S.O.B.

I know, I know... It's been a very long time. I forgot I wrote this one a while back. It's a work in progress

I'm not making any promises but I'm pretty sure there is more where this came from.

S.O.B.

One day, out of the blue, in the middle of my run I started having a terrible time breathing. Terrible enough to make me stop and walk myself home. I took a shower and the hot steam helped momentarily but I felt like my chest was filling up, like I was coming down with a cold. My roommate gave me a decongestant and I went to bed. I woke up three times that night, gasping for breath. I was having dreams that I was drowning. I couldn’t breathe. When my alarm went off in the morning I was exhausted and my chest still hurt but I got myself to work. I had trouble breathing all day long. I noticed in Chapel, I couldn’t stand and sing at the same time. I called my doctor who couldn’t fit me in until the next morning. Honestly I wasn’t all that worried until the girls at work started speculating about what it could be. One of them called her husband, A med student at USC, he was concerned about the chest pain and suggested that I go to the emergency room. I wasn’t convinced. I went home and called my friend, Stephanie, the nurse, she heard my voice and made me promise that I would go to urgent care: Immediately! She told me it was probably a collapsed lung.

“It’s easy to fix,” she explained, “they just re-inflate it”.

Now, I was freaked. I called my Mom to let her know that I was going to Urgent Care. She offered to come over but she lives 2 hours away. The emergency room is less than a quarter of a mile from my house. It didn’t seem worth the 2 hours through LA traffic. I promised to call soon. I checked in and told them breathlessly the whole story. The nurse promised to have a doctor see me next because of my obvious not breathing problem. Meanwhile, my phone was ringing, friends calling to check on me and make sure I was still breathing. An hour and a half later, I was still in the waiting room, still on the phone, still trying with all my might to breathe like a normal human being. Finally, I was called by a doctor. We spoke for a moment and he used his good bedside manner voice. He listened to my chest and kept telling me that he thought my lungs sounded really clear. I was nearly hyperventilating at this point. He scribbled on my chart before standing again to check my sinuses. This is when I got a good look at my chart.

In big, bold letters he had written: S.O.B. I couldn’t help but be offended.

Then he was asking if maybe this could be anxiety since I seemed to be in perfect health. I was doing my best to breathe and remain calm. I was not successful at this. I see that know. But I managed to explain that this is not normal, it’s also not anxiety. Then I let him know that he needed to come up with a more viable diagnosis because I could not go home like this. I needed him to fix this. Quickly. He agreed to give me a chest x-ray. I felt a little better about this. But, when the x-ray came back clear, I felt worse. He explained that a clear x-ray was good news. Again he tried to tell me this was anxiety and that I should go home and sleep it off. Again, I pleaded with him in my breathless way, to fix me and that I knew what anxiety was and this was not it. I didn’t tell him how unprofessional this comment on my chart was. Shouldn’t charts be used for the facts about the case and what should be done in response? Not the frustration you are experiencing towards me as a person, even if you are missing LOST because of me.

By now it’s 8pm and I have been here for 3 hours. I’m worse than when I came in and he’s telling there’s nothing wrong with me. I go on about how my chest hurts and he decided to give me an EKG. The technician comes in and straps me down and plugs me in and leaves me to put my clothes back on. The doctor comes back. He shows me the EKG printout and the “blip” that shouldn’t be there. This time, he said that he wanted to keep me here for a while, take some blood and run more tests to rule out any cardiac episodes. He used the words, “Cardiac Episode” on me. I’d never heard that word except on Television. All because of a “funny” EKG. He wasn’t laughing. Suddenly the SOB on my chart was the last thing on my mind. My entire life was flashing before my eyes as I put on the hospital gown and was helped onto the gurney and they strapped heart monitors and IV’s on me.

I’m not a parent but I would imagine there are certain text messages a parent would not want to receive, especially from their children. Children who live 2 hours away. For example: “Mom- my ekg looks funny. They are keeping me for more tests.” The nurse drew the first round of blood and my friend Debbie came to sit with me, together we waited for the results. Debbie updating her facebook status with news about my breathing,

Now it’s 10pm and I’ve been there for 5 hours and I still can’t breathe. They still don’t know what’s wrong with me. Around 11 pm, the Doctor returns to tell me that the first round of tests came back normal and that I probably did not have a heart attack. I see Debbie updating the facebook world, meanwhile I’m watching the numbers rise and fall on the heart monitor, terrible television and worse commercials and still struggling to breathe. A little while later, the doctor comes back and tells me that he wants me to try a breathing treatment. He couched it with phrases like, “It probably won’t work”. I had very little confidence in him at this point. The SOB remark was returning to my memory. The nurse entered with a device that looked like a humidifier/ bong and I was made to breathe deeply into it for 15 minutes. Within 5 minutes, I was breathing easier. Debbie had been keeping a close eye on me from the hard plastic chair beside my bed, between facebook updates and phone calls I hear her say, “Amie, you’re breathing!” The second set of tests didn’t come back until 2 am. Meanwhile the facebook world had become my web MD, texting in all the things they thought it could be. Sweet, sure. Helpful? No. My favorite: It could be a sack of fluid around her heart. What am I supposed to do with that info? I was finally released, given an inhaler and told to follow up with my primary care doctor and that I did not have a heart condition but I might be allergic to something.

It took 8 hours in urgent care for me to learn 2 things. First, Los Angeles had given me asthma. Second, S.O.B. also stands for shortness of breath.