The ER And My Heroes

Hello, blog family, I’m finally back! I had a pretty rough week. I haven’t really gotten much of a cold/flu/virus sickness since getting POTS because I am so incredibly careful with taking care of myself and not hanging out with people if they’ve been sick recently. My cardiologist has always emphasized the importance of a flu shot and taking preventative measures with POTS because being sick makes my chronic illness a lot more difficult to manage. Now I see why.

My parents took me to the emergency room just over a week ago because I kept getting sick and passing out on my way to or from the bathroom (Or the bucket next to my bed). That night was weird because I had decided to sleep at 8:30 due to extreme nausea. I had been in the car for eight hours on our way home from Boston that day, and hadn’t felt well most of the trip home. I typically get a little nauseous on car rides — particularly long ones — so dismissed it as a POTS thing and ate a few ginger chews in hopes of feeling a little better. There weren’t any signs of having any sort of bug, except for the fact that I almost fell asleep while we were driving a few times, which is really not a typical Krista move.

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 9.43.00 PM.png
My Instagram story that night. Yikes!

Anyway, despite going to bed early, I woke up every hour with really bad abdominal pain and couldn’t fall back asleep for more than a few minutes at a time. Finally, around 10:30, I started getting sick. As most of you know I still live at home, so my poor mom had to come in and check on me a million times to make sure I wouldn’t faint and hit my head on the hard bathroom floor. Finally, she came in and told me to get dressed because we were going to take a trip to the emergency room.

Surprisingly I didn’t put up a fuss. I slowly walked back to my room and threw on my Nike sweatpants and “Army Girlfriend” sweatshirt. My mental state was in tact, as I debated putting on my engagement ring. I quickly decided against it, and grabbed Robert’s dog tags instead. I figured just on the off chance something was really wrong I wouldn’t want my ring to get lost during any hospital drama, and that the dog tags would be pretty easy to wear throughout any procedure.

My dad helped me to the car as I clutched a big, white plastic bucket in my lap. Luckily I didn’t need it, as I had cut myself off of food and water an hour prior. Not drinking made me feel sick, but it also left my stomach empty, which was just what I needed.

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 9.16.53 PM.png

IMG-6890.JPG

Five long hours, two IVs of saline solution, and a couple of Zofrans later, I finally began to feel better. A few different things ran through my mind as I sat on my little white hospital bed. First, it’s crazy that nurses work all hours of the day. Like, we got to the hospital at 1-something, and didn’t leave until a little after 6 in the morning. There were people running around doing their job like it was a normal hour. Second, these people put their own health at risk by being around people who are sick with a lot scarier things than just the stomach bug that I had. Even towards the beginning of my visit I tried to stay far away from the people who were caring for me because I didn’t want to spread my germs. I quickly realized they weren’t afraid of getting my virus when they poked and prodded at the EKG  electrodes I am all too familiar with. It was hilariously comforting having some normal medical procedures done when I felt like hell. I knew they weren’t going to help me feel better, but it was nice having something that made it feel like a normal trip to the doctors. Lastly, all of my nurses were kind and made me feel comfortable — at least considering the circumstances. It makes a world of difference when someone takes care of your feelings along with your symptoms. I always think back to the nurse who told me I’d have to endure my awful POTS symptoms for the rest of my life and that it wouldn’t get better, and I am so grateful that she was wrong. Hope and comfort are both such healing things, and I’m thankful for each and every person who decides to be encouraging and kind to the people they come into contact with.

IMG-6896.JPG
Mom snapped an update for everyone when I was all taken care of and on my second IV.
IMG_6898.jpg
One hilarious thing I noticed was that I was in such a dazed state when we left the house that I put a sock on inside-out. Oops.

I am completely better now, and am looking forward to resuming my normal life, writing schedule, and wedding planning — which I will have a million updates on in my next few posts! I am also going to keep pushing forward in my journey get healthy again. I have a few exciting diet updates I’ll be writing about on here, and I will continue to work hard at PT and the gym to keep my symptoms at bay. Here’s to the beginning of a new week!

b l a c k o u t.

Vrrrroosh.

