Monday, July 12, 2010

serious post is serious! (or: A Very Scary Night)

It's rainy and the internet is spotty and I really hope it lets me post. Most of you read on facebook that Trench and I had a scare the other night that took us to the ER. Here's the long version.

Basically, he's had a cold for the last week that had started getting better. The current theory is that while he was sleeping, some post nasal drip went down the wrong pipe in his throat and started choking him. He woke up unable to breathe and that triggered his first ever panic attack. Trench does not get panicky or anxious or angry or anything other than his usual placid self. It was four in the morning and he got out of bed and said that he was light headed and was having a hard time breathing. As is my usual, I began searching for some sort of home remedy to treat him (where is that neti pot, anyway?). We tried going back to bed, but his hands started tingling. Finally he said, "This might be bad." I asked, "ER sort of bad?" He said yes, so I got up and grabbed some clothes to put on. We've done this routine before, with broken bones and swelling bug bites and such. I was looking for a book to bring and he was trying to rush me out. (I just told him that the reason I took so long getting a book is because I'm reading Her Fearful Symmetry right now, which is all about death. So I was looking for any other book, thinking, "Can't bring Her Fearful Symmetry, anything but Her Fearful Symmetry!") We got in the car and things started getting worse. He begged me to blow off the stop lights and to drive faster, faster. Thank god the ER is fairly close to us. He couldn't undo his seat belt by himself so I did it for him. His hands were starting to freeze up into claws. I ran to the passenger side to open the door for him, and he couldn't get out. There was a paramedic standing outside and he asked if we needed help. He got a wheelchair and (very slowly in my opinion) walked over to Trench and helped him in it. By this time his groans had turned into panicky screams. Freaking out doesn't begin to cover it for me.

I re-parked the car since I hadn't bothered with looking for a spot before, just parked outside the doors. A nurse gave me papers to fill out for him and took me to his room. The nurses were asking him questions that he was trying to answer. Stuff like, "Have you been anxious about anything?", which is a laughable question for Trench. They said they'd come back with a doctor who would give him something to calm him down. They left and I kept saying, "They're coming, the doctor is coming, it's going to be okay." And then sat there, waiting, while my husband couldn't breathe. Finally I walked over to the nurse's station and meekly said, "Um, he can't breathe." The nurse grabbed a doctor and said, "Can you see the panic attack in room 9?" It's the first time they called it that. Now that Trench is able to breathe and is back to his easy going, placid self, he says that it's okay that they didn't come right away, it's the ER and they have lots of important things to do, and other patients take precedent. Not exactly his line of thinking while he thought he was suffocating, but oh well.

The doctor and a paramedic student gave him oxygen and hooked him up to an ativan drip, explained that he was having a panic attack, and talked him through breathing...inhale, hold your breath for the count of three, exhale. He stayed that way for the next two hours and thankfully calmed down. His hands slowly relaxed and he concentrated on his breathing. Eventually they gave him a chest x-ray and an EKG. His heart rate was 130 when he came in, and down to a normal 76 by this time. The doctor explained about the post nasal drip and sleep-choking and asked if he wanted antibiotics, which he didn't think was necessary because the cold was clearing up.

We walked back out into the sunshine to our car. I was exhausted. It was after 7. Sometime around 5:30 Trench had asked me if I would call in to work, and I said I wasn't sure if it was a good enough reason for them (I hadn't been admitted to the ER after all). Trench said, "I think having to spend the night in the ER with your husband is a fucking good reason." By 6:30-7, I agreed with him. I was so tired I felt drunk. I didn't want to leave him alone for the day either, and he didn't want me to go. When we got inside, I heard my alarm go off. I called my manager and woke her up, explained what happened, and she said she might still need me to come in for some clients in the morning. Luckily she got a hold of the new part timer and she agreed to come in for me. We slept till noon, woke up, then stayed in bed awhile longer, till about 2. The rest of the day was normal and it's still normal. The panic attack was a freak thing, and if it ever happens again, he'll know what it is and be able to breathe through it. Still scary though. And makes me have morbid thoughts about fifteen, twenty, thirty years from now when it might be a real stroke. Those thoughts will just tear you apart if you think too hard about it, so I'll just push it away and concentrate on now, when we're both healthy and fine.

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