In the Devil’s Grip and Sick of it All

I’ve had quite stretch, these past few days. After spending scores of hours covering a big story last weekend, I was not feeling so great by Tuesday. I chalked it up to stress and the ever-present allergies.

By Thursday, I felt worse still as if someone had put a belt around my chest and pulled it tight. On Friday, I realized that I was struggling to take a deep breath. So on Saturday, I went to MedExpress for what I suspected was a dry bronchitis, something I’ve experienced in the past.

After a round of tests, they ordered me to go to the nearest Emergency Room without passing Go. So I found myself in the AGH waiting room on a Saturday, trying not to tremble as I mulled over the circumstances.

Could I be having a heart attack? Fortunately, the EKG and swift bloodwork ruled out that possibility. They then started investigating various pulmonary explanations. That felt only slightly less awful, especially when talked turned to ‘collapsed lung’ around 8 PM. So back to possible cardiac explanations, a few cardiac-pulmonary combo possibilities, and the ubiquitous ‘we don’t know.’

Protocol about my symptoms using an objective ‘Heart Score’ meant I was heading for the hospital for the night. AGH has a cardiac observation unit that is actually an extension of the ER rather than a full-fledged admission. The idea is that we can be observed in a slightly less chaotic environment that the ER which frees up those beds for other emergencies and the staff can use time to their advantage to measure our heart rates and take lots of blood. Most people are discharged from this unit back to everyday life and followup with their own doctors; a small percentage are actually admitted to the hospital.

Another interesting change at AGH was the fact that they did my EKG, took the chest Xrays, and drew blood for those fundamental tests while I was still in the waiting room. This was excellent because when I finally did make it back to an ER bed, the doctors had my results.

So, after being observed and measured and bled and so forth, it turns out that I probably have a particular strain of an entovirus that causes chest pain in addition to the usual virusey symptoms. Entovirus are typically getting into us through our intestines and often what we call our random stomach flu like illnesses. They can be nasty if they persist.

Fortunately, mine has not persisted. While it did get a hold of my lungs and take a tight squeeze, I kept breathing and got some answers. With a few days of rest, fluids, and anti-inflammatories, my heart will go on.

Ironically (if you’ve been following my other blog posts), this virus is known colloquially as The Devil’s Grip. I can’t laugh easily right now, but I’m enjoying the irony.

I also now know thanks to all of these tests that my heart and lungs are actually in good shape and my risk factor for blood clots and other threats are on the low-end – when my chest isn’t constricting. I also know that this was NOT anxiety, although stress certainly didn’t help. And I now realize that I was taking the beat down response to my blogging pretty hard last week because my own body was rebelling on me and smacking me around, too. Plus, depriving me of oxygen. I paid a price of not taking care of myself during an intense, heated time and I ended up in the hospital.

I’m incredibly grateful that it is not a more serious outcome, although I am aware of how easily that could happen. These viruses spread so easily. Just like with vaccines, people who are more medically vulnerable are more susceptible to these virus demons. So wash your hands, people!

I don’t actually feel better than when I went to the ER because it will take a few days for the anti-inflammatories to have an impact. Mentally, I feel empowered because I understand why I feel so cruddy. So that’s helping me.

Random thoughts

    • It is hard to be annoyed in an ER when they announce an incoming life-flight and everyone runs. Perspective is a gift and a part of healing as we remember that health is a community asset.
    • My ER rooom has a little tv on a big arm that went up and down. So I watched Seinfeld and Downton Abbey reruns to pass the time. That really lowered my anxiety about the waiting and kept me distracted. It wasn’t great reception, but enough to make it a good investment.
    • In about 20 hours, I was ‘stuck’ for blood draws and IVs at least 12 times. My arms look pretty black and blue because I have tricky veins. If you see me, don’t shake my hand please – at least not this week.
    • AGH has so far to come on LGBTQ cultural competency. The social worker in the ER was terrible about acknowleding my relationship to Laura. I mean, she was arguing with me about my primary insurance. She called Laura later and said “I’m calling about your mother who has been admitted to the hospital” which as you can imagine, scared the hell out of Laura as she was driving home from leaving me in the hospital. It went downhill from there.
    • An AMPLIFY contributor is a nurse there and he just happened to be MY nurse on Sunday morning. When I work up and saw him, I wept with relief. He fixed so many things, but most of all – he believe me about the microaggressions really being an issue.
    • The Devil’s Grip is about right, both physically and emotionally. I’m disgusted by all those who think asking questions is a mortal sin. I grew up like that, in a church that continues to protect child abusers. If you read my blog, you know this. If you ever get it in your head that *I* don’t have the credibility, authority, or moral right to ask questions about any faith community, you are not paying attention. And shame on you for trying to erase me from the story of Christian oppression instead of exposing the oppressors. Shame on you.

 

I don’t wanna love the way I loved before
I don’t wanna love that way no more
What have I been writing love songs for?
I don’t want to write them anymore
I don’t wanna sing from where I sang before
I don’t wanna sing that way no more
What’ve I’ve been singing love songs for?
I don’t wanna sing them anymore,
I don’t wanna be that girl no more
I don’t wanna cry no more
I don’t wanna die no more
So cut me down from this here tree
Cut the rope from off of me
Sit me on the floor,
I’m the only one I should adore
Oh, take me to church,
I’ve done so many bad things it hurts
Yeah, Take me to church
But not the ones that hurt
‘Cause that ain’t the truth
And that’s not what it’s worth
Yeah, take me to church
Oh, take me to church
I’ve done so many bad things it hurts
Yeah, get me to church
But not the ones that hurt
‘Cause that ain’t the truth
And that’s not what it’s worth
I’m gonna sing songs of loving and forgiving
Songs of eating and of drinking,
Songs of living, songs of calling in the night
‘Cause songs are like a bolt of light
And love’s the only love you should invite
Songs of long and spiteful fails
Songs that don’t let you sit still
Songs that mend your broken bones
And that don’t leave you alone
So get me down from this here tree,
Take the rope from off of me
Sit me on the floor,
I’m the only one I should adore!
Oh, take me to church,
I’ve done so many bad things it hurts
Yeah take me to church,
But not the ones that hurt
‘Cause that ain’t the truth
And that’s not what it’s worth
Yeah, take me to church
Oh, take me to church
I’ve done so many bad things it hurts
Yeah, get me to church,
But not the ones that hurt
‘Cause that ain’t the truth
And that’s not what it’s worth

 

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