Posted online in Seniornet:
Subject: Re: The report
Date: Tue, Oct. 17, 2000 22:50 p.m.
First let me describe the experience as I remember it:
I recall that I was in a kind of strange darkness the entire time. But I was also in a state of super-alertness at the same time, and alive to everything around me. I can recall what was said and felt at any moment. I clearly remember the placement of the IV in the ambulance and the difficulty the medic had inserting it into the back of my hand. I couldn't hold my eyes open for more than a few seconds at a time -- throughout the entire ordeal of all those painful hours. I remember the almost unbearable pain in my lower abdomen that wouldn't abate and how hard it was to lie on the gurney when I wanted to double over and couldn't ... I remember asking for something for the pain and being told that the doctor would order something soon ... recall being asked (when I first arrived in emergency what I'd eaten and answering, "I think a green peach." I did have a very hard peach with yogurt early in the evening, long before bedtime.
Now for the information on the Physician's Record form recently picked up from the hospital:
Vital signs: B/P 140/0, HR 68, RR 12 (handwriting unclear) and I don't know what RR stands for -- felt well yesterday. No fever, chills - mild ...(can't read - under physical examination there are several sentences that are illegible), what follows is: "color good, bp upon arrival 147/56, temp. 97.2)
Under a number of boxes all marked non-contributory (cardiac, respiratory, skin signs (dry/warm), pain (abdomen), GI - nausea, GU non-contributory. Musc/Skel - non contributory, Psych, non-contributory, Neuro "alert/age appropriate, motor - (15 in a circle). "There are no obvious abnormal soft tissue masses or calcifications identified. No evidence of free intraperitoneal air is noted. Chest appears unremarkable." (So much for test results.) On one page are the words "After eating heavy spicy meal at 10 pm became ill at midnight." Felt well yesterday. Later entry, "assigned to rm - c2 via AMR ambulance - abd pain after eating fruit."
Much of this is mumbo-jumbo to you, as it is to me. There are some anomalies that defy explanation:
1. I never eat spicy foods, especially at night. I did not that night. I remember clearly what I ate and what I said to the doctors in emergency. (Could it be what Rick ate at ten o'clock? But that's too bizarre to even consider.) How did his diagnosis turn up on my hospital record?
2. I couldn't keep my eyes open and remained in a kind of trance state for the entire time. I remember that I was seated in a chair in the reception room of the emergency section for a very long time, once the tests had been completed -- where I received an injection in my upper arm -- but that was many hours after I'd arrived at the hospital. I see by the report that it was "0645 Demoral - 50 mg and 0645 (this may be the same) Phenergan - 50 mg.
3. The nurses called a taxi at some point and I was sent home. I remember the middle eastern (Sikh?) driver and his companion. I remember that it was still dark. I remember distinctly entering the house to get the money to pay the $14.00 cab far and returning with a ten dollar bill and the rest in quarters taken from a bowl in my kitchen. I remember climbing into bed while it is still dark (I thought it was about 5:30 am or so).
Second anomaly: According to this report it was not 5:30 am, but 12:50 pm when the last entry is made in the record. It was broad daylight. The "darkness" was internal. I simply had never opened my eyes, apparently. I can explain it no other way. There is no error in this since there are ten separate entries by almost as many people -- each in different handwritings and done at different times during the long night.
There was/is nothing physically wrong with me. No explanation for the physical attack that I can understand. The trance-like state lasted at least twelve hours and wore off completely after folding into the opiates I'd been given and that put me to sleep until 8:00 on Friday moring, the 18th - leaving no trace of the "illness."
Conclusions? Lots of thoughts about this in the days since I woke up knowing precisely when Rick died. Still processing the experience but some things are clear to me. It's late now and I'm needing to get to bed soon. Will let you know more tomorrow. And, yes, it is appropriate for this Atheist/Agnostic folder since those conclusions have strong spiritual implications. Though my atheism remains intact, the sense of my "religious" underpinnings has been deepened. And, no, I see no inconsistency in that statement. It just may be another example of the conflicting truths that rule my life. There are few simple answers to complex questions. It's all in the living of it, I think.
Maybe we can talk about that ... .