Okay so I am only really going back to the weekend before last since anything before that and post dentist appointment (last post) is a bit of a blur… I went home to my parents for a visit before they took off last Friday for a trip to Ontario and through the US. Since my brother’s brother was visiting for a few weeks it also seemed like good timing as he lives in Moncton, New Brunswick which is 466 km/289.6 mi from Digby, Nova Scotia where my family is. He is 264 km/164 mi from Halifax, Nova Scotia where I live if you drive around and less then that if you take the Ferry to Saint John, New Brunswick. Anyways…
My brother is adopted if you are wondering and he has 5 siblings between his birth mother and birth father (he was the first born) and was adopted by my parents and I. Since I was 11 and had a say in the whole thing (which was cool), I fee I can add “I” in there. I will maybe do a longer blog post about that later since it will give me something to blog about later this week. But moving on.. Sorry my train of thought is a little awkward and all over the place right now. You’ll see why in a few more minutes.
So yeah my brother (who is 23) and his brother (who is 13) were both sick with colds that they had picked up at the cadet camp that my brother’s brother goes to and that my brother works at. That was the reason my brother’s brother was in Digby cause it is on the old Navy Base my parents live in. Needless to say by Sunday when I left for home I was feeling a little under the weather. I took the boys down to the first island down Digby Neck called Long Island.
Which was fun because we got to take a small ferry accross. We went to see the Balancing Rock. Which is literally a rock balancing seemingly impossibly on another rock. Yep, pretty cool. We had a great time.
I left Sunday night to go home and by Monday morning I was congested, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and all the fun stuff that comes along with a cold. I called and VLE’d for the day.
It got worse each day till I was really coughing a lot and having some difficulties breathing and taking my Ventolin inhaler (I have Asthma too) quite a lot, or I thought so anyways. I called in sick Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and on Thursday made an appointment to see my family doctor. He listened to my chest and said it sounded like pneumonia and since I was not getting better he gave me a prescription for antibiotics. Which he advised me to fill on Friday or even wait till Saturday morning to see if I started to get better on my own (as long as I was not getting worse, in that case I was instructed to fill ASAP).
I was not feeling better Saturday morning so I filled the prescription. 2 more days passed and by Monday morning, one week and one day since I started getting sick, I was so bad I was wheezing constantly and coughing so much I could not catch my breath. I went to work anyways and made it to the last hour I was there (11-7 shift). Just after 6 PM I was wheezing so bad and gasping for breath that I could not even cough. I started to get dizzy and feel faint so I sent a message to one of my coaches saying I was having problems breathing and was going to the washroom for a sec to take my inhalers and put some cool water on my face.
By the time she saw the message I was back in my seat and sent her another message saying I was going to give it another 10 min or so to see if the inhaler worked. It didn’t so I took it again. I am really shy and embarrassed about taking them in front of other people but at this point the pressure on my chest and the gasping was starting to scare me a little so I took it again. My hands started to go numb and tingly. At this point another agent that was standing up on a call and walking around noticed me and I asked him to go get her (the coach). Which was good because I was too numb to type. She was heading over to see how I was doing anyways (I think she sent me a message and I was not answering)
She took one look at me, yelled out the name of another coach on the floor, she went upstairs and got a third coach from our project.They started talking among themselves and decided that a cab might in fact be okay as long as someone went with me and I think myself it was probably quicker. The other coach came downstairs and sat with me.
I know that at that time of night they (cabs) are normally close by as lots of people leave the building between 5 and 7 and call cabs and the wait is never long. So they called one.
The coach from upstairs that was going with me worked on my project and who I was also really familiar with and who is kind of known as the “mother” on our project and on the coaching team. She came and sat with me while they called a cab and she called Cory at that point and said they were taking me to the hospital and could he meet us there.
In the meantime she was trying to assess me and determine what was going on, she knew I had been sick and I think she knew I had had pneumonia and was on antibiotics, I told her anyways by gasping out answers and pointing to things (like the antibiotics).
I told her my hands were numb and she pressed my on my fingernails to see if they turned white and then pink again but they were bluish too and where not really changing color at all. She asked what other meds I was on and anything else she could in case I could not talk when I got there. Which was quickly becoming the case.
So, the coach going with me and I made our way downstairs after she called Cory. There was no cab but I was not getting any worse at that point, just about the same so we waited what seemed like forever but was only about 3 minutes. We got into the cab and I have to give the cab driver credit, for someone who barely spoke English, he could see right away I was having an issue breathing and he raced to get me to the hospital, looking back on me every few seconds when stopping impatiently at a red light, ready to run it if it was safe and if it was necessary.
