So , once again before I finish writing my book reviews and reading the last 30 pages I have of the book I am on, and holding my sick fur baby, I thought this would be the perfect time to write a blog about Grace Under Fire. Sometimes I wonder how it is we navigate through this bomb riddled, post apocalyptic mess of a thing we call life. I can hear you now, “Such a negative view of life, nothing is ever THAT bad.” I will now challenge you to reach beyond that scope of vision and deep into the recesses of your own mind where we all hide those things we don’t want other people to see (kind of like shoving everything laying around in the closet when you get word of surprise guests coming over, and shoving the door closed so that you appear to have a clean house.) The problem with that in life is what if someone opens the door, and all that mess falls out? What if when it falls out it knocks somebody out? What if while that stuff is shoved in the closet a tornado comes through and rips everything, including your closet and all of its packed tight glory, and scatters the pieces so far around that you no longer know where to start picking up at, how to make everything whole again, or even more basically, how to make it all make sense again?
I will be the first to acknowledge that I HORRIBLE at letting people know everything that is happening to me because my entire life’s goal has been to give people peace and comfort when their 2 year old died after being hit by a truck that was driven by a drunk driver that walked away without a scratch. A firm, yet loving shoulder for a 15 year old who just found out she is pregnant, and the baby is a product of rape. I am the voice of reason to a new mother who is afraid that everything she is doing is wrong, and certainly she must be harming her baby. Just another human reaching out and saying it is o.k if your baby cries, and it is o.k for you to cry because the beginning of any life is filled with tears and screaming. I am the patient provider to the elderly drunken man who comes in to the Emergency Room every time it is cold, cursing and causing a ruckus, but I know that he fought in a war he never really came home from. I know that while I am safe in my bed sleeping, he has no home to go to because his government pension is not enough to provide him warm shelter and food. I know that I am the closest to human interaction he ever has, and I know that this rude and disheveled man gave up his life to defend a country that has left him out in the cold, and I know that while his behavior is gruff and stand-offish, that my bringing him a bagged lunch and a warm blanket will get him through the next 8 hours of his life. For that little old lady who is dying and has not one of her family members there, no one to comfort her and be there for her while she is traveling that lonely road we all must make. For her, I am a warm hand to hold hers, a soft touch to brush her hair from her face, a reassuring voice that she is not alone, and that it is o.k. to let go and shake loose the bindings of her beautiful angel wings. I knew long ago that for me, giving was the best part of what I could do for my fellow humans as we all navigated the land mines and mortar rounds that life has laid out for us as we each travel our own path.
I never really learned how to be a gracious receiver. When people asked me was I o.k, I could always pull out a smile and say yes, while inside I was battling a hurricane of emotions, and I was battling them alone. Giving to people became a substitution for me for the pain that I too was feeling. By giving to them, I didn’t have to think about me or my problems. I felt safe and comfortable in my world of giving spun cocoon. But like that stuffed up closet, I was already close to bursting when the tornado finally came for me as well.
For me the vortex starting spinning when I bought my first brand new car. Now, for most of you, that may not be a big deal, but for me it was supposed to be the apex of years of struggling as a single mom without child support, school loans I had finally paid off so that I could go ahead and go back and get my Master’s Degree, and surviving 3 teenagers in my house without killing them or myself. I had always had a car my parents gave me or that was used, or was a certified pre-owned vehicle. So I finally took the leap. I sat there looking at the numbers on the page for the brand new vehicle I was fixing to purchase that only had 4 miles on it and everything was still wrapped in plastic. Needless to say I was a sweating, nervous mess. I felt so guilty. I always sacrificed buying for myself to buy for my children as they were my heart and I would rather go without then for them to go without, and here I was buying something that was totally for me. One thing that I owned that was MINE. No one had it before me to have smoked in it or wrecked it, etc. MINE! SELFISH! SHHHHHHHH MINE! SELFISH THE KIDS NEED THINGS! SHHHHHHHH HEAD PLEASE MINE! SELF—- ……MINE! I had signed the papers and going home in a new car while leaving my other car there. (I hadn’t traded it, but I couldn’t drive two cars home, and when I left the house I had no intention of buying a car yet here I was.) I had no idea of the storm that was going to let loose to wreak unmitigated hell in my life. Oblivious to anything other than being proud, and thinking I wish my Daddy could have been here to see it. (My Daddy had just recently passed away, and honestly to this moment I am not over it, nor do I think I will ever be. Never let anyone tell you that the pain lessens with time, they are damn liars.) Yet I digress.
