1) I am now home from the hospital.
2) I am basically fine.
3) I have health insurance, so hopefully this won't spiral into a giant, credit-destroying financial disaster and I'm not asking for donations from people or anything of that sort.
On Monday (December 12th) I woke up about 5:15 in the morning with terrible period-type cramps. My period wasn't due for another week or so, but I got up and went to the bathroom to check anyway. The next thing I remember is kneeling on the floor with my head in the tub and the shower curtain and being REALLY CONFUSED (although I think I would have found having my head being in a shower curtain like that confusing regardless). I had a lot of trouble getting up and started yelling for my dad (I live with my dad). I was having trouble seeing and understanding what was going on, but I somehow managed to get the bathroom door unlocked and open before falling down again, which is when my dad found me. I'm pretty sure I was yelling that I needed to go to the emergency room. My vision was pretty white and my ears were whistling, and the whole thing was pretty frightening.
After lying on the floor for a while, I felt well enough to get up and get dressed so I at least would have normal clothes on while waiting in the emergency room. By the time I'd gotten dressed, I felt well enough to wait until my doctor's office opened for the day so I could call her rather than going to emergency, so I went downstairs and discovered the joys of morning television (one of the cable channels is re-running Quantum Leap!). I left a message with my doctor's receptionist around 8, but it took until about noon before she had time to actually deal with it (this is one of the perils of having a solo-practice doctor - she had another emergency that day as well). By this point I felt basically fine but hungover, so I wasn't in a huge hurry to get to the doctor. I spent some time tweeting back and forth with The Doubleclicks about a dream I'd had (in the dream we were arguing about which was the worst episode of season 2 Star Trek TNG, and the awesome thing about liking local geeky bands is that in the waking world they also have opinions on this and will share them when asked) and generally goofed off on the internet. Eventually my doctor called back and sent me to the emergency room.
I decided that, having been to the emergency room before and knowing how long it takes, I was DEFINITELY eating lunch first. This was a very wise decision, as I wouldn't manage to get any more food until after 9 that night. My dad drove me to the emergency room after we ate, and I got there some time between 1 and 1:30 in the afternoon. After getting checked in, they put us in a room with a clock three hours off, so it was on Samoa/Midway time. I would eventually decide that this is because this is my tropical island vacation, as it will cost at least that much. I got to have all kinds of fun tests, including both a CT scan and an MRI. Also, although I didn't find this out until later, my doctor was at the hospital looking for me, but they'd told her I was already admitted so she was on a completely different floor and not in the emergency department. They eventually ruled out all of the really scary things they could think of, decided that I didn't need neurosurgery or anything along those lines, and my doctor concluded that the original cramping was probably an ovarian cyst and that I presumably passed out from the pain and wasn't likely to do more passing out. They also decided that I had a concussion and admitted me to the hospital for the night for observation.
I finally got to my hospital room about 10 minutes before the kitchen closed for the night, so I ended up with a dinner consisting of the first three things I could think of that I wouldn't be allergic to, which was pretty much a lot of raw vegetables and a lot of the same vegetables, but steamed this time (also a fruit plate, which I ordered every single meal because I never think to buy fruit at the grocery store for some reason so it was a novelty to be able to eat fruit all the time). At least they had milk so I could get something with more protein in it (being a vegetarian that needs to avoid soy, there are some situations where I just can't eat any of the intended main courses). They never assigned me a hospital-based doctor, just my normal doctor, which struck me as kind of odd. They also put me on fall watch, which meant I had to call someone before getting out of bed, which was really irritating since all I wanted to do at that point was drink all the water I possibly could (since they wouldn't let me have any in the emergency department all afternoon) and resultantly pee pretty often. I'd had a headache all day, and I wanted to figure out if it was from the concussion or from dehydration. After the first few times the nurse did at least give me two water bottles so I could pester them for refills less often.
The next morning they took me off of fall watch, which meant I could at least wander my room. Breakfast was a lot easier to order than dinner because they served eggs (although they somehow manage to put soy in their poached eggs, which is pretty mystifying to me as normal people poach eggs in water, so I had to have hard boiled instead) and oatmeal, so I actually got a meal that resembled what I'd have made at home rather than a healthy-but-not-very-satisfying vegetable festival. It was a really boring morning, though, as they still hadn't assigned me a hospital-based doctor so we were waiting for my regular doctor to come over on her lunch break. At least I'd brought two books and a video game system (as I've mentioned, I've been to the emergency room before) so I had something to do while I waited. I spent quite a while brainstorming with the food services people over lunch, but ended up with a pretty nice rice and beans focused lunch that bore limited resemblance to anything on the menu, so that worked out well in the end (they gave me a printed in-room menu, but it didn't list ingredients so it was pretty much impossible for me to guess which things would have soy in them). It also helps that I like broccoli without any kind of sauce, so it was easy for me to get a vegetable side.
