Saturday, April 14, 2007

Remembering May, 1998

I was scheduled to go to Boca Raton on a business trip in a few days. I traveled frequently for my job, installing systems and training doctors and medical staff on software. I was trying to relax and spend some time at my house in New Mexico until I was scheduled to leave.

A few days before my trip, I was in the garage exercising with some weights on some fitness equipment that my husband and I had. I pulled something in my rotator cuff that sent me into excruciating pain. A trip to the doctor a couple of days later sent me home with a prescription for a muscle relaxant. I was anxious to get a good nights rest before my flight the next day. I took the first pills and went to bed. Shortly after that I woke up vomitting. I thought that I must be having a reaction to the medication. I did not take it on the trip with me when I left the next morning.

After I arrived in Boca Raton the next morning, my back and shoulders were really bothering me. I found it difficult to sit through the day's training. The doctor that I was training happened to be an internal medicine physician. After he examined my back he gave me some samples that he had for Relefen and Norflex. He said those would help alleviate the pain so that I could sleep through the night.

When I arrived back at the hotel that evening, I ate dinner and took the pills and headed for bed. The next day I felt rested and took the second dose of the medications before heading back into his office for the day.

I sat with his office staff for severals hours. I remember at one point feeling very aggitated. I was not sure if I was tired of explaining things to them or if I was frustrated or annoyed because I had been sitting so long in one position. At different times I found myself spacing off or feeling like I was in a surreal moment, watching things happen in front of me, but not really being a part of it. It was like watching a movie, but I was not in a starring role, in fact I wasn't a part of the movie at all.

At one point I thought to myself... am I even here? do these ladies see me sitting here or am I dreaming this and watching them from the outside?

Eventually those odd feelings passed and I did not think too much of it. I assumed I was just tired and stressed because of the strain of travel.

When I was done at the office for the day, I headed back to the hotel. I decided to get room service so that I could just sit and relax on my own. A hotel staff person brought me a burger with fries and a coke. I sat on the bed and ate and watched TV.

At one point, I was watching the television show "Friends", and I felt my head suddenly drop. I snapped it back up again and thought it must have just been a fluke and I must have been more tired than I had originally thought. A few minutes later, the same thing happened. Uncontrollably, my head dropped and a few seconds passed in which I missed what was happening on the television. These moments happened off and on for several minutes.

By the time I realized that what was happening was not due to fatigue, I started feeling numbness in my arms and legs. I looked down at my legs but could not move them. They felt fat and heavy. I tried to move them but they just laid there. I then took my hands and tried to lift my legs. They felt "normal" to the touch, but on the inside they felt so heavy. Everything seemed to be so surreal again. It was at about this time that it dawned on me that what might be happening is that I was having an allergic reaction to the pills that the doctor had given me.

I walked into the bathroom, thinking that I would splash cold water on my face and feel better. When I looked in the mirror I looked so pasty and white. I had a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. When I sat on the toilet I could not feel my legs or behind. It seemed like a struggle to urinate, but once I did, I could hear the water trickle but I could not feel anything. I had no feeling at all from my waste down, and yet I could get up and walk.

My head began it's pattern of dropping again for a few seconds at a time. I started to panic and decided that I should try to get help. I knew the doctor's name and thought I could call him if I could find him in the phone book, dialing his home phone number.

When I pulled the phone book out of the bed stand drawer and opened it, all I saw was a bunch of letters all over the pages and out of order. The words were sometimes backwards or mixed up. The letters were not in the correct order. Everything seemed to be a big zig zag of text. I could not focus enough or control the text on the page to even read what was on the pages. This really frightened me, so I thought I should call for help. Maybe someone at the front desk of the hotel could come and be with me.

The phone was right next to me. I knew it was a phone, but I could not remember how to dial it. I stared at it trying to remember how to use it. It was so crazy. It made no sense to me.

I got up from the bed and decided to go to the front desk. My hotel room was literally a few doors down from the main lobby on the same floor. I remember opening the door to the hallway and seeing a hotel staff member. I told him that I needed help. The next thing I remember is laying on the floor in the doorway. I was face down on the carpet. I could hear someone on the phone in my room. It was the staff person talking to the 911 operator.

I was able to get up on my own, but felt very unstable. My face felt numb and I could not feel my lips. I was fighting off losing consciousness. It was an awful feeling. The hotel staff was being told to get me to sit down, but I didn't want to sit down because I was afraid I would fall asleep and not wake up. A few minutes later, several rescue workers came into the room. The emergency medical technicians made me sit in a chair. I was fighting to stay awake. I kept telling them that I thought I was having an allergic reaction and pointed to the drugs near the bed. Later in the ambulance, some new rookie tried to get Benadryl in me through an IV but was having issues with that. The more experienced medical tech eventually stuck a shot of Benadryl in the upper part of my left shoulder.
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