Friday, January 22, 2010

Lab rats

I was touring open houses in Bellevue with Bonnie and we were finishing up our rounds when my leg started to go numb. Coupled with the dizziness I have been feeling off and on for a few weeks now, I asked Bonnie to steady me on the steps to the car for balance reasons. The leg had the pins and needles sensation which progressed upward to my hip. I waited a few seconds outside the car, flexing my ankle and hoping to regain feeling so that I could balance. Finally I slipped into the low BMW seat and stretched out as much as possible. Since it had been less that 1 week that I had called Dr Hank Kaplan and he had sent me to emergency, I hesitated to call again knowing the results would be the same. I have a life to live, darn time for all this diagnostics! The left leg went nearly numb on me and it felt like I had 50 lbs of weight tied to my ankle. It was just dead weight-I am sure I would have fallen had I needed to put any weight on the leg to walk. Muscles were not working-the gears would not engage. I picked up the leg and dropped it on the car floor-thud-unbeleivable-just moments ago I was fine! Without further hesitation, I scrolled through my address book on my cell phone and called Dr Kaplan-I should have his number memorized by now.

I was admitted to ER around 3PM and after viles of blood had been drawn from my port, vitals had been taken, and 4 staff redundantly had asked my name, birthdate, and reason for being here, I was admitted for further testing to check for possible stroke warning (TIA) and MRI, and wheeled up to the 7th floor for another overnight.

Dr Kaplan appeared at my bedside at 4:45 am to bring me up to speed with the testing of the night before. No stoke-good, but the rest of the news, that I was staying the rest of the day and perhaps another night, did not go over well. The unknown is hard to deal with unless you stick your head in the sand and go on enjoying life. There must be a balance between ignorance and informed living.

I was wheeled through the corridor and down the elevator once again thru the maze of hallways. The staff is a bit confused today. Up in the elevator when we should have gone down, let me eat and drink without noticing the orders not to outside my door, and no robe or slippers. I am so trusting that there is no human error in the hospital, that it feels more like home where I make the choices. Redying for the MRI scan the radiologist, Ben (from Ethiopia) hands me earplugs with the ends twisted. "Put the twisted end in first" he said (I was trying to stuff the expanded end in, but the plug expands once inserted-new technique you old concert goes might want to try.) Then I was arrange like the swaddled baby I saw in the movie "Babies" that I saw with my sister the night before last-or a mummy, but I preferred to think of a comforted baby rather than dead mummy. I haven't done a head MRI before. They put a helmet on you and run you into a cript! At least I didn't have to raise my hands over my head for an hour. The scan was supposed to take 10 minutes and I left Sean, Erica and Dan in my room for a quick minute while I went down the hall. Enroute I joked with the nurse who transported me as he explained that many people are clostrophobic inside the scanning tube-was I clostrophobic? did I want some drugs-ativan-to relax me? The technitian said "oh no, all my scans are at least a half hour do you want some music? "Affirmative, how about classical?" I got earphones and the drawer began to move me into the tube that would do the scan. I closed my eyes and waited for the music. I went back and forth in my mind from swadled babies to fox holes in Vietnam and corpse storage boxes or the old memory of my brother closing me in a suitcase and snapping shut the metal closures. It seemed like hours before the music started-good, at least I hadn't been forgotten, but shouldn't I be coming out? Another 10 minutes and the banging and blaring (like a prisoner on a metal barge-communicating by morse code of hitting a rock against the metal, or sometimes the sounding of a blasting train horn) ceased and the drawer was moving again. An hour later, the nurse would come to get me again because the scanner was broken and I had to repeat the experience (only a short 10 minutes this time). "You have got to be joking!" I know! I couldn't believe it either! What we do for the advancement of science...

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