Last Sunday we had friends Dr. Debbie and Cabinet Lady (I need to change their blog names as one has retired and the other is soon to) over for dinner. They had never made polenta from scratch and I was showing them how.
On the Thursday prior I had gotten a flu shot. I had no reaction to it to speak of until Saturday night when I felt I was coming down with something. On Sunday I had a full fledged upper respiratory infection, as if I had caught the flu.
We were plating everything up and coming to the table (it was around 6:30 PM) and I suddenly felt very ill like I was going to throw up. I dashed to our master bathroom. Nothing was going to come up but I was suddenly shaking like I was freezing to death, was terribly cold and my breathing was labored to the point of being hard to even function. I managed to get on a vest for warmth and went back to the kitchen and announced, "Something weird is going on!"
I collapsed on the living room sofa and Wife and the two ladies jumped to my assistance. Wife was very calm. They got blankets plied on me. They tell me my lips were blue. Every muscle seemed to be spasming. My upper thighs were going so bad the pain was agony. During all this mentally I was very lucid. I tried to use yogic techniques to slow my breathing but I had no control over my physical functions. So you are in this bizarre space of mentally being alert and aware while being totally helpless as your body flails around and gasps for breath.
Wife called 911. During the call she mentioned that I had recently been diagnosed with asthma. the operator asked if I had an inhaler. I was able to direct them to where mine was. They sent the paramedics to the house. Within 10 minutes or so of using the inhaler, my breathing started to calm down as did the spasms.
The paramedics arrived...9 of them! I guess it was the slowest day ever in violent Albuquerque and they were bored out of their mind. Either that or they get a bonus if they arrive there first. I was clearly improving but we made the call to go to the emergency room. By the time I got there I was feeling substantially better and all metrics were improving. Within an hour and a half of arriving, I was pretty much normal They were most concerned with how the episode had affected my heart so they had me stick around for another four hours so they could do another EKG and look for markers in my blood.
We (a crotchety old male nurse and I) convinced Wife to go home and wait until the tests were over. This 1) got her out of sitting for hours in a freezing ER room in an uncomfortable chair and 2) allowed me to get some sleep as I was no longer guilty about Wife being freezing in the uncomfortable chair.
By 2:00 AM the tests had been done and everyone was happy to let me go. It took another couple of days to get back to feeling fully okay after all the trauma.
So what caused this?
We don't know. We have three different theories offered by three different healthcare professionals.
Theory One (the ER doctor) - Taking the flu shot caused me to either get a viral infection or aggravate one I already had. The combination of infection, flu shot and asthma caused this reaction.
Theory Two (the Pharmacist) - Said the flu vaccine had dead viruses in it so can't cause you to get the flu. He thinks I have an allergy to some protein in the flu vaccine and therefore suffered an allergic reaction.
Theory Three (my Doctor) - She feels something triggered an asthmatic attack. That can in turn trigger a massive surge in adrenaline causing the spasms.
Theory Three would explain as well why as soon as the inhaler took affect I started to get better. I have problems with the other two because why would it take so long (three days after I had the shot) for some reaction to occur related to it?
In conclusion we don't really know more that we did before BUT we are starting a process of asthma control which is about the best one can do. I am, however, very happy that I can now take a number of things off of my life experience list.
- Be a 911 Patient - On the whole an interesting experience seeing the whole thing unfold from the patient side of things. Don't need to do it again. Thanks for the opportunity
- Go on the Ambulance Ride to the ER as a Patient - Again interesting but not necessary to be repeated
- Go to the ER - As bad as every says it is (in terms of the waiting around, not the quality of the care though they forgot to tell me they were holding me for the four hours until we were an hour into the wait). Definitely not interested in repeating.