Dr. B's diagnosis, a differential one now, having eliminated the first possibility, is that Tom's second fracture was caused by his total inability to obey doctor's orders to stay off the foot as much as possible, to walk carefully whenever walking is necessary, to elevate it often, etc., etc. This too is no surprise to me. He doesn't ever follow my advice either. Tom marches to his own drummer. His x-ray showed the fractures healing well and he will be out of the boot in three weeks.
Way shaken up, I sat down in the chair and tried to decide if I should wake Tom up from his nap to ask him to take me to the hospital. While I was trying to decide, I thought I would test to see if I had had a stroke--possible cause of the body bolt, maybe. So, standing in front of the bathroom mirror I tried to remember the three- part test to identify a stroke. Smile. Is it crooked? Well, mine already kinda is anyway, but I looked to see if it was a lot more one sided. Stick your tongue out. (Was that one of the tests? What about your tongue? Was the test if you could move it in and out easy? Well, I could) Hold your arms up over your head I totally could not remember what about your arms you were supposed to look for. I resolved to review and really learn the tests, cause sorta knowing doesn't help. My diagnosis, maybe really my wishful thinking, was that I had not suffered a stroke. Nothing seemed amiss, except that I was weak and scared.
Not long after, I was recounting the events to Tom, now awake from his nap. To his insistent plea for me to go to the hospital, I said no. After all, nothing weird had happened since. And now I felt fine. Besides, what would I say when they asked me about my symptoms? I got hit with a thunderbolt? How foolish does that sound. I know that women's heart attack symptoms are unusual, but that's a little over the edge isn't it? It seemed just embarrassing to have had such a weird body experience--and I didn't want to have to try to explain it in case folks would think I was a crazy old lady. I just wonder how many women don't go to the hospital when they should because their symptoms are unusual or vague. Maybe they are afraid folks will think they are foolish or they are just complainers or that their symptoms are imaginary.
After a perfectly normal Sunday, on Monday I stopped at the drug store on the way to work and, while there, decided to let Jason, our pharmacist give me my flu shot. It briefly crossed my mind that it might be a bad idea, considering the unusual goings on from the day before, but, not really.... Jason did say he would call to check on me in a little while, to be sure there was no adverse reaction.
I was at the office by 10. In the middle of a busy day about 2:30 I was hit with a wave of nausea and dizziness. I felt myself fading away into a faint, so stood up and began walking around, announcing in a calm voice, that I did not feel at all well. I went into Tom's office to lie on his couch and call Jason, who found no such side effects mentioned in the flu literature. Lie down, drink water and call me back in 10 minutes, Jason had said. As I lay there, with the room spinning and sick as I could be, and with folk fluttering around trying to be helpful, I finally called my primary physician. When I recounted my worsening symptoms, and those from Saturday---she told me to go immediately to Providence Emergency Room to explore if I might be having a heart attack.
Finally convinced, I told Tom, who grabbed me and ran, as fast as a man in a boot with a cane can move.
If you want to avoid waiting in the emergency room, as we have done many times, go in bleeding heavily, or with asthma or any other condition which renders you unable to breath, or appear having heart attack symptoms. You will be rushed right in for examination and treatment, as I was Monday afternoon. The doctor administered an EKG while he took a medical history and listened to my thunderbolt/defibrillator story, with only an occasional Humph. First good news was that it was not a heart attack, or at least the kind revealed by an EKG (and I had already eliminated stroke right on my own!) Now began a series of tests--urine, 4 vials of blood, x-rays, another kind of heart monitor, and on and on--all this to eliminate other possibilities. The doctor came in to talk-- a different one, who told me that the clues did not add up to anything--especially the thunderbolt thing--perhaps a first in the annals of medicine. Maybe it was just the way I described it!
While we waited for some of the tests to come back (she was pursuing some educated guesses with specific assessments), she taught me the three tests for a stroke--important for everybody to know for the sake of yourself or a loved one. 1) The crooked smile was the only one I had remembered right. 2) The arms. Hold them straight out in front, not over your head. Watch to see if you can hold them steady. If one drifts down, that is a bad sign. 3) The say-a-sentence test. If you can say a slightly complex sentence without difficulty, then you are probably in the clear. For instance, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" would be better than "See Spot run." If you slur, or can't form the words at all, then clearly, something is wrong.
About 7pm all the tests had run their course and the final differential diagnosis was in. The doctor pronounced that I was super deficient in potassium, cause unknown. The cure--replenish the body's potassium through a slow drip, drip, drip
into my arm for 4 1/2 hours. It was boring; It was painful--maybe because potassium is thick and doesn't want to go into the vein (I am guessing here). Tom stayed by my side, holding my hand almost the whole time, alert and sympathetic to my pain. When he could bear to see me suffer no more and had to take a break,he would slip out for a beer at the local bar. He could bear it no longer a lot. He had to take a break a lot. He drank some beer a lot. He did stay alert by my side a lot during that long 4 1/2 hours, and he did drive me home at 12:30 that night.
I have had no recurrence of thunderbolts.