If Health Meant Wealth, I’d Still Be Poor

Me in the ER on 4/9/2020

Ignore my grown out, cotton swab haircut. But this is me in the ER last night. My fourth ER trip in less than four months. If you haven’t been to the ER during the corona virus pandemic, I don’t recommend it unless absolutely necessary. They had large, white tents set up in the ambulance drop off area with many signs, directing you inside the tent. There you were immediately given a mask and your temperature was taken. My dad accompanied me, but was not allowed in due to his age and susceptibility to the illness. It was a little frightening to say the least when three medical professionals approach you asking you questions like, “Have you had a fever?” “Have you been out of the country recently?” “Do you have any lung distress?” To all that, I frantically replied “No, not at all. I just have bright red blood in my vomit, along with not being able to urinate.”

I was put through triage and given a room promptly. My door was to remain shut at all times. A rush of patients came through to be put through triage and then given a room, while many remained in beds in the hallway due to lack of space for everyone. I was asked to rate my pain on a scale of one to ten, ten being the highest and I quickly replied with “Nine”, surprising my own self. I didn’t realize how much flank pain I had (middle back pain, where your kidneys lay) until they asked me that question. I also was experiencing lower abdominal pain where my appendix used to be, but no longer was there. It was very tender to touch when the doctor performed an exam, along with assessing my kidneys.

They tested my urine for pregnancy and for a urinary tract infection. Pregnancy test came back negative, of course, and the urine sample showed to be abnormal, but didn’t contain that many white blood cells, which constitutes an infection, so they began to treat me for an infection anyways. They brought in a small bag of IV fluids and pumped my veins with antibiotics, an anti-nausea medication, a stomach acid reducer, along with a lot of morphine for the pain. If you have never had morphine before, they tell you that the medication will give you a head rush and make you feel flushed. At first, when they push the syringe through the tube of the IV, I didn’t feel anything. I figured the side effects would not phase me due to my high tolerance to narcotics. But as she finished pulling the syringe out of my IV and threw the remnants away, I immediately laid my head back against the pillow and began to fan my face. I went from feeling like I was outside in the cool, brisk air to feeling like I was dangerously close to a campfire, radiating its heat all along my face and there was a slight burning sensation in my chest. My head spun making me slightly nauseous like I had too much alcohol to drink, though I had none in my system. The combination made me feel euphoric, not like marijuana would make you feel , but something that only the morphine could make you feel. My pain subsided greatly, but just within those first 5-10 minutes. After that, the euphoria faded and the pain remained at bay for a little while.

As I awaited for my blood tests to return, they offered me more morphine and the head rush, wave of nausea and the heat of the narcotics filled my face and chest. I felt alive again for those 5-10 minutes. Then the pain pushed away from me and all was calm for a while.

Next time the nurse came in, she had papers in her hand and two paper cups, one being larger than the other. She stated I was being discharged with a UTI and gave me my paperwork. The two paper cups contained one pill in the smaller cup and a sip of water in the larger cup. The little pill was Norco, another narcotic “for the road.” As I slipped out of my gown and into my sweatpants and jacket, I perused through the discharge paperwork, which stated I had ‘pyelonephritis’, another term for kidney infection, which is more severe than a urinary tract infection. Why they didn’t just tell me I had a kidney infection from the get go, I am not sure. It probably showed up in the blood work, after the doctor had spoke with me. As I perused more, I had been prescribed antibiotics for the infection, an acid reducer for my mystery stomach ailment, anti-nausea of the stomach, and 15 more Norco. I thought to myself, if this really was just a UTI, they wouldn’t be prescribing me more narcotics. Especially in this day in age with all of the legal limitations on how much you can prescribe one person and you have to be re-seen by a doctor to get a refill, at least that’s how it is here in the United States.

I then thought, well if I have another kidney infection, no wonder I feel so God-awful. With my bladder disease, this is definitely not my first go around with kidney infections. I remember during my first kidney infection, I also had a severe urinary infection in addition to my kidneys being infected. It affected me so much, I could hardly walk. That also warranted three ER visits within a short time frame. The bladder disease stuff I can deal with. I understand the beast and it understands me, but what truly troubles me is the stomach issues I have been having. Vomiting stomach bile every day is not normal. On occasion, throwing up stomach bile with either dark or bright red blood, is not normal. I have been in need of an endoscopy for months, but since my blood work all looks relatively normal, they will not perform the procedure of shoving a camera down my throat in the ER. Due to COVID-19, all procedure centers that perform endoscopy’s are closed. So I am shit out of luck for the next foreseeable future.

I just wish I had answers or at least treatment that worked for this mystery illness that has been ailing me. I am sick of being sick. It prohibits me from living my best life. If it is going to be a lifelong struggle, I can accept that and move on. I just need the diagnosis and support from doctors and a select group of people so I can live as fruitfully as possible.

End of rant.

Til Next Time,

Dani

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