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A thing that happened.

I’ve been absent for awhile. I’m still here but working on something else. But I had a thing that happened to me this past Wednesday that I thought I might share.

For anyone who knows me and hasn’t heard about this yet, don’t worry. Every thing is fine now. I’m all right. I just thought I’d share this because it does sort of touch on things we cover in this blog.

Last Wednesday, I was scheduled to get a CT scan with contrast. I get them about every six months. It’s routine. My doctors are keeping an eye on something. It’s just a nuisance, not anything bad.

So, I get to the radiology center a few minutes late. I was behind a bus for a good part of the drive and then I got every ]#%ing red light. You know how it is when you are trying to be punctual? Suddenly the world seems uncooperative? It was that kind of morning.

Anyway, I got there a bit late so other people were able to jump the line. I waited an extra 30 minutes before they took me back for my contrast IV. How it works is they take a CT scan without contrast, then they push contrast through the IV and take another scan. Contrast iz weird. It feels warm when it enters the body and makes you think that you’ve wet the bed. Very weird sensation.

Usually, they test your kidney function before the IV. If it doesn’t meet a threshold, the contrast is not administered. I’ve had a half dozen contrast IVs and never had any problems. Maybe that’s why they skipped the kidney function test. I should have drunk a gallon of water before the IV but I guess I just don’t take this stuff as seriously as I used to. That’s a good thing and a bad thing.

So I get the IV and they roll me into the CT and everything is ticketyboo and all is going just as expected. Then they roll me out and push the contrast into my IV. Immediately, I feel the warmth coursing through my veins. Not unusual except this time it feels a lot warmer than it usually does. No biggy. A few minutes later, the scan is done, they roll me out, take the IV out and send me on my way. Ta-da!

I get in my car and turn onto the main road in front of the hospital when all of the sudden, my back starts to itch like crazy. Ahh, maybe I’m having an allergic reaction. Hmmm, well it’s probably not serious. I’ll just get some Benadryl on the way home and call the radiology center. About a half mile later, my face starts to feel warm. I wasn’t expecting that. But I thought it was just another mild allergic reaction.

I’ll bet you can see where this is going.

About five minutes later, my eyes had almost swelled shut and I was starting to see flashing lights in front of my eyes, like the kind you see just before you pass out. I used Siri to call my favorite Republican. Um, I don’t know what’s happening but I think I’m having a severe allergic reaction and I don’t think I’m going to make it home. I’m turning into the Eat n’ Park because I think I’m going to pass out. I parked my car, opened my door and threw up until I had dry heaves. Then I called my boss and told him I was probably going to miss my early meetings. Then I passed out.

The next thing I knew, there was a paramedic banging on my window. I don’t know how long I’d been out. He asked if I needed help. I said I did. He opened the door and pointed to the gurney. That’s when I realized that I could barely walk. I didn’t know what I was doing. He helped me to the gurney and hurried me into the ambulance. Before I knew it, the EMT on my left had slid an IV into my hand and started giving me Benedryl. I tried to answer their questions but a strange lassitude unrelated to the Benedryl had come over me. I was floating. The EMT on my right slapped my right hand and told me to stay awake. He was talking to the ER about whether to give me epinephrine. That was all I remembered until the ambulance got to the hospital.

Then there was noise and movement and people all around me. A nurse looked at my hand and said, “oh wow, your fingers are purple. Look at her face. That’s really swollen.” I was hoping it wasn’t permanent.

They wheeled my gurney somewhere and I felt a BP cuff on my arm while I verified my vaccine status with a PA. She put a mask on me and started cursing when the blood pressure cuff kept reading 80/50. She went to get another cuff. In the meantime, another nurse tried to give me another IV but gave up in frustration and just used the one the EMT had started. I started to get really cold and shivered so hard the gurney shook. The PA said she was going to give me a massive dose of Benedryl and steroids. “See you on the other side.” I was out in seconds.

Three hours later…

I started coming around. I felt a lot better. The itching had stopped, my eyes were starting to be functional again. A doctor was checking me out.

“You had an anaphylaxis reaction to the contrast. No more contrast for you. EVER. You should be good to go in about an hour”.

That’s when I took a good look at my surroundings.

I wasn’t in the ER. I was in the HALLWAY to the ER. I was lined up against the wall with a row of other people on gurneys. The ER didn’t have room for us. All the stuff they did was in the hallway. A harried nurse came by and said “you don’t need this anymore” and she reached under my shirt, grabbed a handful of EKG leads and yanked them out of the sensor pads. “Sorry”, she said, “I need this. Can you take the pads off yourself?” And off she went running down the hall.

An hour later, they sat me up, made sure I could walk, and sent me to the ER waiting room for my ride. I felt ok for the most part. They’d given me Benedryl, steroids and Pepcid. I could tell I was still swollen like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man but I’d be fine. I took a look around me and the waiting room was full of people with masks, struggling to breathe. I decided to wait for my ride outside.

What I learned: 1.) Covid is keeping the ERs around here very busy and full. 2.) anaphylactic shock enables you to jump the queue.

Not sure if that’s helpful or not but I thought I’d pass it along.

I saw it first hand.

I’m fine. Really.