Sunday, November 24, 2013

Friday Night in the Emergency Room and the Nurse Who Made an Idiot of Herself in Thirty Seconds

On Thursday night, I started coughing. It wasn't a big deal at first...I drank some water, took some deep breaths, and waited for it to subside.

Thirty minutes later and I was on the floor, desperately trying to catch my breath and still coughing uncontrollably. My whole body was shaking...I couldn't stand up, and I couldn't get my hands to move.

After a few minutes of trying to catch my breath and half a bottle of water, I was a little better...still shaky, but my hands could move again and I was able to get up when someone knocked on my door.

A student from the floor above me whom I don't know had heard me coughing and was concerned. I tend to underplay situations, though, so I thanked him and told him I was fine...he left reluctantly. I assumed it was just a cold of some sort, and it would go away on its own.

I slept about four hours that night because I was coughing so hard that it was difficult to sleep. In the morning, I got up at 7 a.m. for my chemistry class, which I had considered missing, but the coughing was better, so I threw on a sweatshirt and toughed it out.

The morning wasn't so bad, but by the afternoon, my cough had come back with a vengeance. I laid in bed from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m., unable to sleep even though I was physically and emotionally exhausted.

And then after dinner, it got even worse...I was having some trouble breathing, so at 9:30, I grabbed my coat and room key and decided to go outside to get some fresh air.

I was floored by the amount of people, many who were strangers, who stopped to see if I was alright. I insisted I was. After about thirty minutes of trying to catch my breath on the sidewalk outside of my dorm, a group of my friends happened to pass by, and they were concerned.

Despite my insistence that I was okay, they refused to leave, and one of them called Campus Safety. By the time the Campus Safety officers arrived, I was having trouble speaking because I was trying to catch my breath. I could inhale reasonably well, but my breath kept catching when I tried to exhale.

One of my friends went with me to the ER. Once we arrived, a nurse escorted me into a room, and OMG. This nurse could have written a guidebook entitled, "How to Make an Idiot of Yourself in Thirty Seconds."

She saw the way I walked and immediately assumed that I was drunk. I was nothing but polite when answering her questions, but her tone of voice was biting and irritated.

"Sit down," she said flatly. "Have you been drinking?"

I told her no, and she snapped at me to speak up. It takes a lot to get me angry, but I COULD HARDLY FREAKING did she expect me to speak up?

And then another nurse came in to take my medical history. I told her that I have cerebral palsy. And OMG. If I wasn't trying to breathe, I think I would have laughed forever at the expression of horror on the face of the nurse who had assumed I was drunk. She immediately warmed up to me after that, but she was clearly mortified for treating me rudely because of a medical condition that I couldn't control!

Then the doctor came in, checked my breathing, and was immediately thrown into a panic because my breaths were catching and I couldn't cough normally. I was given a steroid shot and a breathing treatment. The first breathing treatment didn't work, so I was given another one that helped tremendously...and my friend and I laughed about how the treatments made me sound like Darth Vader, haha. :-)

I was in the ER until about 12:45 a.m. (about two hours) because the steroid shot made my heart rate shoot up, and the doctor refused to let me leave until my breathing was smooth. They don't know exactly what happened, but my breathing problems were either due to some sort of inflammation in my throat, or because of a virus that just causes a cough (which normally wouldn't be an issue, but because of the lung problems I had as a baby, it may have caused me to have trouble breathing).

I slept about two hours that night because the steroid shot made me jittery, but I got about 14-15 hours of sleep last night to make up for it, and had only a few coughing episodes through the night!

I still have a cough, but it's getting better, and I have an inhaler and some medicine until I can breathe well again! This wasn't exactly how I wanted to spend my Friday night, but it made me realize how many amazing friends I have. I am so, so grateful for the friends who refused to leave my side and who called for help, for the friend who accompanied me to the E.R. at 10:30 p.m., for the friend who picked us up at 12:45 a.m....

I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!


  1. Oh bless your heart! I'm sorry about that nurse and her ridiculous comments. I'm so glad you are feeling better, though, and so glad your friends were there to help!

  2. Almost sounds like my first REALLY bad asthma attack. I couldn't breathe out either and that really SCARED me.

    I am so glad too that so many people reached out to you and especially that your friends knew you enough to stay by your side.

  3. SO glad you are ok!!! And what a nurse.. (grumpy face!) It is a big joke in my family that someday I am going to be mistaken for being drunk, and I'll find it so funny that I'll laugh uncontrollably, thus leading people to beleive it even more. Gotta find the humour while you can :) I'm so happy you have such supportive friends- Many of mine have spent long hours in emergency with me too. If I lived close, I'd join you for some "hospital parties", I've got them down to a science now!! haha :)

  4. First, I'm SO glad that you're okay. Not being able to catch your breath is so scary. Also I'm thankful that you have such excellent friends. That makes such a huge difference in life.
    That nurse though. She makes me sad. I hope she remembers how stupid she felt after you told her you have CP and that the next time she makes an idiotic assumption, that she'll stop and think.
    Happy Thanksgiving, my friend! I hope your day is full of laughter and sunshine. And easy breathing.

  5. Oh my goodness! What an ordeal! Who would have thought that a cough could end up causing so much trouble?! I'm so glad you're feeling better and that you've got such caring friends!

  6. Maggie.danhakl@healthline.comDecember 1, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. My neurological disease (sevre CRPS) causes damage to the Sympathetic Nervous System, which has caused my heart rate t shoot up- and as a result, my breathing doesn't always work. There is nothing scarier than not being able to breathe!! I'm so glad you were okay! I'm lucky in that I can use Valium or beta blockers to get my breath back, and those in turn can knock you out, so after a bad episode, I can sleep it off. But I've done steroids for other health issues and there is no sleeping once those get a good grip on you. I like to take advantage and either Clean All the Things or Knit All the Things- might as well get *something* out of it.

    And that nurse? Deserved to be embarrassed by her assumptions.

  8. Oh dear a lot! Still, I'm sure the lesson that nurse learned will stay with her for a long, long time. I hope she was properly mortified!

    And YOU - make sure you take better care of yourself when you're ill! There are no points for getting so sick you can't cope any more! I'm just so glad that you have such wonderful friends (and strangers) checking up on you and helping you.

    I hope you're thoroughly better now *hugs*

  9. Well this was a super scary read! I'm glad you got help! <3


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