I took myself to urgent care first thing Saturday morning, learned I had a pretty standard infection, received a prescription for some heavy duty ear drops, was told to take Tylenol for the pain, and went about my business. The provider advised that I would not feel better until late Sunday or early Monday, but that it seemed pretty run of the mill. It would appear that I am anything but run of the mill, and if something whacky can go wrong, it will.
Saturday night was not good. I was not compliant regarding the medication, and took Excedrin instead of Tylenol. My jaw became so sore that it hurt to chew - hello scrambled eggs for dinner. I slept little and figured that Sunday would bring improvement. On Sunday, Brad went up to Maine to see our girls for the day, but I felt too crappy to go. I went to church then came home. As the day wore on, I felt myself deteriorating. The pain became so much worse, that I was taking 2 Excedrin every 3 hours. I couldn't chew anything and my ear was completely blocked. I hesitated to bring myself back to urgent care, in part because the idea of the drive was beyond what I could manage, but also because Brad was not home and I did not want him making the 2 hour drive home worried about me. When he arrived home, we went right to urgent care. I figured they'd give me some antibiotics and I'd go home.
Because at this point I was not able to completely close my jaw due to swelling around my ear, the provider was planning to send me to the emergency room of the closest hospital (Winchester Hospital, in Winchester MA). As she and I were speaking, a wave of dark dizziness washed over me - I told her it was happening then out I went. I opened my eyes to see a stranger standing over me telling me that I had just had a seizure and asked if I had a history of seizures.
What? Of course I do not have a history of seizures. WHAT? A seizure? What the BLEEP just happened? I was immediately alert and able to answer all questions. I had not lost control of my motor skills or any parts/functions in my body. The provider advised that she had called 911 as per their protocol and that I would be going to Winchester in first class style. I told her to go get my husband before any fire engines and the ambulance pulled in. Poor Brad. We had literally been texting 5 minutes before and now two people are running to him and bringing him to me.
I went to Winchester for a CT scan to ensure the swelling around my ear had not morphed into something bad. They were going to admit me, so I sent Brad home. Our plan was that he would go to work for a while Monday, then come get me when I was discharged. Not long after he left, the ER doctor came in and advised that he and the ENT doctor determined that my ear wasn't as much of a concern as the seizure was. They wanted me to go another hospital for an MRI. I told him that, despite having zero medical training, the passing out was due to too much Excedrin, no sleep and very little to eat. He advised that, due to his medical training, that sounded good, but it would not have caused that reaction. He said that the seizure was low on the scale, but they wanted to ensure they covered all bases. He wouldn't send me if I refused to go, but he thought it seemed like the right thing to do, so I went.
I was on the midnight express to Lahey Hospital (Burlington MA) and there I remained until 1 p.m. on Monday. I had an MRI (thank you Diazepam!!) and it was clear. They fed me, medicated me, and helped me feel better. I went home, and today, two weeks later, am nearly better. It was a pretty good infection and it's in no hurry to go, but it is going and I am getting better.
Throughout the entire ordeal, I wasn't worried or afraid. What I was most focused on was how fast it all happened. One second I'm speaking and looking forward to going home and the next I'm in an ambulance hooked up to an EKG and going in the opposite direction from home.
When I got home Monday, everything was exactly as I'd left it. The sofa blanket I pushed aside when Brad got home was right there - I always put the blankets away at night when I go to bed, but this was right on the sofa where I had been sitting. My water glass was on the end table and not in the sink, where I'd have left it. I thought I was coming right back. And I left everything as if I was. How many people who went to an ER that night didn't come home? How often do we imagine "later" and delude ourselves into thinking there automatically will be a "later". Just because there always has been doesn't guarantee anything. Is my life in order enough so that if I have no more "laters" everything makes sense? The answer is no and Brad and I added that to our immediate list of things to do.
I also spent lots of time thinking of what I take for granted. Do I appreciate the people around me enough? I like to think I do. I cull the weeds and step away from people who are not bringing positive energy into my days and who do nothing to try to be positive. I remove people from my life who are hurtful and who aren't deserving of my energy. I do not abide by the "but you HAVE to speak to this person or you HAVE to speak to that person". No - I don't. I keep my tribe limited to those people I care for and who care back. Two way street or nothing. Appreciating myself is on the list - if I don't care about me and for me, no one else will. It's my job and the responsibility belongs to no one else.
The experience shook me up and I can't stop thinking about how fast everything can change. I'll be working on ensuring things are ready for when there is no more "later" for me. I challenge you to do the same. It's not easy or pleasant to think about, but that's life. If you feel like you can't, I say to you - if not you, then who? Run your life - own your life. Cherish the "nows" and look forward to whatever "laters" you get. Fill your life with people who matter to you. If there's someone you miss, reach out to them and let them know. If there is something you want to do - do it. Live the best life you can and enjoy every second of it.