My Recent Visit to the ER
About a week ago, I woke up with pain in the left side of my chest and some difficulty taking a deep breath. I felt as though the problem was likely muscular but called my nurse to be certain since I wanted to be extra cautious knowing that I have a PICC line and that blood clots can occur.
The nurse said that I needed to go immediately to the ER and that this had to be taken seriously. I called a friend to drive me to the hospital. I actually felt well enough to drive, but it seemed better not to take the risk if something really was wrong.
The craziest part of my nine hour stay at the ER was the two doctors that tried to convince me that Lyme disease is a "moon-beam diagnosis" and that my doctors clearly had me on therapy so that they could profit from it, not because I actually needed it. I calmly told them that I understood the debate between the IDSA and ILADS and felt well-informed. When the ER doctor asked me if I was seeing an Infectious Disease (ID) doctor for my "supposed" Lyme disease, I responded, "No, that is the last place I would go. They don't know a thing about the disease."
A CT scan was performed. In the middle of the scan as they pushed a dye into my arm under pressure, they infiltrated about 30ccs of fluid into my arm. It felt like someone ripped my arm right off. Suddenly, everyone was more concerned with the egg size pocket of fluid in my arm than the fact that I could not breathe without pain.
After many blood tests, an X-ray and a CT scan, I was told that I did have several "extreme" clots and that these were at the tip of my PICC line and in my right atrium and possibly right ventricle. Ouch. That is not good news. I left that night with paper in hand suggesting that my heart had blood clots. I knew this was serious. It was at this moment that I felt the most fearful than I had at any moment since my Lyme journey began. I could actually die. The orders I had from the ER were to see the surgeon that put the line in the next morning. I, of course, complied.
The surgeon read the radiology report and said "this is very serious and the ER should never have let you go home". He continued "you should be in the hospital with this kind of report". Oh, great. More good news.
Fortunately, the surgeon decided to go review the scan himself and not rely on the interpretation from the ER. After about 20 minutes, he came back and his comments where the LAST thing I ever expected.
He said to me something like "How do I explain this to you? We have these people we call the night hawks which means that we send your scan to a foreign country to be interpreted and they simply misread your results. I had another radiologist review the report after I reviewed it and we agree that there is nothing wrong with your scan and no reason to have to remove your IV line. Have a nice day."
I do have to say that the surgeon was very kind and caring but what a two day experience.
I had heard that some medical work is outsourced, but never expected that my scan was being sent offshore for interpretation. Never once did I consider that the interpretation might be entirely wrong.
Well, in the end, it all turned out for the good. It reminded me though how few people really understand the struggles we go through with Lyme disease and how grateful I am for the few doctors that do truly care about making us well.