Yesterday felt like the day that wouldn’t end. Heather’s appointment with Dr. Risky was at 10 am, so I packed her into the car and drove carefully to UCLA so as not to jostle Heather’s shoulder. I knew she was really hurting when she said, “after this appointment, I think I need to go to the Emergency Room.” She hates the ER (like the majority of the planet, I’m sure), and we’re both wary to go anywhere near people with flu symptoms. So I knew it was serious.
Luckily Dr. Risky got us in right away. Everything with Binky checked out well. She had a good heart rate, and Heather’s belly is measuring a bit big so Dr. Risky is going to check Binky’s growth in an ultrasound next week. When we got to the shoulder stuff, Dr. Risky was concerned for Heather, but not for Binky. That was a big relief for both of us. After checking her range of motion and seeing how hard it was for her to even lay down, she suggested we walk over to the Emergency Room and make sure there wasn’t anything bad going on.
When we arrived at the ER, the nurses wanted to send her up to Labor & Delivery until we explained that we’d JUST seen her OB. After checking her vitals and doing all that, we had to wait in the waiting room. I wasn’t happy about Heather being close to so many people with flu germs, but I was very happy the nurses made her wear this:
When we finally were brought back to see a doctor, Heather went through her history for several nurses and doctors. The resident assigned to her started to get suspicious that she might have a blood clot causing her pain. He ordered labs, so a nurse came over to where we were sitting to draw Heather’s blood. At this point, we were sitting in chairs in the hallway. The ER was packed with people and they were only giving rooms to the people who needed to be isolated. Heather told the nurse about her recent history with fainting during blood draws and the nurse said, “It’s OK, I won’t freak out if you faint.” Not the most comforting reply, so I positioned myself to hold her up in case she did faint. Thank goodness Heather can hardly move her neck, because as soon as the IV was started the whole thing disintegrated and blood went EVERYWHERE. If she’d seen all her blood on the floor, I think she would have fainted. Well, fainted sooner, because about five minutes after that her IV was placed, she went gray and the doctor had to rush to get her a gurney before she completely lost consciousness.
But, it got her in a room right away!
The next several hours were spent giving her fluids and trying to keep her comfortable. A Chest X-Ray was ordered and the results came back showing a cloudiness in her right lung. The ER doc said that the cloudiness could mean a few things: that Heather couldn’t take a deep enough breath thanks to Binky, that she could have something like pneumonia (even though she had no other symptoms), or it could mean something more sinister like a blood clot.
At this point, the ER resident called his attending AND Dr. Risky to get their opinions on what to do. Eventually he came back and said that the three of them had discussed the situation and they thought the best thing to do would be for Heather to get a CT scan. There were risks, though – there is a lot of radiation in CT scans, and she had to get one with contrast, which also has some slight risks. It was a really hard decision. Neither of us wanted to do anything that would hurt Binky, but obviously a pulmonary embolism would be awful. After much discussion (and a call to Heather’s parents), we decided it had to be done.
Heather said the CT scan was not fun. They made her lay on a hard table with her arms over her head. I know how little she’s been able to move her arm so I’m sure that didn’t feel good. She said the contrast burned going in and then made her whole body feel really hot. The radiologist had told her to expect the feeling of “wetting her pants.” SEXY! Luckily, she did not actually wet her pants. I think.
I should mention that by the time the scan was finished, we’d been there for eight hours. The place was jammed with people – we heard announcements for five incoming traumas, and the halls were literally stacked with gurneys of people. Two more hours went by and FINALLY we saw Heather’s new ER resident (we were there long enough for a shift change). The doctor said that thankfully, the scan didn’t show a clot. We were so relieved, although it didn’t explain Heather’s pain or shortness of breath. The new resident examined her a bit, feeling her back and neck, and figured that she must have a pinched nerve and some pulled muscles. She told Heather that her physical therapy team should be able to help her, but if not, she should come back to the hospital.
I really hope her physical therapy team can help, because neither of us wants to see the inside of a hospital room again until February.