May 23, 2013

(Really) Glad To Be Alive

I almost died yesterday.

My day started of okay - had a routine cleaning at the dentist for 11am: the hygenist was extremely chatty the whole time, which makes me anxious, although she was very nice and kept going on about how beautiful my teeth were.

Value Village is in the same plaza as my dentist and that's where I headed after my appointment.  After heaping my cart full, I proceeded to the change room where I spent a generous and painful length of time trying on various things.  After a while, I was so sore that I just had to stop.  I was also starting to get hives, which is normal for me as I've been getting them for the past two years whenever the lightest sweat breaks out (it's very frustrating).

I left the change room and started looking through the items in my cart.  After a minute or so, I started having trouble breathing, so I started taking my inhaler, but it wasn't helping and the hives were getting worse.  I went to sit down and text Brian and right after that, I felt my face was swelling up.  At that point I dialed 911 and went outside to the front of the store, leaving my cart inside.  My breathing was worsening by the second and by the time I spoke to the lady on the other end, I could barely speak. 

So I waiting, bent over a railing, trying with all my strength to just breath. 

The ambulance seemed to take forever to arrive - longest time I've ever waited for an ambulance.  Meanwhile, the 911 lady kept asking me questions, and I eventually just stopped answering her because they had nothing to do with my condition and I couldn't talk!

Then a woman coming out of value village starting acting like my nurse, putting her face in mine, asking me dumb questions, leaning her hand on my back, making it even harder to breath.  I felt like crying. I didn't know what to do.

When the ambulance finally did arrive, they slowly sauntered over to me as if I was suffering from a minor boo-boo and proceeded to ask me questions like "what is the matter,?" "what's your name?" "do you know where you are?" etc etc - all of these questions and they still hadn't even touched me.  I stopped trying to answer their stupid questions because I felt like I was literally drowning - I couldn't get ANY air.

So then they put an oxygen mask on me, which was not emitting ANYTHING.  I tried to tell them but they didn't listen.  I took the mask off to look at what might be the issue and the place where the oxygen is supposed to com out was covered by some kind of plug.  I tried keeping the mask off of me because it was making it way way harder to breath, but they kept putting it back on me.

At this point, I was pretty sure I was going to die.  They were taking their time.  And they stopped trying to put my mask back on.  But I didn't want to die, so I started trying to beg with what little air I guess I was getting (no idea how) - "please help me!" "I can't fucking breath," "please, you don't understand!" And the EMS guy was quite annoyed by this point, and just barked back "this is our job - we know what we're doing!" 

THEN they give me an epi-shot.  Get me onto the bed thing (whatever it's called), and proceeded to take their time.  I started clawing and thrashing out of desperation (not at anyone, just the bed thing) the same way one would if they were underwater drowning - it's an instinct - even if you want to die, your body automatically tries to fight it.  I got yelled at again.  I've never begged that hard or desperately in my whole fucking life. 

At that point, I just accepted I was gonna die and tried not to fight it anymore - next to impossible.

So they had me lying down flat on this bed, and for anyone who knows about asthma or breathing problems, you know that's the worst possible position - sitting up and/or turning on your side makes it easier to breath for some reason.  So I tried my best to wiggle to my side, which was next to impossible  cause they had me belted in so tightly.

They finally put me in the back of the ambulance, where I was half in the bed, and half leaning against some kind of glass cabinets.  The didn't touch me again.  Just left me alone, and I actually started to be able to breath a tiny bit, laying on my side, which was so relieving.

We finally got there... did I mention they didn't even turn on their siren until we were just about to arrive?  They rolled me into the hospital, into a room, where there was about seven staff.  The EMS still hadn't touched me - in fact the one guy told them in a very annoyed tone, that I had no idea who I was or where I was, etc.   WTF.  Yes I did.  I just couldn't breath, motherfucker!

They placed me onto the bed in the room, and put an oxygen mask on me that actually had oxygen coming out of it!  From there on I knew I would live because they were all there giving me what I needed as if it was an emergency.  I got two more epi-shots, an IV with Saline, Magnesium Sulfate, Prednisone.  They gave me ventolin, lots of oxygen... hooked me all up with electrodes and basically made it so I could actually breathe again.  And they were nice to me, too.

Brian came - walked at lightening speed from downtown to the Jurevinski hospital - first time I'd ever had someone at my bedside at the hospital.  Felt odd but good.They continued treatment and monitoring for several hours until they were sure I was stable and okay. 

I was exhausted, and in so much pain: one particular nurse, who I'm sure meant well, kept squeezing and poking my arm, not sure why but I think she was hooking lots of stuff up to me.  I kept saying ow because it fucking hurt like a bitch, and finally I said "I have Fibromyalgia" and they were like "oooohhh, okay" - I don't usually complain when stuff like that happens, but it was too much.  At least they understood why it was hurting me so much when I volunteered that information.  It made me realize the importance of letting people know so don't hurt me inadvertently.

