Monday, October 17, 2011

Question of the Week:
Getting Mixed Signals?

by asifthebes
Last week was a really rough week for me.

It began innocently enough.  I put up outdoor Halloween decorations last Sunday with copious amounts of help from Robert.

In the process, I hit my head really hard on our mailbox while getting up after plugging in a light string into a power strip on the front porch.  I spent several minutes cursing and swearing, rubbing my head and half expecting blood to start trickling down my face.

After a few minutes, the pain subsided and I got back to decorating.

The next day, I felt fine.

But then Tuesday rolled around and I started to feel horrible.  After being up for about an hour--and trying to get a bunch of things done before my second carpal tunnel surgery scheduled for the next day--I started getting really dizzy and nauseous.  The more I moved, the more nauseous and dizzy I got.  After a couple of hours of these symptoms getting worse, I started getting worried.

Then I remembered that I hit my head.

'Dang, do I have a concussion?' I thought to myself.  Then I remembered what a pain specialist told me,"You have to be careful when you injure yourself, because your chronic pain can mask trauma from injuries."

'This is just great!  And I have surgery scheduled for tomorrow.'

Of course, by now it is late afternoon, too late to get a same day appointment at my primary care doctor's office.  So I call the local Urgent Care, but after I explain my circumstances, they recommend I go to the Emergency Room in case I need a CT scan.

So I wait for Robert to get home from work to take me, because by now I am too dizzy and my stomach too upset for me to get there myself.  After what seems like an eternity, he finally gets home.  We head over to the ER.  I tell the medical professionals how I hit my head, how I don't really have any pain, just really severe nausea and dizziness.  The doctors say my neurological exam is normal, decide against the head CT scan, say my symptoms are normal for someone who has recently hit their head and send me home with a prescription for some anti-nausea medicine.

Oh, and they think there will be no problem with me having surgery tomorrow.

They diagnose me with a head injury and think surgery in 12 hours would be a good idea?!? That makes me wonder if they know what they are talking about...

So I go to the pharmacy, get the medicine, take it and it doesn't really help.  I go to bed and as I lay down and close my eyes, the room starts spinning furiously.  Between the queasiness and wooziness I can't sleep.  Fifteen minutes before the alarm is supposed to go off, I decide that I am canceling my surgery, even if the ER doctors think having surgery three days after hitting my head is a good idea.

When I talk to the nurse in the surgery center letting her know why I am canceling my surgery at the last minute, she agrees with me that postponing it is a good idea.

The nausea and dizziness lasted until Friday morning.  Then it turned into the most g-d awful pain flare-up.  The whole left side of my torso, from my neck and shoulder, down my spine to my tailbone, hurt viciously and horribly. I spent the entire weekend writhing in pain, taking pain medicine, glued to a heating pad and distracting myself.  It is only just now, on Monday morning, that I feel like the pain might be relenting just a wee bit.

So not only did I get some pretty mixed messages from the healthcare professionals I interacted with this last week, it seems my body was having some big issues accurately communicating to me what exactly was going on.

Can you relate?  Ever gotten mixed messages from your healthcare providers?  Or has your body acted strangely and left your scratching your head trying to figure out what is really wrong?   

Let me know about the mixed signals you've had to deal with by leaving a comment here or heading over to the Oh My Aches and Pains! Facebook page.

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Migrainista said...

Yes, everyone seems to have an opinion and they rarely seem to all match up. Everyone is certain they are right and the others are wrong.

Kind of troubling if you ask me.

Shannon said...

I'm glad that the whole ordeal seems better for you Selena. What a week for you! Sounds to me like your postponing the surgery was very wise indeed. Yet I'm not surprised to hear the emerg staff shuffled you off. In Canada *any* trip to the ER is a 6+ hour ordeal where you may or may not get to see that doctor until that 6th hour, get a few mins of his/her time and shuffled out the door. My hubby went in with chest pain and it was still the same damn thing. Healthcare is just not what it used to be at all.

No one told me that my chronic pain could mask minor injuries I may have. Makes me want to pay attention to things I do with eyes wide open from now on!

Felicia Fibro said...

I've never had a head injury, but was that the final diagnosis for you - no concussion? Seems like some scary symptoms to have after hitting your head!

I've had situations like that before - when my PCP's thought I just had long lasting stomach issues from having foodborne illness and when multiple PCPs thought I just had allergies, when I have more complicated issues with similar symptoms. I only got real answers for those issues after pushing to get referred to specialists - gastrointerologist and allergist.