Friday, June 28, 2013

A Near Death Experience From Something Simply Resolved...If Only I'd Known

I started feeling bad on Tuesday night but I went to bed thinking it was the same old stuff...sciatica, severe lower back pain from an impinged nerve. Wednesday night I called a friend to see if she would take me to the hospital if I felt I needed to go. She said yes but I didn't call her until Wednesday morning at 10. She was there by 11 and had brought some pain medication and muscle relaxant from a previous fall. She didn't tell me she had the meds, instead she took one look at me and put me in the car and brought me to the emergency room. An hours or so later, I was being given an IV along with several kinds of drugs whose names I cannot remember. It seemed my magnesium level was dangerously low, my potassium level was 1.7, also a lethal number and had I avoided going to the hospital much longer I would have died.
What started as a simple urinary tract infection (we older gals get them more frequently as the bladder drops and don't empty completely) turned into a bladder infection, then moved into my kidneys and began to fester. This happened because the original antibiotic did not resolve the initial infection and allowed it to "move on up to the east side" if you will. I felt a lingering pressure after treatment but it went away quickly and left me no more the wiser.
So, for the want of a nail, the shoe was lost and for the want of a shoe the horse was lost, for the loss of a horse the battle was lost, for the loss of the battle, the kingdom was lost. The point being this: the original antibiotic was my nail and I know now with the symptoms I've read up on about low potassium, that I nearly lost my little kingdom, my life. I also know that I'd been sick for much longer than I ever imagined.
Potassium is a vital electrolyte that regulates water absorption into our cells. It's only one electrolyte chemical but it's a vital one and too  much or way too little can literally make your heart stop beating. All because I had a uti that was not resolved with antibiotics. So ladies, I tell you this...if you've been treated for a uti and you still feel a tingle or pressure after you've finished you medication, go back to your doctor and get a blood test to see if you've got a lingering infection. If you do, a simple urine culture will identify the nasty little bug so the doc can clear it up once and for all.
If you're sexually active, or an older woman who is having urinary incontinence issues because of that dropped bladder, you are at risk of the same thing happening to you. And the scary thing is, once it moved from bladder to kidney, you don't know you're sick until you spike a sudden fever after having back pain. Trickier for me because I have chronic lower back pain so it was nothing new to me.
Symptoms range from:
Dryness of skin - curse of older women
Muscle cramps - over exercising? statin medication like Lipitor?
Numbness and tingling - in my case d/t chronic back condition
Increase in urine output - just call me Polly Pissypants
Nausea - every time I turn on the news
Palpitation - just realized this was happening more frequently, even last night in the hospital
Weakness - had been more clumsy and stumbly than normal
Fatigue - yes, but that's part of not exercising or eating right and depression
Depression - mine seemed to worsen in the past few weeks
Dizziness - head rush anyone?
Low blood pressure - yeah but I'm meds to make it low
 Here's the more serious ones, which I also had:
Gastrointestinal Problem
Potassium maintains the level of fluids inside the digestive tract. When there is a lack of potassium in the body, large amounts of fluid from the food get absorbed into the intestines. As result, the intestinal contents harden up and their passage through the tract becomes difficult. This results in irregular bowel movements or constipation. Severe form of constipation often lead to abdominal cramps, bloating and lack of appetite. CHECK. I had not eaten much for days before I was admitted.

Irregular Heartbeat
As I learned, potassium sends electrical signals throughout the body. The brain controls contraction and relaxation of the muscles in the body through these signals. When this function get affected by low potassium in the body, then the heart muscles that regulate the heartbeat do not receive signals on time and fail to maintain the normal rhythm of its contraction and relaxation. In case, there is a severe deficiency of potassium, then it can lead to life-threatening condition like cardiac arrest when the heart stops beating. ALMOST CHECK The EKG they did in emergency showed I was tachy.

Muscle Damage
The effects of low potassium can be dangerous for the entire muscular system of the body. It fails to initiate a normal voluntary contraction of the muscles of the limbs during activities like standing, walking, lifting, etc. As a result, the muscles becomes so weak that the patient may find it difficult to stand or move their limbs around without any support. The skeletal muscles of the body may even suffer rupture and the condition is known as rhabdomyolysis. Serious form of untreated potassium deficiency can even lead to paralysis and the entire body becomes stiff. MISSED THIS ONE BECAUSE SOMEONE RECOGNIZED I WAS NOT THINKING CLEARLY AND GOT MY ASS TO THE HOSPITAL. I AM ALIVE BECAUSE OF THIS GOOD WOMAN FRIEND.
As women, we often put the needs of others before us. We're raised to be that way. So the medical profession often treats us as over reactive when we say something is wrong but they cant resolve the symptoms with male symptomology. Because, let's face it, ladies, if there's not a dick attached to it, it probably isn't a serious. So...BE PROACTIVE ABOUT YOUR HEALTH CUZ YOU CAN BET NO ONE ELSE WILL BE. UNLESS YOU HAPPEN TO BE GIFTED WITH THE SLIGHTLY WACKY, ALWAYS OUTRAGEOUS, AND DEEPLY CARING WOMEN IN YOUR LIVES AS I HAVE BEEN. THANK YOU VICKI AND DONNA FOR PUSHING ME TO ASK FOR HELP. THANK YOU SKYE FOR BEING THERE. THANK YOUR DITA FOR CHECKING ON THE HOUSE AND GATHERING THE SHIT I JUST CANT LIVE EVEN A WEEKEND WITHOUT. I LOVE YOU ALL AND I WILL BE YOUR KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR WHEN YOU NEED ME. I GOT YOUR BACKS.