My breathing was getting worse on the cab ride, I started to hyperventilate at some point on top of the wheezing and gasping for air. At the hospital there was no wheelchairs available and no one came out to help when asked so the cab driver got me out of the car and my coach got me to the triage area and my coach practically yelled at a paramedic on my behalf saying that she needed to help me cause I could not breath when they told us to have a seat. Its kind of funny thinking back on it cause I have never seen her yell at anyone. She’s so calm.
Anyways, the paramedic agreed when she looked up at me and sat me right down, took my pulse which was over 140 beats per minute which is really high when at rest, my oxygen saturation level which was actually normal. She explained that during an Asthma attack which she suspected this to be, 100-115 beats per minute was considered moderate, 115-130 was considered severe and over 130 was critical even though it can go higher when exercising quite heavily without being really dangerous. She said that my lungs sounded fine. However in the documents below it says at critical then that can happen and I read that when an Asthma attack gets severe enough it can happen.
The paramedic said she suspected that it was that high because of both the Asthma and pneumonia as well as I was hyperventilating which was likely causing my carbon dioxide levels in my blood to be really high, which could cause me to pass out even though my oxygen levels were normal (or the nurse or doctor said that later, I remember it being said but can’t remember when or who, which seems to be a common theme, I pieced most of it together from what I remembered and what Cory and my coach said to me when I was more aware of things). She said she wanted to assure me that if I could slow down my breathing that I would be okay and the Asthma attack would likely lesson some on its own even though I would still need to be treated and more tests done (which the doctor never did…).
She left and checked with a doctor (not sure if it was the same one I saw later) who said he wanted an EEG done before they sent me to the waiting room to ensure there was nothing going on with my heart besides the Asthma attack and hyperventilation to cause such a high heart rate. That much I actually remember (most of this was things that my coach or Cory told me and some things here or there I remember myself).
I was registered after my coach asked if she could get my health card out of my wallet as I was having a hard time answering questions I was still breathing too fast at that point and was only able to gasp out a word or two and since my voice was already really hoarse and almost none existent from days of a really bad cold I was not very understandable so my coach told her the info that I gave her. At this point Cory got there, my coach saw him and called him over when she heard him say my name to a paramedic, his parents drove him to my work to get he car and he drove over to the hospital. My coach left when she knew he was with me and I was not alone but not before telling me to call in the morning for an update.
I posted updates on Facebook since I knew a few people that were at work that night were concerned plus it gave me something to keep my mind off what was happening in the hopes my breathing would slow down, the paramedic actually suggested getting out my phone and keeping myself occupied while taking long breaths to try slow everything down while they waited for an EEG technician to come down from wherever she was.
Through all of this the numbness spread through my hands up to my arms, into my face and cheeks and then later through my legs when I was sitting in the waiting area later. I was directed to an area right behind the paramedics so they could keep an eye on me and to wait for the EEG tech inside where the doctors where and I sat for about 30-45 minutes which is just guessing at this point cause I did not check the time and I am sure it could have felt longer then it was. During this time I was working on breathing as slow as I could but it really was not working well. I would accomplish it for a few minutes then I would feel the tightness in my chest and it seemed easier to breath faster and it was like my body had a mind of its own. It must have worked some cause during the EEG my heart rate went down to like 105 which she said was still in the moderate range for someone having an Asthma attack and sitting still on a bench without moving much for the last 15-20 minutes or more.
After the EEG they sent me out to the waiting room. I had to walk as there was still no wheel chairs and I think they wanted me to. I don’t know what time that was but I got there about 6:15-6:30 and I am guessing it was roughly an hour or less when I was sent to the waiting room. I then waited till past 10:00 before my name was called. Cory and I just sat he wasn’t saying much, maybe cause he did not want me to try and talk. I was playing around on my cell and tablet by then as much as my numb hands would allow and was trying to control my breathing which seemed to work for 5-10 minutes before I would forget to pay attention and then my breathing would get faster and shallower and I would start hyperventilating again.
I got up twice to walk to the wash room and had him walk me there and could feel everyone’s eyes on me as I tried to get my arms and legs to work. After the second time which was about 15 to 30 minutes. This part I remember vividly even though I was yawning and having a hard time sitting up strait and then I would be fine and then it would come back, I have no idea how long in between it lasted. I was sitting back in the chair and my arm not only went number it actually started to twitch then I could not move my thumb and index finger and could not hold my phone or tablet. Cory was laying with his head against the wall beside me and had his eyes closed, I said his name but he did not hear me. I was still gasping intermittently for air and and was at that moment so I just sat and prayed that they would call my name soon.
