DAY 2

Y’all. I have changed so much since I last posted. I’m missing something that I’ve always had before.

Two days ago my gallbladder was removed.

It all started a few weeks ago, when I would get brief twinges of super mild pain in my right upper abdomen. I didn’t worry about it; I figured it was my gallbladder, and I already had an appointment with my family doctor scheduled for October 5.

On September 29, it started hurting again. I went to work, but it kept getting worse. about two hours into my shift, I told my manager I had to go to the hospital. He was very understanding, having had his own gallbladder out last year.

My husband picked me up and brought me in, where the triage nurse completely mangled my explanation of my complaint. When I got into a room, we got that straightened out, and I got an IV, some pain meds, an ultrasound, and a CT scan. And the first of five urine pregnancy tests.

That doc told me that everything was within normal range, even though Ian watched my ultrasound and saw how large and round my gallbladder was. The doc was also a little uneasy to tell me about the lung nodule on my CT–and I just realized I haven’t told y’all about that. It’s fine right now, tell you more later.

So he prescribed tramadol and sent me home with a referral to a GI doctor for a HIDA scan to check on my gallbladder’s functionality. Okay, cool.

Saturday before yesterday I did my bestie’s daughter’s makeup for her first Homecoming dance. Y’all, she was gorgeous! And such a pretty dress, and glitter hairspray because she likes to sparkle as much as I do. I was feeling much better from the night before, but not good in any way.

Sunday morning, October 1, we went back to the hospital. This time I got a CT scan with IV contrast (and a second UPT) and learned that I’m now allergic. Got a nice rash exactly matching the one I had a few months back and realized that was the same week of my abdominal CT with contrast. Good times.

This doc sent me home with percocet and reiterated to followup with the GI doc. Okay, cool, we can call him tomorrow.

Guess what. The doctor I was referred to doesn’t take my insurance, so my husband called the other clinic he heads that does accept it, and an ER referral was not good enough. So he called our family doc and explained everything and they said they’d send a referral over. He called the GI clinic back and talked to someone who said sure, fax over the paperwork you got from the ER. She said she’d work on it but a doctor has to approve it before she can schedule an appointment, and they’d probably want an assessment before they considering doing the scan. Awesome, right?

I got worse again, and we ended up going to the ER at the same hospital as the second clinic on the recommendation of the GI nurse because then they could just called the GI doc on call over to have a look at me.

Thirteen hours later, I left still in pain, without seeing a GI doc or having any imaging done. I did get another urine pregnancy test, though. The ER doc put in a stat referral for me and said to call the next day.

This past Thursday morning, we were still waiting on approval. We went to our scheduled family doctor appointment and told the new nurse practitioner what was going on. She was super nice, and put in another referral for me, along with a neurology referral for my migraines.

And a rheumatology referral for my positive ANA test that no one had told me about. That means I may have lupus. And no one told me or tested me further. Thanks guys. At least you verified that I’m not pregnant for the fourth time this week.

Anyway, still no approval on the referral. I was feeling well enough to go to work, but I warned my boss I was not at 100%. I went home four hours in after getting worse.

Last Friday I woke up early and in more pain than ever before. I took a percocet and then another an hour later. It didn’t help at all, so when my husband woke up, we got ready to go back to the hospital again.

He called the GI clinic to check, and guess what! I finally got an appointment for next Friday. He told the girl that I was in a lot of pain and we were going back to the ER right then, so was there any way I could get a sooner appointment, and she rescheduled for Tuesday at 230.

Finally.

This time the triage nurse did not take me seriously at all. She told me to hold still and sit back and relax because she needed an accurate blood pressure reading. Yeah, screw her a lot.

This doc gave me some pain meds that didn’t help at all, and that’s when I figured I was in trouble. I had a fifth and final UPT, and this time my bloodwork finally came back with an elevated white count, indicating infection. We found this out when my second nurse came in with a bag of antibiotics and confused the heck out of us, because the no one had said anything. She only beat the doctor in by a couple minutes.

