Thursday, June 15, 2006

Another Round of Illness

Gosh, lots to catch up on. Last Sunday morning (June 11), Randy woke up feeling fine, ate breakfast, and sat down in the living room to watch a little television while we decided what to do with our day.

Suddenly, just past 9:30, he became violently nauseous. After throwing up three times, he began having terrible chills. I thought he'd caught yet another virus (there's ALWAYS one going around, it seems), and told him he should go back to bed. He was chilling so hard his teeth chattered. I wrapped him up in several layers of blankets and even put a heating pad in bed with him. He dozed off, so I went into the living room to let him sleep for awhile.

I went back to check on him about noon and found that he was feverish. I took his temperature and was alarmed to find it was 103.8 degrees. I gave him a couple of aspirin with just a sip of water, put a cool cloth on his head, and let him go back to sleep. An hour later his temperature was 103.9. I called the local urgent care facility to see what time they closed on Sunday afternoons. They were open until 4:00, so I told Randy we needed to get him cleaned up a little and get him out there to see if they could determine what was causing the fever and nausea.

As I was helping him get cleaned up, he went into a seizure. This was not at all surprising, since he'd not been able to keep his seizure meds down. When the seizure passed, I finished getting him dressed, and we went to the urgent care facility. He was terrible feverish, but walked into the office without too much difficulty.

I put him in a chair in the waiting room away from other patients (in case he was contagious) and went to check him in. When I told them the situation, they had a doctor come out into the waiting area to look at him. A nurse took Randy's temperature....104. When the doctor heard the word "seizure", he immediately began saying that the center was a small facility and he should go to the hospital. I tried to explain that the seizure did not cause the fever and vomiting, that the fever and vomiting caused him to be unable to keep his meds in his system which caused the seizure.

However, the doctor had already panicked, so I just said, "Fine. We'll go to the hospital." The doctor insisted that we have transport to the hospital, so they called the rescue squad to transport him....less than 1/2 mile. Geez.

While we were waiting for the rescue squad, I noticed that the calf of his left leg was really red and hot to the touch. I briefly wondered if he'd kicked anything during his seizure, but didn't think a lot about it.

At the ER, he was triaged and placed in a small cubicle. A medical student came to take a history and talked to us both. I pointed out Randy's leg, which continued to grow redder and warmer all the time. The student said that it appeared to be cellulitis, and that the doctor would be in to see us as soon as possible. When the doctor arrived, he examined Randy and agreed that cellulitis was the problem. The toxins from the cellulits caused the high fever and vomiting, which in turn caused him to throw up his seizure medicine, which caused him to have a seizure.

FINALLY!! A doctor who LISTENED!!

So, he said he was going to send someone in to draw some blood for some tests and he'd get an IV started and get some antibiotics into him as quickly as possible.

Shortly after that, the phlebotomist drew some blood, but didn't get it all drawn because the vein collapsed. She said she'd be back in a few minutes.

Randy dozed intermittantly, but I suddenly noticed that his head was beginning to draw to the left. That's the first thing that happens when he's having a seizure. I ran around the examining table and shouted his name. He didn't respond, and began to seize. I threw myself across his chest to try to hold him on the table and keep him from falling to the floor.

I grabbed the nurse call button, pressed it, and counted to ten. No response. I reached up and slapped the call button marked "STAFF ONLY". An obviously annoyed voice responded "Can I help you?" I said, "Mr. May is having a seizure. I need help NOW."

The door immediately flew open; four nurses, the med student, and the doctor ran in. By that time, the seizure had begun to slow down. He'd bitten his tongue and was bleeding from the left side of his mouth.

The nurses moved him into a trauma room, hooked up an EKG machine and began attaching leads for various monitors. They were still getting him hooked up when the doctor reappeared. He asked me if they'd finished drawing his blood. I told him no, that they'd started, but the vein collapsed. He asked if he was getting his antibiotic. I said no, they hadn't yet started the IV. He reddened slightly, turned to the nurse in charge and said, "WHY hasn't Mr. May's IV been started?" She stammered slightly and said that they were waiting for a doctor's order and that it had been really busy. The doctor interrupted her and said, "I'M the doctor, you HAVE the order, and I want it started NOW."

He turned back to me and said that he'd be back in just a few minutes. Well, in that few minutes, they not only started his IV, they took a chest x-ray, they finished his EKG, and they finished his blood draw.

When the doctor returned, he said the test results did indicate cellulitis and they were going to admit Randy to the hospital to run fluids, get the antibiotics running, and get his seizure medication level back to where it needed to be.

Ooops. End of lunch break. I'll finish this tale later.

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