My Trip to the ER

>> Friday, April 06, 2007

This is a little bit of a scary story, and this story is true (unlike my scary story about my watch that spoke to me a few months ago).

On Wednesday, near the end of my Color and Design class at CVA, I mentioned to my students that I was feeling a little dizzy. It didn’t seem to be too big of a deal. I went and got a drink of water and figured I’d be fine in a few minutes. Class was beginning to wrap up, and I was ready to swing by home to have lunch and get ready for my afternoon class at MCAD. I was leaving school and walking to my car, and I felt a little dizzier. I was just watching my feet, because if I looked up, everything was spinning a little too much. I stopped for a moment and rested against a fence to get my balance. I was close to my car, so I let go of the fence and kept walking.

The next thing I remember, I was getting out of a construction worker’s truck (or contractor, or electrician) in the parking lot of United Hospital’s Emergency Room. As I was “coming to,” I realized I was speaking with the man in his truck. He had picked me up and taken me about a mile to the hospital. I don’t remember ever getting up, getting into his truck, or speaking with him. I don’t know if he woke me up or found me dazed or what. When I climbed out of his truck and was staring at the doors of the ER, I nearly lost it; I was freaking out.

I didn’t know how long I was out or what happened in the time between collapsing on the sidewalk and getting to the ER. I walked inside and up to the counter. The woman at the desk asked how she could help me. I said “I... I was just dropped off in the parking lot... and... and...” I lost it. I was so scared, and I just started crying. I was shaking. She tried to calm me down and she handed me some paperwork to fill out. I reached for the pen, and I realized that my right hand was bright red and numb. I was able to mumble, “I think my hand is frozen... I can’t write...” I looked down and started feeling around. My left leg was soaked and my computer bag was wet and still had some snow on it. “Oh my God, my computers... My wallet!...” Both of my laptops were still in my bag and my wallet was still in my pocket. My day planner was still in my left hand, but it had some snow on it too.

So the nurse took down my info for me. My memory was working fine. I was able to rattle off my social security number and all of my other data, so my brain wasn’t broken. I wasn’t in any pain, but the back left part of my head was a little sore from where I must have hit the sidewalk.

I had to tell what I remembered about what had happened to all kinds of people in the ER. Each time I broke down. The head nurse (who was the second person I met with) kept nicely telling me to calm down. I must have looked like a mess. “Just calm down, it’ll be OK, they’ll run some’s OK...just calm down...”

They tested me for about everything except for feline diabetes. My blood sugar was fine. My blood pressure and heart rate were fine. The numbers and lines flashing on the EKG were all fine. They did blood work and that was all normal. There were no outward signs of anything being wrong. They kept me there for a few hours to monitor. I kept telling them, “The doctor who gave me a physical last fall told me ‘Whatever you’re doin’, keep doin’ it! You are a very healthy young man!’ I’m a triathlete, I’m in GREAT shape!”

I asked if I could get my laptop to get the phone number for the head of the Media Department at MCAD so I could call her and let her know that I wasn’t going to be able to teach class that afternoon. They handed me my computer, and I got her number. (I talked to her later that day, and she told me that I sounded really scared in the message that I left her.)

After being there a little while, my fear turned into embarrassment. I just wanted to get out of there. I felt fine. Except for being quite shaken up, I felt fine from the moment I walked into the hospital. They weren’t ready to let me go. I also realized that, being my computer was still on my lap, now was my chance to take a quick photo with the built-in iSight on my Mac:

I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t supposed to take a picture in there, but whatever. To wrap up this long, strange story, they basically told me “these things happen” and unless it happens again, it was probably just a fluke - maybe due to stress. But if it happened again, I’d have a CAT Scan and a lot more tests. Super.

They asked if I had a ride home. I lied and said yes. I was just ready to get out of there. They let me get dressed and leave. I walked back to my car, which wasn’t really that far from the hospital - maybe over a half mile. But in that walk, I had to climb the roughly 200 stairs behind the James J. Hill house. After that, I STILL felt fine, so I knew things were going to be OK.

