Written on 2/15/14
*Warning:* This post gets a little bit graphic and gross. If you are eating, you might want to wait until later to read this 🙂
Last Friday. A week ago. The first ER-worthy CVS episode of 2014 is officially down in the books.
I was at work. At about 10am I ate a snack and shortly afterwards felt nauseous. Went to the bathroom and vomited. Thought, “No, please, no!” Stood there a few minutes and breathed. The nausea went away. Whew! But, in the back of my mind I knew I didn’t feel quite right and I was slightly worried, but I tried to push it out of my consciousness and continue working. So that’s what I did. Then at lunch, stupidly, I ate lunch. It went down ok until there was one bite left. Suddenly, the nausea was back and worse than before. Went to the bathroom and vomited. This time the nausea didn’t go away. It got worse. Vomited some more, and thought “oh sh*t”.
I walked out to let me co-workers know that I was sick and was about to have to leave before it got worse. I sat in a chair and tried to breathe for a few minutes. It was rapidly getting worse, and I didn’t sti there for long before deciding that I was wasting time, and I had better get my pukey self to the house before I became completely incapacitated. Called the sup and said I was leaving immediately. Got in the car and started driving. It was getting worse fast. Lucky I had a trusty emi-bag in the console. It became an extension of my face in a matter of seconds.
I had a 40 minute drive in front of me. This was not good. I knew that I shouldn’t drive, but the alternative was to become trapped 40 min from home in a poultry slaughter facility which would have made it necessary for co-workers (who don’t even know what CVS is) to care for me while on the clock. This is not cool on multiple levels. All the co-workers are subordinates. I don’t even like for family and friends to see me in episode, much less people over whom I have authority. I can’t stand the thought of poor, innocent strangers having to care for me like this. So I drove. With eyes glued to the road and mouth glued to the emi-bag. And I drove way too fast, in efforts to get home before I became completely incapacitated. About ¾ the way home it was completely obvious that I shouldn’t be driving at all. But stopping wasn’t an option bc that would have left me sick on the side of the road in the car. I needed a bathroom and to take my clothes off because I was completely drenched with sweat by this time. I was also in full-blown panic attack mode.
Oh, and the hubs was working 1 hour from home and 2 hours from my work, so calling him to come get me wasn’t a reasonable option either. I called him when I left work and let him know what was going on. He left work immediately and began driving to get home and take me to the ER.
It was the longest 40 minute drive of my life, I’m pretty sure. I mean, any time feels like eternity when in episode, and I have had my share of seemingly endless rides to the ER. But this was the first time that I not only had to endure the time riding, but I had to be the functional operator of the vehicle for the entirety of the trip. And let me tell ya, it sucked…. I wasn’t exactly conscious of anything other than keeping it between the lines, keeping my eyes on the road, and keeping the vomit inside the emi-bag. I think I should win some sort of driving award for managing to do this down a steep, winding mountain drop-off road. Executing turns and braking for other traffic were also EXTREMELY difficult to pull off safely.
FINALLY, I arrived at the house. Imagine me nearly running inside while bent over at the waist, carrying all of my bags and computer. I fly into the house and drop everything on the ground the instant I cross the thresh hold of the door. I never slow down as I head for the bathroom while yanking off clothes and leaving them in a trail behind me. I wrapped up in my trusty terry cloth bathrobe that helps dry the sweat off me and continued to be miserable in the wonderful privacy of my bathroom.
This post is about to get gross and graphic, so I’m warning you lol. I have always had some diarrhea at the beginning of episodes. Usually I get empty pretty quickly and I am left only to deal with the vomiting. This has been changing over my most recent episodes. I have much more diarrhea in an episode than before. The problem is that after a certain point I am utterly unable to control it at all. It’s like when you don’t have anything to vomit, and then you dry heave. My bowels would cramp and instead of feces I was expelling clear ACIDIC fluid. It was torture. It burned like my ass was on fire. I was panicky and embarrassed that I couldn’t control it so I put toilet tissue between the cheeks to catch it, which made my skin raw. It got worse and worse until my entire “area” was red, swollen, inflamed, and very painful. So much fun.