This same nurse, when the moved me to another room when I was stable, came in and slapped my leg "affectionately" asking how I was doing.  I screamed because it felt like she just dropped a ton of bricks on my leg.  Sigh. 

Yesterday was not my day.  But I lived.

So a bit of background: as I said, for the past two years or so, I get hives so easily, just from a tiny bit of sweat.  They usually start on my chest and can stay for a quite a while.

Then about a month or two ago, I started going to the YWCA to use the treadmill, which I'd done many times before and never had an issue.  One day I came home and almost immediately broke out in hives all over my body, itchy, sooo itchy.  I was itchy inside and outside - and I felt myself swelling up - my face, eyes, lips, basically my entire face, so much so that you could still see the effects of the swelling two days after.  The scariest thing though, was that my throat was beginning to constrict. 

So I laid down in bed, put the fan on my full blast, and concentrated on relaxing my body, and breathing, paying attention to the swelling so that I'd know if it got serious enough I would call 911.  The only reason I knew that it was a serious thing, is because since I was a little girl I have been allergic to fish, so much so, that even to touch the juice of it sent me into severe antifilactic shock - my eyes would swell completely shut and my throat would swell and cut off my air completely.  I had twenty minutes then I'd be dead.  When I got a bit older, they shortened my time of death to three minutes - scary stuff.

After that exercise incident happened, I went to the doctor and told her about it: she set up an appointment with an allergist and gave me a prescription for an epi-pen.  She also told me to take allergy pills before doing any exercise, just in case.

Well we found out yesterday that ODSP doesn't even cover an epi-pen - something that could save your life quite literally.  I thought that was ridiculous.  Brian brought the perscription in to get filled and they handed him a form - not an epi-pen, and told him I have to go back to my doctor to have the form filled out.  If I had had that epi-pen yesterday, things might have turned out quite differently.  Luckily, the nice doctor who took care of me yesterday was awesome and filled out some form for me to take to the pharmacy to make it so I can get it covered.  A hundred dollars is what it would have cost.

He also prescribed me a new inhaler since I used it all up trying to breath in the value village yesterday, and three days worth of prednisone.

So, I went into antifilactic shock yesterday, so bad that it almost killed me.  And just from my own perspiration, apparently.  What's that about?  My throat closed up, and I couldn't breath.  That was the scariest thing I can think of that I've gone through - I find it really upsetting to think about so I've noticed I've been trying to stuff it inside so I don't have to deal with it.

I know I have been quite judgmental in this post, mostly regarding the EMS people, and it's quite possible they were doing everything they were supposed to do and it just didn't seem like they were because I was so desperate to breath that I couldn't help feeling that way.  I realize this - I just really needed to vent it all.

I've had to call 911 various times in my past due to asthma attacks and every time, the ambulance arrived quickly, acted quickly, gave me oxygen right away, took me to the hospital asap.  So I just don't get what they were doing yesterday.

Also, I'm extremely grateful that I had the brains to call 911 - my pattern has always been to avoid calling them at all costs until I knew I would absolutely die if I didn't.  I'm not sure why I have been this way except maybe that that's what my mother has always done, or because I didn't want to "waste their time" unless absolutely necessary, or I just didn't care about myself enough.  Or maybe all of that is why.

So all I know is that I am somehow alive today.

What scares me now, is that this could happen to me again at any time, any place, any day.  It has been easy with the fish allergy because I just had to avoid fish.  It would seem now I have to avoid sweating too much (until maybe the allergist can figure out what's going on), which is really impossible since it happens just when I make dinner, and not to mention summer is just about here.  I'm scared.

Not sure if anyone will read all of this since it's a pretty long post, but for those who do, thanks.

<3 M

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  1. Hello Marilyn,

    This is Wilma speaking. I am so sorry to hear of your very frightening experience. I am glad that you had some positive experiences during this time as well.

    Our health is the most important gift we have.

    I sincerely hope that you will not have to go through this ever again.

  2. Hi Marilyn, yes people do read it all as it was well written, and more importantly helped understand more to the point of what it is like to deal with that kinda problem. this is a suggestion for future reference get a medical bracelet with your conditions on it so when you can't speak it can for you and maybe figure out a way to tell them your not getting oxygen or go back and send them a message about it. they still need to learn what was really going on. can't blame them too much but ya a little all the same but teaching them will be priceless in the fact they need to learn what really was going on. glad your ok now and were able to share with those who take the time to read it all. ty for teaching me abou your condition and more importantly why you were taking off mask.


Thanks for reading <3