- NHL Treatment
- Hodgkin's Treatment
- Clinical Trials
- Monoclonal Antibodies
- Types of NHL
Lymphoma and Pets
A Ride in an Ambulance to the Emergency Room: The Scariest Night of my Life
We were all just sitting around the table after we had eaten, and I was anticipating the belated birthday cake that Kaitlin's dad had made, when all of a sudden I noticed it was becoming slightly difficult to talk. It felt like a muscle had seized up in my neck; my lower jaw kept tensing and pulling backwards and to the right. I told Kaitlin and her parents that something was going on, and then I got up and walked around the living room trying to relax and get rid of the "charlie horse" feeling.
Unfortunately it seemed like it was getting worse, so I phoned my mom to ask her advice. I guess my speech was becoming noticeably slurred because my mom didn't waste any time in telling me to get off the phone with her and call 911. Hearing that really scared me, because I thought that maybe I was just having one of those muscle spasms that would relieve itself in a few minutes. I went to tell Kaitlin what Mom said, but we decided it would probably be fine if she drove me to the hospital instead of calling an ambulance. That was short-lived however, as the pain and tensing feeling began to work its way around behind my head, down my neck, and into my shoulders and upper back. Kaitlin's mom called 911, and I went to lie down on the couch; the seizing pain getting worse and worse.
The ambulance arrived in less than three minutes and two paramedics came into the house to check my vital signs, and ask what was going on. By this time the muscle seizing had become so bad that I could not even talk properly, so it was really frustrating to try to answer their questions, and I had to motion to Kaitlin to help me answer them. After checking to make sure my heart rate and breathing were, as of yet, unaffected, the paramedic said "well, there's not much we can do at this point except offer you a ride to the hospital." Kaitlin and I followed them out to the ambulance while Kaitlin's dad got in his car and raced to my house to get all my medications and cancer binder with the plan of meeting us at the hospital.
The ride in the ambulance seemed to take an eternity. The paramedic sitting in the back with me was really friendly, but that became an annoyance because I was finding it nearly impossible to talk by this point, and I had to tell him I wasn't going to be able to hold up my side of the conversation.
We arrived at Royal Jubilee Hospital in about 12-15 minutes, and I was escorted into the emergency ward reception area where Kaitlin's dad was waiting with all my stuff. After answering a bunch of questions about what was going on, they brought me into one of the rooms and a nurse began checking my vital signs, and asking me to describe, as best I could, what was going on. By this point I was hunched over and my jaw was permanently pulled back and to the right, so I sounded and looked like I was having a stroke or something. Kaitlin's dad called me Quasimodo.
After being checked out by a doctor, I was told to hang in there for a bit, as they needed to wait for a specific drug to arrive from the pharmacy. I sat on the chair shortly, and then went to lie on the gurney in hopes that getting off my feet might help to relax my spasm-inflicted muscles.
During this time Kaitlin talked to my mom again, who diagnosed the problem over the phone: She believed that I was having some kind of reaction to one of my anti-nausea medications, Prochlorperazin (Stemetil). Click that link to Wikipedia and scroll down the page to "side effects" for a pretty good description of what happened to me. The doctor came back a few minutes later to check on me and was very impressed, in his words, that "a pediatrician is able to make a diagnosis over the phone like that." You rock, Mom. She was correct though, of course; the doctor agreed that it was some kind of "lock jaw" reaction. Within a few minutes the nurse was giving me a needle and saying I should be feeling better within 20 minutes. As I lay on the gurney, Kaitlin sat beside me and rubbed my back and shoulders in a somewhat successful attempt to relax me.
It took closer to half an hour I think, but the muscle spasms slowly-but-surely subsided, and I was able to sit up and talk normally again. The only thing that was left was a great deal of tightness in my back and shoulders, and a couple of terribly shaking hands. After getting some pills and instructions from the doctor, we were able to leave, and Kaitlin's dad drove us back home.
As I am writing this, my hands are still shaking thinking about how indescribably scared I was last night. I am not exaggerating with the title of this blog post even in the slightest. I have never felt so completely powerless in my own body; so weak and so out of control. There are tears welling up in my eyes as I think about how worried I know I made Kaitlin, my parents, and her parents, and I am truly sorry that they had to be put through something like that with me. I know that there is nothing I could have done, so an apology is unwarranted, but I still feel bad about the whole thing.
So that was my Sunday Night Dinner Adventure for May 27th, 2012. I am going for Part II of my first chemo treatment at noon today, so if anything eventful happens this afternoon I will blog about it tonight or tomorrow.
Thanks for reading, and again, I'm sorry to those of you closest to me for having put you through such an ordeal. I definitely won't be taking Stemetil ever again.