Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Redbirds--Part II

  A year ago I developed what I thought was a sore throat.  It began on a Friday night at a football game.  Throughout the weekend it got progressively worse.  I tried self-medicating, but nothing seemed to help.  I spent a miserable Sunday night sitting up in bed while I tried to sleep.  If I laid down it felt like I was going to suffocate.  By the middle of that night I was having trouble breathing, swallowing and talking. Since I could barely speak, I even had Hubby make my phone call to work the next morning to say I was too sick to come in.  My voice was not hoarse like the common sore throat symptoms, but I could not get air to come up my throat to form words.  To be fair here--Hubby did say he would take me to the Emergency Room during the night, but I felt like I could tough it out until morning. When morning arrived, I went to the doctor's office without even making an appointment.  I was miserable and I wanted in to see the doctor and not wait around for an appointment.  I did get in pretty quickly, but it was not with my regular doctor, but with a PA in the practice.  (I have nothing against PA's as you will find out if you continue reading, but this one did not particularly cut it! )  He kind of felt around on my throat, announced that I had swelling in the area (real Einstein diagnosis there!) and told me I had a gorgeous tan.  Really.  He said that.  I tried to eek out the words that I could not talk, swallow or breathe.  Hmmmm.  Must be a bad sore throat he figured.  He would prescribe medicine. That was it.  I got my prescription and headed to the druggist only to find they didn't open for another hour.  So I just sat on the bench waiting for the druggist to get there.  I was too miserable to put myself back in my car and head back home and wait for the hour.  Finally the druggist got there.  It took her probably ten minutes or so to fill my prescription.  She called my name to come forward (from the line of drug-waiting-people) and I went up to be 'counseled' on the drug.  The pharmacist asked me what it was I needed the medicine for.  Once again I eeked out in the tiny whispers I could get out, that I could not breathe, swallow or talk and there was something wrong with my throat.  She furrowed her brow and I knew the look was not the one I wanted to see.  Then she showed me the pills. To begin with , they were very large.  (Remember I am the one that could not swallow (or breathe or talk)......because I could not get the AIR to do that.  Secondly, she told me that the pill the PA had prescribed for me was very, very horrible tasting.  She told me that I needed to take lots and lots of water with the pill so that if I was lucky I wouldn't get the bad taste in my mouth.  I tried to remind her again that I could not swallow----water, pill or otherwise.  She wondered why the PA had prescribed such an ugly tasting drug--and in pill form---but she wished me good luck.  I made it out to my car and dragged myself home.  Once I got home I put one pill on the cabinet and looked at it.  It looked foreboding.  I felt so miserable tho that I knew I needed to get that pill down--and eventually the others--in order to feel better.  So I tried.  I put the pill on my tongue and took a swallow (the best I could) of apple juice to get the pill down.  It didn't work.  The pill got stuck.  Right in the middle of my throat.  I hurriedly tried to get more juice down in my throat, but nothing would go down.  I began coughing and sputtering and trying to get the pill back up.  This whole time, which actually seemed like a LONG time, this pill was leaving the most rancid taste in my mouth.  Finally I got the pill back up and out of my mouth.  (The taste did not go away for hours. Literally.)  By this time I was wiped out and I dragged myself to my bed.  There I collapsed in my sitting/laying/part way up/part way limp position surrounded by pillows.  I was laying there with my eyes shut trying to recover from the pill episode, trying to breathe and trying to swallow when I heard the chirping.  If you have ever heard a redbird chirp, you know they have a very distinct chirp.  The chirps got louder and louder.  The window right beside my bed was slightly open so I could hear the bird(s) easily.  I raised up and moved the curtain over so I could see out the window.  Right there in the snowball bush that touches the window beside my side of the bed were the redbirds.  The pair.  Both were chirping.  Pop and Grammie were there to watch out for me.  I took the curtain and fixed it to stay back then once again collapsed onto the pillows.  I just laid there and watched as the redbird pair flitted about the snowball bush.  The rest of the day I laid there trying to just get through the day.  The redbird pair left and came back, left and came back.  Each time they came back they announced their presence with their loud song.  To be fair again, when Hubby got home he tried again to take me to the Emergency Room but once again I thought I was too tough for that nonsense.  I made it through another night.  If I needed to talk to anyone, even if they were right beside me, I would snap my fingers.  Once I had their attention I would have to write out what I wanted to say.  I was going downhill and going downhill fast.  The next morning I once again went to the doctor.  This time I wrote out my message.  I needed help and I refused to see the guy they had given me the day before.  