:: Life on Planet Dan-E ::

Thoughts, observations, and introspections from an art student waiter/bartender in South Beach. Arcane humor ensues.
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:: Thursday, April 10, 2008 ::

:: Hospital ::
Thanks to the well wishers who were nice enough to leave comments in the last post. That was very kind of you. The rest of you readers can eat my ass. Just kidding. This was the first in my adult life I had to go to the hospital as a patient and can I tell you? It SUCKED.

The short version is that my stay was caused by hyponatremia. It's a case of severe electrolyte imbalance from low sodium levels in the body. (Read more about it here and here). In my case, it started after a round of tennis Saturday morning. I usually chug some water beforehand since I naturally sweat a lot. But I had some diarrhea beforehand from eating ceviche the night before and didn't compensate for it. I played my usual time, it wasn't any warmer or more humid than before, but I felt a little lightheaded once I got home. I didn't drink my usual amount of water but I refilled my water bottle twice while playing, which I thought would be plenty.

Once I got home, I chugged a couple more glasses of water before stretching out my kinks. Then the cramps started. It started in my legs, moved up to my back, then my abdomen, and even my toes. I was still feeling light headed. I drank another glass of water. I made my way to the restroom to pee but I noticed the volume was inconsistent with my intake, and what little came out was this putrid yellow color. Heat exhaustion? Maybe.

I read a lot of sports articles so I'm familiar with the symptoms of heat exhaustion. I also read about hyponatremia but it never crossed my mind since the articles I read usually related to endurance athletes (marathoners, triathletes). I drank more water and stood under a cold shower for a while. (I should point out that my glass is a little larger than your average water glass.)

Didn't help much. I became dizzy, my breathing was shallow, and my hands were cold. My hands are almost never cold. On top of that I felt nauseous. As stupid as it may sound, that was my first indication that something might be really wrong since I have a Seinfeld-like streak of never vomiting .

I got home before one and now it's almost four. I have to be at work in an hour and I can't even stand up without feeling faint. I somehow manage to call work and tell Antonio that I'm not sure if I can make it. He knows my track record in my short time there so for me to call in sick, he knows something's up. He tells me to stay home and get better.

When I tried to walk to the fridge to get more water, my legs gave out. My nausea built up to the point where I had to throw up. I somehow make it to the bathroom and I vomit almost nothing but water. No blood, fortunately but I'm actually somewhat upset that I broke my streak. I still had my phone so I dialed 911 while wondering why the ceiling was spinning faster than the ceiling fan. The paramedics show up, and I try to explain to them what happened in as much detail as possible.

I barely remember the ride to the hospital. I kinda remember being handed a clipboard in the waiting room, but my vision was blurry and my hands were so weak I couldn't write anything. I vaguely remember laying on a gurney with the doctors asking me what happened, asking my name, the date, and if I knew where I was (earth!). I distinctly remember trying to explain but I just couldn't find the words. I can only imagine how incoherent I must have seemed. "Played tennis... dehydrated... cramps... diarrhea... dizzy..."

I woke up a few hours later and saw blurry silhouettes of people looking down at me. Once I gathered my senses, I noticed I had an oxygen tube in my nose, a bandage inside my left elbow, and an I.V. drip on my right hand. I had these sticky things on my chest with wires attached, and those wired led to a heart monitor. I wasn’t flatlined, which I took as a good sign. I finally saw these people looking down at me and half-expected a large black man to lean over and say "hello Neo." I pass out again.

A little later, I wake up again, feeling a little closer to normal. I stay awake, and I realize I have this massive urge to pee. I try to get up, and I vaguely hear a lady say "not again" and walk over to my bed. "Sir, please don't try to more around. You have to stay in bed." My first coherent words of the night were, "dude, I have to piss." She hands me a jar. You're fucking kidding me right? Oh this is gonna suck. I do this a few more times during the night, which apparently shows the doctors I'm healthy enough to remove from the ER and into an intensive care room.

On the way up a nurse tells me exactly what happened. It's then he mentions hyponatremia. Really. I thought maybe my heat exhaustion advanced to a heat stroke, but I got fired from a restaurant despite being the only one there who didn't do drugs, so what the hell do I know. I ask what would have happened if I didn't call 911. "You might have suffered from brain damage, maybe fallen into a coma..." Oh, good to know.

Basically, I lost a lot of salt and fluids from all the sweating and didn't replace the salt. I overdid it in replacing the fluids, throwing my electrolyte balance completely out of whack.

They wheel my to my room, complete with a TV and a brand new urine jug. Great. I look at the clock. It's after 3am.

I end up staying all of Sunday and Monday, despite my constant pleas to leave. I felt fine, I wasn't suffering any ill effects, and I was getting sick of having my blood drawn (eight times! EIGHT! My left elbow looks worse than a heroine addicts'). The reason they kept me so long was to make sure my CPK levels returned to normal. I think one of the nurses told me when I arrived, my CPK levels were around 3000, and normally, healthy levels are... umm... considerably less (somewhere in the low hundreds if I remember correctly and a lot of my recollection is a little hazy).

During my stay, I have to pee into a jug, endure having my blood drawn repeatedly, and deal with limited mobility thanks to being hooked up to an I.V. the whole time. (It was a 9% sodium solution in case you're curious. You probably should know these things.) I don't sleep well. I fight boredom. I have bizarre dreams I think too much (never a good thing). The food is bad. I hate this place.

But I keep telling myself that it beats brain damage or death.

I finally get released Tuesday afternoon. I'm relieved more than anything. The nurse tells me that while my CPK levels aren't quite back to normal, they've dropped fast enough that I'm safe as long as I follow a few precautions. She tells me avoid sports for a while, and to drink lots of Gatorade over the next few days.

It's about one when I get home. Mike looks hungry. Rick-E is nowhere to be seen. I figure he's sleeping under my sheets again. I take a nice cool shower and get ready for work. I walk into my closet for some fresh clothes and see my cat sitting on top of the shelf like he's Simba on Pride Rock. How the hell did he get up there? I look down and see the pile of clothes and hangers strew about the floor. That's how. I wanna be mad I'm more impressed than anything, kinda like Ron Burgundy when his dog pooped in the fridge but at a whole wheel of cheese.

There's been a lot going through my mind those few days in the hospital and afterwards, and I'll probably blog about it later. But I'm happy to still be here. But I never want to go through that again.

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:: Miscellaneous Ramblings by Dan-E at 4:47 PM [+] :: | 0 comments

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