Sunday, January 02, 2005

Emergency Room New Year

I had my first scare of 2005 soon after midnight on New Year's Day. At 2:20 a.m., my SO, E, who's been battling a bad cold since last Tuesday, woke me to say he had trouble breathing. He was coughing and a lot of mucus was rattling in his chest.

One has to cough that crap up, but when he tried to, he felt that his airways were blocked. He also has asthma, which complicated matters. He said it felt like a vise was tightening his chest. E's face and tips of his fingers were also tingling, and his body was shaking. But he didn't want to take his asthma medication because he thought it might interfere with the over-the-counter cold medication he'd been downing all day.

Add to all these facts that his father died of an asthma attack some years ago, and you have one worrisome situation. So I drove him to the emergency room of the nearest hospital, 4 miles away.

The overly-bright emergency center was crowded - a guy who'd been hit by a bottle was dozing in a wheelchair and another dozen people waited listlessly to be seen. The triage nurse looked at E after 15 slow minutes.

She took some rudimentary tests, and found that he had 100 percent aspiration, which meant his asthma was not acting up, that he probably had an upper-respiratory infection such as bronchitis. His face and fingers were tingling because he was starting to hyperventilate.

However, the nurse wanted him to stay and see a doctor so he could get some antibiotics and start a "breathing regimen." But the wait was long - there were about 10 people ahead of us. E had calmed down by then, and said he felt silly and wanted to go home. Yet he was still having a bit of trouble breathing. I said to wait for a bit.

After 2 1/2 hours, without having seen a doctor, we left.

It was still dark. The New Year was 5 hours old.

I took him to an urgent care facility mid-morning, where he got some antibiotics, extra-strong cough expectorant, and was told to not suffer needlessly and use his inhaler if he couldn't breathe very well. He's doing better now, but still coughing quite a bit.

So how was your New Year's?!

28 and counting: That's the number of days I have until the Las Vegas Half-Marathon (gulp). I ran 10 miles today under a cold gunmetal sky with a friend. We ran slowly, at about 9:50 a mile. As long as we kept moving, we were warm.

Afterwards, we warmed up at a nearby Starbuck's with chai tea latte and black-bottomed cupcakes. Mmm, sugar.


  1. Scary stuff. Glad he's ok. My wife has asthma and that trip to the ER sounds very familiar. Usually we can get in pretty quickly when I say she can't breathe. But the waits are very long sometimes. Did they give him that wierd misty breathing tube thing? That always seems to help.

    Hope he's recovering quickly.

  2. What a way to start the new year. My. So glad things turned out well. The run? That's not slow!! That's fast for me:)

  3. Hi Jon, yes, he's doing much better now. Thanks for asking. In fact, he's feeling so much better that me may drive four hours north to Pennsylvania to buy a car. Quick explanation - it seems that the car he wants (Acura TL) with the options he wants at the best price is up there.

  4. Hi Bex,
    Sorry to hear about E., but I am glad he's doing better. I had a friend in California that I used to work with at Penney's who passed away in 2003 from a heart attack due to complications from asthma. It really is a scary thing. But I hope the rest of the New Year brings the best for both of you! :-)

    When is the Las Vegas marathon? Maybe if you're in town again I'd like to see you. :-)