A Friday Night Hot Date… With The ER

I had plans last night. Plans that involved tasty food and drinks, and Netflix with the husband. But Betty (or something, more on that in a moment) also had plans. And those won.

While making dinner, I tried to laugh at something my husband said and the left side of my mouth didn’t move. I blinked with surprise, and my left eye didn’t shut all the way. Having some familiarity with the ER, and convinced I wasn’t in imminent danger of dying, we ate dinner before leaving.

We got to the local ER around 8:30 p.m. where the staff ruled out a stroke. Unfortunately, we had to wait for them to confer with the on-call oncologist at my doctor’s office too. She wanted us to be cautious and have my MRI from last week examined by one of their hospital’s neurologists. A whole lot of back-and-forthing apparently ensued. Around 1:30 a.m., my husband went home to sleep while I had to wait for an ambulance to drive me to Boston. (I had to be transported by ambulance, which I kind of understand but which I also find ridiculous.)

The ambulance picked me up around 2:30 a.m. Nothing feels as silly as being strapped to a stretcher when the part of your body that’s actually malfunctioning is free to continue malfunctioning. Fortunately, my ambulance crew was entertaining. Plus, there’s not a lot of traffic going into Boston at that time of night.

I got to the new ER around 3:30 a.m. and was subjected to the same tests that my local hospital, as well as the ambulance crew, did. I must have squeezed a dozen people’s fingers before the dawn broke. Then I was taken to an area of the ER called Fast Track, which meant that I finally saw the neurologist a speedy 6 hours after arrival.

End result: it’s most likely not a stroke. They can’t entirely rule out that it’s the cancer pressing on the nerve, but the MRI doesn’t show that happening. Most likely, it’s Bell’s Palsy, which I understand is a catch-all term for partial facial paralysis, usually caused by an infection (which I had recently), but for which doctors really have no clue. Sometimes they give you steroids to fight the swelling and make the symptoms go away, but after checking with my oncologist, I can’t have those because it would delay me taking part in the clinical trial. If it is Bell’s Palsy, symptoms usually start to go away in about 2 weeks. If it’s the cancer, they’ll go away if the treatment works.

Basically, I spent 14-plus hours in an ER with little food or water, and almost no sleep, to leave in the same condition I went in. The husband picked me up around noon on today. Until this goes away, I will be channeling my inner pirate and rocking a lovely eye patch so my left eye stays moist.

Author’s Note: In the past 24 hours, I’ve gotten about 2 hours of interrupted sleep. Blame any typos on that.


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