Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Emergency Room

Some of the monkey art at Rudy's
I had three new experiences a few days ago:
  1. Visit to emergency room.
  2. Barfing with others present.
  3. Dilaudid (hydromorphone)
Tong took me out to a real porker's breakfast at "Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe" in Emeryville. It was a great place (challah french toast!) except that my poached eggs weren't cooked well...Two hours later I started getting cramps in my upper abdomen, below my heart, which kept getting worse. Then I started throwing up, which I expected to relieve the pain, at least temporarily, but did not. I tried being mindful of the pain, which was very interesting. It definitely changed the sensation, but I couldn't do it for long. It's hard to relax with something that is trying very tensely to eject itself from your body. Or probably any kind of intense pain takes a lot of training to stay with. 

I had put on an Estradiol patch on my shin that morning. (Misha had suggested it for menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis.) We looked up side effects. I seemed to have all of the following:
cramps; flushing; nausea; reduced tolerance to carbohydrates; stomach bloating and upset; 
I removed the patch at about 4pm I think. By about 6, after procrastinating some as I was dreading getting in a car, Tong took me, shaking, to the Kaiser emergency room in Oakland, which was pretty quiet. Nurse Jackie wasn't there. 

They admitted me immediately to my first emergency room that wasn't on television.  First thing they do is see if they can rule out the worst case scenarios. For me that was an inflamed gall bladder or a heart attack. They drew blood and gave me a blue plastic barf bag, some Zofran (anti-nausea), and hooked me up to an IV. Before I got wheeled to a private room I had occasion to use the blue bag. There were people around. What was the alternative? I could barely move. I thought about actors acting barfing and how difficult that must be, to make a retching sound that seems to originate deep in your soul.

The pain was really rather amazing. I told myself that once I wasn't in pain anymore, I would really appreciate it. This is the second time I have asked for pain medication in my life. (The first was after a few weeks of radiation.) They don't exactly flow freely with the narcotics, do they? You have to ask, which makes me worry that they think I'm a junky just there to get drugs. Different people ask you to use the 'rate your pain 1-10' scale. I said 7 and 6. First they gave me Percocet (oxycodone), which did almost nothing other than making the room seem sort of weird. After I pressed the red button and asked for more, they gave me Dilaudid which was awesome! It reduced the pain by about 1/3, but the thing is, you're so relaxed, you don't care about it anymore. The pain is not eliminated, it just stops being important!

Photo by Tong Ginn
At about 9pm, they said they could discharge me, but I was concerned that I'd just go home and start retching in pain again as soon as the drugs wore off. They gave me a drink and crackers to try and then they sort of disappeared. (I think things got really busy.) After an EKG because my pulse was so low (got down to 46), I was released at around 11pm, my pain at a '2'... 

I think what I had was a combination of food poisoning and side effects from the Estadiol, plus maybe a troubled gall bladder. The doctor suggested I not use the Estradiol anymore until I can talk to my doctor, which sounded excellent to me.

When I woke up this morning, I felt fine, no cramps anyway. I've felt very happy, tired and kind of emptied out somehow...but very  much appreciating not being in pain. 


  1. I am projecting all kinds of mean things onto the picture of Rudy's monkey face after reading this story. I'm sad to read it but at least you are OK now. My former acupuncturist used to sing the praises of wild yam cream (a lotion you put on your skin) for managing menopause & other hormonal stuff. I wonder if it's worth asking Misha about it, or if it's fallen out of favor?

  2. Man, I'm sorry to hear about that! Sounds wretched. (Ha, ha! JK) I'm so glad Tong was with you to take care of you! XOXO

  3. Wait a minute...are you telling me you've never been to the Emergency Room? Wow.

  4. So glad you're feeling better! Putting a patch on your shin sounds weird to me. It's an area of the body known for not having a lot of circulation, so I'm wondering if you were absorbing much of it anyway! I vote for food poisoning as the cause of your gastric events. Wild Yam cream is indeed still around and you could try it out--but not on your shins! Maybe your belly is the best place or the inside of your upper arms. XOXO

  5. Should you post this on their Yelp page? It is a very tasty place.

    A better pain scale:

  6. Damn, doesn't hyperlink, what is the world coming to? You will have to cut AND paste. But it will be worth it.

  7. Bleh! I'm sorry you were feeling so poorly. Vomiting in the emergency room-yuck. Glad you were able to take care of yourself pumkin xo
    Fyi Zofran made me naseous but Compazine helped me.
    Hope you are resting and avoiding sick blue monkeys. Xx

  8. P.S. Dr. Powell says that she doubts it was the patch, as does Danamaya....but the thing is, Tong had my leftovers and he did not get sick...
    Dhi - excellent link, worth the copy and paste...I am not inclined to dis them on Yelp for some reason...