My doctor could finally get up there after I ate lunch and cleared me to go home. The hospital didn't really give me any information on what restrictions I should be under once I got there or what to expect, which I now realize means I should have kept pushing until someone came in to talk to me in more depth. My doctor did talk to me, but she's really not a specialist in things like concussions and didn't have a bunch of concussion-focused handouts or anything to give me (to my knowledge she does primary care, gynecological stuff, and acupuncture - she's always referred me to specialists for anything far outside of those areas). Anyway, I was told by my doctor that I was fine to drive and generally resume my normal activities, but no drinking for 7-10 days, and no contact sports or major jumping around for about two months, and I should avoid situations in which I might fall (like walking the kind of dogs that drag you around - I currently only work with one dog with a history of doing that to people, and he's not scheduled for the next few months so it shouldn't be an issue). When I got home, I took a shower (since I hadn't wanted to the morning before so soon after fainting, and I'd known I'd be going home that day so didn't want to do so at the hospital that morning) and drove over to see my grammy, who had called me several times while I was in the hospital and was generally worried sick about me. (She's finally given up driving, so she couldn't come visit me in the hospital on her own, and they had a two visitors at a time limit so she couldn't have come the previous night because my mom was too nervous to drive and had her husband drive her over to visit rather than driving herself.)
Grammy and I went out to dinner (which we usually do on Tuesdays, becuase I want to make sure she gets out of the house on a regular basis and has something to look forward to each week) and I was feeling pretty good so I went to my usual Tuesday bar trivia afterward even though I couldn't drink. It went pretty well (we lost by two points, there was at least one question I was the only person on my team to know the answer for, and we both gained points due to things I argued for and lost points due to things I argued for, so I couldn't reasonably have been much more less help to the team if I'd been more or less assertive about speaking up), but when I tried to read the ingredients on the candy we got as a consolation prize the words wouldn't stay still and my eyes were really dilated, so I got to go back to the damn emergency room again. Fortunately, someone else on my team could drive me and knew where that hospital was, so I didn't have to try to navigate there myself. Someone else on my team covered both of our bar bills (mine was only for an herbal tea, but still), so I really need to think of something nice to do for the team next week.
At the emergency room, I got my first vision test since 8th grade (I could read line 10 on the vision chart, so I suspect I still don't need glasses, although this obviously wasn't a full eye exam) and to sit in an eye-focused room instead of the normal emergency room from yesterday. After talking with me about the extent of the problem and doing some more vision and balance tests, they told me that was reasonably normal for post-concussion and that I wouldn't really be "back to normal" for a month or two. They also gave me a nice handout of what symptoms were going to be "normal" for me for a while and what symptoms meant I needed to come right back, which I really wish that someone would have given me when I was discharged earlier that afternoon. Thinking "here we go again" and going back to the emergency room was a ton of extra stress for me and my family (dad met me there while mom and Tom rescued my car), and it's not like my bar trivia friends, as smart and widely-knowledgeable as they are to let us win so often, should be fonts of knowledge on post-concussion symptoms and what does and doesn't merit an emergency room trip, and generally goofy vision + head injury = emergency room. I'm sure if I'd been home and mentioned those symptoms to my dad he would have made me go back to emergency too, because that's just what people do.
Anyway, the good news is that I'm home now (I'm going to go rescue my car from my mom's house tomorrow - I gave both of my parents keys to my car way back when I first started driving just in case I locked myself out, and that pays off in situations like this) and that my insurance lets you apply any expenses in the last quarter of the year to the next year's deductible, so I should have easily met 2012 deductible with all of this and, depending on how much the remaining bills from this end up being, may make 2012 the year of dealing with all of those little nagging health problems that build up because they're not urgent and not that obnoxious, but should be dealt with sooner or later (for example, I get a rash on my hands from pretty much any soap other than Dove sensitive skin, and I'd love to see a dermatologist to see if there's any kind of cream or something I can use to protect my hands in situations like cons when I'm washing my hands in public restrooms a lot or at least get them to heal faster afterward).
I'm also very grateful that Oregon has a thing called portability insurance, which required my insurance company to sell me an individual portability policy without a health questionnaire when my COBRA from them ran out in October, because otherwise I would probably be uninsured right now. Before this I was reasonably healthy, by which I mean this is probably the first time in my adult life that I've used more in benefits than I've paid in premiums in a given year (most years the only time I see the doctor is for my annual women's exam and maybe once for something like strep throat), but insurance companies are incredibly picky about who they'll take for individual policies generally and I've been rejected for individual insurance before after completing the health questionnaire.
So anyway, I have a headache the comes and goes and sometimes just feel a little off, and I'm holding myself to a lower standard of both grammar and overall construction on this post than I usually would, because I wanted to get this post out there and I also want to go to bed. At this point I'm not really sure if the injury means I'll be on the internet more or less. So far, looking at a monitor doesn't seem to create any vision problems, so I suspect more since I'll be taking it easy and sticking around the house more. We'll see.
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