Shanghai Emergency Room Trip


This Saturday afternoon I don’t know what or how, but I managed to get into something really nasty.  The day started out OK with some yogurt and peach smoothy drinks, retrieved the bank book from the self serve service machine at the bank (it ate my bank book the previous night), and paid the power and water bills at the local convenience store just down the block.  Coming home I microwave some left overs from my incredibly over priced delivery food (Thailand style spicy chicken soup and spicy fried pork, I had to make my own rice!) and enjoyed the breakfast and did some work and messed around on the Internet for a while, having 2 PCs at home really increases productivity. 

Now you may be asking why I spent so much time on food and what I ate.  Well, take a look!  These pictures were taken Sunday morning, the morning AFTER I went to the emergency room and spent 3 hours in various treatments, it was 3 times this size last night, no kidding.  I called my wife reluctantly to ask her mom what was going on because I was feeling fine and other then the swelling I had no other problems.  They both insisted they I go to the hospital, so I reluctantly did, male pride you know.  The hospital next to our apartment building took one look at me and sent me to one a little further away, close to where my wife works.  I got there and by the time I found the emergency room and the check-in desk my mother-in-law was on the phone talking to the nurses, its good to have a mother-in-law that was a doctor.  Finally a doctor was summoned and I was seen, after 20 minutes she prescribed some penicillin and then cephradine as they were out of penicillin.  2 tables 3 times a day with food, pretty easy I thought. 

I was discharged, caught a cab and called my wife to tell her I was sent home and had the medication.  The doctor had told me she believed I had a blockage on my slyvia gland on my left jaw and it was not draining properly due to this blockage.  I was amazed that my vitals were not taken, but they did draw blood and that test was fine.  They did not take temperature, blood pressure, or examine my finger tips, ears, or noise, just my mouth.  The only history they did was ask if it was a food allergy, and I have never had a food allergy, ever, to anything, and I have eaten most things under the sun both here and abroad in the Navy.  The doctor did ask if I could take penicillin, but not much else.  I explained to my wife what was done and not done and her mother went ballistic!  She insisted I go back, and 20 minutes later I wish I had.  By the time I got home the pressure on my inner ear was menace!  It was similar to what you feel when you dive down 30 to 50 meters and can’t pop your ears.

My body was pumping out so much adrenalin I could not keep my hands or legs still.  Coco called a friend who lives in the same complex to get me to the hospital because the swelling was so bad it was blurring my vision, killing my balance and ear, uncomfortable to the point of real pain, and my throat was now being closed because of the pressure on the jaw tissue.  I had a growth the size of a large orange or small grapefruit from behind my jaw to just below it.  I could not close my mouth any more and moving it more then an inch in either direction sent searing pain into my ear.  My hands were trembling really bad at this point and I noticed my fingernails were blue and tingeing, a sign that oxygen and or blood in not circulating well.  The doctor was ready to lance my jaw, which I really really really wanted at this point to drain the fluid, but it did not work, do I was given a shot of anti-histamine in the butt, and a full IV drip of cephradine along with an O2 mask. 

I am usually good at controlling my body and managing anything that goes wrong with it.  I have a very high tolerance to pain and can usually meditate to lessen my awareness of it.  Unfortunately this hospitals’s ER was a mess.  People laying on the floor, moaning, crying, screaming, people with their nose cut 1/2 off roaming the halls, various really really really ill and sick people all out in the open and the smell was not very good either.  This I could block out with a bit more concentration, but my wife calling every 5 minutes and sending enough text messages to crash my cell phone, I could not ignore.  Unfortunately that was the last straw and I regretfully lashed out at her being too concerned and bothering me too much.  I do feel really bad for that and I have apologized and told her that when I am in pain I just want to be left alone.  Add the late stage of the pregnancy I did not want the stress of this to cause any problems.  I believe I am very close to dogs in my personality and my attitude, and I learned when a dog is in pain, all you can do is make then comfortable and leave them alone, bugging them will only aggravate them and it will get you bit. 

The IV or the oxygen really made me sleepy and I was dozing on and off for the 2 hours or so it took for the drip to work.  I was slowly able to regain control and the pain was slowly decreasing form a 7 down to a 5, on my 10 point pain scale.  It was hard to get comfortable but I could manage a few positions.  I was in a corner and could hear 2 really drunk people brought in to treat for alcohol poisoning or just being too drunk.  They do not pump stomachs here, just give IV’s and a shot and let the effect wear them selves off on their own, unfortunately the drunk feels neglected so they will act out or throw a temper tantrum.  The swelling came down to about what the pictures above show by noon today.  I was initially told if it did not get any worse to just take the meds today and go back on Monday for an ultra sound to see if there was a blockage or what was going on around the soft tissue.  Today my wife surprised me and told me I have to be at the hospital at 3 pm for my Monday follow-up.  I do not know if they brought in the ultra sound people or not, will find that our later.  My ear is still a bit swollen inside, as is the front left side of my throat, but I am feeling ok and despite limited mobility of my neck and jaw all is livable.  The swelling is closer to being between a golf ball and a baseball in size now but the pressure is the same as when I got home last night.  At lease it does not feel like my inner ear is ripping itself apart from the inside and the rest of my body is acting normal.

This morning I awoke to a soaked bed, I had sweated very very much last night, drenching my pajamas and the sheets.  I am not feeling hungry, although my back is very sore and my kidney region feels like I did after my karate belt test fight with the resident black belts.  I am tired, fatigued, and feeling pretty much like doing nothing, my vision is still a bit blurred in my left eye so looking at the computer screen is not enjoyable (yes to my high school typing teacher, I can now type without looking at the keys, or the paper… um screen).  I will go outside and get some vitamin enriched fruit to eat and then wait for 3 to roll around.  I really want to know what the hell it is that caused this.  If it is a blockage of a slyvia gland in my jaw, I do not feel this treatment was anything more then a band-aid or stop gap until they can clear the blockage to drain the swelling and get things back to normal.  If it were a food allergy then I want to know why I was not prescribed benadryl or why after the treatment the swelling is still here!  Not being able to communicate is bad, it is really bad when your health comes into question, and even worse when you can not converse with the doctor on a level that lets you know what is going on, what is being proposed, and what the outcome is expected to be.  I know my body better then any doctor does, I have lived in it for 36 years now and I know how it operates and deals with things.  Yes I was an ER junkie, but I also was very good in first aid in the Boy Scouts, triage for our gun deck in the Navy, and have been good so far when I go over treatment with the doctor’s before they give them to me.  My Chinese is good for simple conversations and ordering food, not for medical options and treatments.  The doctor did speak English, but it was not as well as my co-workers, friends, or people I talk with regularly here, not her fault… it is her country and my fault for not learning the language enough before coming here and I accept that.  So morale of the story is, when you are traveling, no matter where, no matter when, always make good friend with trustworthy people who can be a bridge of communication if the worst case scenario happens.  I would like to thank Stella for sacrificing her Saturday evening to go to such an unpleasant place as the ER and making sure I got home ok around midnight.  Not the way a young single professional wants to spend her time in Shanghai I know.  If you are traveling carry around the vital important medical info in your wallet written in the local language, as an English speaking doctor may not be around, and a guide or person in the street may not know enough to explain what you are saying to them after the worst is in full spring.  On a parting note, I want to deeply apologize to my wife for being a little harsh and rude, I was not myself and I really do like you being so concerned.  I am sorry if I hurt your feelings or if you feel I was a jerk, I did not mean anything by it, just was in a bad place at a bad time. 

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