days not to go to the hospital…

unless you really, really need to.  Include (not exhaustively):

  • Any time in late June to late July (for teaching hospitals since this time period covers the influx of new doctors, new med students, etc.  The time period also covers Memorial Day weekend and the 4th of July, with the latter being the worse of the two since it involves booze + things that go BANG)
  • New Year’s eve (dark, icy, and alcoholic)
  • St. Patrick’s Day (Happy Drinking Day!)

And it’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

And I am having persistent left upper quadrant pain which is penetrating to my back and referring to my shoulder.

And my BP is 84/48 and just does not want to come up.

So this sucks.  I’d be more at ease if my back didn’t hurt and if I didn’t have a family history of aortic aneurysm.  A note on that:  despite all the health shittery I experience and look up, I am not the kind of person who believes that every ache, pain, itch, bump, or other oddity my body throws at me is a sign of a deadly or disfiguring condition.  I don’t start with the assumption and even “Dr. Google” doesn’t drive me there.  I know other people go there – I recently heard from a good friend who recounted her own freak out reaction after she googled a rash.  Looking up her symptoms convinced her she had a flesh eating bacterial infection rather than poison ivy (as it turned out to be).  I am sympathetic to this, but it is not something I can personally relate to.  I just don’t go there.  Ok so that’s the long version of me saying that I am not overwhelmed with anxiety and panic about the pain in my gut and back, however it is quite uncomfortable and given my family history, it is concerning to me.  I’d like to ignore it, toss back some tylenol and Tums, and get on with my weekend and I probably will do that even if the Tums and tylenol don’t help because (a) I hate going to the ER (b) I want this to be something minor and (c) it’s St. Patrick’s day weekend.  And you don’t go to the ER on St. Patrick’s day weekend if you can help it.

I went to the ER on St. Patrick’s day weekend once, several years back.  My sister had found her cat being attacked by a neighborhood cat and ran out to break it up.  In doing so, she was bitten by the neighbor’s cat.  A deep bite.  She went to the ER and they said “oh, its’ a cat scratch”, didn’t irrigate, didn’t examine the area, and sent her home with P.O. antibiotics.  Over the course of the day, her hand swelled significantly, was hot and red and tight, and she started to develop streaking.  So back to the ER I dragged her, on St. Patrick’s day night, of course.  She was admitted and given IV antibiotics.  But not after a LOVELY evening listening to the sounds of binge drinking and stupidity.  On the plus side, the triage nurse was a woman I’d worked with some years before that, Mary Hyphenated Irish last name, I call her in this story Mary O’Irish-McNurse.  Mary recognized our names on the sign in sheet and came out to the waiting area yelling  “Oh my god, it’s the ____________ girls!”  She took us in quickly, got my sister a bed in back, and then swapped with another nurse so she could stay in back with us.  I will never forget listening to the excellently wise cracking Mary O’Irish McNurse dealing with the drunk 16 year old in the bed next to my sister’s:

(sound of girl puking)

O’Irish McNurse:  “Say there, that looks like a Long Island Iced Tea…whad’you have to drink tonight?”

Girl (retching): “Ciiiiiiiiider!” (more puking)

My St. Patrick’s day miracle, Mary, is no longer at this hospital, and I am not overtly super sick, just having pain that knocked me down late yesterday afternoon from having an ok day to a crap one.  It’s bad enough that it woke me up several times last night.  I do not want to go to the ER with the puking 16 year olds and no Mary to get me in and CT scanned.  Wondering if this can hold off until Monday AM when I can call my doctor…

…who will likely say “go to the ER”.

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  1. queenofoptimism

     /  March 19, 2012

    Hope it’s feeling better. The ER will be empty now, right? The weather is just too nice. Or maybe this is break a body part time? After cabin fever we’re careless? I’m sure you can tell us. :). Your Bp scares me. Please update – hope you are better.

    PS – this was super entertaining and well-written. Would have loved to see you pick a fake name for you and your sister. You’re so super creative!


    • It’s better than it was Friday and Saturday but I made a promise to myself (and husband) that if I still had pain Monday, I’d call. I did, PCP said “why not try the GI doc, if she can’t see you, call us back”. I did, and waited all day for GI doc, who didn’t call back. I called PCP a little before 4:00 and they say “come in around 5:30”. I was there at 5:30, sat in the waiting room having chest pain – this is high abdominal pain so it’s not surprising to me that my chest hurts too – and was seen at about 8:15. EKG, very uncomfortable exam, then over to the hospital across the street for chest and KUB films, then to ER to ask them to page their phlebotomist for a blood draw for a whole crap load of likely tests.

      Jeez, this is more of a post than a comment response.

      So, car is over at the hospital, I need to go get it this AM and then try to go to work. Bleh. I do wish it hadn’t been St. Paddy’s day – I’d have gone to the ER on Friday if it had just been a random Friday in March. Seeing as I ended up in the ER waiting room and dealing with the unlovely ER phlebotomist, I could have at least spared myself the three days of worry.

      My blood pressure scares me too. I feel horrible when it’s that low. I’m starting to get a sense of when it’s going to drop, it seems one day of bad diarrhea can tank it. I have got to get better at fluid replacement.

  2. Low blood pressure can cause intense chest pain, 80/50 felt like a heart attack for me. Actually it can cause a heart attack. (Also I almost typed low diarrhea for some reason instead of low blood pressure.).

    I hate the ER too. It’s a 50/50 shot of a good or bad experience and that’s just with run-of-the-mill asthma, not even accounting for the high drunk holy days.

    Hope you’re feeling better!



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