Normally, I don’t have much of an excuse when I don’t put out content on a regular basis for my one adoring fan, (Hi, Mom!) but this quiet stretch is different. For the last week and a half, I have been helping Budge as she recovers from a blindsiding and vicious attack of vertigo of unknown origin. Here’s how it’s all gone down.
Last Wednesday, she and I were shopping in Target. We were near the Outdoor Living section and it is a very good thing that we were because one second she was fine and we were chatting away like normal and the next second her face went ashen and she informed me she HAD to sit down. She said she was uncontrollably dizzy and felt like she was going to vomit at any minute. We sat for about ten minutes before we managed to slowly and painfully make our way to the checkout. At the checkout line, another wave of dizziness and nausea overcame Budge again so she crept over to the in-store Starbucks and sat down to wait on me.
After another ten minutes of deep breathing and panic, we were able to get to the car and start home. I had to pull over once because she was certain she was going to hurl, but nothing happened and we made it to the house. I put her to bed immediately and went on taking care of the daily chores thinking it was just a bit of nausea and she’d wake up in an hour or two just as well as ever.
I got it HALF right.
Two hours later, Budge woke up in a panic and yelled for me to bring her a bucket. I took one step towards the bathroom to get the requested item when my poor Budge erupted. She tossed up her entire baked spaghetti lunch from her favorite Italian restaurant. Then she tossed up her breakfast bar. Then dinner from the night before. This Krakatoic output continued until she expelled Christmas dinner from 2003 and she finally subsided into a miserable bout of dry heaving. She and I have been together for sixteen years and we’ve endured more than our fair share of upchucking. We’ve dealt with food poisoning, stomach flu, and good old fashioned nausea bugs, but in all that time, I’d NEVER seen my wife as sick as she was for that restless hour. The strangest symptom was her eyes. They were vibrating from side to side like a bubble level on a rodeo bull. It was disconcerting. I later found out this affliction is called “nystagmus.” I guess that is Latin for “wildly vibrating eyeballs.”
It took about an hour, but by breathing through my open mouth to blunt the effects of the hideous smell of stomach contents, I was able to get the carpet cleaned up, the bed cleaned up, and the Budge cleaned up. She drifted off into a fitful sleep and I figured she’d miss the next day of school and the bug would run its course and all would be well.
That plan hit the bricks at 3:00 AM when Budge sat bolt upright in bed and groped for the bucket again. After ten unbroken minutes of dry heaving, she weakly asked if we could go to the ER and I was in full agreement. We rolled in to Hillcrest Hospital in Simpsonville at 3:30 AM and immediately got a bay. Then the wheels fell off the wagon. At some point in the dim past, Hillcrest was a good little hospital. I was born there when it still had a baby ward. Several members of my family died there for one reason or another. Of course, that was back when the medical profession was run by doctors and not accountants and the emphasis was on helping people and not making money. Such is not now the case.
I know several doctors, my own physician and psychiatrist among them, who are justifiably proud of graduating in the top five percent of their medical school class. By definition, if a “top five” percent exists, a “bottom five” percent also exists. For years I wondered who would hire such and inept group of doctors. Now I know. The Greenville Hospital System must have held a job fair in the “Just Barely Doctors” dorm at every medical college in country and sent the new hires to the ER at Hillcrest.
We were in the ER for 17 HOURS. Seventeen. SEVENTEEN. HOURS. For twelve of those hours, Budge was the guinea pig for a Yankee woman doctor with a tree trunk sized chip on her shoulder who knows as much about medicine as I know about piloting the space shuttle. My beloved got an MRI, a CAT scan, a full blood panel, and several more tests all involving pointy things jabbing into my wife’s tender flesh. Brunhilda found nothing. Am I relieved that Budge didn’t have anything serious? Yes, very. Do I think she needed to be subjected to every test in the last medical textbook this sawbones read? Not so much. So after hours of fruitless testing, Brunhilda finally realized she had no clue what she was doing and decided to let the adults have a turn.
As a result, Budge was transferred by ambulance to Greenville Memorial Hospital. We stayed from Wednesday night to LATE Saturday night in room 2328 racking up charges only to have a bottom fiver neurologist and a pretty fair ENT look Budge over and say her symptoms were “idiopathic.” That is doctor-ese for “danged if I know what’s wrong but let’s run some more tests because the mark up on supplies is so good!”
I you have been reading this blog for any amount of time, you are well aware that I do not suffer fools gladly and I am quite liberal in my definition of “fool”. With Budge laid up and unable to contain my baser instincts, I very untactfully let a lot of people know what my opinion of their ability to practice medicine was. For example, I told Brunhilda in no uncertain terms exactly what she could do with that stethoscope hanging around her neck. It won’t surprise anyone that, by the time we left on Saturday, the nurses, orderlies, doctors, and security guards were very excited to see me go.
Today marks a week that we have been home. Budge is still suffering from dizziness. We have been to three MORE doctors this week as follow-ups from the hospital debacle and the upshot is we know a ton of things my love DOESN’T have. She missed all of last week at school and with standardized testing coming up, that has here in a tizzy. Next week is Spring Break, and we have a couple more appointments scheduled then. For the moment though, a ton of tests and around $25oo worth of co-pays later, we still don’t know what’s wrong with her. The best we’ve gotten so far is “whatever it is, it’ll run it’s course, probably.”
So keep your feet clean and keep us in your prayers.