By this time I had a fever and the upper part of my chest, right below my throat, was visibly swollen.  I guess the receptionists could see I was miserable, so they sent me back to see another PA.  Apparently the morning walk-in clinic is run by the PA's.  The doctor's come in later, but my impatience kept me from waiting till 'later'!  Well the PA on the second day was a female.  I had used this PA before and as soon as she saw me in the exam room she commented on the fact that she knew I would not be in there if I was not feeling really sick.  I kind of shook my head at her and once again eeked out the fact I could not talk, breathe or swallow.  I pulled the neck of my shirt down and showed her how my throat and upper chest were swollen.  Her face was visibly shocked when I showed her the swelling.  She asked me how long this had been going on.  I told her (or tried to whisper) the entire story, including my previous day's visit where my tan got more attention than my throat, and how I had almost chocked to death on the horrible pill.  She looked inside my mouth, but mainly felt my throat. It took her only a minute then said she was calling the hospital.  She had me admitted to the hospital for x-ray's and an MRI on my throat and chest.  But first she wanted to get some of the swelling down because she thought this would help me breathe easier.  She said she thought she knew what the problem could be but she was going to have to do some research on it while I was having my tests and IV's in the hospital. I went to the hospital which was only about half a block away.  They were waiting on me and hooked me up to IV's.  I got some kind of antibiotic and three bags of Prednisone.  The Prednisone was to help with the swelling.  They could not do x-rays or the MRI until the swelling went down because I needed to lay flat to have both done.  When I laid flat I really did begin to suffocate, so the IV's were necessary to get the other done. After about an hour, I could begin to tell that I could breathe a little easier.  I still was not breathing normally, but it was much, much better.  I was hooked up to IV's for about two hours, then they asked me if I could lay flat.  I thought that I (probably) could and agreed to try. We did the x-ray's first.  Then they gave me a break and finally we did the MRI.  Then at the last minute they threw in a CAT scan.  The CAT scan was the hardest, as I was put in 'the tube' where you literally cannot move at all.  I was scared I was going to have a panic attack if I got inside the tube and could not breathe, but the Prednisone continued to make the swelling go down and I managed all the tests.  The hospital then sent me home with more meds to take and told me to wait for the doctor to call.  After that exhausting morning (and early afternoon) I got back home and went straight to bed.  I was breathing easier so it was so much easier to rest.  I had not been in my bed over a minute when the Redbirds came back to visit.  They were chirping louder than ever.  It was like they knew I had been gone and they wanted to be sure I knew they were there.  To finish this long story, the Redbirds stayed with me again that day.  The PA called back and said I had something called a Thyroglossal Duct Cyst.  It was a growth in my throat that I never knew I had.  Over the weekend and the beginning of the week it had just exploded in size, which caused the difficulty in breathing, swallowing and talking.  The growth was pushing against my voice box and taking up all the room in my throat!  It was a very rare deal and they had only seen one other case of it. (That STILL does not excuse the 'great tan' attention instead of worrying about my throat!)  The (second) PA was very kind, telling me everything she could find out about it.  She made me an appointment in Topeka to see a throat specialist for the first thing the next morning.  Once I saw that guy, he put me on more meds for about a week. He wanted to get the swelling down as much as possible before they went in and surgically removed the growth.  I had to take three pills three times a day!  It was still hard to swallow, but the swelling had gone down enough that I could get the pills down.  About a week later  I had the surgery in Topeka to remove the Thyroglossal Duct Cyst.  I missed work the entire week recovering from the surgery and trying to get my voice back.  The entire week I was home I was visited by the Redbirds.  They did not camp out outside my window like they had the first two days of my illness, but they visited throughout the week.  They made appearances, always announcing their arrival with their loud noisy chirping.  Because it was early autumn the windows were open at my house and I could always hear them arrive.  I always acknowledged them and they always flitted about for an hour or so then would leave.  While a lot of people would doubt the birds were anything other than redbirds, I have no doubt who they were.  After I got better and went back to school the redbirds were no longer around.  They didn't come visit in the afternoon when I got home and they were not there on the weekends.  The pair of redbirds were there when I needed them.  On the days when I was very sick, they stayed right beside my window.  On the days when I was recovering, they made their daily trek to check up on me.  I am a believer in the redbirds.  I know who they are and why they visit!

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