Lions, tigers, and bears, OH MY!

I know, I know, I’m a bad girl. I haven’t been using LJ much lately. It gets all my twitter entries, but that’s about it. I have a desire to write.. but then I get frustrated and never do. Feel free to smack me, throw things at me, whatever you deem necessary. 😉

Let’s see. What’s been up in my world? Lots of doctor’s appointments, mostly. Literally at least 1 a week, since the first full week of April. Ten (11, but really 10 “real” appointments) doctor/dentist visits total … so far. I still have more to come before May ends! Some were pre-planned/good visits. Like my 3 appointments to get the Supartz injections in my knees. One was a total waste of time – the gyn appt I already detailed here (password protected). Four of them were with my heart doctor, as was the “extra” appointment I mentioned. The remaining two appointments were with the dentist – one a pre-planned cleaning, the other an emergency appointment. Upcoming appointments include follow-ups with the knee doctor and the dentist.

The knee appointments weren’t too bad. Three weeks in a row of going in to get an injection in both knees. The shots can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to cause noticeable improvement, so I’m not expecting much yet. Right now, my knees aren’t causing much pain, but they are pretty crackly. The left one especially likes to go snap, crackle, and pop on me. They also feel unsteady, like they could just bend backwards at any moment. I’m hoping this passes pretty quickly, and the injections start to take effect.

The heart doctor – well, as I’ve mentioned before, I have extra heart beats. Due to being unemployed at the time, I wasn’t able to have my annual heart ultrasound done last year. I called up and made an appointment to have the ultrasound – even specifically stated I needed an ultrasound. I go for my appointment to find out that it’s only an office visit. Grr. The doctor decided he wanted me to wear a holter monitor again, to see how my PVCs were doing. So I had to go back a week later to have my ultrasound done, and to have the holter wires attached. The ultrasound looked good – the “mild leakiness” of my mitral valve from my first ultrasound 2 years ago has decreased – it’s only “trace” leakage now. That’s a good thing. The heart walls are slightly thick – mine are at a 1.0, and .9 is typically the high-end of thickness for women. But, that thickness hadn’t changed at all in the last two years, so that’s also a good thing. After my ultrasound, I had the holter attached, and had to endure 24 hours of unbelievable itchiness from those danged adhesive pads. Thankfully, nothing incredibly insane happened this time while I was wearing the monitor! My “extra” appointment was the next day – I just had to drive up to the doctor’s office the next day during lunch to have the wires removed and turn in the holter monitor.

A week later I had to go in to get the results of my holter – this time around I had @ 17,000 extra heart beats. (The first time I had the holter, it was over 14,601 extra beats.) He gave me another type of medication, since the only thing the first one did was make me fall asleep. I was on that medication for @ two weeks, until I had my follow-up appointment on last Thursday. I started w/1 week on a half dosage, and then 1 week on the prescribed dosage. After a week, I was supposed to double that again. (And keep doing that a few times, till I was taking about 4x the dosage on the bottle.) This medication doesn’t make me drowsy, but it does make me incredibly dizzy. Dizzy enough that I was starting to be afraid of driving. I mentioned this to him, multiple times during the appointment, but he wants me to just stay on the meds, and try to increase the dosage again. As dizzy as I’ve been, I don’t see this working out well. It was only a minor dizzy on the half dose, but was pretty nasty on the full dose, more vertigo than just disequilibrium. The doctor seemed to dismiss that the dizziness was related to the meds, even though it states right on the prescription bottle “may cause dizziness”. I do have Ménière’s disease, though, so there IS the tiny possibility of it being a very highly coincidentally timed Ménière’s attack. I doubt it, though, since I don’t have any of the other symptoms I typically get during an attack. But, to be sure, I’ve decided to stop the medication for now, and let it work it’s way completely out of my system. Once the dizzy spells have ceased, I’ll make attempt #2 at taking the meds. If I end up dizzy all over again, then it is definitely related to the meds and we’ll have to try a different med, again. I go back to see him in 3 months to follow up on how I’m doing with the meds.

As I stated before, the last 2 appointments were with the dentist. The first one was just my 6-month cleaning, so it was no biggie. I also knew it would set up more appointments, but that didn’t happen at the time. On May 2nd, while eating lunch, I took a bite of my Subway sandwich, and the top left cuspid flared with pain. But, the sandwich was extremely cold, and it felt like more than just the one tooth hurt – so I dismissed it as biting into an almost icy cold chunk of meat. That happened once more while I ate, and that was it. No more pain … for a few days. At work on the 5th, I was snacking on some honey nut Cheerios. I bit down on one, and BOOM! Intense pain flared in that tooth again. While Cheerios are crunchy, they aren’t particularily hard, so I knew it was the tooth starting to act up. But it only hurt that once, for just a few minutes. I figured it’d be okay, and I could call the dentist later in the week or something. Wrong. After work, mom & I had pizza for dinner. I took my first bite, and intense pain blossomed in my mouth. The kind of pain that literally has you howling – loudly. After the pain settled, I attempted a second bite (just to test it) and ended up screaming loudly in pain again. I tried to take it, and attempted to eat without using that side of my mouth, but it didn’t work well at all.

