In Hospital, or, “You Can’t Write This Stuff.”

posted in: Day In The Life 2
The USS Stewert in Shanghai, China, 1927. Photo : William Verge.
The USS Stewert in Shanghai, China, 1927. Photo : William Verge.


This will have to be short because a) I can’t see straight to type and b) my brain is on a 90-second time delay.

On Thursday afternoon, I came into Chicago. I had a doctor’s followup appointment, a meeting, and I had various Chicago-based errands to run. A short trip: in on Thursday, out Saturday morning.

Thursday night, around 9:30 pm, I was gripped with a terrible headache. I thought, “Wow, this is a terrible headache,” and I lay down. At 2 am, I woke up with a sob. I took a bath. I put a cold washcloth on my head and pressed my forehead to the tile on the shower stall. It was cool, the tile. I noticed that my entire body was weak — like, couldn’t-lift-my-limbs weak. Back to bed, pleading with the gods, I told myself, “Okay, okay, chill. Chill, chill, please chill.

Two hours later, I was awake again.

This time, it was worse in the head. I gasped; it felt like there was an animal in my skull (a rat) trying to escape. I took a heroic dose of Tylenol and tried to rest. I hit all the acupressure points I had ever heard about. At 6 am, I woke again and could hardly move. I tried to get the phone to call downstairs for a taxi; that didn’t work. Nor did it work to get my jeans on. I managed both things eventually, which would have been to my astonishment had I the will to be astonished. I got myself over to the ER at Northwestern, thankfully just four blocks away. I took a taxi because taxi = $5; ambulance = $750. Even in my stupor, I knew to take the cab.

I was admitted fast. I have had three bags of blood transfused since then. A normal person’s hemoglobin count is 15; mine is hovering at four.

To make sure I’m not bleeding in my brain, I had a lumbar puncture before coming into this room. I have had a CT scan, a failed MRI (I got claustrophobic because I also have a viral respiratory issue??) and I have an upper endoscopy and a lady-parts ultrasound scheduled for a few hours from now. It’s quite possible that the hemoglobin problem, the anemia problem is directly related to GI stuff, but we don’t know, yet.

I felt totally fine on Thursday. A little tired. But who isn’t.