Sunday, September 20, 2009

I can check "riding in an ambulance" off my list of things to do before I turn 18..

     I've been justifying not writing this by the throbbing pain and soreness in my right arm where the IV was for six hours Thursday night. Even at this moment I truly feel like that day was a dream, and not real in any way shape or form. Not even in the way that's a joke, like "haha it was so crazy it was like a dream", but I seriously still don't feel like myself. I think it has a lot to do with the new coping mechanisms I've developed, that I haven't had the opportunity to experience since I've been clean from self mutilation. The new being very detached, almost like anything traumatic is lived through as if it were an out-of-body experience. 

     I'm sure we could all figure out how I used to cope. I'd much rather things feel like a dream than feel even more pain from a cut on my arm. (Why did it take me so long to come to that realization?) I was in the hospital for three-four hours before I remembered that I have scars on my arms, and that everyone could see them. It didn't cross my mind once that they'd lock me away upon seeing them, which is a huge step for me. One of my biggest fears involving my addiction has always been the fear of being locked away again.

     So on to my story. Thursday was a pretty "normal" day I suppose. I stayed at my mom's the night prior because she had to go to the doctor's for a form of spinal surgery Thursday morning, which was really needles being poked into her spine much like an epidural. My aunt Stacey and I took her, and the procedure was supposed to take two hours, but thankfully we were only there for about forty-five minutes which was pretty darn cool. Not that we would have been bored, Stacey brought her DS and had a Scrabble game for it which was amazing. I so want that game! I'm a huge Scrabble lover, as if that weren't obvious.
     My mom felt well enough, so we went to go get lunch at Little Saigon, aka "Noodle Hut". I only ate a third of my bowl (more on why that's important later), and I saved the rest for dinner. After lunch Stacey drove us back to my mom's, and then she went home. Steph (my mom) and I sat on the couch and hung out for a while watching TV and chatting, then she ended up taking a nap. At 6 PM my dad picked me up from her house and we went to Walgreens to pick up some things, and pulled up in front of our house around 6:30 PM.

     That's when it began. I was sitting completely still in the car, then all of a sudden a sharp pain exlodes in my chest, right where my heart is. I shouted out in pain from quite possibly the second worst thing I've ever felt in my entire life—sinus migraine being the worst thing I have ever experienced, my head felt like it was going to literally explode from within—but I thought it would pass sort of like a muscle spasm or something. I kept my hands clenched over my chest, but then it happened again, and then again. Breathing made it feel like my ribs were going to crack from the pressure of my lungs pressing against them, which already felt like there wasn't enough room in them for a deep inhale—not that I dared try.
     After the first jolt of intense pain my dad asked if he should call 911 and I said no, but after the second I told him we should just drive to the hospital because it obviously wasn't going away. He started driving towards the fire station—its a lot closer than any hospital, which are all twenty minutes or more away—with 911 on the phone as I tried to get ahold of my mom, but I couldn't. (In the midst of all this, I had one or two more "jolts" of pain.) The 911 operator told him to pull over as soon as he could, so we pulled over in a church parking lot only a few streets away from my house, which was very weird. I've passed this lot thousands of times in the six years I've lived in Orlando, and never once did the idea cross my mind on what might happen there one day.
     The fire truck pulled up and got me out of the car and onto the ground leaning against it for support. They plugged me up to some machines and then the worst part came—the IV. I am absolutely terrified of IVs—not to be mistaken with needles like a shot, but IVs—because of past experiences. The needle going in wasn't as bad as it was the last time I was in the hospital, which took six times in total before they got it right. This time it only took the paramedics one try, thankfully and surprisingly because I have zero visible veins in my left arm, and only a single very faint one in my right. They put water in immediately after which wasn't that bad, despite my dad saying "It might feel cold!" (it wasn't), knowing I was terrified and probably didn't want to know that. Really. I could have lived the rest of my life and been okay with not knowing they had put anything into my vein.
IV in, the paramedics said the "A" word, which probably is what sent me into "time to cope" mode. An ambulance pulled up next and they put me on the stretcher—or did I get on it myself?— and put me in the back. This taught me something very valuable, which I will remember for any hospital visit I ever have to endure in my life. The lesson I learned is that when you're in an emergency, you have no shame. Absolutely none. Pretty sure this goes for child birth too, which is why I'd imagine it seems to hardly phase expectant mothers that their legs are spread eagel for hours at a time during labor. So back to my story, the paramedic in the back of the ambulance with me pulled up my entire shirt way above my bra to stick some monitor things over my heart, and trust me no boy has ever, ever! seen me like this before. I am not the type of girl to float around with no clothes on for eyes other than my own to see. With this experience though, it didn't phase me, not one bit. For one I was terrified, and two.. well, I don't have a two, but the message I'm trying to carry to you is that if you're like me and scared about baring all for hospitals in an emergency, trust me, you won't care in the moment, and you won't after either. A looot of people saw my lady-bits up top that day, and I could care less.
     Once they were done plugging me up to machines and putting an oxygen thing around my face, we were off. My dad followed behind us, which was comforting. For the duration of the ride I could see him at all times through the little windows in the back of the ambulance. For some reason though, the driver took the worst possible road, all brick, so it was a very painful ride. The paramedic in the back with me even yelled at the driver over it, and told him next time to take a different road. (Which creeped me out and got very depressing throughts churning through my brain.. how many people had died on this same stretcher? Or in this same ambulance? How many people will die on this stretcher, or in this same ambulance?) Once we got to the hospital (a children's hospital, funnily enough), they took me out and rolled me into a room in the ER, and my dad showed up a few minutes later after he parked.