My pulse is racing and I feel the floor beneath my bare feet become colder, harder.


Have you ever fainted before? It’s scary.

I’ve become kind of a pro at passing out, mainly because I have had a lot of close calls, rather than eating the floor on a regular basis. Ever since I got sick with POTS three-and-a-half years ago I’ve learned what it’s like to faint.


My heart can’t stop. It keeps speeding up and feels like I’m going downhill in a car and my brakes just failed. Instead of being able to pull an emergency brake or slow the car’s roll, it speeds up at a terrifyingly alarming speed.

Thudthudthudthud.

Shit. I crouch to the ground as soon as my brain catches up to the rest of my body and realizes that I am going down, whether I want to or not.

This is what I’ve trained for.

My body has been trained for fainting. I have done it so many times that I know how to respond. Everything always happens so fast. Racing. Dizzy. Blackout. Nausea. Sweating. Falling. Ground — always in that order.

Ground.

As soon as I am down on the ground I feel the cold tile behind me. I’m cold and wet, but don’t really notice until my hand slips. The bath was a bad idea. It helps with the pain, but my heart can’t handle the heat. I feel around behind me, blind, just to be sure my head won’t hit the hard floor when I lie down in my postural position. I close my eyes and brace myself. There’s no change in my vision yet, but I hope it comes back soon, as my spatial awareness isn’t so great. This can pose for a dangerous problem when I’m on hard ground. Usually I black out on the plush carpet when I get out of bed too fast, but sometimes it happens in places that are a lot scarier than that.

screen-shot-2017-02-17-at-6-44-08-pm
This is what blacking out looks like. It starts off looking like a crackly television, then turns to this.

My hands slide slowly behind my body as I sit on the floor and ease the rest of myself to the ground. I close my eyes, praying I won’t vomit and reminding myself to take deep breaths until it’s all over. I don’t know if one ever really throws up when they’re about to faint, as it’s never happened to me, but it always feels like I will.

Ten seconds go by. Twenty. An hour?

It feels like my time on the ground before my vision finally starts turning slightly colorful and blurry again is lasting a lifetime, though I know it couldn’t be more than thirty seconds. First it’s as if I’m wearing high prescription glasses that my 20/20 vision isn’t used to. Then everything gradually comes in to focus. I can finally see again and the blood rushes back to my brain.

Stupid, stupid, I think to myself as I realize what I had done. The water in the bathtub was too warm for a POTS patient, and I stood up way too quickly when I made my move to get a razor. I had hurt myself on accident by taking a high risk for a minimal reward. I hate not being able to shave my legs in the shower (because of the postural change that occurs when I do), and all I wanted was to have a smooth finish after my bath. I should have known better than to stand up quickly from a warm bath, but I want so badly to be normal again and not to think about every little move I make and how it’s going to affect me for the rest of the week.


Sleep.

Any time I have a close call with my heart acting up it makes me incredibly tired.

As soon as I gather the right amount of energy to safely stand up, I shut my eyes tightly and push lightly with my hands to lift the rest of my body up. I throw on a robe — not bothering to dry off — and walk with a blank mind and body into my bedroom and ease into my warm, soft bed.

Soon I am out again, but this time the darkness isn’t scary — it’s peaceful. My brain feels like it can’t function again because it needs rest, but that’s okay. I’m finally safe; I’m in the least likely place for my body to attack itself again.

 

“Did You Add Me Yet?!”

Ugh! Creepers are crawling all over the suburbs of DC.

As I’ve mentioned several times before, I have an autonomic nervous system disorder and spend quite a bit of time visiting different doctors. I have a primary care doctor, two cardiologists, two neurologists, a physical therapist, and a bunch of people I have been to for a wide variety of medical testing. A little joke some of us POTSies have is that we’ve seen more doctors than movies this summer. #TRUTH.

