Have you ever had one of those weeks or experiences that you wish you will never experience ever again? I have had one of those such weeks. Though not all was bad. It started on Saturday when I was involved in a father and son activity. I was building a skate board ramp for my sons. 1.2 metres long, 600mm wide and 400mm high.
A lot of excitement was generated with this activity and it seemed that suddenly our backyard was inundated with many of the neighbourhood kids; some I knew, others I didn’t. And so I had a instant fan club of as they gathered around, helping me, offering suggestions and just watching the progress and there was a few “Aha’s, that’s what your doing!”
However not all went well. While cutting a piece of timber with the drop saw, something flung up, and hit my eye. I was wearing safety glasses, and it seems that it flung up underneath it. It hurt like “Billy Oh!” and after some time out and investigation, it seemed that there was nothing in it and the work continued. Of course kids being kids, they didn’t want to wait for the glue to dry and so a weekend of much enjoyment followed and surprise surprise it held together.
However not all was well with the eye. I woke up on Monday morning with it swollen and bruised, red and inflamed. Being a typical Aussie male, I had the attitude.. “It will be right mate” and used some generic eye drops to soothe it. That night, I was in so much pain, I took some panadol forte and made the decision to see the doctor the following day. The G.P. was terrific, made an appointment for me to see a specialist and within a few hours I was in his office, having my eye checked out.
My own initial assessment was right, there was nothing in it and the specialist said it was infected, possibly through the grazing of the eye lid by what had hit it. Two different eye drops were prescribed, one to be used 2 hourly, the other 4 hourly and a further appointment made to see him again on Thursday. The eye drops brought some deep measure of relief to the eye.
Because of the swollenness and pain in the eye, I decided to skip going to college on Wednesday. This decision wasn’t an easy one, as it means I have no more days left up my sleeve to take time away from class. College allows for 3 days of absence without it being detrimental to our passing. Because college started its semester later than normal, due to its relocation to new premises, it meant its normal mid semester break didn’t fall in line with the school holiday season. I had prior booked a holiday up to the Gold Coast to spend time with my family and so had used 2 of those days up.
But I digress. Wednesday night my wife and I come home from a weekly marriage enrichment course that we have been enjoying. Sometime during the journey I realised my throat was swollen and sore. By the time we got home, I was shaking and delirious with a high temperature. And so I went to bed. Thursday morning (yesterday) after my wife spoke about seeing the doctor, I made the decision to call the ambulance and go to the hospital instead. I knew I was dehydrated and needed a drip. When the ambo’s came, I hardly had the energy to stand up, was shaking all over and had a massive headache.
At the hospital, I was given a ice block to suck on and waited to be triaged. The doctor took me through a series of tests which involved watching his finger, moving my limbs, wiggle toes and whether I could feel his touch. I knew I wouldn’t be able to wiggle my big toe on my right foot and that he was in for a shock when he flopped my right arm around. It’s a standard party trick with my specialist, who will often bring students and other specialists into the room for observation. For some reason my muscles don’t relax fully after repetitive movement. And in laymen’s terms, because the muscles don’t fully relax, tension is built up, and they shake themselves out. A little like a compressed spring, will spring bounce up and down when released. The look on the doctors face was priceless and he mumbled something about never seeing that before.
Because of the headache and the way the fever suddenly came upon me, they were worried about meningitis and thoroughly checked me out for a rash. They also ordered a number of tests, that included a CT Scan, standard blood tests and a lumbar puncture. For those who know some of my story – my experience of lumbar punctures hasn’t been pleasant. It’s a procedure that involves the inserting of a needle into the spine to tap the spinal fluid.
The first time I went through this was 4 years previously and it was an agonising experience that words cannot fully explain and so the time leading up to this test was one of prayer. In the procedure room, the doctor explained to the students who were there to watch, that its important to allow the local aesthetic to work and give it at least 5 minutes to take or longer and not rush the procedure. To which I put in my two cents and said yes, I agree with that. While I won’t call it a pleasant experience by any means, and I had to fight to remain calm while feeling the pushing of the needle, the only pain was a brief stab as the needle went into where it was supposed to go. I thank God that all the tests came back negative. The head nurse said that they do these tests to dismiss their concerns and not that they want to confirm them.
I want to express the how much of a trooper my wife Joanne is. She sat by my side the whole time; apart from a brief time where she went home for a lunch and a nap while I was taken away for the Xrays and CT scans. It was up in the air whether I would be staying the night or be released to go home. And after some discussion with the nursing staff around 10pm, it was thought that I would be staying over night and be released in the morning.
Irony worked its sarcastic way, for as soon as Joanne left, saying she would go and come back in the morning- the doctor arrived to tell me the good news that the tests were all negative. He mentioned that my eye infection was probably the initial outworking of the virus and that I had been hit by a nasty virus…commonly known as the flu. He finished with the words, you can stay till the morning or go home. I couldn’t get onto the phone quick enough to ring Jo to come back and thankfully she was only a few minutes away from the hospital when I got through to her.
There is much criticism of hospitals and staff in this country. I think for the most part its misguided. And while mistakes can be and are made – take my first lumbar puncture experience and deaths do happen because of misdiagnosis, I think that these cases happen very seldom in comparison to the good that happens. Overall I commend the doctors and staff for the way the looked after us and though they were rushed off their feet;they made time to tell us what was happening every step of the way.