Barefoot and Braless in the ER: A Story

...And that's how I ended up barefoot and braless in the ER. Sounds like the ending to a great wild and crazy story, doesn't it? But the reality was much less adventurous.

It all started right after breakfast when I developed a burning sensation in my upper stomach. Within fifteen minutes the feeling had grown so painful that I was unable to sit still. I wreathed on the floor. Trying to curb the pain with many of the same techniques I had used during labor. Nothing helped.

Soon a tight feeling in my chest was added to the burning sensation in my stomach. I tried to breathe slowly and deeply - inhaling through my nose and exhaling in long audible sighs.

Before long I began to experience the strangest and most disturbing physical sensation. Even though I was in constant agitated movement from the pain my extremities began to very quickly tingle with a completely numb sensation. My fingers and wrists began to involuntarily curl in on themselves. The numb tingly sensation stretched from my knees all the way down to my toes and from my elbows to my finger tips. It took extreme effort to even attempt to straighten out my numb and tingling fingers.

What is this? I thought. Am I having a heart attack? Is this what a heart attack feels like?

I instinctively called to Bryan asking him to bring me some cayenne tincture. Cayenne improves blood circulation and has the ability to push blood back into your extremities when they are numb.

I quickly took the cayenne and turned to Bryan, "I need to go the emergency room." I struggled to get the words out between my attempts at slow regulated breathing.

By the time we got there some feeling had returned to my hands and feet, but I was far too light headed to walk. The pain in my abdomen was so intense that I continued to wiggle constantly around in the wheel chair I had hastily sat in.

I got checked in right away, but waited for more then thirty minutes, wiggling and crying out in pain throughout the waiting.

Then I threw up - we are talking epic throw up - all over my shoes, my clothes, my husbands sweatshirt and the floor. And still my stomach ached and burned. And still no one took us back to see the doctor. I sat in my filth, unsure what was going on with my body, and clung to my husband's hand.

By this point I was getting seriously frustrated and desperate. If you've read the blog for awhile you'll know that I'm not really a fan of doctors or medication. It takes a lot to get me to go to a doctor and I've never been to the ER before. I haven't had pain medication of any kind (even Tylenol) in more than five years. And I birthed two children at home without any pain medication. But this was different. This was the worst pain I've ever experienced. By this point I was ready to strangle someone if they didn't give me pain meds and quick.

Thankfully it wasn't long after this that they finally took me back into a room and after two doses of morphine the pain finally eased and I was able to sleep. We joked about how it was the best sleep I've had in weeks and how messed up it is if you have to go to the emergency room in order to get any rest.

We saw two different doctors. They ran multiple tests, including a CT scan. Everything came back fine.

In the end the doctor said it was all due to severe acid reflux and that the extreme numbness was just from hyperventilating (which I hadn't thought I had been doing).

They asked if there was any stress in my life as that can often trigger acid reflux problems. Stress in my life? All I could do was laugh.

I felt ridiculous. Like a hypochondriac. The worst pain in my life, the thing that drove me to go to the ER for the first time ever and take my first naurcodics and have my first IV and all it was is essentially heartburn brought on by stress. Seriously? What is wrong with me?

And then as I lay there and tried to sleep all I could think about is my poor mom watching my kids. I lay there in pain and felt guilt that someone else had to cover my responsibilities. How messed up is that, that I felt guilty and like I needed to apologize for the inconvenience I was causing by being in the worst pain of my life? Yup, I have issues.

After a number of hours they finally released us. My dad brought me clean clothes since mine were covered in throw up, but he didn't think to bring a bra or shoes.

And that's how I ended up barefoot and bra-less in the ER.

Rejoicing in the journey, Bethany Stedman