January 29, 2010

I Got To See My Brain!

I Got To See My Brain!

By Kathy Sweeney, who definitely has one, with proof and everything

When I missed the first step, my first thought was to protect my ribs.  So I rolled left, then realized there was a wall there, so I rolled right and tried to shift my weight to my butt.  Sounds very smart, doesn't it?  Here is the problem - my head was pretty much left on its own and thus proceeded to bounce down each step like a bowling ball attached to a slinky.  This, in case anyone is curious, is not a good strategy.

After I threw up  - and as I told the ER intake person later - it's one thing to throw up when you know you're going to get a baby out of it but quite another to throw up when you know you're probably getting a cast out of it.  Tom called our friend MHR, M.D.  who advised that the puking part was pretty much a bad thing and if I did it again, to go to the E.R.  Before Tom was off the phone, I was back on the barf wagon.  So off to the hospital.

May I say here that it is very wonderful to have docs as friends, because they are the concierges of the health care system.  Sure, they are great healers and all that crap, too.  Mitchell called ahead, so that when we arrived, we didn't have to wait long.  In fact, I got a nice bracelet as soon as I walked in the door.  Tom: "Look, honey, you got a wrist band."  Me: "Can I go to the front of the line for the big rides?"  Tom: "Yeah, she's fine."

Into the back of the house of the ER - where they have real rooms, and not just curtains these days.  They asked me my date of birth, if I knew what day it was, and if I could recite the alphabet.  Me: " English, Greek or Military?" Young Resident:  "Good one.  Were you drinking or taking drugs this morning before you fell?" Me: "Whuh?  The Steelers are out of it, man."  Then he starts poking around to see where it hurts.  Surprise, surprise, surprise, it hurt in all the places I TOLD HIM IT ALREADY HURT.  Enter Nurse #1: "Your neck hurts?" Me: "Among other things.  Right at the base of my skull."  N#1, ramming her thumb into the back of my neck: "Here?" Me:  "F'n A, I just said that."  YoungRes: "We need a neck brace".  Me: "You're going to need to get one from pediatrics."  At this point, YoungRes and N#1 exchange looks like: "Oh brother, she doesn't know what the hell is going on."

So they put on the adult-sized neck brace.  The result: I looked like a combination of Hannibal Lechter,  a toddler bundled up in a hand-me-down snowsuit, and a chipmunk with face mumps.  In order to make it tight enough to immobilize my neck, they squished my fat cheeks up to my eyeballs, obscured my vision, and caused me to have to breath through the holes in the bottom of the neck brace.  You may now add the Darth Vader sound to your visual.  It was at that moment the Priest came in.

Now - I am going to tell you something, my TLC friends - you can take the RC out of church, but as soon as that collar comes into view, it's a gut-level, pre-Vatican II call to attention.  Fr. Frank: "What would you like to pray for?"  Me: "World Peace" Fr. Frank: "No, I mean for you."  Me: "Let's face it, father, my brain is the only thing I've got left.  I really need no permanent damage even though it's my fault I don't shorten my flannel nightgowns." Fr. Frank (doesn't even miss a beat - do you think that's even close to the oddest thing he's heard today? No.) "God, please watch over Kathy and her brain.." He said other good stuff too.  Then he left.

Next up: X-Rays and a CT scan.  Me:  "Will I get to see my own brain?"  Tech#1: "Not during the scan.  You have to stay still."  Off we went to the X-Ray place.  The hospital is under construction, so the trip had more twists and turns than the Free Style finale on Dancing With the Stars.  Me: "Are we supposed to be finding the cheese or something?"  Tech #1: "Huh?"  Me:  "Coach Arians needs to leave."  Tech #1:  "You said it - we have no freakin running game."  Into the X-Ray room, where I feel Tech#1 and new Tech #2 picking up the edges of the sheet.  Me: "WHOA!"  T1&2:  "What?!"  Me: "If there is going to be any moving of this body, I will do it myself." T1&2: "We can do it no problem."  Me:  "Not if you don't want to get punched in the face.  This is going to hurt like a mofo and I'd rather have myself to blame." T1&2:  "Whoa. Okay then."  Me: "By the way, one of my ribs on the right side is healing - it's not a new injury."  T#2: "What happened?" Me: "Turkey Bowl. My brothers-in-law played high school ball."  They both nodded.  No further explanation required in this town. Same drill for the CT scan, where they wrap you up like a mummy so you can't scratch your itchy nose. I tried to visualize the beach but ended up thinking how much I miss hot Krispy Kreme donuts. Back to the ER room.

