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A recent ER visit

January 7, 2013
by Kathleen Mears
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A little over a week ago after being out, I experienced chest pains. Usually when I feel such discomfort, it is just indigestion. However, these chest pains were more pronounced.

I knew I was tired and I had been sitting in the same position in bed watching TV for six hours. I told the nurse how I felt and suggested a change in positions would help. Along with my regular evening meds I took a nausea pill and a gas chewable which I hoped would help.

As soon as the bed was lowered I began to feel worse. I considered the ER but such visits are stressful because I am usually there alone.

When I could not talk the facility out of an ER visit, I reluctantly agreed. When the EMTs took my pulse oxygen in the ambulance, it was 72; I knew I need to be checked out. Luckily I was able to contact my backup driver (a trained nursing assistant) and she agreed to meet me at the ER.

The longer I was in a flatter position the chest pains dissipated. When I arrived at the ER, I was pretty sure it was not my heart. An EKG confirmed that but the ER doctor admitted me. I hoped it would just be overnight.

When I got in the room, I looked for an accessible call light. I was given a large push pad call light (instead of my usual "breath call" device). Since a push pad is difficult for me to hold on to, it was clipped to my "fall risk" hospital bracelet which would help keep it from falling out of my hand.

I got little sleep that night and was totally out of touch without my cell phone. Using a cell phone I no longer memorize phone numbers. I hoped the facility could bring my cell phone and charger but they did not.

I was unable to have a CAT scan with contrast dye the next evening because no one could get an IV started. The next day I learned there would be no PIC [peripherally inserted catheter] line team in the hospital until the day after Christmas.

The doctors told me there was no heart problem and that my blood work was good. I asked that an abdominal x-ray be taken and afterwards the doctors wanted me to have more tests. They were concerned that something serious might be going on. But I was pretty sure I just needed to get back to my regular routine.

My driver brought my cell phone that first evening. Each day I had her come to help the hospital staff get me up and onto the bedside commode. I also wanted to keep up my strength.

Since I could not have a CAT scan until after Christmas, I asked to be discharged on December 23 so I could celebrate Christmas with my family.

I am feeling better. I think the chest discomfort came from digestive problems caused by my quadriplegia. Similar symptoms have put me in the hospital several times in my life.

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Kathleen Mears

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Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...