I’ve been feeling really crappy over the last number of days. It might have started on Tuesday with a general lethargy at the end of the day. By Thursday, it had changed to a migraine headache, fever, muscle aches and what seemed like a chest cold. The migraine lasted almost 2 days and was the worst I’ve had in about 15-20 years. I believed that the cause of the migraine was that my back muscles were cramping because I was shivering due to the chills induced by the fever.
Once the migraine was reduced to a reoccurring pounding headache (Tylenol 3), I hoped I would get over the other symptoms. I even started feeling pretty good for a few hours on Friday.
My condition did not improve over the weekend. I had much difficulty sleeping due to my lungs being filled and continued muscle aches. Sometimes the fever would come back.
So this morning, instead of going to the doctor, I went straight to the emergency room. The theory was that if I would need chest x-rays or blood work, then they could all be done at once, instead of seeing a doctor, then going somewhere else for the tests, then back to the doctor.
Once I signed in, I was put into a separate waiting room with a sign outside indicating that it was an isolation room and only people who were asked to sit there should even enter the room. I was given a mask to wear.
I waited about 2.5 hours, catching a nap, and doing some light reading. Around noon, I was finally admitted into one of the examination rooms. There was a sign posted on the outside indicating “droplet warning” and that anyone entering the room had to wear a full face guard. Upon later reflection, this was likely because of the H1H1 flu policies.
The doctor came in and briefly checked me out and then sent me for chest x-rays to confirm the suspicion that it was pneumonia. I was beginning to suspect that might be the diagnosis because a chest cold does usually include a fever.
After the x-ray, the blood work was taken, and I was hooked up to an IV system. I wasn’t expecting the IV, but was interested in how it all worked. I could feel it when it started as my arm started getting cooler – the IV would be room temperature (say 25) but body temperature is about 37. I later heard the doctor outside my room indicating that she ordered the IV because my heart rate was 115 bpm. I didn’t realize it was so high. Adding saline solution will dilute the blood and lower the body temperature and bring down the heart rate (which it did).
The final diagnosis confirmed pneumonia. I was possibly still contagious, so I was told not to go to work for the rest of this week. I finally left the hospital about 7.5 hours after checking-in.
Overheard from the sign-in desk next to the waiting room:
1. “I have an infection on my (elbow/leg) and I am on antibotics. I was told to come to the emergency room if it got worse in case I needed IV antibotics.” I heard this twice in 2.5 hours. Is it really that common?
2. “I just returned from Cuba, where I was raped. Do you have a rape kit? Is a rape kit useful after 24-hours?” The woman left immediately after. It really got me thinking about what a terrible time she must be having. Can you imagine flying home with that on your mind? And I can’t understand why some men are so awful. I just don’t understand people.
3. “My father was in earlier and was sent to go get an MRI. I just wanted to let you know that they found a 5-centimeter growth in his brain. I wasn’t sure if you needed to know that for your records.” Again, another tragic story told in three sentences.