The Extra Mile

My Journey Late in Life as a Triathlete – Setbacks and Triumphs

A Little Blip in the Road

by | Jun 3, 2017 | Recovery | 0 comments

I had a difficult night’s sleep the night before last.  I woke up at midnight pretty uncomfortable and agitated. I had to go to the bathroom, but trying to go back to sleep, even though I relieved myself, just wasn’t happening.  I felt like I had restless leg syndrome, the collar was choking me and I had muscle pains in my neck, shoulder and shoulder blades. I decided to take a dose of Oxycodone to see if that would relieve some of my symptoms and then fell asleep 15-20 minutes later.

My Bed for my First Week Home – Sans the Pillow

At 3 am, I awoke to find that one of the straps on my neck brace had come loose.  I was staring straight up at the ceiling, so my first thought was, “whew, no damage done.” Then I start thinking, “crap, how do I know that I didn’t move all over the place while I was asleep.” I know I typically move quite a bit while sleeping and despite the injury restricting my movement while sleeping, I know this still happens.

On my third night home, before getting a hospital bed, I was in our regular bed with a pillow, and I found myself turned over on my belly hugging my pillow.  That was my normal sleeping position before all this happened. I got freaked out and jumped back into the lawn chair I had been sleeping in since I had come home.

So, I tightened my brace, grabbed my phone and synced my Garmin Vivofit to see what it recorded for my sleep.  I use the Vivofit to get an idea of how much sleep I am getting and how restless my sleep was.   I checked out Garmin Connect when it was done, and I had a pretty fitful sleep between falling asleep and waking up at 3 am.  So any chance of me going back to sleep has now gone out the window. Sandra is upstairs in bed sleeping and I am alone downstairs, so I don’t have anyone to talk to about this.  My best bet is to get my mind off this and do some work.  Up until this point, I am only able to work a couple of hours a day before the pain of sitting in a chair gets to me. Early mornings have been the best for this so far, so I get to work on an email newsletter for a customer.

When Sandra wakes up, I tell her what happened and ask her to go through some of the neurological physical tests that I remembered doing at the hospital and doctor’s office.  Everything appeared to be ok, so I was hoping I dodged a bullet. Although I felt kind of funky walking up and down stairs, I chalked that up to being anxious about what happened.  The rest of the morning was uneventful.  My parents came up from Georgia the other day and were here for breakfast. Sandra had to go to work for a couple of hours and my parents, and I decided to go for a walk shortly after she left.

We did a fairly long and slow walk around our neighborhood and a couple behind us.  I felt pretty good, and it was getting my mind off of things.  A few minutes after we got back, I started feeling weird.  My left ear felt warm and kind of numb.  Then, that feeling moved down to the rest of my left side.  The rest of my left side didn’t feel as much numb as weak.  It is hard to describe because it was very slight and I had to think about it to notice it.  I tried to slough it off and lied down thinking I was just tired from the walk.  Then, it got a little more pronounced, and the worrying started to set in.  My parents kept asking me if there was anything they could do for me and I said no not knowing what they could do for me.  I decided to call my wife and ask her what she thought might help put my mind at ease.  I got her on the phone at work, and she started rattling off people to call; the neurosurgeons at Lahey, the Nurse Practitioner, the on-call person at Lahey.  I started thinking, “I have no idea who the neurosurgeons at Lahey are. I only met them after I woke up and one other time when they did a physical neuro test in the ICU.  Given our experience calling people for info at Lahey since discharge, I think to myself, “I have no interest in doing that in my current state of mind.” I then decided to call the nurse practitioner’s office, but I couldn’t remember her name. I found the paperwork after some help from my wife on the phone and called the NPs office.  I explained my situation and that I was looking for some direction as to what I should do. The person I spoke to ran through some quick stroke-like test, which I passed, but she told me that the NP wanted me to go to the emergency room.

As luck would have it, my truck has no gas.  So my dad and I start our journey to the emergency room looking for a place to get gas.  Our first stop is the Mobile around the corner from where I live, but all the pumps are being used and we set off to find another gas station.  We get off the first exit I know where there are gas stations, but I had forgotten that that road has construction and we’re met with gridlock at the end of the ramp. I guide my dad through the area to get to the next gas station, and he puts some gas in my truck.  Sandra texted me that she was at St. Joseph’s emergency room and I let her know that we were still getting gas.  I ask her to get the ball rolling for me in the emergency room, so they are ready and waiting for me.

