Wednesday, January 15, 2020

2018, The Year of Hospital Admissions

So, let's be clear upfront, I do not have a lot of hospital experience. My time spent there literally includes a single night in primary school, that time back in 2013 and then The Babe Girl's birth. Yup, up until 2018 that was my entire hospital surgery / stay experience.

2018 was going pretty smoothly up until October. I had my annual gynae appointment in the first week and had choosen to get a Mirena put in (We've decided to only stick with one child, probably almost definitely another blog post). I wasn't nervous or anything although I have heard of other online friends who've had to be admitted to have it inserted, I wasn't really expecting to end up as one of them.

But the experience was awful and the doc decided to book me in the following week to rather get it inserted under general anaesthetic. And instead of the Mirena, this time he recommended the Kyleena.

So, that was hospital stay Number 1.

Fast forward nearly 2.5wks and I woke up in excrutiating pain. I had been waking every so often in the middle of the night feeling like I had a sore/stiff neck, but it always went away after my morning shower or during the day. I had woken up around 2am on the morning of the last Tuesday of October and it was so bad I'd gone to find something to take for the pain.

It didn't go away and I had some tingling in my fingers (should've paid attention then and there but, you know). Took some more pain killers to the office for a bit later after breakfast. The drive was tough, I considered pulling over to vomit from pain. I know, another clue I should not even have been going to work.

But I was dealing with a very time sensitive HR issue in my department and being 2 days before the end of the month, things had to be dealt with. These were not things you could do remotely, from home.

I made it to work and muddled thru the first half of my day. I couldn't settle my right arm, you know, the one you need for pretty much all work-related stuff using a mouse (#right-handed). I was also struggling to concentrate due to the pain. So eventually around lunch time I headed home and called a Physio for an appointment.

I'd been to a Physio earlier in the year when I'd hurt my neck (actually that was another hospital visit, to the ER on a Sunday for muscle relaxants and pain killers after I fell and hurt my neck after a wedding in March) but I couldn't get an appointment with her. So I found another, closer to home and booked an appointment. I spent most of the rest of the day lying on my floor trying to make it till appointment time.

I went for the appointment but it was with a young, new physio ... and as soon as she saw me she went to call the head of the practice who assisted for the rest of the appointment. She recommended I go to a GP to get proper pain killers and anti inflamatories and then if it hadn't gone away by the next day to come the day after for another physio appointment.

I went to our local Medicross because it was now around 5pm (The Trucker had to fetch The Babe Girl from school) and just waited for a doctor to have a gap. I saw an old doctor who didn't impress me at all. In fact, it turns out he just gave me a voltaren shot and when I asked what to do if that didn't end up working, he prescribed me a sleeping pill! I was too distracted by the pain at this stage to really argue with this.

Anyway, the next day was not much better and my mom very kindly came to spend the day with me because I was stuck, horizontal in bed. She had a diskectomy a few years ago and recommended her physio instead. So we booked an appointment for the next day (Thursday, and the first of November).

I missed The Babe Girl's second Halloween trick or treating :(

On Thursday, I needed The Trucker to help shower me. My Mom drove me to the appointment and the only way I could get remotely comfortable was by putting my right arm up over the back of the headrest. When I arrived at the appointment, the physio took one look at how I was standing (with my arm up over my head) and said "I know what is wrong". She didn't tell me yet, she needed to confirm her thought and see how bad it was, but basically literally a pinched nerve in my neck and based on the fingers that were numb at the tips (index & middle), the nerve running from my spinal cord out between C6 & C7 vertabrae down my arm.

She called ahead to a specialist Orthopedic Surgeon and got them to admit me to hospital for an MRI. I went home to pack a bag and was admitted around 1pm.

Little did I realise that I would spend 9 nights in hospital and have a 6 week recovery period following this.

I found out after the MRI that a piece of the disk between my C6 & C7 had broken off and was pressing against the nerve. I had to make a choice, wait and see if it recovered on it's own (sometimes, they can be reabsorbed by the body or something) over the next 6 weeks or schedule the surgery for Monday and remove the entire disk (because the rest of the perfectly okay disk was blocking access to the broken bit as they go thru the front of your neck for C-spine, whereas you can get a simpler diskectomy for similar issues in the Lumbar spine, like my Mom had) and get a fusion.

Well, I had a 3.5yr old and was right handed and as regular as I felt now that I was dosed on painkillers when I was lying horizontal, every trip to the loo reminded me that all was not well and it would take me about 15mins to recover from the pain from the trip. We discussed it, we got 2nd opinions, but in the end I opted for the surgery.

I had the surgery late on Monday. I made sure I signed an up to date will before I went in. Can never be too careful. I spent the night in High Care and then headed back to the Ward later on Tuesday. I eventually got to go home on Friday the 9th of November.

Recovery was slow, but it was my neck so I made sure to be careful. I was literally horizontal for the first 2 weeks. I was reading a book a day - thank goodness for Kindle and my very long list of books to read!

When I was healed enough to sit at a computer again, I was lucky enough that I was able to work from home for the remainder of the year and slowly progressed from just 2 hours a day (only half an hour at a time with an hour break in between) to my regular hours. I was only able to drive again sometime in December.

Shew. It was a hectic experience. But the good news is that I am completely healed, back to normal and barely remember it ever happened.

And then, The Babe Girl wasn't feeling well on my last day of work for the year. Luckily my Mom came to fetch her for a bit because although I had made a little bed next to my desk, she was pretty distrating and I had been off work enough already for the year!

She didn't seem to recover so we managed to get a doc appointment for around 5pm. We got some meds and nappies. She'd been thru all her underwear in the day! Do you know how hard it is to get a kiddo who has already potty trained back into a nappy? But she was so ill she couldn't put up much of a fight really. Shew it is so hard when they are not well.

So I can't remember exactly how it happened but basically she woke up around 10pm for the loo and we checked the nappy and saw what I thought was blood. So we all got dressed and headed for the ER. My poor sossage got a drip with antibiotics and was so weak after a day of this terrible diarrhea, disentry and a fever. They took samples and eventually admitted us around 2am (if they do it before midnight, medical aid charges you for an extra day). I stayed that night with her and she screamed and cried every time she needed the loo.

We ended up there for 3 nights with her (The Trucker & I alternated nights but one of us was with her the entire time). Her CRP levels were 84 (should be at 5) when she was admitted so they needed to make sure they had come down and to get as many antibiotics via the IV as possible. Before we left they got the results from her stool sample and diagnosed Giardia and gave us specifically suited antibiotics.

She hated the antibiotics, but she recovered in time for Xmas. What a year.

Oh, and just after I finished typing up this marathon account of our health woes, The Trucker got back from an MRI and an appointment with the same Orthopedic Surgeon who fixed my neck. Turns out he has a ruptured disk at L5-S1. He isn't in acute pain generally (but has a few flare ups each year since we moved to Cape Town, which have been getting worse, which triggered the MRI booking), but this year he'll have to go for surgery as well. Sad face.

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