I woke up seconds later with a contusion at the back of my head. The size of it alarmed me but what raised my fear the most is that I am lying down on a cold drugstore floor surrounded by strangers.
Never in a hundred years did I realize how vulnerable I can be. I’ve always been tough even when sick, but this time, frailty has succumbed me. I’ve been feeling sick since last week and I kept shrugging it off fully certain that I’ll get by – until July 29.
I woke up feeling woozy and clammy so I jumped fast to the shower so I can wash the feeling off, “Nothing’s wrong until you acknowledge it”, I told myself. It has always worked. After that I dashed to get dressed and picked the most comfortable top and pants. I checked if I still have a stash of meds for my colds and found that I had none left, so I left home early to drop by the nearest drugstore. Upon entering, the throng of people by the counter signalled me that I will have to wait before I can be serviced. It was then that I started feeling weird.
My hearing started to go out, then my vision started to tunnel. However, the tough chick in me held that this is just the ‘sick in me’ and I can think it all away. But when my hearing completely seized and my sight turned grey that’s when the realist in me kicked in, “Houston, we have a problem.” I held on to the counter and told myself to shake it off by closing my eyes, staying calm and by breathing normal intervals to stop the rush of panicky blood. But that held nothing to my weak body and I soon collapsed on the cold marble floor. And on my way down, I managed to hit my head at a shelf’s corner.
I was rushed to the ER soon after. I was taken to a wheelchair then later on a stretcher – I kept telling them I can still walk but no one seems to listen. I was asked to tell the story many times over, told to follow one of the nurses finger (by this time, I felt stupid for passing out I wanted to kick myself), hooked to wires and clamps for ECG, poked by a needle and I was drawn two test tubes of blood. Later on I was sent to get a CT scan of my upper body – mainly for my head. That was scary. I was told to keep still and lie down on the soft part of my head – which by that time is about the size of an average apple sliced in half and it hurt so bad. The machine made this eerie sound every second it took a snap of my insides. I wanted to cry, and being wheeled around a gurney did not help me calm down. The doctor said she might have to keep me for the night for observation so she can be sure. This was when I had to put a foot down, and asked for the paper I have to sign refusing doctor’s advice. She gave me a stern look.
I felt clammy and my head hurt the entire time but old habits die hard, I kept a straight face and played it cool. I even posed with a smile while my friend took my picture. I told my mom not to go see me because everything was okay and I’ll be home soon. Almost immeidately, my boss called and asked if I was to be admitted, perhaps hinting that he would want to see me. Auto-Pilot for tough girl instantly answered, “No need, I’m fine. I just need to rest.” It’s true, I was in dire need of a break but starting it off this way is just silly.
The ER is not a place for people like me who needs space. I had to share a small curtained room with an old lady who had tubes connected to her and was slowly taking on a colour similar to that of a corpse. Later on, the doctor read me her diagnosis and concluded that my low electrolyte caused me to faint and toppling over from standing straight gave me a contusion on the left side of my head. She gave me a list of things that I have to look after for the next two months and in case it happens again (the fainting spell) I have to go back ASAP because it’s indicative of something bigger. She gave me meds to take for the pain that I never took. Yeah, it hurts but if I can tolerate it, I’ll just roll with the punches. For the next two days, I still felt week and clammy. The soft side of my head also made combing problematic.
Looking back, the drugstore security guard told me that the sound of my head hitting concrete was implausibly loud. He said it was difficult to believe that I didn’t bleed or I survived such impact with nothing but pain killers … he winced remembering the sound.
I kinda knew I’m hard headed.