Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Where'd That Bubble Go?

I mentioned that I had an EEG a few weeks ago, to see if I am seizure-proned. I'm not, at least according the EEG results.

I had another similar "episode" on October 23rd. It was in the middle of a meeting. And I panicked for a split second, worried about whether I should say something to the two other people in the meeting, or call 911, or what! Then I semi-calmed down, finished the meeting hoping that it was going away and that I wasn't about to drop dead. And then? I texted Tim, emailed myself the episode details to relay to the dr. later and went to meet friends for lunch.

The next day, I went for a run. At the end of the run, on my cool down back to the hacienda, I had another one, but worse. I "lost" the feeling in my legs even though I was running. Again, thought I was going to collapse in the middle of the road. I walked the rest of the way home and told Tim 'i'm having one right now!'. It's a weird experience. An out of body kind of thing. The rest of the day and the day after, I have problems finding words to finish my sentences. This happened with the first episode.

So when I had my follow-up with the neuro and told him this, he sort of shrugged and said "I don't know".

I am sort of used to this response. I had a similar response, but not put so bluntly, several years ago during my "mysterious illness".

So in order to keep ruling out very serious illness and disorders, he ordered another test: an echocardiogram and bubble study.

The bubble study is simply injecting a saline solution into the bloodstream and seeing how it flows through the heart. Of course, that's the layman's description but essentially, they can see if I have a problem with my heart that may be causing the disruptions to my brain.

Everything I read about this study is how 'safe' this study is. I wasn't worried anyway. I have had lots of things poked and prodded in/out of me (no snickering please) that I just have this 'go with the flow' attitude. It includes assuming that nothing will be found. Which is strange because technically, I shouldn't want anything found with these tests.

I told Tim not to bother joining me - it was a 30 mn procedure, supposedly.

The initial echo went relatively well. There was a student and I was asked if it would be OK for her to observe and do some work. Of course! I love listening, and being a part of, to their learning experience.

I watched a little bit and then started getting sleepy. It's dark in that room...

When it was time for the bubble study, a nurse becomes part of the team. She inserts an IV which will allow her to "submit" bubbles into my vein.

The IV goes into the right arm. It's feeling a little painful but sometimes they do, sometimes they don't for me.

Then the echo tech says "we're ready".

And then I feel something really strange go into my arm, thinking it's the bubble going into my vein. But this hurts. And really bad. In fact, it's getting worse and I feel like I am going to pass out. I look at the screen, still curious to see what bubbles look like in my heart and the echo tech is like "did you do it?"

I then realize: the bubble did not go into my vein. I tell them that my arm is really hurting bad. A note that, I am not bragging or boasting, but I do have a very high tolerance for pain. This pain was one of the top five worst pains I've ever had.

I thought: hmm...this is great. A simple procedure. Safe for 99.9% of people. And I will die. And I told Tim not to come.

The pain lasted a good 15 minutes or so. My arm, around the bicep, was just feeling awful. They assured me that my body would just absorb it. And I accepted that.

But I think the incident shook everyone up in the room. And because I am such a cool cat, I tried to make light of the whole thing to ease their discomfort.

The nurse tried the left arm next, for the next IV. I was chit-chatting, talking about how I'm used to needles...about my tattoo on my back. But the nurse wasn't talking or responding so I asked "Is my vein giving you trouble". She nodded yes.

I told her to do my hand. I have veiny hands. I typically try to show Melisa my hands because she gets nauseous at the sight of veins.

The nurse commented that the hand is usually very painful for an IV...I reminded her of my tattoo. And typically, I have found that the hand IV goes more smoothly (for me) than anywhere else.

So she did the hand: #3 needle of the day. And the echo study continued and I saw bubbles flow through my heart.
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When all was said and done, I had three women anxiously awaiting for a peek at my tattoo. Why get a tattoo if you can't show it off?? So there I am, lifting things, covering things, etc. to show off my artwork. And then the door opens and another worker looks in with the "WTF is going on in here look?" She must have been somebody as the three others quickly gathered their things to get out of the room.

Now it's the standard 5-7 business days of waiting to hear the results.

BTW, the dr. mentioned that this particular test has a lot of false negatives. Great!

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