During the months of November and December, I was having a lot of back pain. It was to the point that it was excruciating to get out of bed, stand up, drive, bend over, all of the things I needed to do in my daily life. I thought maybe it was stress, because I tend to feel my stress in my shoulders and back. With an unemployed husband, life was stressful. I tried heat, ice, stretches, massage, etc, and nothing was working. It got to the point that I needed help standing up, getting out of bed, walking, etc. and I was in constant pain even with Ibuprofen and other pain relievers that I tried. I was shuffling hunched over like an old lady, and just sat miserably in a chair most of the time - when I wasn't driving kids to work or going to school to volunteer or going to church. I should have gone to the doctor - I had noticed a hard spot in my breast, but it wasn't a lump, and it just felt like a clogged milk duct, and I figured that wasn't having anything to do with my back pain, so I just prayed to the Lord and had a discussion with him about our finances and our situation in life and asked him not to let me die from something that I didn't have the ability to take care of in our current situation, because I wasn't going to leave my kids willingly...hopefully I was more humble than I am making it sound - but we already had two medical bills in collection that we couldn't pay, and I didn't want to add another one (actually I wasn't sure they would treat me with the outstanding unpaid bills). The turning point came after New Years when two things happened: 1) My dad offered to pay for the bill if I just went to the doctor (my family was getting pretty worried about my health after watching me during the past months) and 2) I went to the dentist to get a crown fixed that came off, and it was too painful to sit in the chair for the two hours it would take to fix it. So, I rescheduled the dentist for a week later and made a doctor's appointment for my back problems.
I actually didn't see the doctor. I had to see the physician's assistant if I wanted to get in any time soon. He examined me, and said it could be so many things that we should start with some blood work to try and narrow it down. Alan had gone with me both to the dentist and the doctor, because driving, walking and standing from a sitting position were all things that were much easier if I had help. We went to the lab, had the blood work, and then made an appointment for a follow up visit with my doctor in several weeks. We went home, Alan went to help my brother out at the mall, and life went on for a couple of hours. Then I got a call from the PA. He said that my labs showed that my calcium levels were way up and my potassium levels were way down, and he would suggest that I go to the emergency room right away - he could call and tell them to expect me and send the lab work to them. Otherwise, he said they could have me come in again tomorrow and run the labs again to see if it was a fluke, but he said he had discussed it with a doctor and they thought the best course of action was for me to go to the emergency room at the hospital of my choice. I asked him if I could discuss it with my family and get back to him (I was just seeing $$ signs), and he said "yes," and gave me his number and what time I needed to call him by. I called my dad and asked if his offer would extend to the emergency room, and he basically told me to just get my tail down there. My mom arrived at my house to bring one of my kids home, and I had the other kids call her in to the house. I told her what happened and asked if she could take me to the emergency room. She said "yes," so I called the PA back and told him I was going to go and to send the info to McKenzie Willamette. I called Alan, left the girls in charge, and went to the hospital - where my life changed probably forever.
My memories aren't as clear once I get to the hospital part...I'm sure because of the pain and drugs. We checked into the ER pretty quick. When they found out we were unemployed and had no insurance, they said they would have someone start working to see if we could get on the Oregon Health Plan. The part of the ER I was put in were just individual bed areas with fabric walls that could be pulled back and forth like drapes. I saw a lot of different doctors and nurses, and had many tests and meds. I guess I didn't realize how sick I was until I asked one of the doctors how long he thought I'd be there (meaning hours), and he looked at me funny and said they would be admitting me and I would probably be there at least a week if not longer. Apparently my kidneys were failing, and they couldn't let me go anywhere until they had them functioning again. My tests also showed that I probably had a tumor or cancer or both growing somewhere in my body. I was more concerned with alleviating my back pain, but no one else seemed to be. They got me a room on the 3rd floor. My roommate had just had back surgery. I finally got to eat a sandwich and some jello when I went upstairs. I went to the hospital before dinner, and they wouldn't feed me in the emergency room, so I was really hungry by the time I went upstairs to my room.
To be continued....