Finally, thirty minutes after leaving home, my dad and I get to St. Joseph’s.  I get checked in immediately.  The triage nurse asks me why I am there and then realizes that I was there three weeks ago for my accident.  I get wheeled into a room and get into a hospital bed. My journey for the rest of the day begins here.  A doctor and nurse come in and start assessing my condition.  As it turns out, the doctor on duty was the same doctor that treated me when I was there three weeks ago. She says she is amazed at how good I look. Apparently, my face looked like it was split in half and splayed open.  Because there was so much blood, I was having a hard time breathing, so they had to intubate me.  She said they didn’t know what caused the crash and that the EMTs didn’t have much info regarding what caused the crash.  I told her what the eyewitness had told me and then we got back to why I was there today.  When we finish talking, I realize I hadn’t thanked her yet and begin to thank her for all she did to save my life.   She begins the neuro test and asks me about what I am experiencing.  I pass the neuro tests, and she lets me know that they are going to have an MRI done of my head and neck to make sure they aren’t missing anything even though I passed the physical neuro tests.

While I am waiting for the MRI, I get an IV put in, which I thought I was done with for at least the near future. The doctor comes back in and explains what they are going to do next, and I thank her again for all she did for me. I let her know that I don’t remember anything from our last encounter.  She said I was pretty agitated and had a hard time that day, but that I looked so much better today.  I let her know that I’ll need something for the MRI because I get claustrophobic in there.  She orders an Ativan for me, and I am off for my MRI.

I have to wait a while for my turn in the machine but the MRI tech is a triathlete, and we start talking about races, bikes, and Northeast Multisport.  I get through my time in the MRI tube without incident, and for some reason, this experience was not nearly as bad as my other experiences with MRI machines.  Either the Ativan chilled me out more than normal, or this machine was just not as loud as the others.  Sandra and my dad were waiting for me in the room when I got back.

I pass the MRI exam with flying colors.  My doctor had to leave at the end of her shift to catch a plane, so she passed all the information on to the next doctor. He would be conferring with the neurologists at St. Joseph’s who were conferring with the neurologist at Lahey.  Initially, they thought they would discharge me after the MRI, but then decided they should run a CTA with contrast on my neck and head to make sure they weren’t missing anything that could be contributing to my symptoms. As an added bonus, the contrast injection for the CTA required a second larger IV tube.  This one hurt no matter how I held my arm.

While I’m waiting to have my CTA done, there is a stroke code called, and everyone jumps on treating the patient.  So, I end up waiting a bit before I can get my CTA done, which is fine.  I got to talk to Sandra and my dad for a while.  The doctor went out to talk to my wife earlier about how good I looked, and Sandra recounted their conversation.  The girl who does the med check when you’re admitted came by to ask if I was the one who was involved in the bike accident several weeks ago in Merrimack.  I let her know that was indeed me.  She said she had read about me in the Merrimack forum and was worried for me.  She said I looked great and said she would keep an eye out for me in the future on the roads when I am back riding again. She also engaged some with Sandra and my dad.

My Best Blood Pressure Reading

Sandra and my dad noticed my blood pressure cuff was still trying to read my BP despite having been removed 15 minutes earlier when they put the new IV line in. They also noticed my oxygen level was low and started to wonder what theirs would read. We then passed around the finger sensor to see what everyone’s would read.  I told them they were messing with my medical history.  My dad and I were close to the same and Sandra, of course, had an initial reading of 100%.  I suggested they attach the electrodes to mess with those readings by dividing the four evenly between the two of them.

The CTA itself was relatively quick, and I passed that test as well.  I asked the doctor why I could have been experiencing my symptoms.  He said they could have been referred symptoms from post-concussion syndrome.  He added that I shouldn’t ignore them as such because it could always be something else that has developed post injury.  Awesome!

The med girl stopped by again to say goodbye and wish us well.  She reminded me that she would be on the lookout for me in her blue car. She also told me that she would honk whenever she sees me out on the roads.

I get my IVs taken out and get out of bed to start getting dressed to get the hell out of here.  The nurse comments on my eagerness to get up and dressed and lets me know that I have some electrodes still attached to my chest, but there is no charge for taking those home.  I go home with Sandra, and my dad follows in my truck.

That night is probably the best sleep I have had since I have come home from the hospital.  I slept from 10:30 pm to 5 am and did not take any meds to help me sleep. My Garmin data showed that I had a restful sleep and didn’t get up during the night. Woohoo!