At this point, Tom had gone home to drive one of the kids somewhere.  That's when the social workers came in.  "Is there anything you want to talk about?  This is a safe place."  Me: "Not if they don't get this iron lung off my face."  SW#1: "You have some damage to your ribs."  Me: "Yeah, I know, I fell down the steps.  Plus the whole Turkey Bowl thing."  SW#2: "Umm Hmmm.  We get a lot of that in the early winter." Me: "I know you are trying to be helpful, and it would have been great if you were around 30 years ago, but I'm not in any danger. Ask anyone.  The people around me?  Some days not so much."

Finally, the doc came in and said no permanent damage but I'd be sore for a week to 10 days and not to drive because I had a minor concussion, follow up with my regular doc, etc. etc.  Me: "Great.  Can you get this cement jellyfish thing off my face now? And I want to see my brain". Doc: "No problem."  Me: "Where's the light board thing for the films?"  Nurse:  "It's all on computers now."  Me: "Oh, "Scrubs", how you mock me."

Out to the big command center, where they pull up a slide show of films.  First one.  Me: "Looks like a dinosaur." Nurse: "That would be your spine.  It looks good and straight." Next picture is of two black ovals. Me: "Geez, the two lobes of my brain are really far apart - why is that?"  Nurse: "Because it's your lungs.  They are very big for someone of your stature." Me: "Yeah, my people yell a lot."  By this time, we are gathering a small crowd.  

Next pic - brain! Me: "That's the fluid around my brain, right?  Looks good."  Nurse (now barely able to keep from laughing out loud): "Yes, no damage from the fall."  Me: "What the hell is that black spot - is that a tumor or something?!"  Nurse (openly laughing now): "That's the hollow bone of your skull."  Next pic: side view of my brain.  Me: "Where is the orange part?"  New Nurse because the first one is motioning people over so they don't miss anything: "What orange part, honey?"  Me (big sigh): " You know, the orange part that shows how bad my depression is.  I saw the whole thing on that PBS series.  The new brain cells from treatment are blue." New Nurse: "Blue what?"  First Nurse: "TV show".  Me: "Yeah, I can't remember the name, but I think it was something like a thalamus and studies have shown that certain treatments can create new brain cells and neurons to replace the ones damaged by depression."  New Nurse: "Yes, well that must have been something very special to watch, but we don't have that in the ER." Me: "So it's all black and white over here - no color scans? Bummer." First Nurse (looking at something behind me): "Can someone get me her discharge papers?"

And there was my son, who for reasons unknown to me, waltzed right into the ER treatment area wearing a fake fur hat with ear covers, aviator sunglasses, and shirt with a giant skull on it.  Me: "Look!  It's my brain." Ty: "Yeah.  I got you a big Kit Kat but it's in the car."  Me: "Wow.  Thanks. The big ones are hard to find."  Then the discharge nurse gave me a lollipop and handed Ty the papers.  "You take care, now, honey!"

Me (to random patients and staff): "Hey, I fell down the steps but I got to see my brain - how cool is that?!" Then, just for good measure, I said: "Go Steelers!"  Everybody cheered.  It's the law. Then to Ty: "Did you see my brain?" Ty: "What drugs did they give you?" Me: "I don't think any. This is just me."  Ty: "Yeah, that's what I was afraid of."



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Kathy, only you could make this so funny. I smiled at several of your cunning quips and visual details, but your son and the KitKat and "what drugs did they give you" was literally LOL (and we all know how healthy that is, so thanks for using your hazardous mishap to improve my health). Now, time to raise those hems just a bit. A historical lecturer explained to me that long skirts were the cause of many women's deaths in the "bad ol' days" -- from falls and also from catching fire while cooking dinner over the fire in the fireplace (those metal safety screens weren't common until fairly recently).
Y'all be careful out there!

What an adventure! And isn't it amazing how much things have changed...after I had a seizure and fell down the stairs and blackened my eye and basically beat myself up, everyone glared at my husband everywhere we went for a week!

