Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Addendum

There are a few details I forgot from my last post, so I want to fill some things in before I proceed with my tale. It's hard to keep up with everything, and I keep remembering stuff. Which is good -- I definitely want to record of my adventures.

First I thought I'd catalog what I ate before getting sick. Fascinating, huh?

Things I Ate

On Thursday morning (8/11), before leaving for the airport, I ate a peanut butter and banana sandwich. It was peanut butter from Whole Foods -- the kind where you grind your peanuts yourself. With fig preserves. And I had a cup of coffee with soymilk and sugar free vanilla syrup. At the airport, I'm pretty sure I had a grande sugar free vanilla soy latte from Starbucks.

Once we got to LA, I ate the two bean and cheese burritos from Del Taco that I mentioned in the last post. I ate a few of Emiko and Hideo's french fries.

After escaping the ghetto funeral, we made it to the Farmer's Market in Hollywood where I had the Pinkberry frozen yogurt and we picked up the pie. At Todd's parents' house, I ate grilled salmon. I ate some steamed broccoli and maybe a salad, too. I forgot to mention that I did eat some of the Dupar's chocolate meringue pie. I can't remember if I talked about my egg issue -- that eggs make me sick since I was pregnant with Hideo? So when I felt nauseated that evening, I just blamed it on the meringue.

Friday morning I had cereal with a banana for breakfast. We had Wahoo's Fish Tacos for lunch -- I had the tofu teriyaki bowl. That was the last thing I ate prior to going to the ER a day and a half later.

The Ants

At first I thought the ant infestation was a hallucination, but it actually happened. At some point on Saturday, I noticed ants crawling all over my bedroom. I hate ants, so this completely freaked me out, and I felt really crappy already, so this was not helpful. Todd was still on his run (remember I was mad at him?); he missed out on this part of the festivities. Kathleen kept coming in my room to vacuum up the ants and to wipe down the bedside table. I remember ants crawling all over that table. Ants were crawling on my iPhone. There was a stream of ants crawling down from the ceiling next to the door, and another stream of ants crawling down from the window on the other side of the room. Ants were crawling into my suitcase. It was awful. Ted was outside trying to spray them.

I joked to Ted that this was probably karma, because earlier that morning a guy had come by to try to get Ted to sign up for his extermination service. Ted told him he already had a service. Is a rather strange coincidence, huh? The ants were in the guest bathroom, too, so as I would go in there to throw up some more, there were the ants. Gross.

The ants is why the vacuum cleaner was in the hallway next to the wall. When I passed out and left the hole in the wall, I landed with my head wedged between the baseboard and the vacuum cleaner. Todd took a picture of the hole. I keep bugging him to send me the pic so I can post it. I'm working on it. I have to walk the fine line between reminding him gently and nagging him. He thinks I cross that line immediately. That's another post...

Ice Bath from Hell (or the Arctic)

After the ants incident, Todd made it home from his run in Huntington Beach. I scolded him for abandoning his super sick wife. He took my temperature, and it was like 105 degrees or something ridiculous. He called Scott, and Scott said we had to get my temperature down, so I needed to take a cold bath. I was fine with that -- but Todd decided that I needed an ice bath. He actually went to the store to buy a bag of ice. I got in the tub in the meantime, and felt that the cool water was sufficient. But not according to Todd. So he barged into the bathroom while I was in the tub and dumped the ice into the tub with me. It was so fucking cold! I screamed and fussed and hollered about it, to no avail. He kept saying that as I was a runner, I shouldn't mind ice baths. I told him that I don't believe in ice baths, even for runners and to stop putting ice in this tub! It was so cold. I was freezing and my teeth were chattering. He put at least half a bag of ice in that stupid tub.

I decided that while I was in this tub, I may as well do some cleaning, so I did bathe and wash my hair, cursing him and shivering the whole time. He left at some point, and I got out immediately. So there.

It did bring my fever down a couple of degrees, but it was still over 102 degrees. In the ER, I was freezing and I kept requesting blankets. They had these blankets that were right out of the dryer, so they were so warm and it felt marvelous. But the a nurse took my temperature and it was up to 104 again and she freaked out and took my blankets. I don't know why I was so cold when obviously my body was super hot. I was freezing that whole day and into the next.