He said he’d called the surgeon to have a look at my ultrasound from a week ago, and I’d be staying at least one night, and maybe have my gallbladder out in the morning. Okay, cool.

I’d never had “real” surgery with cutting and everything before, so I was starting to freak out, even though my husband and my mom and most of my friends have had their gallbladders out and had all been reassuring me that it’s the absolute easiest thing and I”d be back to myself in no time.

The surgeon came in to talk to us and said “I’ve got one more ahead of you, then we’ll get you upstairs and get that gallbladder out. I’ve already done three gallbladders today so I’m warmed up, you’ll go home tomorrow.”

Wow.

I signed the consent.

The anesthesiologist came in and went over his paperwork, and I signed his consent.

I got an EKG in the midst of a flock of nurses getting everything ready for my transfer upstairs. I got naked and removed all of my jewelry, which someone then had to catalog, even though it wasn’t leaving my husband’s custody.

Y’all, they put me in a size 10X gown. It was like I was wearing a sheet.

They took me upstairs and put me in the holding area and gave me some pre-op Versed and Pepcid. I was a little bit stoned at that point, and insisted on taking the blame for the broken chair so that the nice nurse Sara wouldn’t get in trouble. Apparently she was listening to me argue about it with my husband and thought it was hysterical. The chair was broken when we got there. I didn’t even get near it.

The scope ahead of me turned into another gallbladder removal, so I waited a bit longer than expected, but I finally woke up in the recovery room, just me and two nurses since I was the last surgery of the day. I started crying as soon as I woke up because I still hurt so bad, and they gave me more pain meds and put me on oxygen because I’d had so many opioids that day. Eventually it got a little better and I was finally able to go up to my room and see my husband.

He put my wedding ring back on and told me not to worry about my earrings until I could put them back in myself. I reluctantly agreed because I was worried about them closing since I’d had to wait so long to go into surgery after taking them out. But really, I knew it wasn’t a big deal.

Everyone had told me that I would feel so much better when I woke up, but I didn’t. I still had the same gallbladder pain until I threw up some of the sludge that had been collecting in my guts for the past who knows how long. I immediately felt better, but that sludge was the absolute grossest thing to ever come out of my body. Google it. That stuff came out of my mouth.

Since I was finally doing a little better, my husband agreed to go get a bite to eat and pick up some things from the house. He’d already called my boss and his boss and my parents.

While he was gone, I dug the specimen cup with my earrings from my personal belongings bag and painstakingly replaced them, one by one. The only one I didn’t have a problem with was my freshest piercing. Go figure.

And then I started feeling bad again. Ian showed back up and I was so happy to see him, even though I was puking as he walked in the door. It was more sludge, and this time, getting rid of it didn’t help me feel any better. I called the nurse, but it was too soon for any more nausea medicine, and I had to wait another hour for a percocet. I didn’t think the percocet would help since I’d had two that morning and no relief, but it was a straw to grasp, so I stuck it out.

A few minutes after I finally got a percocet, I vomited for the last time. Including that long-awaited percocet. It was still too early for zofran, but the nurse talked to my doctor and got me some phenergan, which knocked me right out. I startled back awake every time Ian moved in his chair next to me, so he eventually decided that it was time for him to go home. He said it was about an hour after I got the phenergan, but seemed like five minutes to me. I only remember waking up twice before he left.

I am very glad he agreed to go home and not stay the night with me, as much as both of us would have liked him to stay. We both knew how bad his back would hurt the next day if he slept in a chair, and he’d already spent so much time in uncomfortable waiting rooms that day.

My nurse woke me up a few times to check my vitals and once to give me meds. I was so much better from the excruciating pain I’d been having right before I went to sleep. I remember she said it was probably from the local anesthetic he’d put inside wearing off that was causing me to hurt so badly.

When she woke me at five to check my vitals I had to poop, but I knew better than to try just yet. I had some serious tummy cramps, but my abs just had some more serious holes punched in them. I finally did poop, and that’s what I was doing when my husband came back. Sorry fam.