Egads, so glad you came through with your body intact! as well as your sense of humor.
Long skirts are lethal weapons sometimes: I was struggling up my crooked and poorly-designed front steps a couple of weeks ago, late in the evening, tired, in the dark from long familiarity with the steps, carrying too much heavy stuff in each hand, and very nearly clocked myself by stepping on the forward hem of my skirt as I stepped up. There are many things wrong with that scenario, but I blame the skirt the most.
To your mention of skirts/fire, Mary, one of my grandmother's stories was of one of her aunts cooking apple butter in a large vat over a fire outdoors, and [I've forgotten the precise outcome] either being seriously burned or dying because her skirt and many layers of underskirt caught fire. Modern life has some things to recommend it!

You don't *think* any... I am rolling. And now I want to follow you around with a recorder. Except I'll let you do the falling while I just stand back, being the witness for Tom.

Hysterical. But I am really really glad that you're okay. And that you have a brain *and* got to see it. Score. (Sorry about the Steelers part.) ;)

Kathy,glad that you are going to be okay! While reading about your experience I was alternately gasping with shock and laughing at all the remarks and antics in the ER. I think I would have fainted when Father Frank showed up..uppermost in my mind would be Last Rites coming up.
Thanks for sharing everything in such a warm and witty way.

The Bracelet Question and Tom's response says all that needs to be said....

I laughed hard.

Glad you're okay.

Thanks guys - when they say everything is copy, in my house it means expect a blog.

Marie - I KNOW! The first thing I did was to sniff around for the holy oils! I couldn't see anything except a small section of ceiling, so when the nurse said "Hello Father" I thought maybe there was something really bad they weren't telling me. I guess they're not allowed to do the incense any more, what with the smoke free hospital policies...

Glad you're on the mend, thanks for the laugh, and I have a hunch they're still talking about/chuckling over you back in the ER.

Kathy, shorten your nightie before it catches on fire, will you?

I wore a long skirt to a concert once, and when everyone stood up for the standing O, I stepped on my hem and because of the elastic waistband, I managed to pull the whole skirt off as I got up.

Which is only one of the reasons I switched entirely to pants.

Get well quick, hon. Pre-season starts soon.

Oh, Kathy - I'm sorry for what you had to go through to write this, but this is the best thing I've read in a long time.

I finally lost it at, "Geez, the two lobes of my brain are really far apart - why is that?" Nurse: "Because it's your lungs."

I hope you're on the mend. I never doubted you had a brain, and a great one at that, but it's always good to have proof. Even if it's not in color.

I really don't want to say I'm envious of your getting to see your brain since I really wouldn't want to go through the lead in to it. But, that is so cool. Hope you heal quickly.

Getting to see inside the human body in real time is pretty awesome. My husband's first kidney stone was so large they inserted a stent between the kidney and the bladder. After having the underwater ultrasound treatment for smashing the stone, he had an appointment with the urologist for his checkup and removal of the stent. I was invited into the room with the doctor and my husband to view the removal via tiny internal camera attached to the medical instrument. Really cool stuff. Not so cool for my husband, who when he found out the medical instrument was to be inserted without any type of anesthetic, closed his eyes and refused to watch. He's such a wuss.

I know where you're coming from on making alterations to your clothing. My mother is the about the same height and size as you, but even WP is too long for her. I have to hem everything she purchases.

Kathy, it's not often that I moved to quote a priest, but this line bears repeating:

"God, please watch over Kathy and her brain."

Send me those flannel nightgowns. I will hem them. Really. I have a lot of spare time.

Omigosh, Kathy, tears are pouring down my face from laughing. You poor thing, but as you say, it's all copy. And just think of the entertainment value for the ER staff. They have to deal with so many angry, hurt, hysterical patients every day, and I'm sure you were a breath of fresh and frosty air for their day.

As I've gotten older I've gotten to be klutzier, and have been to the ER about five times in the last 7 or 8 years (broken arm, broken foot, stitches over the right eye, stitches over the left eye, and a UTI). They look at me suspiciously now, and always ask "Do you feel safe at home?" One time I fell in the basement, all by myself, under conditions that are so embarrassing I'm keeping it to myself, and my family is sworn to secrecy. My answer then was: "Only if someone is with me." Sadly true.