More Details From the Hospital

My dad came to visit while I was in the hospital, and I was so glad to see him and Jane, my stepmother. When they first arrived, I was still on a liquid diet, which was not fun at all, but I didn't want to eat anyway. For breakfast I would get oatmeal or cream of wheat -- I'd eat those. Whole milk, and I don't really drink milk anymore, much less whole milk, so that was not my favorite thing. I kept requesting apple juice. At this point the urea wasn't that strong in my mouth, so things tasted ok, I think. For lunch they would give me either potato soup or broth of some kind. I would not eat the broth. They didn't have Sprite in the hospital, but the nurses would bring me Shasta, which is not the same. I drank lots of water.

On the second day I started peeing again, and at first I was super excited, but I quickly realized that the peeing didn't really mean anything.

The afternoon after Dad arrived, my nurse said I could have whatever I wanted to eat -- that I didn't have to just have liquids. So she brought me the lunch entree, which was a breaded chicken breast with gravy. I think it came with rice pilaf and some steamed veggies. I stopped eating meat other than fish and seafood a couple of years ago, but my dad said I had to eat that chicken. I was going to argue with him, and then I thought, "Well, I guess I can have a severe sepsis and kidney failure exemption." I ate that chicken and I don't know if it was just not having eaten in several days or that I hadn't eaten chicken in a couple of years, but I ate the whole portion and thought it tasted good. I was afraid it might make me sick (sicker?!) but it didn't. After that I ate the meat in the entrees, but only the poultry. I didn't want to eat any beef or pork. Soon after, the urea started affecting my taste buds and the poultry tasted gross, too.

When my taste buds went all haywire, things got kinda miserable in a different way. The dialysis was helping so I could breathe, which made me happy. But not being able to eat anything when I wanted to really sucked. Todd was so sweet and tried to bring me treats each day. One day he brought me my beloved Starbucks sugar free vanilla soy latte. It tasted awful. A couple of times he brought me frozen yogurt. It was gross. One day I wanted a muffin. Still gross. Heartbreaking!

Everyday different specialists would come to see me and ask me the same questions. What did I eat before I got sick? Did I have a urinary tract infection before this trip? Have I ever had kidney problems before? Have I had surgery before? I would tell them what I ate. I told them that I had no UTIs. That one always made them skeptical. I would respond, "UTIs are super painful. Had I had one, I'd know it." They never seemed satisfied by my answers, but I wasn't all that satisfied by their answers, so I figured we were even.

And my sweet dear sister was trying her best to help. Heather called me everyday, and she is one of the few people I can be completely honest with, so I could tell her how scared I was or how much all of this sucked. She asked me one day if my doctors knew that I had an IUD. She had seen an episode of House where the IUD was the culprit. We thought this might be the break we were waiting for! I was excited to mention this to my infectious disease doctor. He said, "Hmmm. You are a mystery." It was an underwhelming response. I guess most women would consider being mysterious a compliment, but I got really sick of hearing that.

I also got tired of hearing about how close I had been to dying. That is going to be a future post. Such a realization brings up a host of complicated emotions that I feel I need to explore further.

My hematologist was Dr. Young. He was Chinese and very intense. He had a rather distinct accent, so it was kind of hard to understand him. He would come each day and ask me the same questions as I listed above. The last time he came to see me, he was all excited. He said, "I want to test you for HIV!" He looked almost gleeful saying that, as if this was the best idea ever. I'm like, "Go for it." I'm thinking, I've been with my husband for more than eight years. We've both been tested before we got together. But if it makes you happy, Dr. Young... He never came to see me again, so I guess the results were to my advantage.

When I was finally discharged, Todd and I went to the nurses station in ICU to give those nurses a box of chocolates to thank them for their great care of me. I did have excellent nurses. I saw one of my nurses there and she gave me a big hug. I also gave chocolates to the PCU nurses -- they were good, too. Todd's brother was concerned about my going to Corona Regional versus a bigger hospital -- he's a resident at UC Irvine's hospital. But as he mentioned to my mother-in-law, it actually worked out better for me. UC Irvine is a teaching hospital, so I would have been seen primarily by residents. At Corona I had all specialists all the time. That hospital doesn't have a very good reputation apparently, but they did right by me. I'm alive to tell this tale, so I take that as a good well done on their part.

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