It is Wednesday, October 18th. I'm scheduled to be discharged this morning to begin my journey back to Florida.
I awaken at 5:30, walk to the washroom, and as I return to my room become aware that part of my tongue is swollen. I bring this to the attention of the nurse a few minutes later when she comes to check my vitals. There is an ensuing consultation with several of the doctors an I am given a large dose of benedryl. I react to the benedryl, but no reduction in the swelling. The lymph nodes in my neck are obviously enlarged. Discharge today looks unlikely.
The doctor arrives expecting to sign my discharge papers. He is disappointed in my condition, and surprised to find the swelling. He orders more blood tests and wants further intervention from the cardiologist.
I am given more drugs, and the swelling subsides. My symptoms are controlled but the causes remain elusive.
The cardiologist arrives armed with all the lab and recent test results. We discuss my history in detail, both my long term medical history and the short term sequence of events. He concludes that while there is the possibility of a minor cardiac contribution to my condition, this is not significant enough to have caused the shortness of breath and is unrelated to any swelling. He is going to confer with the rest of the team, and my Doctor will be back with me later in the day.
It is time to call Adrienne and bring her up to date. Unfortunately the plane tickets are non refundable, but there are a few hours left in the 24 hour cancellation period. I tell her to cancel the flights, and we will just rebook when needed. There are still seats on tomorrow's flight, so this is not a flight that is always sold out.
About 4 o'clock I get word that I am being moved to the internal medicine floor somewhere else in the hospital. I'm barely settled in, haven't even met any of the staff when my Doctor arrives. He has a plan.
They are now convinced that the swelling is most likely a side effect of a maintenance drug I take, I am not surprised as this is a common side effect. Still no definitive cause for the shortness of breath, but many possible causes have been ruled out.
The objective is now changed to get me safely to Florida.
I will be discharged at my convenience to go directly to a plane.
Use of the suspected drug is suspended.
As I am discharged I will be given a dose of steroids to counteract any swelling, I may just happen to have an additional dose with me while I travel, just in case.
If nothing adverse occurs, I will start the discharge process at whatever time is needed to catch my plane.
The Doctor and I meet with the head staff person to discuss the discharge arrangements. If they have ever discharged a patient in the middle of the night they are not acknowledging so, but say with confidence they can do it.
I am in contact with Adrienne to rebook my flight. Of course this doesn't work either. The airline will no longer accept my credit card. I understand, people shouldn't be booking and canceling the same flight within a few hours. I give her another card to use. Have I ever mentioned that I always carry more than one credit card when I travel? Just for time like this.
I call my PCP and arrange for an appointment a few days after my return to Florida. Arrangements are made to have all my hospital records faxed to her, at the moment 44 pages and counting.
Adrienne confirms that I am booked on the 5:45 AM flight.
I have dinner, take a shower, and repack my suitcases. I need to know what is where to get through airport security and US customs. Though not neatly packed, everything of importance is accounted for.
I am free to walk around the corridors. I don't bother other patients, but talk with the nurses at the station only when they are not busy. One of them frequents central Florida once or twice a year and is very familiar with the area where I live. Actually just getting up and walking around results in lifting my spirits and helping me feel better.
The planes are booked. The nursing staff has arranged for a taxi to pick me up at the proper entrance door. My records have been successfully faxed and received by my Doctor.
I will be awakened at 3:00 for the next leg of my adventure.