There has been barely any blogging action going on here over the past week. My apologies for that. While slow days are certainly an occurrence around these parts, a week of pretty much nothing new is highly unusual. It wasn’t planned. I’ve been doing my best to adapt to some lifestyle changes that have proven to be difficult and pretty damn exhausting. For one, caffeine withdrawal. Take someone who has been drinking two pots of coffee a day for the past several years and tell them that from this day forward, caffeine does not exist in their lives and while we’re at it, neither does any type of stimulant in any form. You’ll see a whole new side of that person. More than likely, you will be seeing a lot of their angry side, but don’t worry, it doesn’t last long. People who have been fueled by caffeine for years tend to have a particularly difficult time with the act of staying awake without it.
Here is how last Thursday night was supposed to go: Attend the Sound for Scoliosis kick off party that was organized by a friend of mine. Have a fun night hanging out with friends, enjoy a few drinks, see my partner’s new band play later that night, and come home.
Here is what happened instead: I don’t go out very often, but for the first time in a while I was out and having a great time. I got to hang out with a few friends I haven’t seen in a while and I saw a couple of bands. Good times. Until suddenly, I wasn’t having such a good time anymore. Out of nowhere, the band that was playing got so loud it was nearly deafening and I had tunnel vision. I have a history of anxiety and panic attacks, which is the reason why I don’t go out very often. Logic told me that I was having a panic attack. No big deal, at least not to me because I have such a history with them and have learned over time how to talk myself down out of a panic. Except for the small detail that I did not feel anxious in the least before these symptoms washed over me, this was a fabulous plan. It didn’t work.
The last thing I remember from inside the bar was sitting in a bathroom stall telling myself that I was totally fine. Unbeknownst to my conscious brain, I had walked out of the bathroom. When I made it to my partner who was waiting outside for me, I collapsed into him. I had passed out, woke up on the floor, and passed out again, this time my head falling back into a brick wall. Somehow I had made it outside through the back of the bar and an ambulance had been called. After sitting in the bathroom stall, the next thing I remember is talking to paramedics who were telling me that I was probably fine (because I had mentioned my history of panic attacks) and that they just had to check my vitals before letting me go on my way.
If there is one attribute I embody when I am terrified, it is annoyance. I talk a lot, I ask a lot of questions, and I pursue every task as if it is a test–and I desperately need to know if I passed. Did I pass this vitals test the paramedics spoke of? They didn’t tell me because as soon as they checked my blood sugar, I was informed that a trip to the hospital was in my best interest because it was dangerously low. I had failed the blood sugar test!
I spent six hours at a hospital that I’m just going to go out on a limb and say could totally make a top 10 list of the most unproductive hospitals in the country. Seriously, if you either work or hope to work in the medical field and want a job where all is expected of you is to gossip with your coworkers, do nothing to actually treat your patients, and just stare at them while they repeatedly set off the heart rate monitor alarm while sitting on your ass, then you need to apply for a job there.
I endured six hours of tests followed by waiting and then more waiting. Six hours of being poked, prodded, and then ignored. Six hours of being left in a room to twiddle my thumbs and wonder what the hell is going on with no updates. Six hours of having seemingly random people mosey on into the room, ask what happened to me, write it down, ask if anyone has given me anything to raise my blood sugar, and then leave, never to be seen or heard from again. Six hours of sporadic vomiting, regardless of the fact that I’m pretty sure nothing could have been in my system after this much waiting, and waiting, and waiting. After all of this, I was finally told that I have low blood sugar that would need to be kept in mind when making my daily nutrition choices, a rapid heart rate (hence the repeatedly setting off the heart rate monitor alarm even while completely relaxed), and an extremely high white blood cell count.
Now here is a funny story about one of the most unproductive hospitals in the country. Usually, and I could be wrong here but I think this is how medicine is usually practiced, you have blood taken, that blood gets tested and then when the doctor finds something wrong with that blood, they then move on to diagnosing the problem and then treating it. This hospital did not work that way. In this hospital, you apparently get your blood taken, they test it, find something wrong with it, and then want to perform all of the tests again because they didn’t like what they found. This is a problem because I have always had an extreme fear of needles. It is a bad, bad fear. I am actually over the moon about not freaking out like a total four-year-old child over getting a whole lot of blood drawn and letting the paramedic attempt to put in an IV on the way to the hospital. I am extremely proud of myself for that. You have no idea how major that is.
Needless to say, I did not let them continue with their Let Us Do the Least Amount of Work Possible by Repeatedly Running the Same Tests charade. I went home. For fear of a concussion, I wasn’t allowed to doze off while laying around the hospital for six hours, so I went home and I got some much-needed, much-appreciated sleep.
The three symptoms that I have going on, the low blood sugar, the rapid heart rate (or Tachycardia, if you want to get all fancy with your medical speak), and the extremely high white blood cell count are all of the effects of my Periodontal Disease, which I have had for the past seven years. Periodontal Disease is an inflammatory disease that affects the teeth, the tissues that surround and support the teeth, and when it is extremely advanced, to the gums. It has run rampant throughout my family and just like the family members who have had it, regardless of how well I have taken care of my teeth throughout my life, they continue to break down and eventually rot. If you have never had problems like this with your teeth then you may be surprised to find out that when there is a problem in your mouth, it is only a matter of time before you start having problems with the rest of your body. Your teeth really do affect your entire body and in my case, it has lead to an extreme bacterial infection that even high doses of antibiotics seem to be immune to. A high white blood cell count in itself signifies rapid infection, as does a rapid heart rate. Low blood sugar seems to be the only thing I can at least treat and control.
Fun, right? So that is what has been going on with me and over the past week, I have focused on getting my energy back up and adjusting to making eating a new part time job of mine in order to control the low blood sugar factor that has become my new reality.
Woman Tribune will be back in full swing over the next few days as I get all of its affairs in order and finally get caught up.
Photo by Michael Coté