Surprisingly, although I have four kids, when they were little we made surprisingly few trips to the ER. No one even got stitches until a couple of years ago when Harrison tried out a new Cutco knife on his finger (it worked!). When Hannah had a ruptured appendix it still took us a couple days before we decided she needed to go to the ER (duh!). Arlie fell off the bleachers after soccer practice once and we took her to the ER only to spend over three hours on a school night waiting while they repeated the x-rays they lost the first time. Most of their medical emergencies happened during office hours (Hayley's broken wrist, Hannah's broken elbow) so going to the ER wasn't a frequent occurrence.
But......in the last six months we've been to the ER five times! If they had a punch card, we'd be on our way to a free visit! Alas, they don't. I've spent some long days (and nights) in the ER with different members of my family, and I've declared that if I spend the night in the ER, I get to take a sick day the next day. I'm too old to pull an all-nighter, especially one that doesn't involve alcohol.
Last night I got to make another speedy trip to the ER, this time with Jeff, who woke up with a horrible "niacin flush." For those of you who don't know, a niacin flush is a reaction to niacin, which Jeff has been taking for his cholesterol. Typically, this "flush" causes a feeling of being overheated along with some itchiness that lasts just a few minutes. It can be countered by taking the pills just before sleep (so you sleep through it) and sometimes taking aspirin or ibuprofen.
But.....sometimes it's worse. A LOT worse. As in, you wake up a couple hours after sleeping to your whole body being red like a sunburn and itching worse than you can ever imagine. And it doesn't stop after a few minutes. In fact, last night, Jeff woke at 12:30 in agony. At 1:30 I gave him two Benadryl. At 2 he took three aspirin and another Benadryl. At 2:30 we went to the ER. What transpired in between that time was both awful and hilarious.
While Jeff suffered and tried to get something, anything to stop the itching, he was alternately in and out of the shower, going outside (once with no shoes - "FUCK SHOES!" he shouted as he flung out the door), and falling on the floor because his legs were so twitchy. We tried a fan, cold air, cold water, lotion, the meds.....and nothing was helping. He mentioned how forcing someone to take niacin and have this result would be an excellent torture, and asked me if I would please "just cut off my legs!" Several times I suggested we go to the ER, but he kept saying "no" until all of a sudden he said "I'll just drive myself" at which time I jumped up and threw on some yoga pants. Jeff was happy to go in his underwear but did have the presence of mind to throw on a sweatshirt, shorts, and flip flops.
While we drove there, he kept saying "You are taking the longest possible route to get there!" I drove the shortest possible route and went 85 mph. We approached the ER and he said "Go in that way!" which took me in the wrong way, and I pulled up next to the wrong door. He shouted "It's up there, whatever, I'll just get out here!" and he barrelled out of the car while it was still moving. I parked quickly as he staggered like a drunk into the ER and right into the intake room (no waiting, I guess - lol!).
While he was being questioned, he mentioned that his discomfort was an 11 on a scale of 1-10 and that it was "worse than death." He also commented that he was never, ever, ever taking niacin again, and that he would rather have a heart attack.
After examining him the doctor said he was having a severe reaction, they didn't know why, and that there was nothing to do but wait it out since he had already maxed out on the Benadryl, but he did give him a nice aspirin and some lorazepam. It wouldn't take the itching away, but it would help him not care as much. Except it didn't work - he still cared. Because he still itched. At one point, his feet were cold and he asked me for some of "those fucking booties" to keep them warm. I rummaged around in the room for a pair of those lovely gray socks with rubbery tread painted on both sides. Jeff liked that they helped "scratch" his legs. When I pulled out my phone to videotape his misery, he said "let's play a game of go fuck yourself, you go first!" That only made me laugh harder at his expense. I'm horrible. I know.
It wasn't as funny as time went on and it wasn't getting any better. I finally asked the nurse for something else - more Benadryl and/or lorazepam and she gave him both. At long last, he stopped twitching miserably, stopped scratching, and began to droop as the drugs took effect. As soon as he was almost comatose they declared him fit to go home. He stumbled to the car and said all he wanted was a McDonald's frappe. We stopped at the first McD's we saw but they weren't open at the early hour of 5 a.m. so we went to a 24 hour one. And guess what? Their frappe machine was broken! By this time we were both hungry so we ate bacon, egg and cheese biscuits on our way home. Jeff sort of oozed out of the car and said in a slurred voice, "Man, that stuff is a good combination, I'm really feeling out of it" and then proceeded to try and walk up the stairs, saying "My feet have cement blocks on them, I can't walk!" He fell heavily into bed and hasn't moved since.
I slept for seven hours. Jeff hasn't been up all day. I did talk to him, so I know he's alive, but I'm guessing he'll be sleeping off the drugs for a few more hours. And that he'll never take niacin again. Scratch, scratch.