Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Last night, I did my first massage and I went to my little locker and grabbed my phone and there was a message from Primary Care. 

"Ann? The Chest X-ray looked completely normal. That one blood test came back abnormal and it raises the question of whether there's a blood clot in your lung. 

This is really not just something where you just sit back and let it play out. I do think you should go for something called a CT of the Chest to look at whether there's a blood clot. 

Often we do that in the emergency department-getting you in-in a timely manner doesn't work. (Cell phone number.) Feel free to call me to talk about it. If you feel short of breath or this pain is worse go to the ER right away." 

I call her back on her cell. She's got a very sympathetic voice for the delivery of bad news and she's not from here so when she says 'Ann' it doesn't sound midwestern-like rhyming with 'can'. Closer to 'Ehnn' which sounds kind of nice. Maybe when this is all over-I'll switch it. 

She runs the possibilities. It seems as if I need this test pronto, and the only way I can get it promptly is via the ER. Well then. I think my Obamacare in it's discouragement of people using the ER for the sniffles makes some gigantic billing for the use of the ER. 

I use my usual: If it was you, what would YOU do? Because really, my rational thought process got a little jammed up after the first time she said 'blood clot'. 

I said, I have one more massage to do. Should I do it? She said, how it your breathing? Wheezie, I said. Then maybe you should go.

Behold, my brand new gym shoes first time outta the box, which 
match my heartlight which is this thing they stick to your finger. 

I texted P and by some combination of miracles-he had just returned to the homestead after a big walk with Grantley. He has a list of things to do and he was just about to start on them and I happened to catch him. 

Off we went. P is the most tremendous pier in the ocean-oh yes he is-but if you blast him with a chunk of heavy drama-he has to push back. This outrage, was that I went for these tests last Friday afternoon and only now-at maybe like 5:25 on a Monday night-did we get the results. 

I just wait it out. The thing is-I don't know what a blood clot in your lung even means. Like am I gonna drop dead any second now? I force myself to be calm and I do not look at google. 

We get to Loyola-I kinda know where the ER is from going to the  gym there-but I never in a million years thought I'd be entering THAT department. We're not sure where to park. We pass a sign that says: ED PARKING. We do not know what that means, so we scoot around and it appears to be the only place to park so we took a ticket and went in. We had to walk a bit-seemed very unemergency-ish, no? 

The waiting area was ubercrowded. We had to check in and P was trying to negotiate the possibility that I could possibly maybe just do some sorta STAT thing in the regular Cat Scan Pavilion of Joy as opposed to financial destruction in the ED but the check in guy was like, yeah no. 

We found a spot to sit. I sat. P stood. You try not to look at people and yet you're TOTALLY looking at people and they're looking at you. Then every few minutes these wooden doors would burst open and some sort of health person would pop out and yell someone's name. 

At one point, a young man leaning against the wall called out inviting everyone to pray with him. He wanted people to bow their heads as he did this loud prayer. I was cruising my Ruth Reichel cookbook. I didn't not listen and I didn't not not listen. I think I was looking at a recipe for banana cake. 

When he was done, he went over and drank green juice and ate Hot Cheetos. 

We think we got called in within about an hour. A nurse called "Ann Fah-RELL?" and in we went to this triage room. I sat on this extra wide chair-there was a nurse on either side of me-typing things on computers and a woman who seemed to be a Paramedic in Training-she took all the vitals and they asked me every question and at one point-it got a teeny bit scary when we were discussing this pain I've been having-for a second they understood it to be in the region of my heart and I was like: Oh no. It moved to my shoulder area. 

It had started in my back. Like this one spot-felt sorta like my lung. I had been dragging this pain around along with everything else until P-as the voice of reason-told me to go to the doctor-and I did. Thursday night. 

They sent us to the hallway and someone gathered me to go get some X-rays where I was able to employ my previous summer camp training of getting your bra off without taking off your shirt. 

Then we waited outside the EKG room for about 10 minutes. A Polish woman in black scrubs took me in. I got on a sort of a bed thing and then I had two people working on me. One was trying to draw blood and one was trying to assist AND get the stickers on me for the EKG. 

The blood draw did not go well. You're dehydrated, they said. Hey I didn't plan on coming here tonight. I was in the middle of working. If I knew-I would have totally juiced up. Like it mattered what I said at this point, right? They were sort of squishing my arm around to get the blood going. That was a first. 

In the end they had to re-poke. Frowny face pancakes. 

The EKG scared me a bit because I couldn't really visualize what it was going to be like. Lots of stickers all over the place and then wires and it was over in seconds. Poor use of scared juice on my end. 

Back out into the waiting room with their apologies that there were no rooms available. The idea here was to get your tests in motion-even if you didn't have a room happening. Later, we found out it's called an ED instead of an ER because it's it's own department as opposed to a room. There were 30 rooms and they were all full. 

Another 45 minutes-P reading the Tribune-me reading Ruth Reichel and we got invited into Room Two. It was a bed and a chair. Not fancy and slick like the other part of the hospital but okay at the moment. I got a gown and put my sorry ass in the bed. 

I was conscious of not all of a sudden getting all dramatic just because I was in a bed. I mean-hours earlier I was sliding my fist along some person's hamstrings so I was trying not to cross over into the sick person side. 

We met our nurse. She was 12. Okay no but maybe like early 20's? Ferocious in her attack on getting a tube into my vein. Seriously. Holy fuck. I felt like I'd been speared by someone on Gilligan's Island. And I am NOT a cry baby about this stuff. I do the alphabet song in my head and I'm usually fine. 

I was all wired up. We did the crosswords from the Tribune and the SunTimes. P is quite hilarious in delivering the clues. One was 'Asp'. It was funny. After a bit a doctor came in. Asked questions. Left. 

I said to Philip-ya know-if this was me? I'd be thinking bronchitis or something. 

Then the CAT scan. They have these super cool playskool looking wheelchair things now. We flew across the ED. The tech said they were so busy they didn't have time to go slow. Got onto the bed. There were photographs of clouds to look at on the ceiling. That was kind of nice. 

So then the scan. In-follow the breathing directions-and then a saline flush before the contrast. Okay OWW. And then really OWWWWW. But then it's over and she had to call my doctor because the contrast passed through me so quickly. And that's a good thing, she said. 

Back to the room. There was a small family parked in the hallway-the lady was coughing-she was in a wheelchair and then her husband and her son. They were all slumped all over the place staring at me. I had a room and they had to wait. Very strange. 

And we saw lotsa law enforcement passing by. And we just waited and waited and once more from the doctor who said it was bronchitis and that after one more blood test we could go. 

We were there for about 5 hours. "Not too bad considering" says P. 


  1. Well... my friend had ye olde blood clot in the lung and ended up face down on her living room floor looking rather blue. Her husband actually peed himself when he found her. So... yeah... don't think of it as a waste of five hours of your life... think of it as a pair of pants that P doesn't have to change.

  2. There is a lot to be said for piece of mind...

  3. I think we spent this entire day recovering from the shock of the phrase 'blood clot' and yeah yeah and yeah.
    : )