So... today is yet another really rough day. This time at least, I have a "reason" for it: My mom is in the hospital.
I think I've mentioned before that I live with my parents. This is a mutual thing - I needed help financially while I'm starting a small business and they needed someone to be around - just in case. My dad has multiple health issues, including mostly uncontrolled diabetes and is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. My mom has even more debilitating health issues, including dysautonomia, stage 4 kidney disease, major blood pressure issues (both high and low), asthma, low sodium, and major arthritis.
Last night I had just gotten in bed when I got a call from my dad (yes, same house, but I ask that they respect my privacy and call before just coming in my room). My mom's blood pressure was really high and could I come in there? I'll be embarrassingly honest and admit that at first I didn't want to. I just thought it was a little higher than normal and this happens all the time, so why did I need to get up?
When I walked in there, I immediately knew why...
She was almost completely unresponsive. I became quickly terrified. This kind of thing has happened several times since I moved in, but this one scared me more than most. I immediately thought she was having a stroke, but she wasn't showing obvious symptoms (like one side of her face drooping) so I didn't want to over-react. I got more information from my dad about what happened and called my brother, who has been a nurse for over 25 years.
He confirmed what I was thinking - that we should call 911. So I hung up with him and called. By the time they got there, my dad had also checked her blood sugar with his kit, just in case. It was really low, but still didn't support the symptoms she was experiencing.
The paramedics assessed her and also did a blood sugar check. It was even lower when they did it. They gave her some glucose solution in a tube and then took her to the hospital.
Like I said, this wasn't my first time to do this, so I knew what I needed to do. I got dressed, grabbed a few things I would need in case she was there awhile (and when is an ER visit ever quick?), and made a few calls. Then I headed that way myself (my dad had already left to go there).
I got there and she was just getting settled in a room in the ER. So I prepared myself for a lot of waiting.
However, I just thought there would be waiting. I've been to the ER a lot in the past few years - when my boyfriend was in the beginning stages of an undiagnosed auto-immune disease, with my mom several times, with my dad several times - and I have a habit of watching the heart monitor while I wait. Usually it's fine and just for reassurance that at least something is going right. With my mom last night, that wasn't the case.
Her oxygen saturation would be okay but then start dropping... And dropping... Until it hit a level I know is technically okay but very low. Then it would start climbing again. This was combined with her having to pull in oxygen - you could see it in her throat and in her chest. When your 81-year-old mother with multiple health issues starts to act like that without a prior history of the behavior, it's scary.
When my brother got there, he confirmed it. It was apnea. When she would get low, he or I would wake her up and get her to breathe. But she was struggling and I was so nervous that she would become completely unresponsive. She was finally put on oxygen and it helped bring up all of the levels higher, so that when it went down, it didn't go down as far.
But this is the really weird thing, and the reason I'm sharing this here: Something also happened to me - after my dad left. This has happened once before - one of the times I was with my boyfriend overnight in the ER. Both times I was doing fine, just really tired and of course, nervous about my loved one, when I started to get overwhelmingly nauseated. This was accompanied by extreme dizziness, not like vertigo when you can't hold your head up, but just like there was pressure all over my body and a dull ringing in my ears. Eventually it led into tunnel vision and almost completely blacking out for a short time before starting to reverse.
The first time my boyfriend asked the ER nurses to check me out and I actually thought I'd have to check myself in to the ER for treatment. But everything was fine as far as vital signs so I pushed through. Eventually it went away, though it left me incredibly drained.
This time, however, because I had experienced it before and assumed it was the same thing, with no major issues going on (heart attack, etc), and also because I didn't want my mom to worry, I just tried to push through and wait it out. When my mom would try to get me to go on home, at first I made the excuse that I wanted to see her to her room in the hospital before I left. It was a major struggle to even make it to her room when they finally took her up, but I did. I think everyone just thought I was really tired.
But after she got settled, that excuse no longer worked. What I didn't tell her is that I assumed there would be one of those reclining chairs in her room and I could take a quick nap, which would hopefully make my symptoms go away. When we got there and there was just a straight, hard-backed chair, I almost cried.
I told her I wanted to make sure was settled in well before I left, but that didn't work for long. Finally, I had to confess what was going on with me. Of course, this worried her, but I couldn't drive like I was (heck, I could barely walk) so she needed to know what was really going on. I explained what was happening. She tried to get me to go back to the ER and get checked out, but I told her that I was 99% sure it was the same thing as before and I would be okay eventually.
She tried to get me to let her call my dad to come pick me up. However, I knew that the biggest challenge was getting to the car and I hated to wake him up. So I told her I just needed time to wait it out.
This one was much worse than the other one. It took me several hours to get over it. I would start to feel better, only to start back with the nausea, then the dizziness, etc. Finally, about 3 this morning, I was able to look around without feeling so sick and I thought I'd try it.
The walk to the car was brutal. I leaned against the wall through parts of it and sat down to take a break once. But once I got to the parking lot and knew the end was in sight, I got a bit of extra energy. The drive was fine (I wouldn't have left the parking lot if I didn't feel safe - I was prepared to take a nap there if needed before I left). Getting out of the car at home was difficult, but it's not far from the driveway to my bedroom so I did okay.
After trying my best to get in touch with my mom to let her know I was okay (google did not have the info about calling direct in to that hospital), I fell asleep hard. I slept until about 7:30, which I never do. However, that's still only around 4 hours of sleep. I just couldn't get back to sleep after that. (Thank God I work on my own and I didn't have anything I had to get done today!)
Today I have felt like I've been run over by a truck. My body is physically aching and I still feel weak and slightly dizzy. My dad went to the hospital to stay with her and she insisted I didn't go. Normally I would insist right back but this time I decided to take care of myself first.
It's almost 4pm and I've spent most of the day in bed. I've done a few things but mostly this day is chalking up to be a very non-productive day. I really wanted to get this down while it was fresh, but I plan to go lay back down after I finish this. (Originally I had planned to do some other work while at my desk but after sitting for just the time to write this, that "ain't gonna happen".)
So why did I share all this? Everyone has times like this - having a loved one in the ER and being nervous about the outcome. But not everyone has the reaction like I had. Theories on why it happened have been floating around in my brain all day and I had no real good ideas on why... until I talked to my daughter.
She mentioned it could be an extreme panic attack. I've had panic disorder since I was a teenager so I know panic attacks. Mine include a rapid heartbeat and hyperventilating. This was the opposite.
But could it have been an anxiety attack that just presented differently? I was wondering if anyone else has had the same experience. If so, please comment. I'd love to hear from your experiences.
Heading back to bed. The nausea is kind of coming back. :-(
Hope you are having a much better day than I am. Until next time...
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