Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Writers Workshop: The one where Kitten goes to the ER

Time to take a trip in the Wayback Machine, kittens!

We're goin' back, back, waaaaaaayyyyyy back to January 30, 2005. I had just returned from a weekend in Jersey. It was Grandma Cat's 90th birthday celebration, and I was with a bunch of relatives I only see once, maybe twice a year.

It was also a very cold, very dry winter, and my asthma was giving me trouble. LOTS of people had noticed it, including my colleagues at work. I was getting all sorts of comments from them and especially Mama Cat:

"You haven't been taking care of yourself!"

"I'm worried about you!"

"Your breathing's very heavy!"

"You've been wheezing a lot!"

"Did you get your flu shot this year?", I did not get my flu shot that year. I thought I was doing a good thing and donating my flu shot to some elderly person, even though I myself was in a high-risk flu category.

I just rolled my eyes at all of these comments. Yeah, I was worried about my asthma, and yes, I was using my rescue inhaler A LOT, but I thought, "Oh, I'll go to the doctor soon, whenever I get a chance."

Famous last words.

The night of January 30th, I was watching 60 Minutes, in the dark, with three blankets and my comforter on top of me. I had the worst chills in the world. A few hours later I got the worst frontal lobe migraine ever. I went to bed, and woke up at 2:30, literally gasping for air. But I grabbed my rescue inhaler, took a few puffs, and went right back to sleep.

The morning of January 31st arrived. I got up, showered, didn't feel quite right, but got ready for work anyway. Was having breakfast when I decided to call in sick. I called in sick, then reached for my inhaler. I took it, nothing happened.

So I took it again.

Next thing I knew, I could barely breathe.

I reached for the phone and dialed 911.

All I remember from that call is staring at a can of Pledge on my dining room table (I had dusted a few days earlier and never put it away), and thinking, "This is the last object I'm gonna see before I die."

The paramedics arrived very quickly. I met them downstairs; how I got downstairs without passing out is beyond me.

They put me on a stretcher and got me in the ambulance, and gave me oxygen. I was at the hospital in less than five minutes.

I arrived in the ER, was put behind the curtain, and the nurses immediately started me with the nebulizer, then hooked me up to a machine that took my vitals every half hour. They drew a few vials of blood.

Next thing I knew I was being wheeled to the X-rays, where they wanted to see if my lungs were cloudy, a sign of pneumonia. I was shivering, and had three freshly warmed towels on top of me.

I fell asleep after the X-rays.

A short time, or maybe a long time, later, the doctor woke me up, and said they were going to admit me.

A few hours later, I was in a room of my own, in a hospital bed.

Sister Kitten came to visit me that night, and brought several books with her. She went to my house and checked on the cats. I couldn't thank her enough. During her visit the nurse came and took my vitals, and saw that I ran a temp of 102. She ordered some more tests.

About an hour later, the nurse confirmed that I had the flu.

Mama Cat's words came back to haunt me: "Did you get your flu shot this year?"

I ended up staying in the hospital for four days and three nights. It took that long to get my breathing right, as well as the oxygen content in my blood to go up to above 90%. When I was admitted, I later learned, there was only 60% oxygen in my blood.

I was sent home with Advair, Tamiflu, and Prednizone. The Advair and the Prednizone were for the asthma; thank God I was only on the Prednizone for a week. It's not a pleasant drug to be on. I'll spare you the details.

Bottom line, kittens, here's what I learned from that episode: DON'T EVER TAKE YOUR HEALTH FOR GRANTED. That's what happened to me. I could use the excuse that I was 28 and thought I was immortal, but it's not an excuse. I simply did not take care of myself, and I learned the hard way what can happen if I don't.

Since then, I get a flu and a pneumonia shot every year. I take my Advair every morning and night. My asthma is well under control now.

I bug the heck out of my doctor's office, and the company nurse, whenever flu season rolls around, since I need that flu shot. Yeah, they may get tired of my nagging, but there's a good reason for it...

...simply put, that flu shot saves me not only a trip to the ER, but very well may save my life.


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Wow, that's an adventure I'd rather not experience! Glad that can of Pledge wasn't the last thing you ever saw.

DO you drink milk? I've read that dairy products aggravate asthma. (I'm a vegan, so I'm always reading health food stuff.)

L. Diane Wolfe “Spunk On A Stick”

Anonymous said...

oh my goodness....I can only imagine! :-(

Momma Hunt said...

I totally understand what you are saying. The only two years that I didn't take the flu shot I got the friggin flu. I am headed back to my teaching job in a few weeks and wondering if I can get two with all this hoopla about the swine flu going around!

Grand Pooba said...

Wow! I'm glad you didn't die kitten! I had to be on predizone for a year and I agree, dangerous drug indeed!

Jenners said...

Freaky!!! How awful to sit there and think about Pledge as you "die"? And I know what you mean...I sometimes take the flu for granted .... mostly because I've never gotten it (because I get flu shots). Glad you survived!!!

septembermom said...

Oh wow, that must have been scary. Good advice. I never got a flu shot. Thanks to you, I'll get one now:)

Serena said...

o my goodness. girl...I know you learned your lesson, but did everyone else take something away from your story.

flu is not something to mess with.

blueviolet said...

That is absolutely frightening! I'm just glad everything turned out ok.

Jodi said...

Your story sounded just like mine when I got pneumonia back in 2002. It was awful. I now get both pneumonia and flu shots. I swear by them. I also swear by asthma maintenance.

I totally agree about the prednisone. It is a horror to take that drug. It is what caused me to have cataract surgery in BOTH eyes two years ago. Can you imagine..having cataract surgery at 35yrs old?? Prednisone is a miracle drug to help our asthma but it destroys other parts of our body.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, that is so scary. I'm glad you are ok. I get my flu shot every year, working with little kids and all.