So, the new car, that was so absolutely wonderful to me got me to and from my job that I loved and life was spinning its vortex and planting its bombs, and I was bopping around oblivious. Then as I was coming home from a two day nursing conference that was on its second day, and BAM!!!!! THANKS FOR THE LIGHTNING BOLT LIFE!! The bomb life planted ended up exploding around and into my new car as I became part of a 5 car accident. As I rethought that day, I missed the critical sign when I had that opportunity to go a differently way and I opted not to. Oh life, you couldn’t just take my happiness with the car, but you gave me a messed up surgical shoulder and it was on my dominant arm. See life had its strategic planners out there and I was now not even paying attention to where there might be more explosions and storms in the horizon.
Fast forward a bit, and on December 16th, I started noticing some mild tremors in my legs and I felt just kind of “off.” I knew I’d had an infection in my toe that I was treating, but my foot had started turning blue and black. Everyone just dismissed it and thought that as soon as the antibiotics kicked in good, things were going to be o.k. I went into work on December 17th with my legs shaking so bad I could barely drive the car in to work. I was pouring sweat and having some chest pain after one very hard and sharp pain to my right side. I thought “oh no! I’ve thrown a blood clot to my lung from my foot.” I barely got to the hospital, and was driving myself. My vision was going in and out and when I wasn’t having tunnel vision, I was seeing flashing white light streaks. My foot was black and cold, and I was in so much pain I honestly believed that I was dying, (which is the only way I willing would go to an Emergency Room, as I too work in an Emergency Room, and I know how busy they are. And I couldn’t reconcile that I too was riding a train that maybe I wanted to step off of.)
I will not speak ill of my cohorts in Emergency Medicine, but I will say that with intense chest pain, having a hard time breathing, sweating so bad I looked like I was taking a shower right there in the Emergency Room, and my foot was blue and black and cold up to my mid calf. I sat there in the waiting room for 8 hours before I was ever taken back to be seen. The wait in the Emergency Room was so long that they sent a tech from the ER with a list of names of all people that had been there 8 hours or more just to take our blood pressure’s again in the lobby. That was the only other medical person I had seen since the Triage nurse saw me, and I kept debating on whether to leave. In the end, an 8 hour wait in a lobby FULL of entertainment made me realize I had committed to the long haul, and buckled down waiting for the storm to hit full blast. Now I have to say I had the most entertainment I have ever had in a hospital sitting in that waiting room…..but that I will save for another post.
After being taken back, examined, tests run, IV fluids and pain medicine and warm blankets later, the doctor came back in to tell me what I had already known, (I just couldn’t really admit fully to myself that I was TRULY a patient,) and that I was going to be admitted to the hospital as a real live patient. My scans had shown that the blood flow was reduced and gone in multiple toes. So off I was whisked to bask in the company of that nurses that occupy that strange world of “the floor.” That’s where I sent MY patients, and in truth I had never really ever known what these mystical floor nurses DID. I mean for me, I had already got the patient diagnosed and comfortable and most of the work done…what POSSIBLY could floor nurses do? And by this time it was 2 or 3 am when I was heading up to the unknown. I knew as an Emergency Room nurse that I worked my arse off from the time I got there to the time I left as I cared for patient after patient in the rooms I was assigned to care for that day. Floor nurses? They have a couple patients, and maybe medicine to give, but from over the many, many, many years that I have been an ER nurse, and had to give report to the “floor nurse,” my image of them was really quite frightening.
So, let me just say I was WRONG, WRONG and WRONG about floor nurses! I had some of the most amazing human beings taking care of me. They were loving and kind and were in my room so much I never had to ask for ANYTHING!!! I was allowed to see nursing from a different angle, (but nope, I couldn’t do it, I’m just to fast paced for that,) and I was taking the opportunity I thought life was giving me by slowly appreciating how well they cared for me that again, missed the damn sign that the apocalypse was not over yet, and the tornado was right on my heels again.
