A quick update…
Monday evening found me back in the ER for the third time with the same symptom as my other two visits – CHEST PAIN! What was especially strange this time was that the pain was on the right side. My right side is the good one, nothing is ever wrong with my right side and having the pain on the right side was more good than bad in the sense that I convinced myself it wasn’t anything related to cancer. I thought it was probably something muscular and should resolve on its own.
The pain started on Thursday evening and the palliative home care nurse that paid me a visit on Friday morning insisted on getting in touch with my family doctor for better pain control. My family doctor faxed a prescription to my local pharmacy but she also left me a voice message to go to the ER to get the pain checked out. Hubby picked up the med and it worked like magic on Friday, Saturday and Sunday – it worked so much that I concluded the pain was definitely muscular.
I woke up on Monday morning and the pain was back with a vengeance! I took two tablets of my magic Tramacet and it did nothing! I was in so much pain that morning and I recall hubby suggesting he would call my office to let them know I was off sick. I could be very headstrong when I choose to be and Monday morning was one of those days. I went to work and lasted till 2pm before I finally admitted to myself that I couldn’t keep going. In that time, I had taken one more dose of Tramacet and some Tylenol from our first aid kit at work.
I sent a message to hubby and he paged my oncologist who advised I took some more pain meds and that I should go to the hospital if I wasn’t feeling better by the evening. I called my family doctor on my way home to see if I could increase the dose of Tramacet and that freaked her out. She said I was never one to take pain meds even when I am in a lot of pain and that the fact that I was calling to ask for more set off an alarm bell in her head. Her concern was that I had an infection and she pleaded with me to go to emergency ASAP.
Hubby got home at 5pm and off to the ER we went. I regretted going in as soon as we got there. The waiting room was packed and the average waiting time was 4:04 hours – say what?! I begged my DH to let us leave and he didn’t think that was a good idea. I wasn’t convinced but we joined the queue anyway. The triage nurse that assessed my case wasn’t particularly helpful. I recall mentioning how my oncologist asked me to come in and she said “why do you have an oncologist”! Woman, can you read my medical file please! Anyway, she checked my oxygen saturation, pulse and BP and concluded I was fine enough to wait at the reception for the next 4 hours! Thanks ma’am!
About 3 hours into our wait, ‘D’ my friend who is also an emergency doctor at the hospital sent me a message and advised I should have a chat with them about giving me something for the pain whilst I was waiting. We spoke with another triage nurse who offered me some Tylenol in all its glory. I told her not to worry about it as I had some good ole Tramacet on me (I had taken another 3 tablets whilst at the ER). Next thing I knew, I just felt tears running down my face. I have no idea if the tears was from the pain or just frustration from the situation but either way, the tears seemed to do the trick and she said she’d bump me up on the list.
We went back to the waiting area and I was finally called in to see a doctor at 9pm; 3:30 hours after we got to the ER. The doctor was lovely and apologized for the wait. She explained that she’d want to rule out pulmonary embolism as being the cause of the pain. She filed requisitions for both a chest Xray and a CT scan. Getting the Xray and CT scan down took us all of 6 hours!!! Getting the results back from the CT scan took another 4 hours! By 7am, hubby and I were pretty frustrated and he decided to page my oncologist again. My oncologist pulled up the results from the CT scan and explained that I had a blood clot in my right lung 😦 He explained that it was a small clot and that was probably why my oxygen sats and pulse were okay.
The emergency doctor finally came to have a chat with us at 8am and explained about the pulmonary embolism and the fact that parts of my right lung were infarcted. She explained that I would need to be on the daily blood thinner ‘heparin’ which comes in the form of daily injections – lucky me! I had picked up a fever by this point and thrown up once. She suggested that they should keep me under observation for the next 48 hours. I wasn’t keen on another hospital stay and hubby suggested she paged my oncologist and discuss the plan with him. She paged him and he was of the opinion that I didn’t need to be kept in the hospital. She gave me a prescription for a month’s supply of heparin and off on our way we went.
I am upset at the news of the Pulmonary Embolism (PE) but I am grateful that my family doctor insisted I went to the ER as PE could be a potentially fatal condition. The chest pain isn’t much better but I hope once the blood thinning starts to occur, the clot would dissolve and blood flow would be restored to the infarcted parts of the right lung.
I am glad to be back home and in my bed – definitely grateful for little mercies 🙂