By: Revanche

A visit to the ER

November 24, 2017

I hate having an IV line in My turn, this time.

I felt silly even broaching the subject because it wasn’t that bad but according to my doctor’s instructions, the lower right side abdominal pain I’d been having for days was now joined by bonny companions nausea, dizziness, and chills so that meant it was either nothing or something and the only way to find out short of waiting til something terrible happened (or didn’t) was to get me to the ER. Excellent.

PiC insisted it was better to be safe than sorry and while I intellectually agree with that for everyone else, I would personally feel quite foolish wasting time and energy going to the emergency room for what may turn out to be not an emergency at all.

Thankfully, we happened to have my favorite relative in town willing and able to look after JB and Seamus so we didn’t have to wake a toddler from peaceful slumber (the sinniest of parenting-JB sins) in the wee hours of the morning. We let Seamus out for an early toilet then patted him on our way out, assuring him we’d be back soon, and crept off in the predawn gloom.

There’s nothing quite like a drafty hospital gown to make you feel even sillier than you already did, as you describe your symptoms to a somewhat sympathetic ER physician, especially if you’ve been looked down at by a multitude of doctors over the years who have uniformly and sonorously told you there was nothing wrong with you. (There was.)

The staff never suggested that I was faking it or treated me disrespectfully, all agreeing that the symptoms might be nothing BUT if it was something it’d be much better to catch it early. I just can’t not hear a decade’s worth of bad medical care echoing in my skull.

The pain is the hardest part normally but this time it’s the waiting with an IV in my arm because I surely cannot be the only person who, on the placing of an IV catheter, has that arm go limp because you do not move an arm with a needle in it.

Remnants of childhood needle horrors still cling to me. Obviously.

They gave me pain and anti nausea medication, took bloodwork and confirmed that I’m not pregnant.

Next up was the CT scan to confirm something or other. The scan took two minutes. The wait for a scan read and doctor to return and speak to us was nearly two hours. I was nearly frozen solid in my aforementioned gown but the excessively long wait reassured me that it wasn’t appendicitis as my primary care physician feared. I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure that an inflamed appendix would have gotten a slightly more prompt report. One hopes.

Somewhere in that two hours, the administrative person showed up for a signature on a pretty silly sounding form. It was the patient financial responsibility form stating that I authorize my insurance (Kaiser) to pay my care provider (uh, also Kaiser) for any and all care that is covered by my benefits. It must be a generic form for all patients when someone’s dropping into the nearest emergency room regardless of their insurance provider. That makes more sense. Still, it gave my punch drunk tired self a giggle.

The administrator charged my $150 copay and left, PiC gaped after her for a second: we’re still waiting for the doctor!

Not to worry, the medical staff’s timing isn’t frequently aligned with the checking in process, I assured him. Years of working not in an ER but in animal care taught me that. It’s possible I was calm mainly to conserve energy but also because I wasn’t worried about my appendix bursting anymore.

Anyway, to cut to the end, we managed to get out of the ER with some pending test results and medications to take home in about four hours. The timing, if it had to happen, was pretty perfect. JB was perfectly happy in the care of the person I trust most to know what to do in case of most if not all JB situations (happy, sad, hungry, angry, grouchy, exuberant) and I hadn’t worried for a second during those long hours.

I wish we had that in person support more often but I am 1000x grateful that we had it now and a few times a year.

So that was our “excitement” for this holiday weekend.

:: Have you ever had appendicitis or gone to the ER? How is your long weekend going if you’re in the states?

11 Responses to “A visit to the ER”

  1. So glad it wasn’t the appendix! My sister got appendicitis when she was in college. It’s scary! Glad you had childcare you trusted, and hope you feel better and figure out what was going on soon.
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  2. Oh no! I’m glad it wasn’t appendicitis and the timing “worked out” with JB. I hope you get resolution soon as to what it actually was.
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  3. SP says:

    Glad everything is OK! We had an ER scare last month (T, not me) that turned out not to be anything, but it is better to be safe about these things!
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  4. Glad you didn’t spend the long weekend in surgery! Hope it all turns out well.
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  5. Darn, I’m so sorry this happened to you…and during the holidays, to boot. How soon they treat you — whether you’re at death’s door or not — seems to depend on the hospital. When I had appendicitis I waited for hours without even being triaged, until I finally left. Got a friend to drive me to another hospital, where they had be on the way to the OR within minutes of arriving. Hope you’re feeling better now!

    • Revanche says:

      Thanks! We have a bit of a podunk ER close by but I happened to be lucky, they took me in immediately after getting my information. I’d missed the crowd, it seems!

  6. I had appendicitis in 1990, before laparoscopy was SOP (haha a pun in acronym form); I spent 9-10 hours in the ER before being admitted, had surgery the next morning, and then spent 4 days in the hospital.

    More recently, I have been to the ER for kidney stones. Four times in the last six-ish years. I hate kidney stones so much.

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