Month two ended with a bang. Or maybe I should say in silence, at least on my part as I was unconscious and even when I started to wake up I still could not speak, even if my life was depending on it. That’s where Stephen came in. He spoke for both of us, first yelling at me to wake up while trying to find a pulse, then speaking with the 911 operator, and then answering the paramedics questions,
“Has she taken any new medications?”
“Is she allergic to anything?” – and next to the ER Doctor.
And it goes on.
That was most definitely the most suspenseful first paragraph I’ve ever written. I hope it will be the last. Before I keep going (clearly I am ok, who’d be writing this if I wasn’t?) I want to thank my husband who’s already gone through enough and been amazing and supportive. Stephen is, and always has been a quick thinker and reacts well in emergency situations. For the guy who thought he was going to be widowed the day before our 5th wedding anniversary he stayed calm and took care of me in a desperate situation. So thank you (again), and I’m sorry (again!).
I also want to thank the paramedics who came to our house, you arrived quickly. Also to the police officers who were there ready to jump in if they had to – and Trav, I know I kept staring at you when I would open my eyes (sorry!). Seeing you and knowing I knew someone by name and that I could continue to recognize you every time my eyes opened, it kept reminding me that my cognition was still intact. I wasn’t sure if I could move or talk again again yet… but I knew my brain still seemed to be working. That was a good sign.
My third thank-you goes to the hospital staff. Once I was able to talk to you, none of you passed judgment. I have to tell you, when I was unloaded from the ambulance and on my way into the ER even though my eyes were shut and I couldn’t speak, I thought to myself:
“No! I don’t want to be in ER. Who is the doctor? What will they say?”
“Are they going to tell me that this is my “fault” because I’ve “put [myself] in this situation”
Everyone was kind, my nurse’s sense of humor lightened the situation and she actually told me she’d been reading my blogs. The compassionate care made this situation much easier on both myself and Stephen.
As you’ve been reading the whole time you’re probably wondering ‘what the heck happened that day?’
Well… I can be brief and say that I had a vasovagal attack but I didn’t regain consciousness for somewhere between 10-15 minutes. Stephen wasn’t able to find a pulse and when he tried to do CPR my jaw was locked, the tip of my central line was off and my pulse was so weak that there was no blood coming from my line. I was as white as a sheet of paper and my lips started turning blue. Desperate and not knowing what exactly happened (by the time he got to me I was already unconscious) his last ditch attempt when he thought he was losing me was to use an epi-pen. This got things going again pretty quick, blood started spewing out of my line, my eyes would flutter open from time to time. The rest are details that I’m going to skip, unless you want to read this incredibly detailed version below that I wrote to send to my doctor in DC to explain the whole event.
I did finally talk again about 30-40 minutes after it happened and I regained feeling in all of my limbs, fingers and toes.
Now, if your settled in for a much longer read, here’s the incredibly detailed version of this story:
I was doing my IV antibiotic infusions like normal. I finished the second bag and proceeded to the saline and heparin flush.
When untwisting the syringe the tip on my line came off, exposing only the line (purple line). I did not notice at first the tip was removed. I heard noise, it sounded like air. I tried to clamp the line as soon as possible but was losing consciousness very quickly. I started yelling for my husband, as I started feeling extreme tingles in my lips and face. Within 10 seconds I lost consciousness. I knew right before I yelled his name the third time I was going down.
When I heard the noise I wasn’t sure if it was the beginning stages of the blood flowing out of the line, or air coming into the line. I was unsuccessful in clamping it before I passed out. My husband came very quickly and once he realized the tip was off he put it back on. A very short time passed between all these events.
He was trying to wake me up and I was completely ‘out’. He gave me the epi-pen. This worked and I started to become somewhat coherent, I was able to nod ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when I was being asked questions, but in and out still. I could hear everything around me, I could answer the questions from the paramedics but only in my head, I could not answer out loud. My body was going through extreme tingling sensations for about 30 minutes, alternating with no feeling at all.
My memory was intact, the paramedic did a blood sugar, it was 7.4mmol/L. In my head I thought “ok, that is good”. When we were in the ambulance she asked one of the other paramedics what the BG reading was again, and in my head I could answer. I also knew some of the police and paramedics, I was able to recognize their faces and remembered their names.
I started coughing during this, and I was opening my eyes off and on. When they were making sure I was ‘still with them’ and asking me to open my eyes, I was able to follow commands.
Once at the hospital I was also able to follow the doctors commands too, moving limbs, squeezing hands, etc After approximately a total of 30 minutes from the beginning of this event I could talk again and answer questions. My speech slowly progressed to normal. My cognition was still intact. The numbness and tingling took about 30-40 minutes to progressively resolve, only my left toes had residual ‘cotton toe’ feelings for another hour.
There was also blood coming from the line. Not at first, but after I was given the epi-pen. I didn’t successfully clamp the line before I passed out, it bled enough to cover 1/3 of the front of my shirt.
The coughing resolved, I only heard gurgles at the end, but not the whole time. A chest xray was done, arterial blood gasses and blood work. The ER doctor believes that I had a vasovagal episode.
I don’t feel that seeing the tip removed worried me to an extent it would trigger this, I knew I needed to clamp it so blood didn’t come out. I just started losing consciousness so quickly. While I was unconscious Stephen was trying to get a response out of me, he said I had a strange breathing/gasping of air, so he was going to try CPR but my jaw was locked, he couldn’t open my mouth. In his panicked attempt to wake me he was progressively slapping my face quite hard but it wasn’t working. I couldn’t feel it either. It was at this point that he used the epi-pen and within a few seconds I started to come around very slowly.
So like I said, month two did end with an ambulance ride but otherwise it was pretty uneventful. Treatment has turned me into some-what of a zombie, I am always exhausted and it probably shows. It still kicks my butt day to day but I do have good days, and decent days.
I’ve managed to start incorporating some “normal” back into my life but it likely came with a cost – causing me to become further exhausted. A Lyme patient is already going through a lot, physically and mentally. I was trying to push through the exhaustion, trying to lead a more normal life… but I’d been pushing myself too hard. We made it to a wedding and had a great time, visited with friends we hadn’t seen yet this summer, I went for a boat ride, we had family visiting from Switzerland and Montreal, I spent a relaxing day in the shade at a friend’s cabin and even went to the beach for a couple of hours (even though sitting in the shade with a shirt on isn’t the typical beach experience).
In general, I see the biggest improvement in my strength to mobilize myself. I went from needing help 90-100% of the time to sit or stand up and now only needing help only 3-4 days a week. Overall this month I’ve been really tired, symptoms come and go, old ones grow stronger while others subside a little. There is really no way to explain it or describe it.
My overall impression: I am on the right track. It’s progress in the right direction. As for our 5th wedding anniversary? I was alive and well and instead of doing anything fancy or extravagant we had dinner and celebrated our vows, “in sickness and in health, until death due us part.”