Jan. 8, 2018

Emergency room experiences part 1

Everybody hates to go to the emergency room (ER), right?  Well this episode of the AOC Patient Files is about my two recent experiences at my local ER…and they are NOT good ones.

On December 30th, I was advised by a rheumatologist and a registered nurse (RN) to go straight to the ER because I suddenly had huge calves (I am a big woman so they’re big on their own, but this was extreme) and they were swelling, red, painful, and warm to the touch.  Based off my professional and personal experiences, this wasn’t a good sign.  In fact, it was a sign of infection.  Normally, this wouldn’t scare me so much.  However, I am immune-compromised and am on what is known as a form of oral chemotherapy, so my immune system is further weakened.  Infections could mean my life.

I checked in and told the nurse I was in a lot of pain and have a possible infection.  Luckily, I had my sister and sister-in-law with me.  Why luckily?  They are my rock-solid support team.  They go to every one of my procedures and are there for moral support and entertainment.  At this ER, my sister got me a wheelchair, so I wouldn’t have to walk everywhere.  My calves had stabbing pain and burned with each step.  And considering my weak immune system, my sister got me a mask to wear.  The ER was packed, and we were surrounded by people coughing and hacking who weren’t wearing masks.  My sister put my health before my pride, which was exactly what I needed.  She’s always looking out for me.  When I’m too weak to do something for myself, she does it without me asking.

A nurse brought me in to access my port then a radiology tech brought me in for a chest x-ray.  After a few hours, I was finally brought back to a “room” in the hallway.  This concerned me because I had explained to the triage nurse about my health status and my medication list, yet I was brought to a partitioned section of one of the hallways for treatment.  The excuse we were given?  That it was the fastest way to get treated.  Even though the alarm blared in my mind that this wasn’t the safest place for my treatment, I was too weak to say anything.  I had become exhausted and weak.  My body was going through so much that I couldn’t do much for myself.

In the “room,” I was kicked back in the recliner and the ER doc that saw me had no bedside manner.  He would appear around the partition with a loud, “hey, so what’s wrong here?”  I was kicked back with my eyes covered by my beanie, had a mask covering my nose and mouth, and barely moving.  I understand that the ER was packed with patients and he had a lot to do, but a little consideration would have gone a long way.  Anyway, he sent me to have an ultrasound and then four hours later, determined that it was just peripheral edema and I needed to use compression stockings and elevate my legs as much as possible.  His explanation for the pain and swelling was that it was my skin’s reaction to having to expand.  That’s it.  Then I was sent home.

I own compression stockings and tried to elevate my legs.  The elevation part is hard because I have fibromyalgia and spinal issues.  I can’t stay in certain angles or places for long.  The pain would become too much.


Next…emergency room experiences part two.