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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.


Kathleen Mears

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