Anyway, this obviously means there are also nurses and people who check me out before I meet with the doctor. I was at the cardiologist recently and there was a new male nurse who took me back to record my blood pressure, heart rate in several different positions (lying down, sitting, and standing), and a bunch of other things that never cease to confuse me. The heart test involves putting a bunch of electrodes on my chest that are hooked up to a giant machine that records all of the information for the doctor to look at. As I pulled up my shirt and he began placing the sticky circles in the proper places, he started chatting about how much he enjoys lifting weights. I told him that I used to love running and that it was a goal of mine to get back into it again one day. He told me that running was great, but lifting weights is much better. To each his own! I know weight lifting has a bunch of great health benefits, but running is just so therapeutic for me and is genuinely one of my favorite activities.

We kept talking a little longer and he told me that I should follow him on Instagram. I asked him if it was a fitness account or something, as I figured he was probably just trying to grow his fan base, but he told me that it was just a personal page.

Weird, I thought. It didn’t seem like a super-professional move, and I had literally just been talking about a guy I was dating, but I didn’t think too much of it. I figured he realized I wasn’t really interested, as I didn’t ask for his handle or anything else about his account.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 7.47.43 PM.png
This guy actually looks SUPER similar to the nurse I met, haha!

After he was done writing down my numbers he led me to a second room for more tests. He left for a bit, and appeared fifteen minutes later to hook me up to another machine.

“So, have you followed me on Instagram?” he asked casually.

“No,” I replied, confused. “I’ve just been playing chess on my phone.”

I purposefully didn’t say that I would or ask for his handle, as I really wasn’t interested in mixing my cardiology friends with my personal life. He went on to give me the little tube to breathe in and stuck me on the bike. Here is a picture of what the contraption looks like for reference; do you think I look like Bane too?

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 7.57.37 PM.png
This was my first time doing this test a few years ago; I had my mom take a picture, as the crazy contraption reminded me of “The Dark Knight.”

Anyway, he rambled about a few of his favorite foods and then told me I just had to follow him on Instagram when I was done with my exercise.

3, I noted to myself. I was huffing and puffing, and slightly annoyed this time. I don’t go to the doctor’s office to make friends or get dates. I’m there because I have a chronic illness and would like to get the best medical care possible. This isn’t a fun little trip for me; it’s something that I hope is another step towards getting better.

I finished my workout and he recorded my results. I was led to a third room where the doctor would eventually meet with me. “Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram,” he reminded me as he headed toward the door. “The name’s MurrayJeffersonLincolnGray.*”

What the heck?! I thought to myself. First, how in the world was I supposed to have found him before when I didn’t even have his first name, much less the three others that followed. Second, he really needs to take a chill pill. I am not adding this character on any of my social media sites, and he has clearly crossed a line of professionalism.

I decided to go to his page to see why it was such an urgent matter that I follow him. The first thing I noticed was that he only had 205 followers. This made everything that had happened just that much weirder, as it was clear this fellow didn’t push his Instagram to everyone — unless, of course, all the others were too creeped out to follow him as well, which is a very real possibility.

The second thing I noticed really gave me chills. He had posted photos in his underwear! Not just like a goofy selfie, but a weird pose and clenched butt cheeks. He had pulled the briefs to the side so you could see how much he had been working on his glute muscles.

YIKES.

I was speechless. I wasn’t brave enough to keep scrolling through his account, but at first glance he seemed to be really into post workout photos and his butt. If you want to do this, cool, but don’t try to get people in your professional life to follow you. That is so wrong and is a terrible idea on so many different levels. I also noticed that he had a girlfriend, which also seemed odd. He had been pretty flirty all day, and in all honesty I would be ticked if my significant other kept trying to get rando clients to add him on social media accounts.

After the terrible assault on my eyes had occurred, I hit the “Block” button at the top of the screen and clicked out of the app. I pinched myself, wondering if this was a strange dream, and jumped as my nails dug into my skin. Nope. This was an incredibly strange reality.

By the time I was leaving the office he had reached 5. He asked me 5 times to follow him on Instagram, and finally got rejected. I love that strange and awkward things happen to me so often because I have great stories to tell, but this one was just a little too out there for me. I don’t want to have to deal with creeps at the doctors’ office of all places, and felt uncomfortable enough that I will not be returning to this particular nurse anymore.

What do you think? How would you have reacted if you were in my shoes?


*Obviously I changed the handle around a little, but it was super-similar to this made up one.