“Get the crash cart!”
“She’s going to code!”
“Hang in there, honey, look into my eyes.”
“Her pressure is 40 over 20 … and falling!”
Yesterday morning, I went to my primary care doctor for a followup. A simple office visit, nothing too exotic. But as I was leaving the office, the physician’s assistant stopped me. “How long have you been breathing like that?” she asked. Since yesterday, I replied, thinking, haven’t we been over this? I told you my symptoms at the start of the visit, and this was deemed to be no big deal. “But you weren’t breathing like that before,” she said. That’s right. I was sitting still before, or lying down when I was waiting to be seen (why not?). The breathing is only bad when I sit up for a while, or walk around. “Don’t leave,” she said, “I’ll be right back.”
And she was. With bad news.
“I don’t like the way you’re breathing,” she said, “With your history, I don’t want to take any chances. I know you’re scheduled for a PET/CT scan later in the week, but I want to move it up, to check your lungs for a pulmonary embolism.” Okaaaaaaaay. “The doctor’s assistant tried to get you in for a CT today, but your insurance company said, no, they have three days to approve a CT. You can’t get in until Monday. But if it’s a PE, then it has to be caught today.”
“I’m sorry, but you need to go to the ER.”
The ER? Really? But it’s just a little labored breathing, and general weakness. Couldn’t I just be fighting something off? Like, say, H1N1, or a simple infection?
“You need to go to the ER, and you need to go now. Do you have someone to drive you?”
I’ll drive myself, I said. It’s only a couple of miles away, and I’ll call my husband to meet me there. Of course, I was supposed to host playdate in a few minutes, but perhaps my friend Lisa will pinch-hit for me. Yes, that will work. I’ll leave now, I told her. And I did. I made arrangements for the kids, asked my husband to meet me at the hospital, and drove myself over to the ER.
Because my insurance company’s policy was to not approve CT scans for 3 days, I ended up in the ER, 2 hours in the waiting room with H1N1 patients and all kinds of infection floating through the air, waiting for the ER doc to take a look and say, “Why yes, she does need a CT.” But, in just a few hours, I figured, I would have the CT, have it read, and be cleared to go home. I’d even be checked for metastatis while we were at it (since a CT scan can do double duty, checking lung health in general and in specific, and cancer is most likely to move to the lungs, bones, and liver first, when it makes its jump to a level IV cancer). So while this was going to be an annoyance, at the end of the day, it would be a net positive, right?
Well, that was before I was ushered back to the ER, behind the curtain.
to be continued….