     They asked me a ton of questions, restarted my oxygen, and plugged me back into all these machines plus some. They really treated me as if I were on drugs and this were my fault, one woman even asking, "I know your dad is here, but have you done drugs or had any alcohol today?" I quickly retorted with as much attitude as I could muster, "No, and I go to NA meetings every single week." Needless to say, that was the last time they asked me about drugs or drinking, but they still made me take a urine test for "just some tests". Pfft, yeah right. As far as I know the only thing they take urine samples for is drug tests and pregnancy tests. For the latter—you have to have sex to get pregnant.
     Their obvious judgments really hurt my feelings even though I knew I couldn't control what they thought. I knew that all these doctors and nurses just saw a seventeen year old girl with piercings, dark hair, and chest pains. They also knew I started taking a stronger form of Adderall this week—which is why my dad and I freaked out in the first place, because one of the side effects is sudden death, alongside with heart attacks—so they probably thought I abused it. I wish I had a dollar for every time they mentioned me taking Adderall, I'd be a very rich lady.

     A while after the urine test—by the way, pissing on your own hand trying to "catch" something really humbles you—I got a chest x-ray which kind of hurt. (Is that even possible? It felt like an extremely faint electric shock.) They did finally take blood too, which is the absolute worst part of the IV experience for me. I can literally feel the blood being sucked from my veins, the feeling is so horrible I cannot even put it into words appropriate enough to describe it. They used some machine too I think—I wasn't looking, of course—which made a horrific sound that made me want to cry. I also don't understand why I always get a real nurse, and then a nurse in training that uses my arm for learning things she should already know. Why do these people get degrees if they don't know how to even take blood!? Can't they practice on dead bodies, or simulated bodies? Regardless, you nurses in training, take blood from kids that are already screaming and completely unaware because they're already drowning in exaggerated emotions. Not me.

     Hours later they cleared me and told me I could leave, which really means they couldn't figure out what was wrong and since I wasn't dying they gave up. However, while we were waiting inside the room I overheard them talking about me and the nurses speculating over "some sort of heart attack, maybe", but obviously that didn't happen or I wouldn't be typing this right now from home. The doctors told me personally that it could be a later effect of having had H1N1/Swine Flu, which I believe is very likely (and scary). Funnily enough they forgot about my IV, and were going to just let me walk out with it still in my arm. My dad had to stop the nurse to get her to take it out, and when she did she ended up ripping off a layer of my skin which is now lighter than the skin around it.
It's been two days since this all happened, and for some reason I still feel like hell. My body feels like the firetruck hit me that day instead of pulling up to help me, which makes me jokingly—sort of—speculate if I've really been dead these past two days and I'm in a movie-type deal. You know, girl dies but goes on living in the movie until the end when you find out she's really dead, like Ellen Page in An American Crime. (Sorry if I spoiled that for anybody, but if you haven't seen it yet, that's a crime.) Of course we all know that isn't true, but wouldn't that be something to blog about?
I haven't started taking my Adderall again yet. I was going to today, but I left the house having forgotten to take it before I left, besides it was too late in the day to anyway considering this new Adderall I'm taking lasts for twelve hours. I will probably start tomorrow so I'm active and alive to shop for more clothes, or Monday, when I am going to force myself back into reality.. hopefully. I really don't understand why this entire experience has taken so much out of me.

     Oh! About the food I saved from Little Saigon, while we were in the hospital my dad went out to the car to get my purse. He took a long time, and later on I found out he went out into the car and ate my left overs too! Haha. I was really upset about it.


Paula said...

Hi there - I'm stopping by from SITs. I'm glad you're OK. I have an irrational fear of needles and the idea of an IV is quite icky...

Another reflection from my own ER visits - I have migraines, as does my brother in law. It's super strange, but almost without fail, ER staff are suspicious of people coming in with migraines and think they are just looking for drugs. Super frustrating and terribly judgmental - suffice to say, I understand some of what you were feeling, and I'm sorry you had to go through that.

Alexis! said...

Thank you so much for stopping by!

That is very judgemental of the ER staff. :/ The doctors this time around gave me a prescription, but I didn't even fill it. Shows how much the "norm" really cares about drugs.

Harmony May; said...

I should should'nt I? Yeah I think I'll be daring and just do it.(: thanks!

Alexis! said...

You're welcome Harmony, good luck :) Never be afraid!

Anonymous said...

Wowweee sounds like an interesting day!

Alexis Mullino said...

@ brittanyjoy: Interesting is an understatement ;-)