I was getting about 10 minute breaks between vomiting and I really wanted to try to fall asleep on my own instead of going to the ER. I’m so stubborn. It wasn’t stopping. Hubby got home and helped encourage me to go and get the meds to make it stop. So we got “hospital ready” and went. The past several times I have been to this ER it has been a good experience overall, and I’ve had the same doc treat me appropriately there several times now. He wasn’t there this day. I got someone else who didn’t know what CVS is, of course. I could tell from his attitude and manner that he was skeptical. I was in a panic attack and wasn’t communicating effectively. He left the room after only being in there for about 2 minutes and announcing that he would be right back as he left. We hadn’t gotten a chance to talk about the medications and dosages. He never came back. So I end up telling the nurse what I need. I try to explain that they have to give the dose that is in the Empiric Guidelines, which I gave them earlier, and not to be afraid of it. I knew they weren’t going to give me enough bc she just kept saying the names of the drugs that they would give, but she wouldn’t say how much. Just that they “are going to give me the meds”.
So, after being drained of nearly all my blood onto the floor by the new nurse who was learning to put in an IV catheter, I finally got the meds. I felt them hit and felt the relaxation – a little. And only a very mild decrease in the nausea. Normally I drift off to sleep in seconds after they give it. I knew after a few seconds when all I felt was a little relaxed that they didn’t come close to giving me enough. So, of course I spoke up and said so. But, I was sedate and slurring my words while saying they didn’t give me enough and it wasn’t working, so they thought I was being belligerent and seeking.
And every time that I would lose control of my bowels I would have a mini panic attack. They would all look at me like, “what do you want us to do about it?” Ok, I get that, but they didn’t even offer me comfort or anything. Just looked at me like I was an alien when I said that my arse hole felt like it was in a burning fire, and I couldn’t be still because of it. (Once we got home I put some skin ointment on it, which initially made the burning a million times worse, despite how I would never have thought that possible. But it helped after a couple of applications. By the next day I was normal again.)
They wouldn’t give me any more meds so I had to go home still awake, which I wasn’t happy about. They only reason it is worth it to endure a trip to the ER is knowing that I will be completely unconscious soon, and when I wake up it will be over. If I had known I would have just had to bear it at home anyway, I never would have gone. But if I have to look to the bright side, I probably got to sleep faster once I got back home as a result of the meds they did give me. They knocked the edge off, but only barely. It still took me several hours to get to sleep once I was back home in bed. Then, finally, I woke up, and it was over. The nausea was gone and I felt like a person again. It took me the rest of the week to feel normal again, however, as I had zero energy and needed more sleep than normal. I didn’t eat normally for a week either.
Thinking about possible triggers…. I sometimes don’t do well if I eat a lot of protein, and I had eaten nearly a pound of steamed shrimp the night before… I had started a new vitamin/supplement within the week before the episode… I have been back on birth control for two months now after not using any chemical method in about 3 years. In past years I had more episodes and other issues when I was on birth control, so I had come off it for awhile. I decided to try using it again. I feel it might be the most likely factor in any recent changes that could potentially have caused an episode. I have always been convinced that hormones play a major role in this process somehow.
Lessons learned this go-round include:
Talk meds and dosages immediately and don’t let the doc leave the room until you are done communicating all you need to and are satisfied they understand and are willing. (I say this every time, but when I’m actually in the episode it is much harder to think about what I need to say.)
Wear diapers/depends, whatever, so I don’t have to worry and feel embarrassed about the inability to control bowels. (I bought some and am weirdly looking forward to the comfort they should bring in an episode.)
Apply skin ointment to ass prior the acidic diarrhea to prevent pain and inflammation. Like baby butt paste for diaper rash.
P.S. Does any other poor, unfortunate soul have to employ diaper and butt paste interventions the way I have described here?
And with that, I end the post, and I hope not to have to wear diapers and butt paste any time soon.