This morning I took my Byetta injection before preparing my breakfast of some Kashi oatmeal, a bit of creamer, some Splenda, and a Diet Coke. I was also a bit bad and had a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup I "swiped" from a candy bowl in the break room. I noticed that my lips and mouth were itching so I figured I was having a reaction to the oatmeal. I had eaten half of it but I stopped and didn't finish. The itching got a bit stronger and when I started having problem breathing I told my acting boss I was having an allergic reaction and was going to the emergency room. Off to Overlake Hospital I went.
At the ER the intake was quick and efficient. Of course there wasn't anyone waiting when I got there. I saw a few people in rooms when I was taken back to mine, but it was really quiet for an ER. In a few minutes I was covered only in a robe with no back and hooked up to machines that go ping. I know they go ping because they did a few times while I was there.
The nurse asked me for an update and my lips were numb, my tongue felt like it was swollen and I was still having problems breathing. She gave me some Benadryl and said the doctor would be there in a few minutes. While waiting for the doctor my tongue swelled noticeably and I started having trouble talking. Also we noticed that the Byetta injection site was red and blotchy. I told this to the doctor and scribe and they left saying they would be back soon.
I could hear them talking out in the hall so I knew what treatment they ordered and I heard the dreaded words "I.V. drip." Taking blood samples from me is difficult. I.V.s are damn near torture for me and this time wasn't any different. The nurse came back and gave me a shot of epinephrine, which I hoped was instead of the dreaded I.V. (No such luck.) Then she explained my treatment plan. First a nebulizer with some steroids to help my breathing, then an I.V. with some other medicine for the reaction I was having.
The next visit was from a tech, sorry I didn't notice her role or name tag. She had me put a nebulzier in my mouth and inhale normally. Every minute I was to take a deep breath and hold it for five seconds. I wouldn't have minded it much except the next treatment started while this was going on.
The nurse started attempting to put in the I.V. and I told her about my history with the record setting 90 minute session when I was about 11. She promised it wouldn't take that long and in the end it was true. She tried for about ten minutes and tried sticking me twice. It's not just sticking in the needle. The part that really trips my triggers is pulling the needle out part of the way, moving it around and pushing it back in. Gah!!!! It takes everything I have not to break down when they do that. After ten minutes she gave up and called in a nurse with more experience.
The experienced nurse took another fifteen minutes trying once on my right arm, which was the same side the first nurse attempted. Then the experienced nurse switched to my left arm and finally found a good site and got the I.V. in place. I asked her to not warn me before inserting the needle and she said she had to or I might jump and ruin the attempt. I explained that the anticipation was worse than the actual sticking and I would tense up if she warned me. Thankfully she believed me and was able to get it done. Off she went to care for other patients and update my records.
While I was waiting I heard the nurses and the doctor talking about how calm I was and that most people with breathing problems in the ER would be freaking out and difficult to handle. The thing they didn't know was that I was freaking out but having plenty of experience with hospitals I know that thrashing around just makes things worse. So I was using all of my tricks to keep physically calm and relaxed. Also every time I did start to freak out it became much harder to breathe which was a good reminder to relax.
In came the nurse and attached a saline bag to the I.V. and injected the medicine into the bag for delivery. Oh, did I mention that while this was all happening the machine that goes ping would take my blood pressure every few minutes by inflating a cuff to tourniquet levels of pressure? That's how I know that machine goes ping. Because it does if your blood pressure raises or drops too much and mine was reading high. Turns out the cuff had slipped and was giving false readings. So a nurse came running in to check on me and fixed the cuff.
The I.V. didn't take long to deliver the medicine and the nurse came back to remove it, but she left the needle in my arm in case the had to do anything else. Then the doctor came back to talk to me about her plans for me. My treatment was done but they wanted to keep me for observation because the treatment might wear off before the whatever was causing the reaction had flushed out of my system. This was about 10:30am. She asked if I wanted lunch and I knew I was not going to get back to work. Oh well... Needle in one arm. Arm crushing machine wrapped around the other. I had my phone and found TNT was playing shows I liked so it could have been worse.
The nurses kept checking on me and my breathing was fine and while my tongue wasn't back to normal it was getting smaller. Lunch was delivered and it was edible... Well except for the sugar free Lemon-Lime (green) Jello. Bleah.
Two episodes of NUMB3RS and one of Cold Case and the nurse came back and asked if I would walk around for a bit to see if I could be released. I could walk and so we started the discharge process. Removed the needle. Unhook me from the machine that goes ping and they even gave me back my pants. One last visit from the doctor gave me two prescriptions and my instructions. Home to rest for today, back to normal tomorrow.
I drove from Bellevue to Capitol Hill to pick up my prescriptions and there was one heck of a line at the pharmacy. I found out from someone in line that the pharmacy gives flu shots from 1pm-3pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Once I got my prescriptions I had to have a chat with the pharmacist. The steroids were new and the pharmacist mentioned some side effects, which will become important later, and then gave me a bit of instruction on how to use the epi pen. I was amused when the pharmacist told me she used to use live epi pens to demonstrate but accidentally dosed herself onetime so now she just mimes the motions. Not that I needed training with epi pens. Having lived with folks who have bad allergies I have been trained so I know what to do if they can't care for themselves. Fun, eh?
The final diagnosis was an allergic reaction to Byetta. So I'm off of that and now have to change my answer when I'm asked if I am allergic to any medicines. Damn! I thought all the hospital time was my penance and I didn't get the allergies that the rest of the family did.
Then it was off to home, finally. Which wasn't very exciting. I laid down on the couch and watched a lot of Food Network Challenge, which you might have figured out if you follow me on Twitter. :)
neuro42 offered to give hollyqueen a ride home which was great since I was told not to drive. Here's where those side effects become important. I had taken the first two doses of my pills. As I laid on the couch I was freaking out a bit because my heart was beating stronger than normal and I was a bit on edge from being in the emergency room. While I was writing up this post I remembered the side effects the pharmacist mentioned, so I went and got the info sheet and some of them are difficulty sleeping, nervousness, increased appetite, bone problems (such as pain, broken or fractured bones) and the list goes on. Now I've seen predisone fuck up a lot of people. My ex-wife swelled up like a balloon and had to be rushed to the ER on this stuff. I'm only on it for a short time but I certainly was experiencing nervousness and a panic attack earlier.
I really want to thank everyone who sent kind words and pictures during my "adventure" today. (And if you are just finding about my day and want to send me some encouragement I'd love it.) I really have a problem with hospitals and knowing people out there were thinking about me helped me get through the rough patches. Just visiting friends in the hospital sets off all kinds of triggers when I step through the doors. I know they're helping me to get better but all I remember is pain and suffering. It's rare to find an unpleasant test or treatment that I haven't experienced before.
So how was your day?