Saturday, June 25, 2011

The post where I ride in an ambulance

After my last post I finally fell asleep around 4:30 a.m. I had to be at the office down then road by 9 a.m. for a team offsite. In addition to not feeling very exuberant from my lack of sleep I was still dealing with intermittent chest pain and palpitations so even though I was tired I didn't want any coffee as they might have made it worse.

We all met up and loaded our respective vehicles and away we went to e Yamhill Valley. Oh gosh how pretty it was! I loved driving through the hills covered in Douglas firs and then past hazelnut orchards end route to the vineyards. I feel a bit sacrilegious saying it but I think this area might be prettier than Sonoma of Napa.

The first winery we visited was WillaKenzie. Naturally they had some good pinot noir but I was a bit distracted and separated from the group while I tried to find a signal strong enough to coordinate a doctor appointment back home for as soon as possible. Alan made the initial call and when he described my symptoms they finally seemed to act concerned about my well-being (the front desk staff for my endocrinologist tend to be very dismissive and self-important).

After admiring the view from the wine deck and playing with the resident cat we drove down several miles of gravel road to our next destination - Lange Winery. I had the most amazing chardonnay but I didn't really drink a whole lot more because in addition to the chest pains I was starting to get hot & sweaty and that just leaves me feeling very gross in general, never mind the fact that I was also thinking I was ill.

After winning a raffle for a bottle of wine (yay!) we stopped in to the place that catered our launch to get more cookies (they were like crack) and taste at the winery upstairs. By then I was feeling quite terrible and just wanted to get back to Beaverton and the airport so I could get home to Alan. Unfortunately this is where things start to go pretty wrong for me.

In the town car I started to feel pretty terrible. My chest pains were constant and I was starting to get dizzy. I texted Alan that I felt awful. About three minutes past downtown Portland I get the worst stabbing pain I've had yet through all of this. I had to stifle a scream. Immediately afterward the entirety of my left arm - from shoulder to the tips of my fingers - went numb. I kept rubbing my arm trying to bring back sensation while also taking deep breaths and monitoring my oxygen intake. I was terrified. I texted Alan that I wanted to go to the ER when I landed in Oakland; he asked me to seek medical help at the airport here. While I'm trying to remain calm I realize that I'm clammy & sweaty and dizzy again. I'm also shaking. I get out of the car and immediately go to check in. When I get to the front I ask my ticket agent if there's a medic onsite that I can visit. She asks me what's wrong and as I'm explaining I get dizzy & shaky again and start to appear faint. I don't actually lose consciousness but she tells me that she's going to call the paramedics.

I sat with the agents while they routed other passengers down to another person for help. They were a great comfort to me while I was trying my best not to freak out. Five minutes later both the medics and the fire department arrive. This pleased the other ladies greatly because these were your stereotypical attractive, strapping young firemen. They ask me some basic questions and start taking my vitals. The woman paramedic tells me that she can't fully tell what's wrong but my appearance and my vitals make her think that she should take me to the hospital.


Before leaving though the wonderful Alaska agent rebooked my flight home at no charge for today at 2 p.m. She said they would change it again if I needed to stay longer. That actually took a load off my mind because I didn't
want to also be worrying about how I was going to get home.

So yeah, I got to ride in an ambulance. And it terrified me even more. I finally started crying. In the van she took more vitals and saw that I was having some extra heartbeats. I also lost consciousness when she put in my IV and injected me with something. She told me that while at the airport even though I was conscious and able to communicate that I was extremely pale and I was unable to real focus on who I was talking to - I was just kind of looking around giving answers.

They took me to Portland Adventist and I immediately started getting EKGs set up. I had the absolute best nurse Melissa. My phlebotomist is an evil sadist. I had two series of blood tests - the first he tried four times and refused to listen to me when I told him I have small veins and he'd need to use the baby needle. After blowing three veins he pulled out the baby needle & got what he needed.

Throughout the evening my blood pressure kept fluctuating between very low, low, and normal and I got dizzy when I had to walk to the bathroom, but otherwise I felt much better when I was there. I still had minor chest pain but it's the kind I have learned to live with.

During this ordeal Alan and I kept in touch and he caught a flight up from Oakland. After a few hours at the hospital it became clear that he didn't need to but it was a great comfort to me to see him walk in as I was getting my IV taken out and afterwards when I needed a place to stay at midnight. Before leaving though I got to watch a lot of TLC and chat with my nurse. My doctor was a lovely man that used to live in Berkeley. He kept calling me his favorite lady from Oakland.

When I looked up info about the hospital I had to chuckle because I am generally suspect of folks that talk about their love of Jesus Christ and the hospital's mission statement is to pretty much deliver the healing powers of JC. I grew up around a lot of people that talked the talk but were actually pretty terrible, petty people. [Our evangelical church's assistant pastor left his wife & baby for another woman, the pastor's wife would tell me that I was going to hell on a weekly basis, at another church the pastor's son was a chief source of speed for the teenagers in the city, my father is an alcoholic who beat me & my sister if we looked at him cross-eyed, and who routinely called me a slut (I was actually a really good kid), and my stepmom treated me and my sister like second-class citizens compared to her own children. So yeah, I don't really trust those who espouse Jesus's love.] But if ever I met good honest people that lived up to the principles they claim, it was the fine folks at Adventist.

Ultimately my diagnosis was that my hearts fine. I have slightly elevated white blood cell counts which I've had for a few months, and I'm anemic, but there was nothing noticeably wrong with my heart and my thyroid levels are very squarely in the normal range. At this point it's a mystery what is wrong with me.

I have a dr. appointment on Tuesday with the endocrinologist. I'm also going to schedule an appointment with my primary care physician to talk about figuring out what's wrong and how to treat it because I can't go through this again.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:On a flight home to Oakland


  1. DIYGene6:03 PM

    Scare! It'd be nice to know what's wrong, but I'm glad you're feeling OK-ish now.

  2. I can't even imagine how terrifying this experience must have been for you. You are very lucky to have met some kind medical & airport staff along the way to hopefully make the ordeal just a little bit easier. 

    Don't even get me started on "specialists" & their office/scheduling staff. I've yet to have a pleasant experience with ANY of them.

    Take it easy & I hope you are feeling better soon!

  3. What a terrifying, terrifying experience. So glad to hear that the airline staff and emergency folks treated you well and with concern.

    I hate that your doctor's office is being so frustrating. This is a scary time in your life and they could stand to have some compassion and understand that you need/want answers about what is happening with your body.

    It's so wonderful that Alan was able to find a way to get up to you. Seeing him must have anchored you like nothing else could.

    I hope you get your answers soon. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. I'm pretty sure there's nothing I can do to help but I'd be happy to do just about anything to help.

    Hang in there!

  4. I'm  glad that you were treated so kindly by the Dr. and staff at the hospital.  What a scary experience.  It was great for Alan to arrive so quickly.  That must have alleviated alot of the stress.  Good luck with your own doctors. 


Leave your thoughts ....