So I was standing in the hall the other day minding my own business when all of a sudden my knee just gave out and I went hurtling to the floor. Well, okay, I more or less slumped but at the moment of impact I felt like a thrown object. As I lay there, probably in mild shock, what flashed through my mind was the Zippy cartoon strip in which he is found as a stow-away on a big ocean liner. The captain angrily has ol’ Zip tossed into a small rowboat in the middle of the ocean. His reaction, quintessential Zippy, is to look back at the ship rapidly disappearing over the horizon and declare, “first I was in a big boat, now I’m in a little boat”. So I looked at the rug, whose pattern I could now observe quite minutely and said to myself, “first I was standing up, now I’m lying down”.
I lay there for a while studying the rug and considering my options (made a mental note to clean the rug if ever I were vertical again). Obviously, the Baron was upstairs and wouldn’t hear me if I yelled; anyway, even when I’m mad I’m not a good yeller. So my choices were to either wait until he wandered by or…to attempt to get up and see if any body parts rebelled more than usual. [The last time I was in the hospital (a few years ago now), the physical therapist showed me how to sit down and the floor easily and how to rise again. Because of fibromyalgia I had to re-learn something I’d taken for granted when I was a “normie”.]
After poking about a bit and not discovering any pain I did those p.t. moves and was up on my feet, seemingly none the worse for the fall. My ‘trick’ knee, acquired a few years ago whilst caught between a ladder and a fig tree, had simply buckled without warning. Even though the shredded meniscus was promptly removed, that knee has never done anything like that before. However, as my son observed, once one gets older seems like most injuries are the result of earlier injuries. Hmmm…so the slings and arrows simply repeat themselves?
For the next several hours I was fine. Good thing, too, since it was a snowy night and the roads weren’t so great.
As time went on, my left side, up past the abdominal quadrants doctors divide your torso into and into my ribs, began to ache. The pain increased enough to warrant a discussion with whichever doctor was on call. We went over symptoms – no fever, no nausea, the pain didn’t move toward my back, etc. (in other words, no apparent injury to the spleen) – and decided it was safer to wait it out until office hours the next day rather than risk a long, dark trek to the Emergency Room during bad weather.
By the next morning the pain was a bit more intense. After the doctor’s physical examination of my rib area, it was a good deal worse indeed. So they did some lab work and everything seemed okay – e.g., white blood cell count was normal. My blood oxygen level was a tad low, which was a concern, so they took more blood for the bigger lab and said they’d get the results and call me today, even though it would be a Saturday.
Well, they didn’t like whatever it was they saw on the D-dimer blood test this morning. My doctor called, saying she’d arranged for a look-see at the hospital to rule out a pulmonary embolism.
That’s one way to bring your Saturday to an abrupt halt.
Thus we had to go into town after all, but at least it was daylight and at least we got to skip the ER terminal tedium before being sent eventually to radiology to get a CT of the chest/rib area to rule out pulmonary thrombosis. The “false positives” on this test are rather high, so I wasn’t concerned…umm, make that “I wasn’t too concerned. As we’ve learned to do over the years for all the various hospital/medical procedures, we packed up coffee, food, reading materials, and my pain medicines. I bought along Wretchard’s book to while away the time since we’d certainly have to wait for the test and then wait again for the radiologist to come down to read the test and then wait some more while he conferred with my family doctor.
But there was no waiting for this one. All testing procedures should be so smooth. The longest part was a brief spell (we spent the time in the hospital cafeteria. Both of us enjoy food we don’t have to cook ourselves so the baked chicken and salad were just fine with us. Hospital food is good. Really.). When we got back to radiology the doctor had come and gone and everything was okay. No clot lurking in my chest; we were free to go home.
Home?! Not hardly. If we have to go to the Big City where there is real latte and Lowe’s and an Indian food store, we weren’t going home without a few geegaws. Poha at the Indian store, plus paneer and coconut oil and whee! – jaggery! Lowe’s was particularly exciting: zipping around on the electric cart trying not to hit anyone as I picked out a new trash can and a lamp shade and some foaming sealant for the storm windows. Our last stop was Starbucks, amidst the Beemers and hybrid cars. Unfortunately for the Baron I didn’t realize the latte was a sharesie until it was all gone. Oops.
We resisted getting every single thing on the “Next Time We Go to Town” list. My limited energy always calls a halt to foraging expeditions anyway, but I was extra careful not to push it this time and end up with a two-day fatigue. I didn’t even go to Whole Foods for organic chicken livers (for pâté) or to wander the store looking for free cheese samples. That place is much easier to resist if you never walk through the front door in the first place.
Our family doctor had left a voice mail while we were gone. She was very relieved the pulmonary embolism was indeed ruled out. All I have is a severe contusion on that part of the chest wall. No bones were hurt in the making of this crisis, thank heavens. As the Baron remarked when we got to the front door, “all in all that was definitely a very minor blip on Dymphna’s health radar”.
Indeed it was a minor blip. A small trip amongst the many we have Taken to Town for Applied Medical Indignities. As they say in the Midwest, “it could’ve been worse, thank you”.
So it’s back to doctor’s orders: bed rest (some), pain medication (more than usual), liberal plasters of Lidoderm as often as allowed, and repeated applications of Wretchard’s book till I’m done.
Thanks, y’all for the kind notes and comments. Reading them makes me feel better! I’m so glad we’re home now and the Baron is back where he should be: sitting in front of the computer reviving his carpal tunnel syndrome.