Maybe next time
I had a minor accident a few weeks back, where I suffered a blow to the head. I didn’t think it was too bad, so I didn’t end up going to the hospital for it right away.
I didn’t plan on going to the hospital at all, actually. I had a great black eye, and I just told everyone that I got into a big fight.
Come to think of it, “I didn’t think it was very serious, so I didn’t go to the doctor” is a theme that recurs in my medical history a lot.
It wasn’t until my eye got infected that I went to the hospital. I went in, told the ER doctor my symptoms:
“Itchy eye, red eye colouration, headaches, watery eyes, runny nose, sore throat.”
She took my temperature, blood pressure and heart rate.
“You have a fever, Mr. Carlisle,” she told me, struggling with my last name (French Canadians have a hard time figuring out the silent S), “When you blow your nose, does the phlegm have any colour?”
“Yes, in fact. It’s black.”
“Black?” she asked, surprised.
You know that you have something good when your symptoms shock the ER doctor. I blew my nose and proved it to her.
I sat in the waiting room until another doctor came to see me, and pronounced that I had pink eye, and was about to send me on my way when I asked if the pink eye would explain the fever that I had.
“Fever?” she asked. That’s two ER doctors that I shocked.
She started feeling around my skull at that point, seeing where it hurt and didn’t, and decided to send me for a CT scan. I dripped my pink-eye tears all over the CT machine. I’m sure that the next 5 patients to use it will get infected, thanks to me.
When the results came back, she told me that I had broken my right orbital floor, and the tissues surrounding my eye were actually falling down into my sinus. That would explain the fever, sore throat, and the blood in my phlegm. There wasn’t any bone supporting my right eye, so it was literally falling through my face. I would need surgery.
I was sent to see an ophthalmologist, who told me that my right eye had fallen about 3mm from where it should be. On the upside though, he told me that I still have 20/20 vision, and that there’s no nerve damage or damage to my retina. The only problem is the broken bone and the pink eye.
I was sent to see the surgeons who were going to fix my face, and they sent me home for a week and a half, to let the infection go away, so that they don’t let it get inside my skull. On Friday, August 6th, I had my surgery, and despite my specific instructions that they replace my right eye with a Borg-style implant, they only put a metal plate in my skull, to fix the bone, and put my eye right back where it should be. I will make a full recovery and require no bionic implants at all.
The swelling has gone down almost entirely, and I’m feeling good. I think they must have made the incision into my head somewhere inside my eyelid, so there won’t even be a scar.
There were only two really scary parts about this whole thing:
1. When I am put on morphine, I have hallucinations. Not really bad ones, but I consistently have them. This time, I seriously believed that if I stopped consciously thinking about my breathing, then I would stop breathing, and probably die. I was very afraid to go to sleep.
2. When I mentioned to the doctors that I’m a MA bioethics student at McGill, they had a sort of “we better be on our best behaviour now” thing going on, which scared me. What do they think they can normally get away with, that they can’t with a bioethicist watching?