I’ll be running a new series of articles titled “A Woman’s Journey Through the US Health Care System”.
This new series of articles is rather personal for me. The reason it’s personal is because, Kim, the author of this series of articles, is my little sister.
Kim is afflicted with a disease that would remain undiagnosed for seven years.
This is her first article in the series.
Okay here I go.
Hi, my name is Kim and I am here to tell you my journey through our health care system for the last 7 years to receive a diagnosis and finally some treatment.
This is a story with a lot of twists and turns but bear with me and hopefully I am able to give just one person some hope that there is help out there if you do not give up.
All of my life I was an absolutely healthy person. Never used sick days and I was constantly on the go. It was in the year 2000 that those things changed. At that time I was working as an LPN on 12 hr weekend days, I worked at a Dr.s office during the week 10-12hrs a day, and also did private care some nights through the week. I had a 15 year old daughter who was a cheerleader and a gymnist, my son was 13 and played football so my life was completely full.
One day in June of that year I went to work at the Dr.s office(I still work for them full-time) when I suddenly had a crushing headache over my right eye and the right side of my face went numb. Of course I thought I was having a stroke. My doctor took me to a room and examined me only to tell me I was having a migraine. Now, I was 33 and suddenly I have a migraine. It made no sense to me but he gave me a shot of demerol and sent me home. I slept all night and when I woke the next morning I had no headache so I went to work. Of course being a TYPE A personality I wanted to know why suddenly I was having a migraine. My doctor explained that my sister had migraines for years and it was just family history. I explained that was her history not mine but he said that I had my plate too full and I needed to slow down and get more rest or I may get more of them. Well I wasn’t happy with that explanation but he was the doctor.( my family doc for 30 years). I, of course, did not slow down and suffered two more over the next couple of months.
Then, one early morning in August, I awoke straight up out of bed with an incredibly horrible pain in the left side of my back. It hurt so bad I could not catch my breath. I got up and took some Ibuprophen and tried to rub it to get rid of it. By 5 am I called my doc and he said I needed to go to the ER and have them call him. So I did. They did a chest xray,an EKG checked my blood oxygen and everything was normal. So the ER doc proceeded to tell me I had pulled a muscle, which of course I argued because I could not palpate where the pain was, he gave me pain pills and muscle relaxers and sent me home. I called my doc and he said stay home and rest for a few days and then come in and see him. During those 2 days I could not lay down at all because it was too painful, so I spent that time trying to breathe and setting up sleeping. Finally I was so miserable I went to see my doc. As soon as he entered the room he knew something was wrong. He put his stethescope to my right lung and proceeded to tell me I had thrown a blood clot to my lung and I needed to go get a CT scan immediately. Which I did. It showed diffuse pnuemonia in the left lung and some starting in my right. He and I argued, and of course, into the hospital I went. I had a 105 temp by the time I reached the hospital. I spent 5 days on an IV antibiotic and on an oral antibiotic along with pain shots and pain meds in my IV so I could lay back in bed. I was basically unconscious during that time. But I still wanted to know why I had been so sick and why did I have a blod clot. Doc told me they could not find a blood clot in my lung due to all the pneumonia but he thought I had one but had no reason why. I left the hospital and during my follow-up with the doc I told him I could hardly swallow it hurt so bad. Well come to find out my left diaphragm had been paralyzed during the pneumonia (or the cause of the pneumonia) which was stretching my esophagus closed. So to the gastroenterologist (GI doc for short) I went. On the way in the building the back of my left calf was really painful. Now being a nurse you would think I would know what was wrong but I chose to ignore it. So I got my esophagus stretched (they did an EGD and ran a tube down my throat to stretch it open) and home I went. The calf pain was worse but I blew it off to being out of shape after being in the hospital. I put heat on it and elevated. The next morning I woke up, tried to stand, and fell straight to the floor. My right leg was swollen, red, and hot to the touch. I now knew I had a bloodclot in my leg. I called my doc who got me right in for an ultrasound. Not only did I have one but I had three. One in my groin, one behind my knee, and one in my calf. Of course I was not allowed to move and was readmitted to the hospital for the second time in as many weeks. Now, not only do I still have the pneumonia and the pain in my back that still makes it hard to lay flat, but now I HAVE to lay flat on my back with my right leg elevated.
That is the end for this time. I will continue this story within the week.
Thank you for reading and watch for the rest of the story, it is just getting started.
Never take your health for granted and take good care of yourself in the meantime. Also, thanks to my big brother Doug for allowing me to write my story. He knows I need to do it as therapy.
Give thanks for what you have,