Monday was mostly an average day. The only problem was that instead of my usual headache, one where the pain fluctuates in intensity, since Saturday, it had just been getting harder....and harder...and harder...until I was sitting in Geography class Monday night and started crying.
Y'all know me. I do not cry over a headache.
I get out of Geography and call Mom because the last time the pain was this bad was when I had the staph meningitis in October 2009. No, I'm not kidding. She told me to call Duke. I called Duke. Duke told me to go up there, especially considering I hadn't had my shunt looked at in a couple years.
So, I'm in my room, I call Kayleigh. She's the RA that was on duty because it was Monday. Poor girl, had to deal with me needing paramedics two Mondays in a row. The paramedics got there, checked me out, and then we had to wait for a transport truck to get me to Duke. (Regular ambulances can't leave the county. Only transport trucks can, they're basically long-distance ambulances.) It felt like a replay of the night I had staph meningitis, honestly. The transport truck, the paramedic treating me like I was a hypochondriac...it was kinda freaky.
Anyway, I got to Duke at 9:30 pm on the dot. Holly was sleeping because it was her night off, but I was fine being alone. I went through typical triage and got an EKG because my heart was racing even though I was breathing normally, but it came back normal and they just said it was because of the pain. They told me I had to go to the waiting room for a bit. This is where the night got hellacious.
I sat in the ER waiting room for six hours and fifteen minutes. Most of the time, I was in tears. I have never been in Duke's ER that backed up before. One lady I talked to said she checked in at 2:30 pm and she didn't get called back until after midnight. Apparently I picked the worst day in the world to need Duke. I was texting Mom and Holly all night, and Mom got so pissed off that she started calling the neurosurgery resident on call and basically yelled at her until they ordered me a CT scan and shunt series about 12:30 am. Yay progress...except for the fact that after those tests, they sent me back out to the waiting room still in tears, no pain meds, and I didn't get the results.
I FINALLY got in a bed in the ER at 3:45 am. The nurses and doctors were very sweet and very sympathetic and got me Dilaudid as soon as they could, but it was still 4:30 am before I got the medicine. They did neurological exams to make sure that I hadn't had a stroke, and kept coming in and out asking me questions and setting up fluids and whatnot. So I didn't sleep. The Dilaudid helped me relax, but I wasn't sleeping. Somewhere in the 7:00 hour, a doctor came in and told me the first scans were normal so they were ordering a shunt flow test. They kept me doped up on Dilaudid and Phenergan until then, and I still don't know how I didn't sleep. It was weird, it was like I knew everything that was going on, and my eyes were open, but I wasn't thinking or talking or doing anything, I was just laying there...it was bizarre.
Around 8:30, I got taken to Nuclear Medicine for the shunt flow test. Basically, they stick a giant needle into the pump of my shunt, draw out some spinal fluid to test for infection, inject radioactive dye into my shunt and take pictures of it, then wait 20-25 minutes and take more pictures. It took over an hour and hurt really bad because there was a lot of pushing and pressing and stuff right on my shunt/head. By the time I got back to my ER room, I was almost in tears again, so the doctor ordered me this mix of Benadryl (because apparently I now react to Dilaudid, the only painkiller that works on me. awesome), Reglan (another painkiller), and caffeine. They said every patient they give this to is healed of their pain....it did almost nothing for me.
So I lay there and ACTUALLY SLEPT A LITTLE (Hallelujah and Praise the Lord), and just after noon I get a text from Mom. She says she just got a certified letter in the mail from Betsy Johnson (the local ER near Campbell that I went to last week for the stomach virus) saying that the blood they drew tested positive for MRSA (the medicine resistant staph that I am a carrier for). So she demanded that Duke draw some blood. The Betsy Johnson ER only drew from one site, so they said that it could've just been contaminated in the lab, so Duke said they'd draw from two sites to be sure. But there was no MRSA in my spinal fluid, so that was good. That's the "unanswered question" I'm waiting on. Blood cultures take a few days to grow, so if there is MRSA in my blood, it won't show up until Friday or so. They'll call me whenever they know, and if it's positive, I'll be back in the hospital. Prayers for no infection would be great. I need to finish this semester on time.
Well, long story short, they insisted on discharging me since it'll take days for the blood test to come back. I spent all afternoon on the phone with my neurologist in Raleigh, who couldn't see me but was going to call in a steroid, Holly managed to get out of work on emergency, and she and Michael picked me up from Duke about 4:30. They bought me some Chick-Fil-A, since it was 5:00 pm on Tuesday and the last time I had eaten was 11:30 am Monday, then drove me to the pharmacy in Lillington where I got the hospital's prescriptions for oral Dilaudid and Phenergan filled, and found out my neurologist didn't call in the steroid because I accidentally gave them the wrong phone number. Then, Holly and Michael drove me back to campus, I took a nice, hot shower, doped myself up on pain and nausea meds, and promptly PASSED THE HECK OUT at about 8:00, which is probably pretty understandable since I had slept less than 2 hours in the previous 36 hours.
God definitely showed up in different ways, though:
1. Taylor, Kyla, Bruno, and Caitie all kept in almost constant (except for when they were, ya know, sleeping) communication with me to help keep me from feeling alone. Especially Taylor. Sweetest thing I think anyone has ever said to me, "I almost want to get on a plane and come be with you so you don't have to be alone." No one in my life has ever even said they wanted to do that any time I've been in the hospital, not even Matt, but Taylor did. That is just one shining example of many as to why that kid is one of my best friends/big brother.
2. Taylor put out a Twitter message to his followers asking for prayer for me. And I could definitely feel the prayers, because I was never scared. Pretty sure that's the first time in my life that I've ever been in a hospital and not been scared or worried about what was going on. And I was ALONE. That is absolutely 100% the work of God answering the prayers of my sweet friends and the kind souls who follow Taylor on twitter.
3. Yesterday afternoon, just after I got the whole MRSA text from Mom, the hospital chaplain stopped by. I don't remember everything that was said because I was so drugged, but I do remember telling him basically my entire life story, him saying how encouraged he was by it to hear of the Lord's faithfulness throughout my life, and then he prayed over me. Absolutely a message straight from God, no doubt in my mind.
4. Holly was acting manager at her restaurant, but when she called her boss saying it was an emergency and that she was my only family in a 3-hour radius, the boss sent someone in to relieve her. I don't know how I would've gotten back to school if it weren't for that.
5. The ER gave me oral Dilaudid, even though the doc said they don't normally do that because it's such a heavy drug, and my neurologist agreed to call in a steroid to break the headache (it's worked before) without even seeing me. That saves me from having to figure out a way to get to my neurologist when Holly works all the time and Mom can't take off work because she's been out with her own health stuff too much.
Those are just the biggest ones that I can think of right now. I was telling Taylor, Bruno, Kyla, and Caitie over and over again how good God was being to me. And they all kept telling me how proud they were of me for staying so positive, but really, I couldn't help it. I was seeing God show up all over the place, and it was just natural, like I didn't have to go searching for Him, I just naturally found him. Couple that with the fact that my shunt was fine and I didn't have to have emergency surgery, and yeah, I was feeling really good.
God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good. Enough said.