As I settled into the emergency room at Beth Israel in Needham, the terror started to creep in. I was out of control of the situation and I had no idea what was going to happen. All I knew was that I wanted the pain to stop. I begged the staff to turn off the lights in my room as the lights were like a jackhammer to my skull. Then, my doctor for the day walked in. Dr Adler, a young female doctor not much older than myself. As we spoke, and I gave her all of my medical history I was instantly put at ease. She knew, like myself that something was terribly wrong. This was not just a bad migraine. And she looked at me confidently and stated "Don't worry, I am not letting you leave this hospital until we find out what is wrong with you."
These words were more comforting to me than anything else could have been. There were no falsehoods in it. My complaints would not be dismissed, I was being believed. As a nurse practitioner who works with those suffering from substance abuse, I have heard many tales of the stigma and judgement people can experience when they walk into an ER complaining of pain and seeking pain meds. When I walked into the ER that morning I was worried that I would not be believed, be told that nothing was wrong with me and that I was overreacting. But Dr. Adler would be my advocate that day. Her fear was that I had some type of abscess in my neck due to my history of being sick with a sore throat the past week, having neck pain and losing my voice and high fevers. Our eyes locked and I know we both were thinking the same thing, possibly meningitis. And so she sent me for CT scans of my head and neck, sent off blood cultures to see if I was septic. All of which came back normal. There was no abscess in my neck, no signs of bacteria flowing through my veins. But as we waited for results to come back, the pain began to get worse. And I tried to put up a good front for both my mom and Matt, who came to meet us at the hospital after he got off of work.