I spent some time in the hospital this weekend, only this time I wasn’t the patient.
My wife was staying overnight at my house, having kindly offered to help me do some cleaning to get the house ready for me to move out and back in with her. Very early on Saturday morning she woke up with a pain in her right arm, something painful enough that she couldn’t sleep any more. This was around 1:30 in the morning or so. She took a couple of aspirin and I massaged her arm for a while, but the pain did not go away entirely. She was able to fall asleep on the couch for a while, but woke up again with her arm hurting.
Thinking that maybe it was because she had overused it, or slept on it funny, she did a gentle version of her stretching routine and it seemed to help. While I was still waking up and getting ready for the day, she started going a little cleaning, dusting the whole of the bedroom. It got to be time for breakfast, so we headed for McDonalds, but as we were driving there she started to feel more pain in her arm, and into her armpit, and then into her back. Eating our breakfast, she was only able to have a couple of bites of food before her pain really started to worry her.
Now, I’ve been there, done that. If you have a severe pain that you can’t explain, it is better to be safe than sorry – GET IT CHECKED OUT! She dithered about it for a while, but in the end decided that she would not be comfortable going on with the day without knowing what was going on. So it was off to the emergency room.
By this time she was feeling the pain in her chest on the right side, too. With these kinds of symptoms, particularly in women, it is pretty much a given that they are going to take your situation seriously, and they did. They gave her all the normal tests but nothing seemed out of place. They tried some medications but they didn’t do anything to relieve the pain either. As we were at a satellite ER, they decided to load her up into an ambulance and take her to the main hospital.
Once there she went through a couple of other tests, and then it was a waiting game. The whole time, though, her blood pressure was considerably higher than normal, and they tried several things to get it down. Personally, and in hindsight, I think that they might have over-medicated her, but I’m no doctor. Anyways, I stuck around until after 5:30 in the evening, but I needed to get something to eat and get some rest myself, so I left her in the good care of the hospital.
Sunday morning I woke up and, checking my cell phone, saw that my wife had texted me, saying that she was feeling better and to come get her in the morning. While I was getting ready to leave, she called me and told me that she was going to be going home and that she was waiting for them to release her and she would call me when she knew more. In the meantime I went and got gas in the car and got some breakfast. I went to my usual eating place and read for a bit, and then decided to go ahead and go to the hospital. Just as I started driving there, my phone told me I had a voice mail. It was my wife telling me to come get her. Good timing!
Well, it seems that it wasn’t her heart. Everything checked out pretty well. She still had no relief from the pain she was suffering, so eventually they brought her a heat pack to put on the spot. Lo and behold, that took care of most of the pain. Indeed, my wife said she was feeling one-hundred percent better now, which was a good thing. So we walked out of the hospital and headed for Starbucks for a little caffeine to relieve her caffeine headache (and why do they only serve caffeine-free coffee in the hospital meal service?).
We had earlier planned on doing a little grocery shopping for her, so we headed to Walmart. We managed to get a couple of things she needed, but then she started to feel a bit weak. I suspect it was the medications they had given her to try to fight the high blood pressure, which was probably now too low. She sat down and thought about what else she really needed right then, and then we quickly picked those few things up, checked out and left. Back in the car she was hungry so we went to McD’s for some lunch for her, which did help.
The rest of the day, though, she was a bit of a basket case. She was feeling better overall, but was very tired and feeling a bit “loopy.” Again, I think it was the medications they had given her. At least she didn’t have to do anything and could just sleep it off, which she did. Later in the afternoon I needed to get going myself. I had a couple of things to do and I needed to get something to eat. I talked to her later in the evening and she was going better.
So that’s one long story that seems to have no interest to anyone other than her and me, but allow me to attach a moral to the story. If you don’t feel right, get it checked out. At our age, it is ever more important to not ignore pains and feelings that you cannot explain. Sure, it may cost you something to have it checked out, but it can cost you one hell of a lot more not to check it out. I have never had a hospital staff person say anything other than that they are glad you came in to have it checked out.
It is a bit depressing that we have reached an age where our minds go first to “am I having a heart attack” rather than “wonder what I did to make myself hurt,” but that’s just the nature of the beast. Being older and out of shape, it is easy to over-do the physical stuff, which puts us at greater odds for that kind of pain, but if the pain is not obviously related to something we have done physically, then we have to consider, and act upon, the alternative. Better a check-up than to check out.