Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Carpal Tetany

     I was in a pretty bad headspace last weekend. Lots of plans, canceled. Went to bed at 5 Sunday night. Woke up at one. Twisting, writhing. Hot and cold. Surely I had a fever, but I'm a doctor, so nothing in the house to prove it, but I knew. I finally got out of bed at 4am for ice water. Sugar. Had lots of GI issues. But I rallied. Got up, showered, planned a low key outfit for Yaya's dinner. Had bfast with S and his dad, who was heading back to Austin. 

    Second guessed my plans to drive to work (dry heaving in my car), but drove on Cantrell, avoiding the interstate. Managed to get to work, and my head transcriptionist Tina automatically knew something was wrong. I was on her radar. I was dry heaving and shaking. I asked Melody to take my place at the dinner (they want us to represent) and she agreed.

    Finished off a tough breast cancer case and knocked out a few cytologies and decided I needed to rest with a blanket in Rex's old office - there is a nice recliner there. Dry heaving like a boss, and then puked water and half a bagel with peanut butter and cough drop juice and bile spectacularly in Rex's trash can. The secretaries came in, Jan and Tina, worried. This is nothing, I can handle this, but then something happened that I couldn't.

    I developed carpal tetany. This has happened to me twice before in my life. Once, as a teenager - I called my Dad from Allen TX after eating at Applebees. The second time, I had a puking episode all night after eating at a quinceanera at Nina's. Food poisoning, I wondered. Probably just a bad GI bug, in retrospect. I had to call in to my first day at the Crime Lab, one of the only times in residency. I had puked all night, and laid on the cold floor of the bathroom, my arms drawn up like I had cerebral palsy, burning and aching. 

    This time was much worse. I couldn't use my arms they were drawn up and rigid with pain. I told them I knew what it was, it was just an imbalance of electrolytes, and Melody ran to get a Powerade from the gift shop. But I was too far gone. Tina got a straw (I couldn't hold the bottle) and Jan called my ex with my instructions to get to our office ASAP. Before? It didn't hurt so bad. This time? I felt like my muscles and sinews and nerves were about to burst out of my skin. And it didn't let up, I was way beyond Gatorade. 

    I began screaming and moaning with pain. Sucks, being vulnerable at work. Mike said what I didn't want him too - you need to go to the ED. I couldn't stand up, so Quinn and Tina and Mike got me in a wheelchair and took me there. The last thing I wanted was to spend all day in the ED, but here we were. 

    I've got a pretty high pain tolerance. I didn't take any meds post kids (I was breastfeeding!) and the narcotics they gave me after I broke my jaw dulled me and did nothing good, so no pain seeking meds here. Here's where it went even more South. The intake nurse was on a power trip. Mike went back to secure a room with the docs and I thought she called my name.

    When she realized I came without me calling her name (I said Jackson!!! Not Seng!) I apologized but luckily Mike already had the ball rolling so she was forced to acknowledge me. She tried to take my blood pressure twice, and accused me of being uncooperative while assaulting my tetany painful arms. I was moaning and arching my back in the wheelchair while she was insisting on me telling her my name. My social security number. Mike aided me bc I was slurring in indescribable pain. 

    She was horribly rude, accusing me of malingering. Not my jam. Mike asked for a stretcher. She power tripped on him - saying she knew her job and I did not need a stretcher. He politely told her she's gonna be on the floor soon and then you will need one. I mean, he's a doctor? WTF? In all the craziness and confusion my body told me what I needed. A cold tile floor on my cheek, no care it was foul ED floor. Mike had tried to give me a bag earlier to stop me from hyperventilating but the pain was too bad. At this point, she accused me of jumping out of the wheelchair on purpose. 

    I have never felt so dehumanized and disrespected in my life, while I was in so much pain. Is this really the intake of our hospital, I wondered. My hospital. As the staff pulled me onto a stretcher, and my breathing eased and my hands returned to their normal state over the next half hour and my body returned to its normal self after potassium and magnesium infusions that took until 2:30 (I was correct in my dx) I became a little angry.

    My partners gave me the day off today. Melody told me Yaya's was so much fun she joked that she hoped I would be sick next year too. I called Mackenzie to tell her today. Before she responded, Christy came to bring food and gifts. She said she had the exact same experience. Harrison ED? Good. Baptist? I was treated like a criminal like I was lying to get admitted.

    My voice was shaking when Mackenzie called me back today. I'm not good at confrontation, I told her, and I would not be calling you unless Mike and Kimberly urged me too (Kimberly spent five hours of her birthday advocating for me in the ED, much needed). This cannot be our hospital's entryway, we have to do better. I'm more for re-education than punitive measures but this woman cannot be around people for a while, IMO. Mike was a bit more angry. She needs to be fired. 

    Ah the state of our system. Abandoning all that angst today, feeling much better, and wrapping Christmas presents - my partners gave me a much needed day off. I assured Mackenzie all the other docs and nurses in the ED were good to me - Katelynn, Shelby, Darren. Katelynn blew a vein in my wrist (ugh I could feel it happening) but was super polite about it and reclined me when I told her I had a history of passing out with blood draws. She was much more successful antecubital. One thing that angers me is that a question asked of both me and Mike was did they know she was a doctor? This shouldn't matter. GD. Everyone should be treated with respect. But hopefully I can use my stature to right a wrong. Happy Tuesday, feeling good enough to go back to work tomorrow. Much love, Elizabeth

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