I’d seen him on Thursday he’d told me (not for the first time) that my emotions will affect my recovery. That was because I was crying. Because I felt sick. Crying helps. But I did wonder if he was going to be one of those doctors who writes off women’s health complaints as emotional issues. I was relieved to see that I was wrong. He was more worried about me than I was. If fact, he’d been worried about me the day before and I hadn’t even known it.

Apparently the only way to figure out if the elevated level was a concern was to do more tests. He sent me to the ER and called ahead to let them know I was coming. He suggested I call an ambulance if no one could drive me. I opted to have darling husband leave work and come and get me. I didn’t know how I was going to pay for the ER copay, let alone an ambulance. It took longer but that’s fine, because I learned that if you go to the emergency room with a possible blood clot in your lungs they don’t panic about it.

I sat in the waiting room for about 10 minutes, and it was maybe another half hour after I did my initial Q & A and given a bed before anyone saw me. But, to make a five hour adventure shorter, they took great care of me, gave me an excellent exam, and in the end opted to do an CT scan of my lungs, with contrast dye, to rule out a clot.

The verdict: no blood clots, and the reason I’m still sick despite the negative tests is due to a viral bronchitis.

At one point, though, as I was lying in the bed watching cable (bonus treat for me), my husband noticed the sign on the wall: Today is Friday, December 13, 2013. New book, celebrating in the emergency room. Sounds about right to me.

When it was all done, I went home, took shower, and went to bed. When I woke up and realized that my lips felt very weird. As in very puffy weird. I asked darling husband, and he agreed. Very puffy.

After talking to the person who answered the “If you have any concerns about your CT scan with contrast dye, call this number” number and being transferred around the hospital, I finally called my primary care office. You guessed it. I was having a mild allergic reaction to the contrast dye.

The day after the book is released, I’ve been doped up on Benedryl and cough medicine but gee, my lips look pretty great. I know now why women get collagen injections. My lips are nice and full, even if they are a little numb. I should enjoy this for most of Saturday. Awesome.

And that’s how I celebrated my book being available on Friday the 13th. I didn’t even include in this story how my brakes failed on my way home from getting my blood work done and how I had to drive up onto a grassy yard to avoid getting killed in a busy intersection. Or how Bailey chewed a giant hole in the first (and most awesome) blanket I’d ever crocheted. Or how I was told by readers that there’s another book with the exact same title as mine already published and they were confused when they went to Amazon.com to buy my book. Or how I dropped and broke my last two (favorite) tea mugs in a space of less than two minutes.

It was Friday the 13th. What do you expect?

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