I got to see inside my throat, real time, a little camera down the nose to view my voice box and the little valve that opens and closes when you breathe. It was ultra cool. And very pink, which shouldn't have surprised me, but did anyway. The down-the-nose thing wasn't so hot, but totally worth it.

Kathy, just for you: Today's CakeWrecks are all football-related.


About the best thing out of my trip to the ER was a really great card from Elaine as I joined "The Hip Crowd". There are a few highlights from a morning in the ER with a dislocated hip: The nurse forgetting how much morphine he was supposed to give me and then asking my weight, then giving me the whole syringe; Getting tied to the gurney with a bed sheet and then the doc calling for five of the biggest nurses they had, including Big Al. When I said, "I'm Big Al" He said "No, we need another one."; Finding out the Black & Decker makes a surgical line of power tools.; Molly being outraged that security took her little pocket knife and then the ER staff handed her the things in my pockets including a much bigger knife.

I've been there so I know laughing with bruised ribs hurts, but there is a solution to long skirts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0nI0uA0ET8

I am so glad you're okay but OMG, this was hysterical. Maybe it's because of my nursing background and the correlating dark humor required to survive this field, but I love the fact they sent a social worker to see how bad Tom was beating you! LOL

You were probably the highlight of their day.

Thank you for being so funny even when you must hurt like hell. The brain/lung thing was hysterical!

Kathy, I'm so glad you got to see your brain, even if it wasn't lit up in color. Also that the lobes weren't too far apart. Did they ever get you the pediatric neck brace? 'Cuz the picture you painted about the other one was downright dangerous :)

Thanks for the laughs - I needed them this morning!

Holy crap, Kathy. It's good to see your sense of humor didn't get broke. ((((hug)))

I now feel culturally obligated to say, Geaux Saints!

Very funny. All I have to say is that it must take a unique person to work in a Pittsburgh emergency room.

Kathy, I want you by my side when I get THE diagnosis.

My only experience with a CT scan the ER Doc came in and told me the results were negative.

I asked, "What does that mean?"

The Doc answered, "It means we didn't find anything."

"I could have told you that," my wife muttered.

The old jokes are always the best.

What JD said (only a few comments ago-- I'm late getting up).
Stay whole, Kathy.

Mt last trip to the ER, courtesy of my wonderful daughter, was while I was in Portland last October...the arthritis flared up...thought I was hiding it, but no...so we ended up at one of the best ER's I've ever seen...quick, efficient, and thorough. I was triaged within 5 minutes of checking in, offered vicodin, ultra-sounded (clots you know) and seen by a doc within 10 minutes after that...she had to look at the ultra-sound. If I ever need an ER again, I will teleport to Portland!
That said, I'm not sure I'd want to see my brain...but I did get to see my knee after my regular doc suspected a Baker's cyst at the knee joint! How cool!And I didn't have to go all the way in the MRI machine! Still, it's nice to know the medical staff gave you a chance to see yours...even without the color :o)
Glad all is healing well...please take care.

Only you could take the Pittsburgh Steelers to the ER with you for comic relief! But since that's the universal language in western PA. We must be soul sisters. Last week I spiraled down cement steps into the garage when my shoelace caught in the door. My wonderful husband watching the whole thing held up 10 fingers, not to help me up on anything, but to give me a score of 10 in the most recent gymnastics competition. thanks, I needed that!! Only bruises and soreness, thank you Guardian Angels! Long live our gracefulness!!!

One year Mrs. Claus' long skirt was set on fire by one of the decorative luminaria. A visitor spotted it and it was dealt with quickly enough that she didn't get hurt, but it did ruin her favorite skirt. After that, we who helped with St. Charles Christmas Traditions secretly referred to the d**n luminaria . . .

Just got done reading the paper before this so I needed something to change my orange cells blue.

Thanks for the great laugh! Heal well.