After leaving a voicemail for my dentist, I ended up running off to Walmart to get some severe pain Orajel. Mom went with me, and found this stuff called Temparin to use as well. (I have holes in both of my upper cuspids, so we figured if I could fill it, I could maybe be in less pain until I could get into the dentist.) It hurt like Hades to put the Temparin in because the tooth was so freaking sensitive to any kind of pressure, but once it was in, and combined with the Orajel (and a hydrocodone ma gave me), I was able to get the pain under control to where I was even able to eat and drink. The next morning, after the hydrocodone wore off, the pain was barely controlled with the Orajel. Lucky for me, though, my dentist was able to get me in before lunch time. Two hours and a root canal later, I was back to work. The tooth had become abscessed, hence all the extreme pain. They didn’t do a 100% complete root canal – after drilling out the diseased part of the tooth and injecting it with meds, they decided to leave it open, and they will seal it when I come back in to get the crown. That way, if the infection doesn’t go away, they don’t have to do a lot more work to get in and work on it. So, I have my temporary crown for now, and go back in another 2 weeks to get the permanent one. I’m going to schedule the appointment for my other cuspid then — I don’t want to risk that getting to the same super pain point before I have the needed root canal on it, too.

So, yes. As I said, that’s pretty much been my life the last month & half – doctors and dentists, oh my!

I never seem to do it like anybody else

Today I feel this strange need to finish my “about me” section of the blog (well, attempt to finish) and create lists of everywhere else I can be found, (in case anyone wants to stalk me?) as well as about a zillion other wild and random ideas. The likelihood that any of that will get accomplished? Nil. Zilch. Nada. None.

The open MRI last week went well. The room I was in was all decorated like it was under the sea. Hah. At least it gave me something fun to stare at while I was immobile for about an hour & half. I get the results from the MRI today. I have a hunch the results are going to be good. I’m actually mostly able to walk today, no more constant intense searing pain. I know I messed it up pretty good though, and that’s one reason it’s taken so long to heal.

The heart ultrasound on Friday also went okay. I do have one valve that is a little “leaky”, but it’s minor and the doc wasn’t worried about it. Other than that, my heart looks healthy and structurely sound. But, when they did another EKG, I had 4 extra beats in the six seconds they monitor. So, obviously too many beats there, and that was with me on more meds than before. He wants me to up them again, and go back next week for another check on the EKG. I’m also working on cutting caffeine out again. I had my last soda on Saturday, and none since. I know I can do it, since I’ve done it several times in the past; it’s just difficult to actually stay away from caffeinated sodas. I think I went for a year or two once, we’ll see how long I last this time around.

I had a lot more I wanted to ramble about, but now that I have a few minutes, my mind is blank. Figures.

Black water keeps rollin’ on past

Time for (hopefully) the last of the big 3 posts. This one is all about Halloween. The evil was definitely strong that day; danger lurking around every corner, in every hallway, and in the pipes.

So, allow me to properly set the scene, if I may. First, there’s me. I am injured, hobbling around on a pair of bad knees. I am wearing a holter monitor, since my doctor picked up an irregular beat in my physical the day before. In addition to all that, I am also fresh off a nice little vacation. That is important to mention, because while I was out of the country, absolutely no work was done. So I’m back and have been working like crazy to try to get things caught back up.

It’s roughly 10:40am, on Halloween. I am at work, sitting at my desk. The recorder portion of the holter monitor is on my desk, to the right of me, wires running from under my shirt out to the recorder. I have just completed entering a check run into the system, and am about to print out the check register. And that is when what was a more-or-less good day takes a sharp turn for the worse.

There’s a noise in the hall in front of my office. In the split second it takes for me to lift my head to see what’s happening, I’m suddenly being sprayed with foul, black water. I screamed, grabbed the monitor recorder off the desk, shove my chair back and jump up, moving away from the water. It takes a second, but it dawns on me that my office has a door! I race (as fast as I can) to the door, pulling it shut, while trying to guard the monitor with my life. As I’m shutting the door, I notice one of my coworkers standing out in the hallway, staring towards my office. I stare around at my office in total disbelief and shock. It’s then I start to realise what was happening — that black sludgy water was pouring out of the overhead sprinkler. There isn’t a sprinkler head inside my office, only directly outside the door.

All of this happened in a matter of seconds — 20-25 seconds max — but it felt like an eternity. Everything was moving in slow motion, yet flying by at the same time. At first, I was only aware of two things – I was being sprayed with water, and I was attached to a heart monitor that I’m not allowed to get wet under any circumstances. (That monitor costs $1000 to replace, and I really didn’t want to have to pay for that if it got ruined, or have to do the test all over again.) I checked the monitor and luckily it had only taken a tiny bit of spray on the carrying pouch, everything inside was safe. After that, I start looking around my office, and see that everything is covered in this nasty, inky liquid. And it wasn’t just gross to look at — it smelled bad. I realised that my iPod and cell phone were sitting in the area of my desk that had gotten sprayed, so I snatched them up, wiping them dry with the hem of my shirt.