After a few more minutes, which felt like hours, even though I could tell by everyone around me not much time went by, they called my name. I walked again through the hall to another part of the emerge and the nurse went to fast, Cory steered me around the corner to the chair in the hall not 3 feet from where I started out when I was waiting for and got the EEG, he must have been paying attention to where she went as I was just looking at my feet and trying to get them to work and sure as hell was not paying attention to where she was walking, I was trying not to pass out, there were black spots. Cory grabbed my arm and guided me into a chair.
Then I was asked again (for the third time) what was going on and for the third time I struggled to talk then just pointed to the chart in her hand. She looked at it and said “so you have a fever and coughing, is that what brought you in?”. I managed to give her a really dirty look before literally spiting out ” AMONG OTHER THINGS”. She asks me what other things?? I give her another really dirty and pissed off look. In the meantime I am literally gasping for air from the walk from the wait room and wheezing and spit out again “I CAN NOT BREATH”. She says “Oh.” and then says “You need a mask if you are coughing, let me get one”.
I just started to panic more when the mask was put on my face over my nose and mouth and I felt like I was suffocating, said “CANT BREATH” again while she is getting my pulse and oxygen and blood pressure and listened to my chest again. The mask ticked me off. I was okay to sit for over 3 hours from the time I got there in the waiting room without a mask surrounded by about 35-45 people but now that I was near her she wants me to wear a mask, not out of concern for the other people or me but herself? Seriously? I even said that out loud one gasped word at a time and a shorter more colorful version. She then cursed me out and then she says “okay lets get you in a bed” and proceeds to get up and hurry around the corner, I hear Cory curse and sigh and drag me to my feet and around the corner and into the room that was a little ways down the hall.
Anyways, to give you a better idea of the set up of the emerge, picture a square of hallways with rooms on both sides but the inner side is hollow beyond the halls and has the nurses station and doctors area. At the foot or bottom of this square is the hall where my EEG and “questioning by the nurse” was done and on the other side of a glass wall is the paramedics cubicles for triage and then beyond that was a small waiting area for triage, one for registration and then more glass walls and doors that were open into a large waiting room. From the hall with the EEG area to the waiting area on one side was another glass enclosed hall that connected the two areas without going back through the other waiting area(s) and triage area but to the side of it. No idea the footage but when you can not breath, cant think strait and when your arms and legs are numb its A LONG WAY!
So back to walking to the room with said bed, which was actually a room with 8 fairly comfortable high back chairs, four on each wall, which they put in to put less severe patients that do not need to lie down. Which was fine. I could handle that, I remember from past experience with mild Asthma attacks that laying down made it harder to breath. So she puts me there then walks out, turns around in circles a few times like she cant figure out what she is doing, then comes right back and says “lets go next door” and proceeds to take off my mask I cursed her for putting on me and which she cursed me out for resisting and puts me in an optometrist chair in another room that they work on eye issues/injuries. By now I stopped trying to question anything and just kept thinking I need to stay calm and keep breathing and Cory was so quiet.
I sat in that very uncomfortable optometrist chair for about 15 minutes listening to her and the doctor talk to the patient in the bed beside me as each room has room for 2 beds or 8 chairs or in this case a bed and optometrist chair. You try not to listen but with parts of your chair touching his bed and nothing but a curtain in between it is impossible not to.
He was there for suspected ruptured appendix. A serious emergency right? You’d think. Well it was his third time there in 4 days cause he had appendicitis, which I actually heard the doctor say they knew he had 3 days ago (2nd visit) but they often send appendicitis patients home with antibiotics. I hear the guy say “but no one gave me antibiotics” and the doctor just kept right on talking and saying that they get them to come back in.
Did not say how the patient is to know when to come back in or what instructions they are given, but the fact this guy was not even told from what I can tell or it was really downplayed and he was apparently not given antibiotics, was kinda mind blowing. I looked it up and seems like a lot of people have had this happen in the last little while as it is a new thing they do, seen complaints from Canada, US, Austria, Australia and Britain about it and serious complications… but I am not a doctor. It kept my mind off of myself for a few minutes and made me feel really bad for the other guy.
