Friday night ended up with a mentally disturbed guy threatening to flip out, a relationship ending in screams, and two people dead.
None of which had anything to do with me.
I've never watched the television program ER. But a night sitting in the waiting room at our nearby hospital's Emergency Room provided ample demonstration that an ER is a goldmine for dramatic situations: People under stress, people in pain, people in fear, people dying and people having to watch other people (family, friends) die.
One man had just had his wife die in a traffic accident. He almost made it outside before breaking down completely in long, extended, wordless howls of grief.
The night's other death was a child, with the ER nurses and doctor's scrambling as "Pediatric Code Blue" was announced on the intercom, a few moments before the ambulance arrived. A large Hispanic family arrived shortly after the ambulance, apprehension deep on their faces, and were escorted thru a door into the back room where the child had been taken; thru the door, I could see a minister arriving, Bible in hand. About a quarter of an hour later, the family came back out, moving slowly, some leaning on each other, most crying.
The young couple, the woman emotionally distraught, screaming "LEAVE ME! JUST FUCKING LEAVE ME! THAT'S WHAT YOU WANT!" at her boyfriend. (Husband?) Shortly after, they both left, without seeing a doctor.
And the young guy who had passed out at a dance, was cheerful and friendly most of the night, but became loud and belligerent after he'd seen the doctor, threatening to "flip out" if the ER staff didn't arrange a ride for him back to his halfway house. (Bipolar? Perhaps.)
What I Was Doing There
I'd woken up feeling yucky and out-of-sorts Friday morning, schlepped off to work anyway, and plodded thru the workday feeling bloated and slightly nauseated and wondering if I'd picked up a bug. Didn't think too much of it, other than wishing I'd stayed home, until late afternoon, when I realized that I had not taken a piss all day, in spite of drinking my usual -- fairly large -- amount of liquids.
Kidneys not working? That seemed a little more serious than just a bug, so after getting home from work, I hied off to the local Urgent Care facility. From my symptoms, the doctor there expected to find signs of a kidney infection, but the blood and urine samples (I was able to squeeze out a small sample; the doctor mentioning the word "catherization" was, ummm, motivating) came back negative. So he sent me off the the hospital ER for further, more extensive tests.
There, after more blood tests, an ultrasound, x-rays and eight hours of waiting (not a particular surprise; I wasn't having chest pains, wasn't bleeding, wasn't having problems breathing, could move all my fingers and toes, and wasn't on fire, so I knew I'd be pretty low on the triage list and would have been surprised if I'd been there less than four hours), I finally got into an actual examination room for a doctor to see me.
By this time, early Saturday morning, two things had happened: 1) I'd started feeling considerably less yucky than I had all day Friday, and 2) about five a.m., I was able to take a good long piss. So whatever the problem was, it appeared to have started to rectify itself. Which, since the doctor said all the tests had come up with nothing conclusive -- kidneys, gall bladder, pancreas, etc., all looked okay -- was a good thing. He wanted another blood test, to compare with the one from when I'd first arrived at the ER, so I ended up staying another few hours for that to be taken and processed.
I still wasn't feeling great, just not as bad, and having only had about an hour's worth of catnaps in the waiting room and examination room, I called work and took some sick leave for Saturday. Finally got home about ten a.m. and went to bed. (Hilde had stayed up all night waiting for me. Silly woman. I'd scared her.)
But Wait! There's More!
Sunday night, as I was preparing to take our Corgi, Madame Mim, around the block for her nightly walk, I noticed my left hip was starting to ache. Hadn't strained it, hadn't bumped it, wasn't sure why it was aching. It was worse by the time we got back to the house, and continued to grow worse as Hilde and I got ready to go to bed. Took several extra-strength Tylenol, and hoped it'd be better by morning.
Nope. Worse. Considerably worse. It wasn't just "aching", it hurt.
(I draw a distinction between "discomfort" and "pain": "Discomfort" is something you can focus away from, shove into the background, ignore by force of will and appropriate concentration on something else. "Pain" is a wet blanket over your brain, nails on the chalkboard, speaker feedback at high volume, a car alarm that you cannot stop, fogging your thoughts and throwing sand into your decision-making gears. This was pain.)
It hurt badly enough to call work and report in sick again, then call my doctor and get an afternoon appointment. (Thank you, whoever had just cancelled their own appointment at that time.)
Every Step An Adventure: Thoughts And Notes On Becoming A Crippled Old Fart:
By mid-day, trying to walk on that leg was a process of lurch and gasp, lurch and gasp, pause for a moment to catch breath, repeat until you reach a chair to sit in, or a bed to lie down on, or a wall to lean against.
When you're in pain, your "to-do" list shrinks dramatically, whether you want it to or not.
Even your "have-to-do" list shrinks dramatically.
When you're in pain, you realize just how much of your normal life was spent moving.
Pain makes you taller, because anything on the floor is a lot further away.
Pain makes you shorter, because anything on a high shelf gets further away, too.
Steps that used to be a handy way to change elevation turn into an obstacles.
Putting on a pair of pants becomes very interesting. Shoes, even more so.
"30-Minute Meal" cookbooks become a good thing. Microwavable entrees even better. Pizza delivery is Nobel-Prize worthy.
The dog will not understand why you can't take her for a walk tonight.
Realizing you can write a blog post about it is not adequate recompense for the experience.
The Pros Poke & Prod
So I see my doctor Monday afternoon:
"Does it hurt when I move your leg this way?" "Aieee! Yes!" "How about this direction?" "Aieeee!" "And this?" "Aieeee! Yes! Yes! I confess! I took the Lindbergh baby!"
His preliminary diagnosis is bursitis of the hip, and refers me to an orthopedic specialist. Until I see the ortho doc on Wednesday, treatment is pain pills. (There are some unused Tylenol #2 pills in the medicine cabinet at home, so I strike up a friendship with a really nice guy named Cody Deane for a while.)
So I see the ortho doc, who takes x-rays and gives me an examination. ("Does it hurt when I--" "Aieeee!")
He shows me the x-rays and confirms my GP's diagnosis. On the x-rays, the left hip socket has a small nodule that shouldn't be there, which he tells me is a lump of calciifcation caused by the bursitis. It's located deeper into the socket than most such lumps occur, where he can't get at it with a long needle to give it a direct shot of cortisone. So his prescribed treatment is an oral course of cortisone pills, starting with a heavy dose on the first day and tapering off over a week's time.
Began the course of pills this morning. I am pleased -- nay, relieved -- nay, ecstatic -- to be able to say that the cortisone is already starting to give some relief. The hip is still sore, still tender, still doesn't have a full range of motion, but I'm lurching less now and enjoying it more. Walking on that leg is just a bother now, rather than an adventure. I should be able to go back to work sometime next week.
Let's wrap this up with an appropriate image:
Last Minute Note, and credit where due: The "Lindbergh baby" joke comes from one of Jim Varney's "Ernest" movies. Ummmm... so I'm told. Because, like, you know, a sauve, sophisticated guy like me would never admit to watching ERNEST GOES TO CAMP or ERNEST SAVES CHRISTMAS, or any of the other Ernest films. No. Not me. No, no, no, no.