2012, if you're going to be as challenging, rewarding and memorable this past weekend, bring it on. This is definitely going to be a multi post entry so bear with me. Unexpected does not even begin to describe my weekend. I thought it would be a low key weekend with some friends, a lot of housework, and even more time just pausing for a breath and relaxing before a few whirlwind weekends. Instead I managed to fix an ongoing household problem, welcome a new family member to the world, cross two things off my bucket list (including what I thought was the hardest item on it!), sleep very little and learn some very important lessons. Here we go with Part 1: ------
After the whole bed fiasco on Friday night, I wrote my blog post and went to bed. Or was about to when I heard a knock on my door.
"Sejal," squeaked my roommate Teresa, "I'm not feeling too good and am having some trouble breathing. Would you mind staying up with me for a little while until I feel better?"
You see Teresa was suffering from a nasty sinus infection and had been sick all week. Earlier that day she went to the doctor who gave her some new meds but about 20 minutes before I went to bed, she started coughing and her voice went from normal to 11-year-old boy going through puberty. So we made some small talk for a few minutes before I suggested we go watch some TV to distract her from her cough. Note: How I Met Your Mother streaming on Netflix is the best news I have heard in a long time. And the show is truly so good that you will forget about everything else (including possibly dying) while you watch it. Ask Teresa.
I managed to doze off (I tend to do that if I've already seen the episode) but woke up 10 minutes later to a Netflix menu screen and Teresa reading her prescription info. She wasn't feeling worse but she didn't think she was feeling better either. Her voice had gotten more raspy though. Getting concerned, I suggested we call the 24 Hour Nurse Hotline to get their advice. After sharing the symptoms (coughing, raspy voice, difficulty breathing, tightness in throat), the nurse on call was not messing around with her recommendation: call 911.
Umm, what? Teresa and I exchanged bewildered looks and hung up with the nurse. We weren't going to call 911 when we lived 3 blocks from the hospital. At this point, Teresa didn't think she needed to go to the ER but I insisted. We have good benefits, we live close, and if it's nothing, they'll just send us back home. Better to be a living fool (maybe you are overreacting to your symptoms) then a dead hero (underplaying your symptoms.) At that moment she mentioned that she felt that her lip was swelling a little bit and I kid you not, I saw it happen in a few seconds. (Not as bad as it was in Hitch, but it rang some bells.) I insisted (or maybe demanded at this point?) we go to the ER again and within a few minutes we were off and at the ER door.
It's kind of crazy how quickly you're seen at the ER when your key symptoms are shortness of breath, wheezing and tightening of your throat. Within minutes there were 2 nurses and a doctor taking us to a room and starting their diagnosis. Long story short, she was having anaphylactic reaction to a medication she had taken for the first time that night but we got to the hospital at the right time to combat the reaction. After an IV, some meds and a nebulizer treatment, all we could do was wait. So we did.
Around 3am, things were looking better. Teresa's voice went from a squeak to an 11-year-old going through puberty, her Jay-Z-esque lips were returning to normal size and she was looking less sunburnt and more Lithuanian-Italian than when we got to the hospital. The meds were working, the nurses and doctors at Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital were great, and our spirits were high as we were cracking jokes and passing time. When her nurse, Tricia, came in to check on her, I asked, "So what would have happened if we didn't come in?" (Teresa and I were wondering as we talked, I mean, what if she had fallen asleep or if we didn't come to the hospital. She'd just be feeling wheezy until the morning, right?)
Without the slightest hesitation came Tricia's response, sending a chill down my spine: "Death."
Seeing our shocked faces, she started to explain, "I can't tell you how long it would have taken or what the cause of death would have been but basically you had a really bad allergic reaction to the medication pretty soon after you took it. Normally after you take a prescription, you should feel better within 3 hours, but within an hour you started having symptoms. There are a few things that could have happened next: your throat could have swelled up to the point where you wouldn't have been able breathe. Or you may not be able to swallow your saliva and could choke on it. Or your blood vessels could just dilate so that there's no pressure and your heart wouldn't be able to pump blood and you'd be one big puddle. Since we don't know which one of those would have happened, I can't tell you how long it would take either."
Um, wow. Wow. Did she just... wow. Teresa and I exchanged looks of disbelief. "Well," I said, breaking the silence, "I sure am glad we made it here then!" Teresa chimed in with a "Me too" and nervous laughter.
"You know, in some cultures, you guys would be bonded together for life because you saved her life," added Tricia.
I nearly fell out of my chair. HOLD UP. "Wait a minute. Sorry, what did you say? Did you just say I saved her life?"
Teresa (smiling and nodding her head): "Yeah, I guess you kind of did."
Tricia: "You brought her to the ER didn't you?"
Teresa: "She's actually the one who kinda insisted."
Me: "DUDE. Um, saving a life is on my bucket list. It's the hardest thing on my bucket list and I have no idea how I was going to do it. And Tricia didn't even know about that...and so, since she said it and made that statement herself, does this mean... did I just... can I cross this off my list?"
Teresa (laughing): "Yeah! I think you can!"
Me: "Then we have to take a picture. I need documentation for my scrapbook!"
My low key Friday night turned into a scary-yet-rewarding all-night experience. And I am so grateful that I was there.
More to come in Part 2, but I will tell you that Teresa is doing well! She was admitted for observation and released Saturday afternoon and is now back home, on a new antibiotic (that she's not allergic to!) and still fighting her sinus infection. Thank goodness it all worked out.