If I could just learn to read the signs…..and spell right…..oh you will see……
So not long after I arrived on the floor, I had one intense sharp pain in my head. It was so bad, I was actually in fear that my head was in fact blowing off my body. I started having some “stroke symptoms” as well and was immediately taken for a CT of my head. Now, the MD wanted to to have contrast (which I am DEATHLY allergic to), and so began my 13 hour prep of steroids and Benadryl and many other things to get me through to the next day to have my procedure done.When it came down to it, I was scheduled for a 10 am scan, and the vascular surgeon and the ICU MD as well as anesthesia and the critical airway team were all going to accompany me to a 5 minute head scan, (which I was BEYOND grateful for), and the Vascular surgeon stood at my bed at 955 am and said you know, it’s not worth it for us to do the scan with contrast. Huh??? I had been woke up, fed medicines, medications in my body when he KNEW the reaction was so severe, and he came at 955 and called it off. WOW MAN!! Talk about adrenaline let down.
So, I was whisked off to the land of MRI and MRA without contrast. Meanwhile my internist is running around saying I need blood, I cant move things, my vision is seriously different that what it has been all my life, and apparently I was learning how to speak a foreign language. I think for me that was one of the worst parts. I don’t brag but I do hold lots of degrees. Why? Because I have a love of learning, of writing, of reading, of trying to figure out the dynamics of what went wrong in the past so that those same mistakes are not made over again. In my head, I knew EXACTLY what I was saying and what I meant, and even to who I was talking/ texting to. What came out on the other end was nothing but jibberish. That is a tough blow to take. Now my family on the other hand,found it humorous to read my crazy texts, but then realized that it was hurting me to the core that the thoughts and communication I was having were not coming out in the way that I meant them too. So off I went to have the MRI/MRA of my brain…….
Do you know that an MRI/MRA which is done all at the same time is terribly clostrophobic when they are putting your head in there. And those earphones they put in your ears so you “don’t hear the machine”…….. well I’m sorry to say that is the purpose of the ear phones are to keep me from hearing……YOU FAILED MISERABLY!! I felt like I was at the shooting range, without ear protection, shooting a cannon while the person next to me was emptying the machine gun they had brought, while mortar rounds are being fired. And that was WITH the earphones in.
Now I know why my patients always come back pissed off and in pain. I couldn’t figure out how I was going to make my getaway from the evil machine of death because they had me strapped in!! Can you imagine strapping in an adult??? Like they thought I would run or something?? (O.K. so yes, that was A #1 on my list of things to do…curse those straps!) I could clearly see life’s bomb attempt that day, but due to a Doctor’s order, (and the fact I couldn’t walk or move well on my own), life most definitely had me by the head and was NOT letting go! I guess finally life ran out of bullets to shoot, because finally, (a whole 45 min later), the test was done and I was set free.
So , with that complete, and the 954 other tests they had scheduled or had me participating in, and after 8 days in the hospital, I finally was set free. With a walker. And violent leg tremors. And short of breath still. No real answer’s except I most definitely had extreme type 2 Raynaud’s disease in all 4 of my extremities (which I had known about Raynaud’s in my hands since I was much younger), and told that I had experienced a “cardiac event” as well as I suffered from a TIA, and was given a ton of blood thinners and heart medicine and BP medicine and so on until my am pill count was at 12 and my pm night count was 6 and one in the middle of the day, because EVERYBODY just LOVES waking up only to take handful’s of pills. OK LIFE I GOT IT NOW!!!THANK YOU FOR MY HUMILITY AND MY ABILITY TO BE PATIENT AND COOPERATIVE INSTEAD OF MY USUAL HURRY UP AND GET THE HELL OUT OF MY WAY SELF. LESSON LEARNED. REMOVAL OF EXPLOSIVES AND BOOBY TRAPS GREATLY APPRECIATED NOW. I wondered if life had heard me.I just wanted to scream uncle.
Why yes, yes it can. Don’t EVER say “It can’t get worse because believe me, it can and it will.” While there is a process I’m going through, I feel like I need to separate them, and to be sure each one has its own place.