After that the doctor left and the nurse brought in a mask and hooked me up to a Ventolin mask. I sat for another 30-40 minutes while that was going and then when it ran out it seemed like there was still oxygen coming out, another 5-10 minutes and the doctor came in and asked how I was feeling. I said I was still having a hard time breathing and was still struggling and gasping for air, he listened to my chest and said “your oxygen levels are normal, your chest sounds fine and you seem to be breathing better”. He then tells me “I believe that you either do not have pneumonia because your voice sounds really hoarse (then jokes that he is sure it does not normally sound that way) or that I have viral pneumonia or a viral thingy (his words not mine), stop taking the antibiotics because they will just give you diarrhea (and he mentioned something else but I stopped listening after diarrhea for a sec), and will not cure a virus. If it was me I would never have given you that”. Way to make your patients feel confident in their doctors… But okay I get that part and I know that taking them when you shouldn’t be can build up resistance to them or something like that. Still not thinking completely straight…
He then tells me that I am likely having issues because my doctor only has me taking 2 puffs of Ventolin every 4 hours (as per his instructions Thursday, and I have always only taken 2 puffs in the past when needed or every 4 hours depending on how bad it was). He says he wants me taking 4 puffs every 4 hours and if that is not helping I can take more in between.
He said “it is pretty much impossible to OD on the stuff. I work at the IWK (Children’s hospital) and if I have a 5 year old come in I give him the equivalent of 10 puffs initially (I can only assume he means in the mask or maybe he will give a puff every few seconds or minutes or something, didn’t really say) and then in 10-15 (he may have said more but I know it was no more then 30 minutes) he will give them up to the equivalent of 10 more puffs (this might have been when he said it is virtually impossible to overdose on it, I can’t remember, I remember it both ways but know he only said it once).
He then sent me home after putting down my family doctor even more, still gasping for air (less then before but still happening) without doing any other tests that I kept being told by paramedics and nurses said I would need to wait for. He did also give me a prescription for Prednisone, 50 mg once a day for 5 days which from what I can tell the maximum dose for adults is 60 mg a day. My pharmacist questioned both and wanted to know if what he told me matched what he wrote down. She filled them and told me to read the pamphlet for the Prednisone with a “grain” of salt as a lot of side effects and cautions applied more for people on it for an extended period of time. She then told me that the Ventolin was a very high dose and that the most common complaint was shakiness/jitteriness and increased heart rate after taking it and palpitations.
I figured out for the inhalers, in one inhaler there is 200 metered doses. At 4 puffs every 4 hours that is 24 puffs in a day so that is 8.3 (and a whole bunch of 3’s) days per inhaler. They aren’t expensive but it just seems to me like so high a dose. I googled it and get mixed results. Anyone on a dose that high (one had a 20 month old on 6 puffs every four hours through a spacer because he would only get one to 2 puffs out of it, I thought that was what the spacer was for was to ensure they got it all and it was “spaced”) seemed to question it and any stuff of reputed medical sites or manufactures said not more then 8 puffs a day. That is 200% more then the recommended daily intake.
Also I was looking up Asthma and even though these are from the UK I am sure they are similar to Canada (I could not find anything in for here) and found these two files showing information on the severity levels of Asthma attacks, one in adults and one in children. I could not completely understand the adult one but the child one really made me question everything a bit.
On one hand if I was severe or critical I am sure something would have happened and a few puffs of Ventolin would not have gotten me out of trouble even though I still had a lot of issues during the day today. But at the same time everything that there were telling me fell more under severe or critical and it was a little surprised they sent me home so quick after the Ventolin mask.
I have no idea how much was actually in the mask, he said in children they give the equivalent of 10 puffs which I assumed he meant in a mask, not sure if that even matters, so I would assume that it would be higher in adults? I am still having some difficulty breathing if I talk, walk around or do anything strenuous. I still have a very hoarse voice and at times it is not there at all. The coughing comes in spurts and was really bad at work. Between the coughing, still not being able to breath deep and occasional gasping for air I did emails today. I don’t think my voice would have handled talking on the phone and I think that I would have been having more issues with breathing and/or coughing if I was.
I guess I am starting to second guess how my family doctor handled everything, was he wrong or is the doctor at the hospital wrong. Should I just wait it out and see if I continue to have issues, I have no idea how long it will take for things to go back to “normal”. Plus I just wanted to vent about the whole experience.
So yeah, that was my last 24 hours. Sorry it was so long but if you read to the end (or even skimmed over, I would give you credit for that) then thanks
I can’t believe I am still up at 4am when I have to work at 11 am tomorrow but I can not sleep, the pharmacist warned me the Prednisone could cause sleep issues. And the amitriptyline I am am on for FMS is supposed to make me drowsy but I think one is counteracting the other a little.