I was sent home from the hospital on three medications (to keep my blood pressure low), dexamethasone (a steroid to reduce swelling), plavix (a blood thinner), asprin (a blood thinner), ibprophine (for pain relief), hydrocodone (for pain relief), Fentonol patch (for pain relief) and a migraine medication (for pain relief). These medications were in addition to my psychiatric medications. It was overwhelming to keep track of. I was taking medications every 6 hours.
After about three weeks I was looking to refill my prescriptions. I called my primary care physician to refill anything they would refill. I gave them a list everything I was taking but the psychiatric medications. I was told that they would give me refill prescriptions for the blood pressure medications. That the surgeon would have to provide refills for the Plavix and the pain killers.
I was feeling frustrated. The surgeon had told me that I would have a headache for months and that he would send me home with the pain relief I needed to get through that time. I decided to write the surgeon a letter asking what medications he would like me to continue. I advised that my primary care physician was not going to provide prescriptions for any of the medications I was sent home from the hospital with I asked about the pain killers, the dexamethasone and the plavix. I asked that I receive a return phone call in regards to what to continue taking. I did not receive a phone call back. The thought that I was going to receive continuation of care after leaving the hospital was going away. After a couple of days I called the surgeon’s office to ask about a prescription for the plavix. After all they had already told me they weren’t going to prescribe the pain killers. Apparently I needed to come up with a different plan.
In terms of my physical condition, I was feeling tired but stronger everyday. I was sleeping a lot but I was able to take my dog for short walks outside. On cold days I was even taking trips up and down the stairs in the house. The headaches were constant. I was taking hydrocodone and the migraine headache medication alternatively every 6 hours.
I decided to try weening myself on to over the counter pain relief. I asked the pharmacist about the best pain reliever to take with the asprin I was taking for a blood thinner. He recommended Tylenol or Ibprophine. I took home Tylenol Extra Strength and hoped for the best. For a couple of days I tried out the Tylenol. I was still using hydrocodone to sleep at night. The process was scary and frustrating.
After two more weeks I was able to eliminate the hydrocodone from the mix. I began to throw out pain killers I didn’t need. I threw out the ibprophine and dexamethasone. I was not able to throw out the hydrocodone or the migraine headache medication. What if the headache got worse?
Over the next week and a half I got very sick. It felt like I had the flu. My blood pressure dropped very low. I called my surgeon’s office about the blood pressure and was told it was a question that should be directed to my primary care. My Dad called the surgion’s office because I was very sick and was told that my blood pressure was on the low side of normal. I was exhausted, weak, nauseous and my headache got worse. I was unable to take my walks, I spent much of the day sleeping and trying to deal with the headache pain. The headache pain got to be around a 6 out of 10. I decided it was time to see someone about my condition. My surgion’s office had advised me to go the emergency room if my headache pain became significantly worse during my follow up appointment in December. Dad and I took a trip to Mercy Hospital’s emergency room because that was where my surgions had rights to practice.
I checked into the emergency room and settled myself into the room I was provided. Shortly after checking in the emergency room the physician assistant overseeing my case was on the phone with my surgion. I was definitely in the right place. They asked plenty of questions about how I was feeling and my medications. One of the questions was weather I was still taking the dexamethasone. My response was no. I thought it was a pain killer and had thrown it out. We had discovered the problem.
Dexamethasone is a steroid that was prescribed to reduce the swelling around the aneurysm. I didn’t realize this or had forgotten that I had been told this. I was given a dose of dexamethasone and a prescription to continue to take it on my way home.
After feeling like I was weakening each day I was feeling hopeful that I was going to start to get less tired and stronger with each day.