So, remember after 8 days, (which started on my birthday. Yup, all day in ER on my birthday), they sent me home with a fist full of prescriptions and an ever bigger list of people I had to see ASAP. They told me I needed to see a PCP, and a whole slew of specialists. Luckily, (or unluckily, it just depends on how you choose to take this one), the hospital has this beautiful service of providing you as a patient with MOST of your medical records. It does NOT include all the things the doctors and nurses wrote about you, but it DOES give you every test result to every test you have had with results, and it tells you when you have an appointment coming up and with whom. Well, la-dee-dah LIFE, I GOT YOU NOW! Yet again I just couldn’t grasp that an F-5 tornado was wreaking hell in my life and had no plans of slowing. Right before I got my first result, I found out through my co-workers and not my boss that I would not be coming back to the ER because I couldn’t provide an illness note she needed. I did apologize as when you are strapped to a heaprin drip and having mini strokes and you’ve has enough elevation in your cardiac enzymes that they are calling it “and event,” and your now blind in your right eye, and other FANTASTIC body out of control experiences, that I couldn’t get to her unless I ripped out my IV’s to get YOU what YOU need. I can be there when discharged, but not before. That’s right folks…the job I am fantastic at, the job I have never had anything but positive reviews and where I was in a management role, a job I put before EVERYTHING else, and she told the staff first then sent me a text that because I couldn’t get the note to her that my job was severed, and there was no discussion, no anything. She just went into a morning staff meeting told them I was a great nurse and leader, but wouldn’t be coming back. I was sent a text 3 DAYS later. WOW LIFE SERIOUS?????I’M THE ONE SUPPORTING THE HOUSE PAYMENT AND BILLS AND NOW YOU TAKE MY JOB???
OK, so the real quit tally:
- Brand New Vehicle: Wrecked
- Shoulder Screwed
- Foot got infected
- Foot turned blue
- Foot turned blue and black and became cold
- Started having chest pain and hard to breathe
- After 8 hours in lobby, admitted to hospital for 8 days (And LUCKY ME was admitted on my birthday!)
- Had TIA and “Cardiac Event”
- Lost peripheral vision and most of right eye vision
- Sent home with walker due to tremors, a pile of prescriptions and a pile of appointments to follow up with
- And now the biggest winner of all:
FOUND OUT BY MYSELF THAT THERE WAS A MISTAKE MADE IN THE READING OF MY MRA……….I ACTUALLY AM THE LUCKY WINNER OF:
The WTF factor went up by like 10 million. OK LIFE YOU WIN! UNCLE! I CAN’T DO ANY MORE!!! Oh, but yes, yes you can. In my next posting I will tell about all the SUPER fun things I have had to do and as a sneak preview, the next step is looking for these little darlings too:
All these SWEET gifts that LIFE thinks could be fun are what we are hunting now…..all because of the crazy testing they had to do on me. Sometimes you can only take so much (or tell so much ) in such a short period of time. I will leave you with this though:
So, as you can imagine, no job, no income, medical bills piling up like crazy, I am a walking time bomb myself, and yet I still go forth. I still read books and do book reviews and I think about how will I pay all the bills and I do a whole lot of crying sometimes.
I didn’t plan this. I didn’t ask for this. I’ve spent my whole life giving, now I have nothing but time and books and my little bookstore and the reviews that I do for the books that I read and post. I have beat cancer once……..or so I thought…..
If you are reading this, as I know it has been one hell of a long journey for both you and my to get to these words on the page, and you are so compelled to donate to helping with the medical bills, to help a nurse, a mom, a book reader, reviewer and re-seller of the books, I would be most humbled and greatly appreciative beyond all of LIFE’s curves. I want to proudly display this :
If you want to donate, every little bit helps. I will be posting the donation link on all my blogs and reviews for people. I can’t thank you all personally, but if I could I would. So let’s make a little noise and help educate people on stroke symptoms and the danger of brain aneurysms. EVERY 8 MINUTES SOMEONES ANEURYSM HAS RUPTURED…so lets wear BURGUNDY in honor of brain aneurysm survivors and those that have fought that last fight.
Again, thank you for reading this, and thank you for any donation your heart leads you to give.