Soooo....Kathy Kathy Kathy! I hope you are sleeping down stairs for a while.
Pity they didn't give you a copy of "The Brain That Ate Pittsburg". Would make a helluva book cover!
I have one story to relate. Years ago the fashion dictators decided we should all wear these bright floral print pant sets. I, victim of fashion that I am, of course had one.
My son was asked to play at a Scottish Festival day cruise get together on one of those boats that goes just outside the law so people can gamble. We had lunch.
Later that evening after his father had picked him up I started to feel ill. As we all know...once you think you might throw up there is no turning back. As you also know if you are a mommie that you must put something back in there immediately because you can bet you will keep throwing up until your toes are inside out. Which is why I highly recommend just scooping up your child and standing in the shower when they start spewing cheerios all over the house. As an adult, when this started being accompanied by chest pains right under my bra, I drove myself to the fire station.
They found the fire rescue truck and took me to the ER. (AND gave me a lecture about driving myself. I should never do that again.) I kept on throwing up. So much for the aspirin under my tongue. The paramedic asked me how there was so much still coming out of me and I explained the mommie rules.
Always have a six pack...of ginger ale...in the house.
Okay so I got there and got in immediately and they X-rayed my chest and gave me a GI cocktail and things calmed down. Next morning a new young black male nurse came to ask me to get dressed so I could go home. When he came back in and saw my floral print pant set he said "Nice pajamas". Then his eyes got wide and he said "Those are pajamas, right?".
Heal better soon Kathy!

Oh, you are too amazing. Your LUNGS? If I weren't so hyped up (and down) on cold medications, I would say something cleverer, but all I can say now is I'm so glad you're okay.
Well, you're more than okay, you're adorable.
And now I'm taking a nap. And more medicine.

(Did Nancy say her skirt came OFF? Yikes.)

Like, Karen I have taken a few tumbles in my times. The sweetest one was when I answered the phone for my husband when he was in the shower. A smartphone would have been handy, but oh, no. I ran to tell him he had a call. He raced out of the shower with a towel swung over hip and took the call in the kitchen. I got a glass of milk from the fridge and passed the hunky guy and immediately fell on the floor with the glass splintering everywhere. He got off the phone and hovered over me justt like a hero in a romance novel and whimpered my name, softly in my ear. Helping me up I waited for the how could you be so stupid lecture but it didn't come. After all those years I could still be turned on and forget about the near cuts and bruised. No hospital visit..just TLC for the rest of the week.

OK, so that kicked ass. Those nurses are totally telling stories about you.

Last month I had my mom in the emergency room, and she saw some crazy stuff, too, but it wasn't really there.

"What's that writing up there?"

"Oh! I'm going to drop it!"

Not a clue, folks.

Next week she comes to live with me.

Kathy, I hope you saved some drugs so you can sleep tonight. It's supposed to be the biggest and brightest full moon of 2010:


I laughed. I cried. I tripped over the doormat.

Don't bother with hemming the nightgown, just take a pair of scissors and some Stitchwitchery to the sumbeech. Done is beautiful.

I am so glad you're okay, but your"copy" was wonderful. If laughter is the key to good health, this blog should be a prescription, thank you!

Kathy! I sincerely hope that you are feeling better. And am very glad that your sense of humor wasn't injured.

Having hit my head quite a few times (as a child, I would pass out on the swings and come to on the ground), and had scans...I have never gotten to see my brains. Never.

I did get to see the scans of my knee before and after the reconstruction, though.

Kathy, forget hemming your flannel nightgown. Feetie jammies for you. Sheesh, girl! I got bucked off a horse and almost landed on my head and didn't get to see my brain! I feel cheated.

Glad you survived to tell the tale. Hugs!

Since DH has MS he gets frequent MRIs and I get to joke with his neurologist about DH's brain. However I've never had the chance to see mine on film, computer, or whatever.

I'm the klutz in this house. When I sprined both ankles last year all DH could do was laugh as he drove me to our doctor's ER.

Feel Better!

I'm laughing so hard the DOG wants to know what's so funny!

Yes! Go look at the moon! (Kathy, go out CAREFULLY...)

We were waiting for the part when they put a lollipop gown on you like they did when you were in the ER during college. This whole event kills us. It takes me back to a few of those "rides" to surgery with you beside me--both of us laughing like hyenas. Must be a gene. The Father Frank thing is perfect and the descriptiom of Ty is hysterical. Stay away from the steps. Keep repeating,"My lungs are not my brain, my lungs are not my brain." Maybe we should frame our body parts in our family rooms. I have a beauty of my colon. HaHa.

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