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my emergency room visit…

It’s been a difficult 3 or 4 weeks around here, healthwise.

About a month ago, I was scheduled to have my first root canal. To prepare for the procedure and beat down the infection I’d incurred, my dentist (and good friend) put me on a round of Amoxicillin. Now, I should have immediately started on some probiotics to try to build back up some good bacteria as the antibiotic would be killing all bacteria – good and bad.

But, I didn’t. First mistake.

When I arrived for my root canal and was still in pain, my dentist prescribed another round of antibiotics to continue to fight the infection. This one was stronger and well, they were horse pills. It’s called Clindamycin. I was not eager to take any more antibiotics, knowing my body doesn’t handle them too well…I typically end up with an infection of some kind as a result. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was important to drink a lot of water with each pill.

And I didn’t. Second mistake.

So, because of my depleted immune system, I got sick. And stayed sick. It started with a sore throat, which lasted for about three days without any other symptoms. Then I got a cough, then congestion, then a sneeze, then a runny nose, then a headache, and on and on it went. I could not shake this cold, but it was not a big deal until last Wednesday night, when I noticed a strange symptom as I went to bed for the night. My throat, which was still raw, suddenly felt like there was something stuck deep down in it. Like at the base of my neck, it felt like something was lodged there. But that didn’t make sense, because I hadn’t eaten or drank anything for hours. I fought to relax enough to go to sleep, and when the lump was still present on Thursday morning, I decided to go to my doctor.

At the doctor, I gave urine and blood samples and was told that my condition could be esophagitis or something similar. My doctor noted that my throat problem could also have to do with the fact that I’d been taking large antibiotic pills, and if I hadn’t had enough water with each pill, it was possible that one of them had gotten stuck and begun to erode in my throat. Yikes. Another possibility was that since I’d been sick with throat issues for over a week, all of the post-nasal drip could have severely irritated my throat and left it inflamed and feeling like something was there.

While we waited for the samples to be analyzed by the lab and the results to come in, my doctor gave me two medications to help with the issue. One, an antihistamine, and the second, a medication called Carafate that I’d never heard of or taken before, typically used to treat ulcers.

And so, Thursday night before bed, I took my first dose of Carafate, a mild medication that typically does not have any side effects other than constipation. Most people handle it just fine.

At 2:00 in the morning I woke up with the strangest dream. I was dreaming that I was in the fetal position in my bed, holding my stomach with both hands, moaning in pain. And then I realized that it was not a dream. I was in so much pain that I went into an immediate panic. I could not straighten my legs and my limbs were trembling. My mouth was pasty and incredibly dry. I stumbled to the bathroom wondering what was going on and glanced in the mirror. I was horrified when I opened my mouth to reveal tons of white paste covering my tongue. Then I realized that I was in way too much pain to be standing up.

I raced back to the bed, crying, and told Rich to wake up and call 911. We literally panicked for a full five minutes (which felt like an eternity) before Rich grabbed Alana, my purse, and me, and headed to the car. He called my sister on our way to the emergency room asking if she and Nick could meet us there and bring Alana back to our house so that she could sleep.

A twenty-five minute drive turned fifteen minutes and we were stumbling into the emergency room, hoping for a slow night so I could be seen quickly. Thankfully, at this point in the morning I was seen quickly. Amber and Nick arrived, took Alana, and headed back to out house to let her sleep. The next several hours involved a urine sample, blood work, questioning from the nurse, a brief visit by the doctor and lots of waiting. During all of this waiting, seven people were rushed to the hospital with gunshot wounds. Seven. It was a busy night in the Erlanger E.R. I was told by more than one nurse that I picked a lively evening to visit.

It’s a rather anticlimactic ending to a long winded story, but no diagnosis was to be had. Appendicitis was ruled out. As was surgical abdomen and pregnancy. The nurse told me that 60% of abdominal issues that come in are never diagnosed. I had not taken any pain medication, but thankfully, my pain level had gradually subsided in our hours at the E.R.

By 6:00 in the morning when we were discharged, I was in much less pain and could even walk. I am convinced that I had a severe adverse reaction to a medication that most people have no problems with. Needless to say, I discontinued use, called my doctor, and alerted my pharmacy that I am “allergic” to Carafate. Can an allergy cause debilitating, crazy scary pain in one’s abdomen?

