"I AM" Bi-Polar
I have had bi-polar II since I was a teenager but wasn’t diagnosed until I was 38 when I had what I call a “nervous breakdown.” Since I was in my late teens I have always known it was depression but didn’t know it was bi-polar II. This is not something I share with everyone, although all of my close friends know, but that is because most of them have known me for over 25 years and they do not judge me. This is not true though for the general public. In a way I am lucky that my disability is “hidden”. But this can also cause problems especially when I am going through a hard time. People say I need to suck it up or get over it. But sometimes those things just aren’t so easy when you have bi-polar and other chronic illnesses.
On Wednesday Jan 25th, 2012 I got a pain in my back, didn’t think much of it other than maybe my back was “out”. Then on Thursday my back stopped hurting but my right leg hurt to walk on it. Still thinking my back was out I didn’t do anything about it. Friday my left leg started hurting, also very hard to walk on, at that point I had decided that if I wasn’t better by Monday, I would go to the Chiropractor even though it wasn’t something I could afford. I woke up Saturday morning, still unable to walk on my leg without a lot of pain; I decided to take a shower hoping that would help. While in the shower I noticed my toes were purple and my left leg looked a little swollen. Not having good lighting in my shower, I decided not to worry about it until I got into better lighting. Once out of the shower, I could clearly see that my left leg was swollen and purple. I decided that those two factors along with the pain were reason enough to go to the ER. I drove myself to the ER around 2 p.m. As I got out of the car, the pain was hardly there and I thought “this is silly, I should just go home, I am sure it’s nothing” well as I continued to walk towards the entrance, the pain got worse so I decided “I better stay”. I got checked in and they said it would be a while. As I sat there, I was in no pain and still kept thinking “I should leave this is a waste of time and money”. After waiting for two hours I finally got called back, it wasn’t long before the Doctor came in to see me. Right away he said, “You have a blood clot, or May-Thurners Syndrome, we will run an ultra sound to confirm”. After a while I was sent down to have an ultra sound, it was very painful when she got to my left leg, they did both legs, to compare, I guess. After the results were in the Doctor came back in and said “You do have May-Thurners Syndrome that is where your artery is crushing your vein, causing a blood clot. You will need to be admitted.” They wouldn’t let me get up and walk around as the clot could break off and go to my lung, heart, and or brain. They ran several blood tests, taking 14 tubes of blood. And they immediately put me on blood thinning IV drugs. I was admitted and brought to my room at midnight. On Monday (I am not sure why it took so long) January 31st, 2012 I went into surgery. I was to have two surgeries that day. The first one is to put the stainless-steel stent in and give me “clot busting” drugs. The second surgery is to remove the clot if it is still there. I was awake during both surgeries but could not feel anything, the meds they gave me made me nauseous and I got “sick” after each surgery. After the first surgery things were pretty good, I had a visitor and was talking and I felt “ok” and then all of a sudden, I coughed…I looked at my hand and told my friend to call the nurse, I was coughing up blood. The nurse took me off the “clot busting” drugs and had to put me on Fresh Frozen Plasma (FFP) to reverse what they had done; my blood was now too thin and they needed to thicken it. They moved up my surgery to get the bleeding to stop. While waiting for the Surgeon to come, my nose started to bleed. I used 3 boxes of tissue before I just gave up and laid my head on the pillow with the tissue under my nose. When they were all done with the surgery, they had removed a 4” blood clot from my pelvic area; it’s where the leg and hip meet. Both May-Thurners and 4” blood clots aren’t really heard of, they are rare. After the second surgery the bleeding had stopped but the nightmare was just beginning. After the second surgery I stated to get “sick” again, not a big deal it happened after the first one and then I felt fine, well not this time. I am not even sure any more in what order all this happened but it was awful. After surgery I was so sick to my stomach and my head was killing me, one of the worst migraines I have ever had. I was so dizzy the room felt as if it really was spinning. After surgery they have to run some more tests to make sure the clot didn’t go into my lung or heart. So, they wheeled my bed to X-ray, all the while getting sick and even more dizzy being pushed down those halls and turning corners. They took an X-ray of my lungs and my heart. Then because my head hurt so badly and I was still getting sick, they wheeled me again but this time to get a head CT. Well up to this point, any time I tried to lay back, I threw up. I had to lay flat in the CT scanner. I was able to do it without throwing up and in fact that was the last time I did throw up. Although my nurse was great and had to spend way too many hours cleaning up after me and taking care of me, she kept saying the whole time “you just need to calm down”. And I am sure that I did need to calm down, but that wasn’t the only reason I was sick. The next day I was a little better but still had a killer headache, the room was still spinning and my stomach was not feeling good. I knew I needed to eat but between the headache and the stomach ache I didn’t really feel like eating but by this time I had gone about 36 hours without eating anything. So, I ate a little bit, I complained to the new day nurse about my head and my stomach and he said the same thing “you just need to calm down”. I finally got moved out of the CCU unit and back to a regular room. I also told that nurse that my head heart and my stomach hurt and I was still dizzy, they dismissed it as well, chalking it up to not sleeping and not eating. In the 108 hours I was in the hospital, I slept about 10 hours and that was not straight. On Wednesday February 1st, I was able to go home. They sent me home with Warfarin (rat poison) to take daily and with shots that were to be injected into my stomach until my INR (how thick or then your blood is, the higher the # the thinner the blood, they want it between 2 – 3) was where it is supposed to be, between 2 -3. In the hospital my INR level was 1.03, too low. I went to my Doctors office to have my shot and get my INR level checked again, but this time it was 3.7 now it’s too high. I got it checked a couple of more times and at its highest it was 5.7 which means I could bleed out easily or my nose could start bleeding or I could start coughing up blood again. Each time my INR level raised the dose of Warfarin they gave me would be less and less, and because it was so high to start with, I only had to have 2 shots and not 10 (Side note: The Doctors and the hospital gave me to high of a dosage of the shots too, luckily my regular Doctor caught it and I only got one shot at the higher does). But as they decreased my dose, the headaches started to decrease, the room stopped spinning and my tummy felt much better. I really feel that because of my bi-polar the nurses were blaming everything on that, saying things like “calm down.” Which like I said before, I did need to calm down, but they were overdosing me on the meds they were giving me and they ignored my symptoms, brushing them off as, she is bi-polar she is over reacting. And this is why I do not publicize my disability. People assume the worst and they always relate it to people in the movies who have bi-polar I. People who don’t know anything about bi-polar only hear the crazy and bizarre stories and then think that all bi-polar people are like that.
*Side Note, the reason I threw up so much (4 hours, straight) was because I was having a bad reaction to the Dilaudid they gave to me in an IV pump, turns out I have chronic pain, fibromyalgia, joint pain, soft tissue damage, and I am allergic to most pain meds, lucky me.
Be sure to check out part 2 of "I AM" Bi-Polar II - Coming 04/19/2019
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