Home > Help, Learning, Life > All work and no play makes Lori’s face explode.

All work and no play makes Lori’s face explode.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been struggling. Stress from work, school, and personal life stuff became entwined and felt overwhelming. I knew I was feeling tired. I knew I wasn’t feeling like myself. But I continued to stay up until 2 AM doing work and spending most weekends doing the same. Then when the pain I had in the upper left part of my face that I had since Friday evolved to include pain in my eye, swelling, and red blotches on Monday, I actually started to worry about myself.

So I walked myself to the emergency room, which I felt slightly guilty about since seeking treatment there might be an abuse of its purpose. However, I didn’t know when I’d be able to see my primary care doctor and her office is about an hour away. Off to the ER I went. I arrived at 1:45 and was seen about three and a half hours later.  By the time the nurse saw me, I figured she and a doctor would just give me some eye drops and some Benadryl and tell me to go away and make room for people with actual emergencies.  I thought I’d be out in maybe two or three hours and that I would go to Trader Joe’s after and do my grocery shopping for the week.

Foolish girl.

That certainly was not the case. The nurse was genuinely perplexed by my condition. The resident, like the nurse, played it cool, but was also a little stumped. Then another resident came over to me and said, “I heard about you! I just wanted to come by and take a look.” Awesome.  As I was not in an actual patient room, but on a transport bed in the hallway, it was very easy for him or anyone else to take a look at me. Next, the attending paid me a visit with the first resident who examined me. He informed that he suspected it was Herpes Zoster (aka Shingles) and that he wanted to examine my eye to make sure the infection hadn’t spread to my eye. If it had, they would have to keep me and start treatment immediately so I would not lose my eye. I did my best to receive this information calmly even though my mind was racing with thoughts, one of which was, “Can I still do judo if I lose sight in one eye? Oh, wait. Yes, I can. There are lots of visually impaired players.” Priorities, priorities.

After examining me further, the attending said it did not appear that the infection had spread to my eye. However, they wanted to run my labs, give me a CT scan, and have an ophthalmologist examine me to confirm the diagnosis. To complete these steps, I mostly had to just wait around. It was weird being in the hall. I did feel a little better after a nurse gave me some apple juice and graham crackers. That in itself was a little strange for me since last year, I interned in the trauma unit at hospital, which is similar to the ER. We had those same juice cups and graham crackers on hand for patients. There I sat, a tired yet grateful recipient of a snack fit for a kindergartner.

I didn’t see the opthamoligist until after 9:00. He was very nice, but a little flustered since he wasn’t expecting to treat a patient in the hallway. It made setting up his equipment, which he brought in his backpack, a little difficult. Near the end of his exam he asked, “How long have you been here?” When I told him since quarter of two, he shook his head. “I just heard about you a half hour ago.” When he confirmed that it was Shingles and that my eye seemed clear of infection, he passed me back to the ER team, and around 10:45 I walked back to my apartment.

As I walked back alone, I thought maybe this is part of my problem. Maybe this is part of why I got here today. Sure, I most likely got Herpes Zoster because I take a medication that is an immune suppressant, and the weather has been manic lately, I take public transportation everywhere, I work in part with kids, and I’ve felt a hyper amount of stress lately. I thought about walking to the ER alone, staying there for nine hours alone, and then walking home alone. Why didn’t I call one of my friends and ask them to stay with me for a little bit? Maybe I wouldn’t feel so much stress if I didn’t try to do everything by myself all the time. I have been working in the last week to be more straightforward with the people I’m close with to let them know what I’m dealing with right now. Of course, they’ve been extremely supportive and helpful. If I keep remembering to do this, I hope I can prevent future face explosions.

Categories: Help, Learning, Life
  1. Miles
    November 1, 2011 at 17:51

    I like to think I’m a fairly laid back guy. I don’t get pissed off very easily. But hospitals have the ability to truly infuriate me. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a hospital and left with anything less than absolute disgust for how inefficiently everything is run and how poorly the average patient is treated. If I had written this post it would have been riddled with hateful venom and more than a few obscenities towards those in the health-care field who act like their time is worth so much more than everyone else’s.

    Of course you go and find an introspective lesson in it all. Haha! It’s probably a good thing you didn’t call me to come stay with you. It may have resulted in more face explosions.

  2. Nasia
    November 1, 2011 at 18:28

    Next time, if you don’t feel like calling a friend, call me. I will then convince you to call a friend too. 9 hours in the ER alone?? Do not do this again. I got frustrated, I can’t even imaging how your friends felt after hearing this. Get better soon!

  3. November 1, 2011 at 21:47

    @Miles, you’re face explosions would have warmed my heart and made me feel better. But seriously, I was treated pretty well, and having worked in the hospital I know it’s (usually) not the staff’s fault. They just have an unrealistic patient load to deal with. I knew if I went to the ER, I would be there for a while. So I just rolled with it.

    @Nasia, yes, m’am! I realize the error of my ways. My friends probably just thought, “Lori is a such a dummy. But we love her anyway.”

  4. November 2, 2011 at 16:11

    I had no idea it was so serious. Hang in there.

    • November 2, 2011 at 17:58

      Thanks, buddy. I’m pretty sure I’ll have the energy to come by the party on Friday night, so I hope to see you then!

  1. November 17, 2011 at 22:08

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