Friday, September 13, 2013

Seven Quick Takes in which we discover that they *can* charge you money to breathe the air

Last weekend I started having really bad shortness of breath suddenly. I know, shortness of breath is normal in pregnancy (I got told that at least half a dozen different times in the course of ensuing events), but this was not normal. Just trust me.

I thought about calling the doctor Sunday night but ended up not doing so. I did tell Scott about things, though, and he offered to work from home Monday in case I needed his help with anything.

On Monday morning I called my OB's office and they said it sounded like something for a primary care doctor to handle. So I called Dr. M's office. (He does NaPro but technically he's family practice so he can't really complain that he doesn't "do lungs", can he?) They managed to get me an 11:30 appointment. So Scott took a very long lunch break and we went off to Dr. M's. Got there at 11:25, didn't see him until about 12:20. Gotta love those right-before-lunch appointments.

I won't bore you with a long recap, but I ended up leaving with a prescription for albuterol. I dropped Scott off at home and went off to the pharmacy for my new inhaler (which cost a horrifying amount).

I used the inhaler at about 3:30 and again at about 9:30. Nothing much happened either time. I was never short of breath enough that I couldn't talk or turned blue or anything, but at this point I had been working as hard as I could to breathe for so long that my ribs were starting to hurt. I had the vague idea that if you go to the hospital and act all asthmatic they will give you breathing treatments, so at about 11:00 Scott and I went to the ER.

Turns out that if you're pregnant and have chest discomfort and shortness of breath, they don't just give you a breathing treatment and send you on your way. Instead, they do their level best to convince you you're about to drop dead of a pulmonary embolism and need a CT scan. And you shouldn't worry about that hurting the fetus; a little radiation never hurt anybody.

ER Doc agreed to order a breathing treatment after I insisted that I was not getting a CT scan. So I got nebulized and felt better. Well, better in the sense that I could breathe again. Albuterol is trippy stuff.

Then we managed to get me discharged and went home. (I am really surprised that I did not have to sign a million forms saying I was leaving against medical advice.)

Scott managed to send an email to his work saying he was taking a sick day before collapsing into bed. I came to bed too, but only slept for about 3 hours. (We got back at 3 a.m. and I slept from 4-7.) I had managed to acquire a spacer from the nice respiratory therapist hospital lady, and that made me feel a lot less stupid while trying to use the inhaler, but it still didn't do much. So I sat around not sleeping and reading about CT scans during pregnancy.

I think I woke Scott up around 1:00 and we had discussions and he checked on some essential work things and then back we went to the ER. We sat around for a very very long time and I got two different saline locks because the first one wasn't big enough and had an EKG and five vials of blood drawn and a CT scan. I got two lead apron thingies, and Tad listened to me when I told him not to move during the scan. (I was sending him thoughts reminding him how much he likes to sleep on my bladder. You know, far away from my lungs.) Then as soon as I got back to my room he gave a few nice hard kicks. I was about ready to buy him a pony at that point.

I don't have pulmonary emboli, as evidenced by the fact that I'm at home and not in L&D with an IV of heparin. (Then again, since you can't see me, for all you know I might be typing this from L&D. I'm not; I'm in my comfy chair in the living room of my very own apartment.) I also don't have pneumonia or any one of a number of heart things. I don't officially have asthma because I haven't ever done a pulmonary function test, but that's the working theory. I have somewhat figured out the inhaler, but I also have a nebulizer now and prescriptions for nebulizer thingies of albuterol and pulmicort. Because having to sit and breathe for 5 minutes is better than using an inhaler and having it NOT WORK.

I'm supposed to use those as directed and go see a pulmonary specialist of some kind to get further told off for my inability to wheeze, as any decent person would when they can't breathe. (WebMD tells me that wheezing is not essential for an asthma diagnosis, but you wouldn't know it talking to any doctors around here.) I will report back on whether I'm actually going to drop dead of something-or-another.

Scott worked from home on Wednesday too, while I lounged about and made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. (It was the kind of week that requires cookies.) Then we collaborated on dinner (a beef and noodle soup that we invented ourselves, inspired by our chicken noodle soup recipe). Then after dinner we were lounging around at our respective laptops and I told Scott, "Come over here a minute." Him: "Does that mean come over, or..." Me: "Just come here." So he came and stood behind my chair and I put his hand on my belly and said, "Okay, baby, now move again."

The baby had been kicking really hard in the same spot for a minute, but of course he quieted down as soon as Scott came over. Then after a few seconds I felt a little tap. Scott said, "Was that my imagination or your stomach or..." Me: "It wasn't your imagination." And then the baby gave some good hard kicks, and I said "Good baby!" and Scott said "Hello!" and it was perfect. I felt normal for a second, you know?

(Scott even posted about it on Facebook. He posts a status update approximately 5 times a year, so it was obviously a very big event for him.)

I still really appreciated my therapy appointment this morning. We didn't actually talk much about the hospital thing, but I think I needed to talk about (think about) something else for a while.

I'm doing okay (not 100%, but okay), but prayers would of course be vastly appreciated. For my physical and mental health, for the baby's health (he has been kicking up a storm as usual, so I think he's unperturbed by all the excitement), for our finances after two ER visits and a ton of tests and $200+ of asthma medications and an unpaid sick day. (Scott doesn't get paid time off, except for a handful of holidays.) And for anything else you can think of, because we probably need that too.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


jen said...

I do have asthma and I had either bronchitis or pneumonia three times while pregnant (including the night I got hit with preeclampsia) so I'm sitting here reading this post and laughing because I had that radiology experience. In my case, it was 4 lead aprons and half a roll of medical tape. I think I'm still legendary in the radiology department at my small town hospital for that one.

My son was born at 29.5 weeks (the only cure for preeclampsia/HELLP Syndrome being delivering the baby) and once I was off nebulizer treatment, I was given an inhaler. My son Daniel's care times in the NICU were at the same times as the times my respiratory therapist would come to my room to dose me so they'd just bring my spacer and inhaler to the NICU and have me dose myself while they worked on Daniel. The NICU staff were fine with it though I had to be seated after taking my inhaler because it would make me start shaking.

And yes, Albuterol is incredibly trippy stuff. I remember signing my discharge papers from the ER once and it looked like I'd been playing with one of those vibrating pens.

The Sojourner said...

Goodness, pneumonia and pre-e and everything all in one pregnancy? I'm glad you both made it out alive!

DavidD said...

I'll remind Tad about the pony in about 10 years....

The Sojourner said...

Let it be known, for the record, that I did not actually promise any ponies.

Melanie Bettinelli said...

I finally got an asthma diagnosis after years of my dad passing me his albuterol inhalers every time I got bronchitis. I never wheeze. I finally met a doctor who told me that my chronic cough is a variant of asthma. Phew. Now that I know that, I can up my dose of Pulmicort when pregnant and therefore am not so dependent on Albuterol and nebulizers. Prayers for you guys.

The Sojourner said...