Sunday, December 5, 2010
MY STORY CH 7 PART 4
I suppose it’s time to catch you up what was really happening while I suffered a nine day coma, had a lung collapse, got pneumonia and all while having inexplicable brain seizures. The neurologist was so stumped she was ready to put my brain to “sleep”, essentially rendering me brain dead, and then restarting my brain activity to see if that would stop the seizures and bring me out of the coma. Thank God Eric tried every day and every way to wake me up. He bought an air mattress ad spent every night in my hospital room. He talked to me every day and even made a mix cd of my favorite songs and played it through headphones for me when he wasn’t there. I had no idea the hell he was going through at the hands of inept doctors, who weren’t really doctors yet but interns and nurses who kept making medication mistakes. But worst of all was my oldest sister Linda who kept calling the hospital claiming power of attorney at the most critical of times.
Well, the only logical thing to do now is start at the beginning according to the person who was there every day, Eric. First, I was admitted to Presbyterian Hospital with some lung congestion and put on oxygen for a few hours to bring up the levels in my blood and help me breathe, had a chest x-ray and was scheduled for a scope that would be fed down into my lungs to remove mucus plugs the next day and then I could be released with oxygen if need be. Of course things don’t always work out the way we’d like and the situation became very grave very quickly.
It’s difficult to say which caused what first but let’s just say someone dropped the ball and it didn’t bounce back quickly or completely. First there was the matter of the respiratory therapist that had me on a nebulizer that was adding so much moisture to my lungs it made it impossible for me to bring up phlegm. Even though I began refusing the treatments, they would strap the mask on me while I slept! Then came the initial medication error. Apparently a nurse gave me too much of two of my of antidepressant medications both taken in very low doses to help me sleep. However, they were prescribed in higher doses JUST IN CASE I needed more and when Janice and I left for the ER that fateful afternoon, we just threw all my meds in a bag instead of writing down all the pertinent information. None of the nurses were aware that I was a quadriplegic so no one bothered to move me in anyway even though Eric asked over and over for a rehab chair to sit me up in. If it weren’t for Eric I would never even have had my urine bag emptied or my body position changed. The forced nebulizer treatments, the drug overdoses and constantly lying flat on my back were the perfect combination for the inevitable bacterial pneumonia to settle right into my lungs. Of course this all happened the day I was supposed to be released.
Now I had to be moved to the Critical Care Unit, put on a respirator, and be sedated with propofol (made infamous by the now deceased Michael Jackson) which is a “twilight” sort of anesthesia known for its number one side effect…hallucinations. It took 3 or 4 days to clear the pneumonia after which I was sent to a regular patient room where they exabuted (removed ventilator) me, told me the pneumonia had cleared, and I could be released the next day. Yet, according to Eric, I managed to sabotage my own recovery that evening by demanding an extra shot of pain medication only short time after taking my regularly scheduled medicines including my pain meds. I have no recollection of the events due to memory loss from the up and coming coma but in my humble opinion I believe that no matter how vigorously I argued with the nurse she should have refused to give me the extra dilaudid injection. It was definitely that shot which put me out and down for the count. I believe her options were many more than to just give in to a whining, half sleeping, almost hallucinating skinny little quadriplegic than to shoot me up with enough pain medication to put me in a nine day coma. Nevertheless, Eric tells me that i threatened to sue the hospital because "i was entitled to more pain meds than they were giving me." and the nurse even called the legal department and was told to give me an oral competency test which i passed! I really feel rotten about how I spoke to the nurse now but I truly don't remember it. Eric was so angry with me he slept in the car all night oblivious to the fact that I had fallen into a nightmare world that would rival any Stephen King novel or teenage slasher movie series.