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How I ended up blogging in the ICU

March 29, 2012

My recent visit to the hospital is generating a lot of questions about why I was there, and the best way to deal with them is to detail the episode here on my personal blog.

As near as I can tell, being I have no memory of the actual event, is I tripped over something on the floor at home which triggered a big fall. I apparently hit my head on the footboard of our bed which then bounced off the hardwood floor. The impact on the floor was massive, as the loud sound of my head hitting the floor is what wakened my wife from sleep (this about 12:30 at night).

I was unconscious from the fall for about half a minute, and when I came to I had no recollection how I came to be sprawled on the floor. I was bleeding from two spots on my head and my right elbow that must have hit the bed on the way down.

My wife wanted to do the emergency room right away, but I wanted to see if the bleeding would stop on its own. I didn’t even have a headache from the impact, so I thought nothing was seriously wrong. We wanted to keep me awake in any event given the possibility of a concussion with such a hard fall, so for the next few hours we stayed awake and watched the bleeding for signs of stoppage.

The worst injury I suffered strangely enough was my tongue. I apparently bit it when I hit the floor, and it was bleeding in the back of my mouth. Within an hour of the fall my tongue was easily three times normal size, resulting in difficulty talking. It hurt tremendously too.

About 5 AM that morning I got really nauseous, and that’s when we realized my tongue had been bleeding down my throat since the fall. I threw up a massive amount of blood, and that’s when I said we better go to the ER.

We’re just down the street from one so we jumped in the car and hit the local hospital. They took me right in since I was still bleeding everywhere, and after getting the story they ordered a Cat Scan to check my brain. They spotted two spots where my brain was bleeding, and set in motion an ambulance to take me to Memorial Hermann in the Houston Medical Center. They have a famous neuro ER there and that’s where they wanted me to be.

My wife and I both knew this could be serious when the ambulance picked me up in just minutes. They told me they would take me to the ER at Memorial Hermann, but they were immediately going to transfer me to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) there due to the possible severity of my injury.

Everything happened really quickly but soon we were there and I was whisked up to the ICU. The neurosurgeon on duty explained that there were only two outcomes to my injury. Either the brain would stop bleeding quickly on its own, and I would be safe and discharged soon, or it wouldn’t. The latter would require opening up my skull to allow the bleeding to drain to stop any pressure from building up on the brain.

What complicated this was the fact I was taking Plavix, a blood-thinner, for my heart. This medicine has a known history of preventing bleeding on the brain from stopping. That’s the sole reason I was in the ICU, to constantly monitor the situation so they could take me to surgery immediately should the bleeding not stop.

I have to admit that although scared about what was happening, the ICU and the staff at Memorial Hermann were top-notch. The ICU was actually a whole floor of private rooms, and I was pretty comfortable considering I was hooked up to all sorts of monitors and two different IVs.

Long story short (too late, right?) I was in the ICU for 24 hours under close observation, and after giving me blood platelets to help my brain fight off the bleeding it was noted that it worked. The bleeding dissipated and they let me go home with detailed instructions on what to do.

I go back to the neurosurgeon in two weeks for a final cat scan to make sure the bleeding hasn’t started again, after which I should be back to normal. It’s amazing how serious a simple fall turned out to be, and how good medical care made a big difference. Thanks to all the healthcare providers who worked on my behalf to get me back in the real world.

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4 Comments
  1. hikerpa permalink

    Thanks for update! Glad to hear that you are on the mend! Good luck with the Nuerosurgeon!

  2. hikerpa permalink

    Thanks for the update. Glad to hear that you are on the mend and feeling better! Good luck with the Neurosurgeon follow up!

  3. Great that you’re on the mend, James – take care of yourself, and try not to fall over anything! :)

  4. freescifistories permalink

    James, I only just read this post. I’m a long time fan. I wish you all the best and hope all subsequent tests have been positive. The rule of thumb here in Australia is that if you lose consciousness **at all**, go straight to emergency!

    Btw my dad had a fall recently in the middle of the night. He didn’t turn on the light so as not to disturb my mother and tripped. He almost lost an eye and has fractured his eye socket! He’s having surgery next week to have a plate put in, as most of his eye socket is gone. Talk about freak accidents.

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