The ironic thing is that on Friday, after spending all night in the E.R.; the lump in my throat (for which I’d taken the medicine in the first place and had only taken one dose at this point), had gone away and thankfully, hasn’t come back.

The most sad part about this story is that my strange issues prevented Rich, Alana and myself from going to Louisiana for Rich’s grandmother’s 89th birthday. We’d planned to be away this weekend along with the whole Smith clan, so we missed the family reunion while we stayed here, rested, and recuperated. But apparently that’s what we needed.

Anyway, that’s my E.R. story. Anyone have something similar happen? I’m astounded at how much pain I was in. By Friday morning I was exhausted and weak, but not in pain anymore.

Stories? Input? Personal experiences???

  • kellie - October 11, 2009 - 9:24 pm

    You poor thing! I’m so sorry that happened to you friend! I’m so glad to hear you are better… I hope you are feeling better with everything. Love you!

  • Tobi Weldon - October 11, 2009 - 9:32 pm

    Girl…you didn’t tell me all those details – wow! Crazy – I am so glad you are feeling better! Thinking of you!!! xo

  • carly - October 11, 2009 - 9:53 pm

    Heather, I’m sooo glad you’re okay! I saw Rich’s tweet, but I’m so relieved to find out everything turned out fine. With everything else I’m allergic to, I’ve been lucky enough to never have a negative reaction to a medication. However, I have a severe laytex allergy, so I have to warn any doctor I see about it every single visit–they always forget or manage to bypass the “LAYTEX ALLERGY” written in bold, red letters on my file. Also, I have a hypo-thyroid and I can think of twice in my life when I woke up from a dead sleep because my blood pressure dropped too low. When that happened, my brain went into panic mode while I slept and told my heart to SPEED UP! Needless to say, waking up to find your heart beating 180 beats/minute AT REST is kinda scary! But it was my own fault–I wasn’t taking my thyroid medication every day like I should.

    And that’s my lengthy experience with scary medical issues.

    SO GLAD you’re okay. *hug*

  • Pix - October 11, 2009 - 11:43 pm

    I thought we were all going to die. Rich called at 2:00 am and his first words were…”Amber, it’s Rich. Stay calm” Yeah, like that phrase ever made anyone stay CALM!

  • Pix - October 11, 2009 - 11:46 pm

    Oh! And as far as a personal story goes…one time, I got a cold.

  • kathy groves - October 12, 2009 - 12:24 am

    Wow Heather! Sorry you had to go through all of this. It is amazing how much we learn from our own trials & illness! I have had anaphylactic shock several times (when kids were younger). The last time was due to allergy to Keflex. SO SCARY! I understand the fear you felt. so the up side is we survived and now have knowledge!!! Take care of yourself!

  • Tony Souder - October 12, 2009 - 9:58 am

    I am so glad you are okay!! Wow, what an adventure. I don’t think that you should have to start frothing at the mouth to get Rich’s attention. ;-))

  • Lacey - October 12, 2009 - 12:27 pm

    I’m allergic to Levequin. I had a lump in my throat after taking it but mine was from my throat swelling as soon as the pill went down. It cutt off my airway, I swelled up like “the Pillsbury Dough Boy only pink” (As Dad said), and had hives covering my entire body. I was laughing the whole time! (Dad thought i was crazy) The funniets part was when Rachel met me in the ER as I was leaving to show me her engagement ring Daniel had just given her!

  • Mom and Dad - October 12, 2009 - 8:24 pm

    Are you guys ready to move down here and live next door? Then you wouldn’t have to wake Alana up for your middle-of-the-night escapades!

  • Cousin Doug - October 13, 2009 - 8:47 am

    Wow. When I was younger and struggled with asthma alot I did get an antibiotic which made me sicker than any other time I remember as a child. I felt like I was pretty much near death, if that’s what it feels like–so I think I know what you felt. However, I was a child and bounced back alot quicker. So glad you are okay: allergic reactions to meds are no joke. Try and be off all the meds soon, okay? Back to normal, back to service, back to fun with family, and all that–Doctor Doug’s orders! The Peace of Christ to you all: you are in our prayers (as always).

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