At this point, I’m also starting to really wonder what’s going on, what happened, why the sprinklers had gone off. Time keeps ticking by, and yet all I can hear is the sound of water coming out of the sprinkler, pounding against the door and walls. I look down at the floor at the front of my office, and see that water is pouring in underneath the door. I back up, moving away from the water that’s creeping into my office, heading for my feet. At this point I’m beginning to panic and worry. It’s been a little over 5 minutes, and the water is still coming down outside. I’m still in my office, and no one has tried to contact or rescue me. I’m afraid that I’ve been forgotten in there, that no one knows I’m still trapped inside my office, unable to leave because I cannot get the holter monitor wet.

I finally decide I need to work as hard as I can to stay calm. I’m being monitored because my heart was acting weird, so I didn’t want to risk anything happening to me because I freaked out. I used my cell phone to snap a couple of pictures of the disaster area that was my desk, as well as the encroaching flood waters. (I’ll include these pics at the end of this post.) After what felt like an eternity, my boss called my cell to check on me. She let me know that they’d evacuated the entire building, and the fire department had arrived. She’d let both our building maintenance crew and the fire department know that I was trapped inside. After we hung up, I started to listen very carefully, and finally was able to hear the fire alarms going off. They were barely audible over the sound of the water forcefully pouring out of the sprinkler, beating against my door.

The flood waters were slowly coming further into my office and I found myself backed into a corner with nowhere to go. A few minutes later, my boss called me again to let me know the firemen had just shut off the water, and that the last of it should work its way out of the pipes within the next few minutes, then I’d be able to evacuate. One minute passes, then two. Minutes three and four tick by, and the sound of the gushing water hasn’t slowed at all. Seven minutes pass, and there’s no change in the volume of water at all. Deb calls me back again to check on me, and I let her know that I’m still very much trapped. She informed me that the fire men were on their way up to rescue me.

I gathered together my purse and carefully trudged my way through the sludgy waters towards the door. After a couple of minutes, I decided I was going to be brave. I made sure the monitor recorder was behind me, and that the electrodes on my chest were covered, then I cracked open the door to peak out. There were a couple of people standing at the end of my hall — one I didn’t recognize (who later turned out to be the volunteer marshal for my floor) along with the building maintenance guy. He saw me peeking out, and I waved and he smiled and waved back. Right about then, I saw a couple of firemen come up to them. I shut the door so I didn’t get any wetter, relieved that rescue was now close at hand.

A bit later, my office door opened, and a fireman came in. Another one was checking out the sprinkler head, trying to figure out why it was still going off since they’d supposedly shut off the water. He grabbed a chair out of another office, using that to stand on so he could get closer. He knocked the sprinkler head off, and was able to put his hand over the valve and temporarily stop the flow of water. As I was waiting on the firemen to correct the problem so that I could escape, I heard another set of sirens headed for our building, ambulance sirens. Once the fireman on the chair was sure that it’d stay stopped while he had the end plugged, he motioned for me to come on out of the office. I hobbled out of there as fast as I possibly could, and over towards the maintenance guy. That was when I made an interesting discovery — ONLY the sprinkler directly in front of my office was going off. None of the others on our floor had been set off.

The floor marshal made sure that I was okay, then had me follow him towards the emergency exit. He opened the door to the stairwell, and I had to shake my head no. I have a note from my doctor on file that states I’m not allowed to take the stairs during any emergency — I have to be evacuated via the freight elevators. (Those stairs would destroy my knees on a normal day. As much pain as I was in on Halloween, I wouldn’t have made it down more than 1 floor before I could no longer walk at all.) I made my way to the freight elevator, and headed on down to the first floor and outside to where everyone else was waiting. I quickly found my boss to let her know that I was okay. Apparently they’d only evacuated floors 3-5, and not only was my sprinkler the only one on my floor to go off — it was the only one in the entire building to activate. Lucky, lucky me. Deb had gotten very worried when she heard the ambulance pull up, since we hadn’t talked for a while and I still wasn’t out of the building. She’d called our emergency liaison, to find out that someone on the 6th floor had a heart attack from all the excitement. 🙁

My boss and the admin for our area got me away from the crowd, and found me somewhere to sit down and rest for a while. A bit later and they came over to let me know I could go home for the rest of the day, and Deb said she’d call me when she knew more details on what was going on, and if I was going to need to come into work the next day. It was on the drive home that it really started to hit me, and I got shaky and upset over the whole ordeal. Once I got home, I changed out of my wet clothes and curled up in bed. I desperately wanted a shower, but I couldn’t take one because of the heart monitor. (Once I got home from turning that in later in the afternoon, though, I headed straight into the shower. hah.)

I ended up being trapped in my office for almost 30 minutes that morning. I do have some info now from the fire marshal as to what they believe happened, as well as info from building maintenance as to what they think really happened. But, all that is going to have to wait for another post because A) this one is getting too long already and B) it’s time for me to get ready to head out to my cardiologist appointment. heh.

But, as promised, pictures behind the cut! Just remember these were taken on my cell phone, so they aren’t the best. Continue reading “Black water keeps rollin’ on past”