Father’s Day was lovely. Brian worked and I had a nice day celebrating Father’s Day with my family. Last Monday was fun because I had a trial run with the new baby who will start here tomorrow, and it was wonderful to get baby snuggles again. The Big Kids have gotten to the point where they don’t need me at all and would be just as happy if I let them go outside by themselves thankyouverymuch. Monday was the end of any fun and normalcy around here until….well, some point we haven’t reached yet. Brian mentioned in passing that he had a headache Monday night. Then……
On Tuesday morning, Brian called me around 9:55. He sounded terrible, and I could tell he had a migraine and vertigo from the way he sounded. I’m becoming horribly familiar with that sound in his voice. He said he was on his way to the ER. From what I can gather he started feeling dizzy around 7:45 and went to the break room to grab a bite to eat. He was dizzy and had a headache. When he started dropping his food he started to worry, and stood up to go downstairs. He fell, and caught himself on the wall. Knowing that he couldn’t make it down the stairs, he called for his friend/co-worker who is huge and very capable of lifting all 190 pounds of him (along with anyone else he happened to pile on, too, as he is very, very strong). Big Guy helped him down the stairs, to the front of the store and into a wheelchair. Apparently at this point Brian realized that he was hallucinating. Or else snakes had invaded the store, which is unlikely. Actually, not unlikely if you know the building, but it was a hallucination this time….
When I arrived at the ER 15 minutes later, Brian and Big Guy were in a darkened room and Brian was barely able to speak coherently, and was still seeing people and things that weren’t there. Whenever he closed his eyes for more than a blink he was instantly dreaming, too. When he was taken to back to the ER, they wanted to treat him with meclizine. We knew from experience that when he is seen in the ER for vertigo they just give him this drug and send him home, and that it doesn’t help him at all. They did not seem pleased that we refused their panacea. Then they sent him for a CT scan. Upon returning to his little curtained area, he immediately fell asleep. Huh?!?! Who sleeps in the ER?!?! The problem here is that he was asleep and snoring within 45 seconds, and was hard to wake him up. I tried for a while, nudging him and telling him he was officially that guy snoring loudly in the ER but eventually it was impossible to rouse him at all. When I could get him to wake up at all his eyes were going different directions and he made less sense than your average drunk. Soon I couldn’t get him conscious at all. I was seriously worried, but no doctors were around. I alerted an orderly (the only person I could find who would make eye contact with me) and he started monitoring Brian. His pulse oximeter kept beeping as his respiration fell into the low 80’s. No one seemed concerned at all. The doctor who finally showed back up around 3:00 suggested a spinal tap to rule out an infection.
It took me about a half hour to get Brian awake enough to sit up for his spinal tap. Then he had to lay flat for an hour afterwards. It came back clear, and he was starting to be more coherent by that point. So…they admitted him to the hospital. We reached his room around 5:00. That evening, we met his hospitalist, the neurologist who would be seeing him, and had some visitors. Brian slept well Tuesday night, and I stayed in the chair in his room. Rumor has it that I slept at least 2 hours that night, but I doubt it…. As we’ve been talking through this whole scenario, it’s becoming clear that Brian has little to no memory of anything after about 10 AM through Wednesday morning.
On Wednesday, Brian had every blood test under the sun, an MRI, and an EEG. We waited patiently in his room for the rest of the day for the results and a discharge as he was feeling better. The doctor came around 5:30 and said that all the tests were clear and that she would send us home that evening after the neurologist finished looking at the EEG. I went home to teach two lessons. Around 7:15 Brian texted me to say that he had to stay overnight again. What?! Apparently the neurologist is a very cautious man who prefers to keep patients for 48 hours instead of 24. I’m not sure why no one told us this in the very beginning. Around this point, Brian got a roommate! He was an older gentleman suffering from congestive heart failure who apparently has very little time left. It was amazingly depressing to know this from over-hearing the nurses and doctors and yet realize that he and his wife did not realize it themselves. Because of the roommate, I was unable to stay overnight. We decided that I would work on Thursday so that I could more easily refrain from killing a nurse or a doctor. Brian was released at 5:30 on Thursday evening without ever seeing the neurologist again. He spent his hospital visit playing approximately 6 hours of Final Fantasy on his PSP, watching approximately 36 hours of CNN, one baseball game, and running through two Blackberry battery charges. He was bored out of his skull by Thursday evening, still stressed, and not rested.
The official diagnosis of sorts was exhaustion, stress, and extreme dehydration. Seems a steady diet of no food, caffeine, and 65 hour work weeks will do that to you. Go figure. Brian has been told to drink a minimum of a gallon of water or Gatorade daily, to eat regular meals and not just whatever crap he can find at the store when he has a minute, to get more rest and to have a sleep study to evaluate him for sleep apnea, and to get a new job as soon as humanly possible. The doctors told him that if he doesn’t change his lifestyle, particularly his stressful job, then he will be dead in short order. I really, really hope he was listening.
For now, he’s still off work (at the time of posting, today was ER Day +7, so that’s a huge deal for him) pending a doctor’s clearance. His sleep study can’t be scheduled for at least 2-2 1/2 weeks, his actual neurologist can’t see him until mid-August, and he’s hoping to see our family doctor later this week. Thank you all for your calls, emails, texts, and especially prayers. We will be making (more) huge changes around here to de-stress, so we’ll keep you posted on our new normal.