“Well, You Called It”

hypokalemia 3

I’m not really doing too well.  I feel so broken and shitty, and I just had the world’s weirdest emergency room visit ever.  Maybe.

I was sitting at home, playing Mario about an hour before bed.  I felt completely fine.  Then I started having jaw pain and some weird chest tightness.  I told myself not to worry though, because if the chest tightness was anything significant, my heart monitor would pick it up.  So, I went about playing Mario without any real worries.  Actually, the pain was about a one on my scale anyway, so I really just wasn’t all that concerned.

Then, my vision seemed kinda weird.  I couldn’t see out of my left eye as well as normal.  I again wasn’t too concerned.  It was only my lower left eye quadrant, so I wasn’t too worried.  I thought maybe it was a weird POTS symptom and I laid down, thinking nothing of it.  About five minutes after that though, I hollered to Master that I needed to get to an emergency room quick.  I had completely lost vision in my left eye and I was shaking violently.  It happened completely out of the blue, (not gradually, but a sudden blackening of my eye after the bottom quadrant had gone) and I knew something was terribly wrong.  Of course, Master knew something was wrong because I normally would have gone to see him if something was bothering me, instead of yelling from the bedroom.  He took my collar off (he always takes it off when we are going to the ER, because you can’t have it on for CT scans, etc), and then he put numbing cream on my port and rushed me to the closest hospital about five minutes away.

I got there, was immediately brought to triage, and after about a two minute survey they took me back.  My pulse wasn’t crazy bad at 115 (which is pretty low considering the POTS, but too high for a normal person), but my diastolic blood pressure was 44.  Something was just not right, that’s crazy low.

So, I get into the hospital room they assigned me to and I’m shaking so badly that not one but three or four nurses asked me if I had Parkinson’s disease.  Master told them I didn’t.  They asked me how my pain was, and I told them I had a dull ache in my lower left stomach that I’ve had for months and we think is a side effect from a medicine I’m taking.  They asked me to rate it and I said “Three or four.”  The nurse looked at me, and then circled “6-7” on the chart.  What??

The doctor was really concerned.  He did some vision tests which I failed (but I didn’t know that until later when Master told me.  I thought I was doing awesome, because the doctor kept saying “Good.”  Ha.  He ordered a CT scan and a few other tests.  He then consulted with a neurologist while I laid there, still shaking violently and unable to see.

Of course they asked about my history, and Master told them I sometimes get migraine headaches, and sometimes they mimic stroke symptoms.  Oddly enough, the doctor already suspected that.  They kept asking about my pain, and I kept saying “None.”  It was so weird.  They just didn’t believe me.  I knew something was wrong, but I just wasn’t in pain.

They asked me if anything similar to this happened before, and I explained that something similar did.

“What caused it then?”

“Low potassium and anemia.”

After getting some blood work, the doctor came in the room and said:

“Well, you called it.  You have low potassium.”

I relaxed immediately.  We knew it wasn’t a terrible POTS flare, or a stroke when he said that.  The CT scan came back okay too, thankfully.

Of course, by that time, my left hand and face were going numb.  Master started to panic, as did the doctor.  He immediately got a neurologist on the phone, and (bizarrely) they decided I needed to have pain medicine because they were all sure I was about to have one of my serious migraines that cause the stroke-like symptoms.  I had just started to get the smallest pain in my head by that point.  I told the doctor though, that I didn’t think I would take anything more than a Tylenol for it if I was home, it was that mild.  Since all of my other symptoms were so bad, though, they gave me IV pain meds as well as potassium and fluids.

I have seen so many of my friends go to the ER specifically for pain relief, and they almost never get it.  Then, I go in for something unrelated to pain, and guess what?  They insist on giving me pain meds.  I just thought “This is like the Twilight zone.”

The doc was right, though.  I did wind up with a terrible headache, but it was a lot less bad considering they gave me IV meds.  Truth be told, I still am not 100% and I still am dealing with the headache as I write this.  It’s a lot less bad than it was the last time, though.  In the meantime, he referred me to a neurologist so we can hopefully see about getting something to help prevent them or figure out why they happen.  They are scary as heck.  The doctor was explaining that these types of migraines are very rare, and if I’ve had three in the last two years that I need to be seen by a neurologist to make sure nothing else is wrong.


I’m kind of really blown away this time though, because I’m on a lot less Florinef than the last time this happened.  The only thing me and Master can figure out is that I’m eating a lot less, so that’s probably how my potassium dropped.  I guess I’ll be needing more supplements.  We’ll figure it out, I know we will.  It’s just so frustrating to be so urgently sick so often.  I really hope that I don’t have some new neurological issues, and these are just flukes.

hypokalemia 2

This last picture was taken at the end of the night, around 4AM, when I started to perk up somewhat from the fluids and potassium.  I’m just going to need to take it easy for at least a week or two.  With any luck, I can get a break soon.