Well my good ol’ friend Murphy is back in town again. Here’s the latest update from me.
The knee is getting better (albeit slowly). I was supposed to go in today at 8am and meet with them to confirm that there wasn’t a blood clot in the leg, due to the increased swelling and the fact that the swelling had moved into my thigh. If everything was ok, I was going to try a half day at work.
Instead, I woke up at around 4am with a dry mouth sensation. That progressed into utter panic as I couldn’t breathe and felt like something was blocking my throat. Everytime I talked or took a breath, it would get cutoff. The first thought was that something was stuck, so my natural reaction was to try and expell it. That only made it worse, as I’d gag again. I wound up spitting up blood (again adding more panic), but that was likely due to the sheer force of my gagging and attempts to breath, and popping some vessels in my throat.
The fear of not being to breath was unlike anything else I’ve ever felt. I was trying to tell Jean what the problem was, but couldn’t get it out. At this point I knew I wasn’t choking on an object, so nothing like the Heimlich would have made sense. I motioned to her to get me something to write on, and scribbled (8 or 9 on the illegible scale). She asked if I wanted her to call 911, which I nodded yes to through the tears. As I drank some water, I managed to squeak out a few words.
The EMT first responders arrived in about 8 or 9 minutes. They took all my vitals and put an IV in my arm. They even draw blood so that the bloodwork could be started the moment I arrived in the ER. At this point, we still had no idea what the cause was, but I long as I drank water, I could get one or two words out before I choked again. We waited for the ambulance to arrive so that they could transport me. Things to add to your fun list ‘Getting loaded onto a gurney and into an ambulance during a rain storm in the dark’. Right now they were looking at it as a possible allergic reation, or trauma from the surgery on Thursday (they put a tube down my throat)
I left Jean and the kids at home. It made the most sense. With respiratory distress, we wanted someone there ASAP. The time it would take to get us all loaded in the car, down to the ER, checked in, etc, would have been a pain in the ass.
We arrived in the ER and the doctor examined me. His examination revealed that my uvula was swollen. You can click that link for more information rather than typoing something else swollen into Google. Its that little stupid puching bag thing at the back of your throat. Important for a lot of things, and responsible for some things like sleep apnea. He then put me on several medicines. First was a steriod to reduce the initial swelling. Next was Benadryll, to deal with any possible allergic reaction. Finally an antibiotic to deal with any possible post-operative infection.
While I was there they also did an ultrasound on my leg and confirmed no blood clot (yeah).
I also received a visit from the Ear, Nose, Throat specialist. This was after about 2 hours. Thing number two to add to your fun list ‘Having a 12–18” scope inserted through your nose and into your throat while trying to avoid gagging’. That was one of the more painful experiences I’ve had recently as well. It was tough because I had to breathe thru my nose to help the insertion as well as say ‘EEEEEee’, The uvula of course kept getting in the way and causing me to gag. Not fun. Not even remotely. He confirmed that there was no visible infection and no blockage or foreign object or ulcer/tumor etc. His diagnosis was a uvula edema. It could have been caused by the initial trauma during surgery, but more likely was caused by me having to lay on my back to keep my leg elevated and then in turn snoring and stressing the poor bugger out.
For now I have to wait for the swelling to reduce. When I was discharged at 11, the initial steriod wasn’t as effective as it should have been, so they gave me another dose. I also have a perscription for a steriod at home, and Benadryll.
I have a followup appt with the ENT Dr. on Friday, and I’m on restricted activity until then. I am unable to drive. Partially because of the medicine and partially because of possible future respiratory distress. After our appointment, he should clear me, assuming nothing else is wrong. Sometime in the near future, we’re going to do a sleep apnea study as well. I had one about 6 years ago with no positive results.
So that’s the latest pickle. If I breath thru my nose, I’m less likely to gag. If I do talk, it has to be in short sentences and low volume. I also have the perplexing need to both elevate my leg while sleeping as well as elevate my head. “I’m not an animal”. I’m going to try and work out a system of pillows to sleep on my side and keep my leg up. The swelling should subside in the next few days, so now it’s just a waiting game. One strange side effect is that the steriods seem to be doing their job not only my uvula, but on my leg as well. It seems that the swelling has gone down a bit in the last 12 hours.