I got back to my car and looked around. I wanted to see if I could tell where I dropped. Sure enough, right between the fence that I leaned on when I felt dizzy and my car, there was an L-shaped depression on the edge of the sidewalk. That’s where I fell. And I still didn’t remember any of it. I looked around to try to figure it all out, but I now realize that I won’t remember what happened and I should stop driving myself crazy trying to dig those details out of my brain. I got into my car, drove home, and did something any good triathlete would do: went to the Y for a 2500-meter swim. Just kidding. I drove home, had a big glass of water, and fell asleep on the couch to Rachel Ray making chicken on TV.


Wedgie 5:02 PM, April 06, 2007  

"These things happen"???!!!
Wow, that is a real scary thought! Totally bizarre and totally frightening. I would have freaked out too. Glad you're OK!

And don't rule out feline diabetes.

TriShannon 7:50 PM, April 06, 2007  

How scary! Glad you are okay!!

Joy | Love | Chaos 8:35 PM, April 06, 2007  

Oh my goodness! So very scary. I'm glad the tests came out fine, but that's almost as weird. Promise your imaginary internet triathlon friends (IITFs) that you'll be sure to walk *towards* people when you start feeling that way. Not *away*, okay?

Gordon 9:06 PM, April 06, 2007  

Whoa, that's freaky. I'm glad you're ok, and were able to walk out of the hospital in one piece!

Spokane Al 10:20 PM, April 06, 2007  

Wow! I am very glad to hear that it was nothing serious. As the old sergeant used to say in Hill Street Blues, "Let's be careful out there!"

xt4 9:34 AM, April 07, 2007  

Wow dude. That's crazy. I wonder what happened - have you felt really stressed or anything lately? That was a decent thing for the construction guy to do - giving you a ride. What a strange thing. I really hope it was just a "fluke", and that all will continue to be well.

RunBubbaRun 3:00 PM, April 07, 2007  


Glad you are okay, maybe you just had a furball episode :)

But seriuosly, rest up, take it easy, and get pampered by the wifey...

John 12:15 PM, April 08, 2007  

Wow...that was scary! Glad everything worked out okay. Maybe a follow-up with your primary doctor is in order… just to keep him in the loop... just my two cents!

Take care!

Triteacher 8:53 PM, April 08, 2007  

Yikes. My husband actually has a history of fainting. (I call him my "Fragile Flower" - not copyrighted, Pharmie). It actually doesn't affect him unless he bonks his head really hard and gets a concussion. Now you know what the onset feels like - get down so you don't have so far to fall. You may also want to consider avoiding concrete, marble, wood, and other hard surfaces.

Unknown 7:41 AM, April 09, 2007  

YIKES. Glad nothing was found on the initial run of tests, but I agree with tr-john...go see your regular physician and see if there's any idea of what caused this. I had dizzy and fainting spells and it turned out I was anemic. Not common in men, so probably not the case. But just saying there are easily fixable underlying reasons for these kinds of things happening! Take care of yo-self!

Allez 7:43 AM, April 09, 2007  

Scary story! Stess can do crazy things! Take care of yourself.

marz_racer 8:30 AM, April 09, 2007  

Scary! Glad to hear you checked out OK. Take care or yourself.

qcmier 1:39 AM, April 10, 2007  

Wow, that is scary. Those mysterious faint spells really brings out a battery of medical exams. Hope everything works out.

By the way, your journey to IM is sounding a bit like mine. Binder full of exercises from PT, bouts of light headedness. What's next? If you bonk at half IM, I might have to check if you're plagiarizing me.

SixTwoThree 12:19 AM, April 12, 2007  

You're probably fine - other than trying not to pee in your pants. Was it really snow? If it happens again, you might seriously consider a cardiologist. My mom's heart is pretty darn healthy, but she fainted right in front of the nurses station before her stress test. Turns out she needed a pacemaker for "electrical malfunction" of the heart. I found out that week that even kids in high school have to get them. It's not just for older folks and Veeps. She was back on the tennis courts in a few weeks.

teacherwoman 6:54 AM, April 12, 2007  

That is scarry. I am glad to hear all is okay, though.

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