Friday, July 15, 2011

Oops, I Did It Again

     Someday, someday soon, I swear I will learn to be careful what I say. That last post I wrote? The one that was all optimistic about the new potential treatment for my husband's back pain? I tell you, as a rather superstitious creature by nature, you'd think I would know better than to say out loud that things are coming up roses. Apparently, making such statements are the exact thing that leads to badness for me and my husband. Seems obvious, right? No, really, I'm not that superstitious or fatalistic. More importantly, I'm not possessed of nearly that negative a mind-frame as to think that my husband would end up in the emergency room solely because of something that I'd written about. He ended up in the emergency room on Tuesday because the pain in his back was just too much for him.

     It started on Sunday night, the pain in his spine. That's a different pain entirely than the pain he experiences when his muscles start to cramp and spasm. When my husband's spine starts making life difficult, it's a little more problematic than his muscles misbehaving because, with the exception of Dilaudid, no painkiller will touch it. Instead of going to the ER right then, he wanted to tough it out because he had that chiropractic appointment in the morning and hoped that whatever the chiropractor was going to do would alleviate the pain. No such luck. While he and I both consider that visit a success, it kind of added a new layer of pain to what was already going on.

     Monday wasn't so bad, though he felt like he was going to be sore the next day because of the chiropractor's poking around. It was supposed to be a good sore, though, like the kind that you get while on the path to making things better. Tuesday came and it fast became apparent that we were going to have no such luck. He went to work that morning, but warned me that his back was getting worse and he was considering a trip to the ER. Okay, fine, just tell me if/when he needed to go and I'd drop him off at the hospital. Not long after, it got to that point and away we went.

     I pulled into the little half-circle in front of the emergency room doors, kissed him good-bye and told him to text me when he was ready for me to come get him. I should also mention that Tuesday happened to be the hottest day of the summer thus far and that place was absolutely packed with people, probably because of heat-related issues. That, combined with the fact that it was what we both thought was going to be a routine inspection-of-the-Marfan-kid-and-hit-him-with-Dilaudid, was why I just dropped him off at the door and went back to work. There was no place for me there.

     My husband spent about five hours in the waiting room before he was finally assigned to a room to be seen by one of the physicians, and that's after having informed the nurse in triage that he's got heart issues. (For those of you unfamiliar with hospital waiting room procedures, telling them you have heart issues is usually the golden ticket to the front of the line. No one wants to risk a nasty cardiac surprise in the middle of a crowded waiting room.) That should've been the first indicator that this was going to end less than well.

     While he was waiting to be seen for his back pain, my husband reached up and rubbed his eye without even thinking about it. (Really, who does? Your eye itches, you rub it, end of story.) Like so many other things, that was not even the case for him. As it turns out, when he rubbed his eye with the same amount of pressure he always uses, he opened up the old incision that we thought was healed. When my husband was finally called back to a room to be treated for his back pain (also to have his heart checked; they're always afraid that any pain could someone be coming from that area), he mentioned to the attending physician that he thought he might've done something to his eye and could they check it out while he was there?

     I was born with messed up eyes and have had an eye specialist since I was five years old. Suffice it to say that I've had many, many eye exams of various types over the years and never have I seen a more thorough exam than the one given my husband in that emergency room. Apparently, there were two ophthalmology residents on call that night and it was decided by someone somewhere that they both needed to make an appearance in my husband's exam room. Watching the proceedings quietly from my little chair in the corner, I had to try really hard not to laugh. I swear, it was like watching Tweedledee and Tweedledum, only skinnier and wearing white lab coats.

     The first one brought a bag o' goodies with him, including a portable slit lamp. He just kept pulling stuff out of it and in the middle of his exam, the other ophthalmologist walked in and informed my husband that they were bringing in a real slit lamp to examine him with, though by this point they'd both already had a go at him with the portable one. Each doctor mirrored the others' exam, so my husband got a second opinion on the matter whether he wanted it or not. By the time all was said and done, the only possible part of my husband's eyeballs that hadn't been examined and re-examined had to have been the backs of them, where they're attached to his head.

     Ultimately, the diagnosis was that yes, he had re-opened the old incision and he needed to see his regular eye doctor the very next day. Don't get me wrong, I'm pleased that they were so thorough in their examination; I would much rather have two overly-interested doctors than one who barely glances at the problem. The fact that my husband has Marfan's Syndrome makes him a medical oddity that the doctors in the ER like to study, since they rarely get a real live one in to look at. It makes him feel like such a specimen sometimes, but it usually works to our advantage, so we try to look at it as a perk. It works most of the time.


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