Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Emergency Room

Wick's World


March 21, 2019

I’m roaring down I-35 and we are way past breaking the speed limit. This time I’m not the guy sitting in the passenger seat watching my wife enjoy our new Tesla. Actually, I am in the back; the way back and I’m watching the cars behind me disappear. Sirens are wailing and red lights are blazing. I am taking my first ambulance ride.

Remove our ambulance from the picture and I would call this a very quiet Sunday morning in St. Paul, Minnesota. Unfortunately, my morning had been anything but quiet. It was just as bad last night although I did manage to get three or four hours of sleep. Morning came and I removed my twitching leg from the bed. When I stepped onto the floor, I gingerly placed my left leg down and put all one hundred fifty pounds of my body on it. Just like last night, I couldn’t feel a thing except for the tingling of the little toes.

Common sense should tell a seventy-two-year-old man who had a stroke at age twenty-five and open-heart surgery at age sixty-five to listen to what his body is saying. I was experiencing numbness in my entire left leg last night. Why didn’t I immediately go to the nearest urgent care or, better yet, call an ambulance? I blame it on the two S’s; stubborn and stupid.

I went to bed hoping for improvement on Sunday morning but that didn’t happen. I mentioned my situation to my wife and ten minutes later we pulled up to a nearby urgent care. It was Sunday morning and I was having visions of the place being filled with Saturday night drunks nursing more than a hangover or a Sunday morning parishioner who split his head open on the pew in front of him while nodding out to a boring sermon. In reality, I walked in to an empty building. I told the doc in charge of my symptoms and the history of my health. I came across like the poster boy for an old man about to have a stroke, heart attack or both. In less than an hour he had me on my way to United Children’s Hospital. The ER technician riding along assured me that they admitted children as old as age seventy-two.

We entered the emergency room in the back of the building. Again, I was confronted with a room full of medical personnel and no other patients. I couldn’t believe my luck. Another quick exit and I would be on my way home, well in time to watch Selection Sunday at 5:00 pm. I would then find out where the Minnesota Gophers basketball team stood on their road to the Final Four.

Eight hours and a half dozen tests later, I learned that I had neither a stroke or heart attack and I was so healthy that I was very unlikely to experience either. With those ruled out I was certain my tingling toes meant that I was in the early stages of a rare disease known as The Saint Vitus’s Dance. Emitting a chuckle, the Doctor in charge “rest assured” me that he ruled that out also. He told me it was my lucky day. I had the least serious of all of the diagnoses before him. I had a pinched nerve in my lower back.

“I’ll put you on steroids for a week to take the swelling down,” the doctor informed me.

“Meanwhile, you should make an appointment with your neurologist at Mayo Clinic,” he said as he finished up.

I know most people don’t have their own neurologist on call, especially at a prestigious hospital like The Mayo Clinic. I do. It’s not because I’m some kind of a big shot. Actually, it’s because I’m a poor driver. On the morning of December 11, 2011, my Golden Years lost their glow. I left a paved road at 55 mph and suddenly found myself sliding on excess gravel left by the road grader. I broke my back and broke my car. It didn’t break my spirit. With the aid of my neurologist and a lot of diligent rehabilitation by me, I healed my back; and most importantly, I did it without surgery.

I still have lingering back issues but for the most part, the glimmer has returned to my golden years. Now if I can get my toes to stop tingling and get the feeling back in my leg, I should be good for this dance this Saturday night; and not Saint Vitus’s.


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