Here's what happened with Duke:
On October 30, 2006 I was in the choir loft at church when I felt a tightening in my chest. It was like a vise grip. Of course I thought to myself, "heart attack" except my heart rate was normal, no sweats, no light-headedness. I made it through church all right and I went home to watch the Bears game.
During the Bears game, the pain got really bad. It was so bad it almost knocked me off the sofa onto the floor. Joe was outside and I couldn't call to him so I managed to get myself over to the table where there was a bottle of aspirin and I took an aspirin thinking again, 'heart attack.' The pain eased a little, but it didn't go away and again, no other symptoms. I watched the rest of the game. (Which the Bears lost.)
The rest of the day, the pain stayed constant though I was functioning somewhat normally. Joe did come in and I told him about it and I said to him that if the pain kept me from sleeping we would go to the emergency room because the ER would be filled with Sunday night crazies, the best time to go would be in the early morning. (I was very confident there was no heart attack, however, pneumonia was now a thought.) So, at three in the morning, we went off to the ER and by now, I was feeling the pain and also a little 'off'.
Stick with me, we're getting to the dog.
The ER was empty so I was able to go right into the triage area where the attendant was doing my vitals. Blood pressure was normal, heart rate was about 80 (which is a little fast for me) and my temp was 99. I told him that 99 was high for me because my normal temp is below 98.6. Which he fluffed off with some trite explanation. But it had me worried. They put me in a room to run the EKG and all the other things they run when they think you're having a heart attack and it all came back normal. In the meantime, I told the nurse I was freezing. She thought it was because it was a cool morning so she wrapped me in a blanket while I was waiting for some other test. The blanket didn't help. I told her I was getting really cold. (I had been in the ER for about an hour.) She decided to take my temperature.
She walked over to the attending physician who said, "Her EKG and everything else is normal." The nurse said, "She has a temperature of 102." He said, "Wow, that's interesting. Let's get her lungs X-rayed, maybe pneumonia." (You think?)
X-rays came back showing no pneumonia, but there was a little spot on my lungs they couldn't figure out. So, they decided to send me for a CT. (Which looks like a big donut.) So, while I was there, I asked the administrator if the room was unusually cold and she said it was a little cool but not cold. I was freezing again.
I was returned to my ER cubicle and told the nurse I was freezing even more than before and I was feeling horrible. She took my temp again. (Two hours in the ER)
104. She rushed to find the doctor and tell him. He said, "Call ICU, we need to get her up there. All her tests are normal. I don't know what's causing the fever."
Of course, the rooms in ICU were all filled so my hubby and I stayed in the ER until they kicked someone out up there and then they took me up and put me in a room. Quarantined. Everyone had to wear a mask and be covered before they could enter. Including the HB who was already as exposed as anyone could be.
I'm getting to the dog.
The fever took a hold of me and here's the weird thing: I could still respond to people but there was music in my head. If someone said anything that was close to a song lyric, that song started to play in my head. There was gospel music, rock music, folk music, songs I didn't like from the 70's, songs I didn't even know I knew. Every single note and every lyric and the last song would play over and over in my head until someone said something that triggered a new song. I couldn't hear my voice - everything was a song (lyrics and music). My head was a contemporary/R&B/Gospel/Broadway music station.
After around the clock blood drawing and blood tests and two days in the ICU, three doctors came in to tell me what they suspected: Bug in my blood. That's what one doctor called it.
"Is that the medical term?"
"That's what we're calling it. We're trying different antibiotics to knock it out. We're looking to see what caused the infection."
I called my sister the nurse. "Yeah, they tell you it Bugs in the blood."
"You mean I have blood poisoning?'
I was in the hospital for a week. Three days in intensive care. They wanted to wait until my fever broke to move to the general hospital. (No pun intended.) I knew my fever broke on day three when I woke up and the music was gone. (With no disrespect to Don Maclean; I was happy the day the music died.)
I had to ask my overnight nurse what I had to get a straight answer because I figured she wasn't included in the shroud of secrecy surrounding the medical term for what I had. And she wasn't - she spilled like an over soaked sponge.
"You have sepsis. There was strep in your system and instead of going to your throat it got in your blood."
Oh, the condition that's 70-90% fatal. That explains the pain, the low blood pressure and the songs in my head and the different antibiotics.
I left the hospital cured of sepsis (but with a weakened immune system). My doctor also said I was a diabetic -(I tried to explain to him I had been drinking an inordinate amount of grape juice the whole week before and that's why my sugar level was up, but he would have none of it. So even though my last few blood levels have been below 5; a diabetic I remain.) and I came out 30 pounds lighter.
And with a bill of $60,000. But through the magic of insurance, my out of pocket was about $3200. (This is important to remember.)
The HB protested over the bill (this, too is important to remember) and asked me to call the hospital to see if we could get a discount if we paid it all at once. (They gave us 10% off.) So, with my signature on a check, my most serious illness was a thing of the past.
OK, so last year, Duke was playing in the backyard and hurt his leg. We took him to the doctor who said he ruptured his knee. We opted for stabilizing the leg with a cast to see if he would recover. And he did. Until a few weeks ago when he ruptured it again. The HB said to me he was thinking he would opt for the surgery this time because Duke is still a vital dog, full of energy and life and very healthy. And the doctor said the surgery was about $2000. We would have to be referred to a surgeon at another hospital.
So, off we went to see the surgeon armed with Duke's xrays and records. The surgeon examined Duke, looked at all the info and said the surgery was an option and Duke was a classic case and the surgery could be done that day and cost $3200. There's a big difference between $2000 and $3200. Both the HB and I said "Oh," but while my 'Oh' was followed by the word 'my', the HB followed his "Oh," with the letter 'K'.
OK? My bill for a week to cure a sometimes fatal disease was $3200 and you would have thought the Feds were raiding our account but the dog gets an OK? Not even, 'can you leave the room doc while I talk this over with the old ball and chain?' He just wanted to know if it had to be paid all at once so he knew whether or not he wanted to write a check or use a credit card. (He used the card.)
So, duke had surgery to place a pin in his leg so his bones don't rub together and cause further damage. He is recovering very nicely and I have to admit he is probably worth it because he does bring us great joy and because the child we call ours is 30 and on her own. I don't begrudge a penny of my inheritance being spent on the dog.
But the HB could have protested just a little.