Person holding a phone with 2 bubbles floating out; one with a doctor's profile and one with an ambulance.

My Covid Hospital Stay (Part 1)

Editor's note: This is part 1 of a two-part series. Be sure to check out part 2!

Flying by the seat of your pants when you have COPD is dangerous and could easily end up being life-threatening. I swore that I would not go to the hospital, but here I am just out of hospital during the pandemic. In fact, the pandemic was the entire problem from the beginning. As the world closed, they forgot about those of us with a chronic illness like COPD.

My symptoms

Getting worse by the day, I was so fatigued that I could hardly get out of bed in the morning, and yet I was unable to sleep at night. My symptom rundown was as follows:

  • My mind was in a fog.
  • Both my feet, right up to the ankle, were so sore and painful, I could hardly stand on them.
  • The pain in my feet caused me to become nauseous every time I walked on them.
  • Constipation was a huge and uncomfortable issue.
  • I was constantly itchy all over but could not get any relief.
  • Oxygen saturation was totally uncontrollable. It was either too high, or too low.
  • Increasingly high heart rate. Just going to the bathroom made my heart rate jump to over 120!
  • Finally, the chest pain and palpitations made me stand up and pay attention.

Hello, is anyone there?

I made numerous calls to my family doctor and my cardiologist. Nobody would return my calls. It was like a deserted western town with tumbleweeds and echoes indicating the absence of life. It appears that doctors in Canada folded up the sidewalks and put up a CLOSED sign. Even getting bloodwork drawn is a near impossibility and without it, it was impossible to know what was going on. I had not had my bloodwork done for over a year.

The tipping point

I finally broke down on a Thursday morning and called my daughter to call an ambulance. My feet were so painful I could not stand up. My heart was pounding out of my chest and I knew my lungs were working ridiculously hard to keep me alive. We decided that we would let the paramedics decide if I should go or if I was okay to stay.

Was this the right thing to do?

As the sirens blared onto my street, I became anxious about my decision. The last thing I wanted to do was spend another week in the hospital, having spent so many weeks there in the last few years. The neighbors gathered outside to watch the show and waited anxiously, as inside the paramedics discussed the best avenue for me.

Pandemic fears

We are in the middle of the 3rd wave of the pandemic. Our numbers are extremely high with Covid and its variants. Being in hospital did not seem like the best place for me to be but I was not making the calls now, the paramedics were. They looked at the heart monitor - my heart rate was tacky, my blood pressure extremely low, and one leg was swollen. It was decided that it would be best for me to go and get checked out.

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Panic

Panic began to set in as I was lifted onto the stretcher. As much as the paramedics tried to reassure me that it was safe to go to the hospital, I was skeptical. However, the advantage of going in an ambulance is that you get to see a doctor immediately and are evaluated much quicker than walking into ER. They begin testing the minute you come through the door.

The right thing

I did the right thing by calling an ambulance. My potassium was very low and had extremely high calcium. Either of these problems could have caused a heart attack and probably would have within a week if I hadn't gotten help. After spending 4 days in hospital I was discharged to recuperate at home.

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