Yesterday morning I was off the clear liquid diet that I didn’t really get since I got to my room too late for dinner anyway, even if I’d wanted to eat. I didn’t.

The day nurse let me have the strawberry jello from my clear liquid breakfast while I waited for my real breakfast. I had scrambled eggs and two slices of bacon and some dry rice chex. It took me about twenty minutes to eat, and I gave Ian my biscuit.

He brought me a KitKat. It was delicious. He told me he rode partway up in the elevator with my doctor, who said as long as I’d stopped throwing up I could probably go home. Ian told him that I’d already texted him that I hadn’t puked any more. Unfortunately, I was on the fourth floor, and the surgeon was just starting his third floor rounds.

But it wasn’t too long before he came in and said okay, you’re good to go. Don’t worry about a followup unless something goes wrong. I don’t have any stitches or staples to remove because he used Dermabond on my incisions.

On the way home we got me an iced coffee with no sugar and some McDonald’s fries which turned out to be disappointingly old and hard, which was probably for the best anyway since I don’t have a gallbladder to help digest fats anymore.

I took the best nap of my life while Ian went to the store, and when I woke up to my get-ready-for-work alarm at 430 I felt a million times better.

Today I feel better still, and I’m looking forward to not hurting anymore.

And btdubs, in case anyone forgets to tell you if you have to have your gallbladder out, you will probably have diarrhea for a while. But that’s better than the pain.

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The Fourth Circle

Tonight I went to the emergency room for a migraine. That’s a special kind of hell.

I’ve had migraines for all of my adult life, and they suck. I have yet to find a prophylactic that works for them, and an allergy to sumatriptan is just about the worst drug allergy someone with 15-20 migraines per month can have.

I took one of my barbiturates shortly after the migraine came on today, and then another two hours later. I felt better for a little while, but then it got worse and kept on worsening. So eventually I went and put my shoes on when Ian told me to go put my shoes on so he could take me to the hospital.

When we got there, it looked like it might not be so bad, because we could only see two people in the waiting room. As a former emergency clerk, I knew that could mean either that it was slow or that the ER was full.

It turned out to be pretty full, and we waited out there for an hour-ish. I think. I didn’t check my watch, and I had a dang migraine.

I should have brought a pair of earplugs.

I sat there wearing my sunglasses at night, leaning on my sweetie’s shoulder, waiting and waiting and unable to do anything but think.

And wait as the patients rolled in in waves.

The waiting room is a pretty shit place for someone with a migraine. There are super bright fluorescent lights overhead. There is always a ton of people unable to moderate the volume of their voices. And of course, there’s always the kids whose parents are completely unable or unwilling to teach them how to sit quietly.

The registration clerks were having a good old time laughing and chatting about Sprite. Don’t ask me why. I missed that part.

The triage nurse was hollering a name every few minutes.

The door to the outside world huffed and wheezed every few minutes.

The door to the inner sanctum of the emergency department squeaked and wailed open and shut every time a nurse came to call someone back or let someone out to go home.

My stomach turned, and I let Ian know I was going to vomit before getting up and meandering to the single occupant and unisex ER bathroom. There was a woman inside talking on the phone, as I heard before even getting all the way to the door. I did an about=face and headed for the bathroom outside of the ER, in the hospital proper. Housekeeping was blocking the door.

I leaned my back against the wall and closed my eyes. I said fuck it and walked outside in case I was still going to vomit, even though I was pretty sure I had my stomach under tight control. I leaned against my arms on the outside of the building, breathing.

I would say I almost threw up, but by that point, it wasn’t that close. I had a handle on it and forced everything back down, telling it to stay down. And I walked back inside to lean on my husband some more.

I put my fingers in my ears when I couldn’t take any more noise, and immediately afterward,three kids showed up and started having a blast in the waiting room. I thought there were only two, but Ian told me there were three after we left. I heard one dancing, and one rapping. Neither sounded awesome at either. Finally, they went to the other side of the waiting area. Apparently that was in large part due to how scary my husband gets when he goes into protective mama bear mode, which is absolutely going to happen any time there’s something wrong with me.

A nurse came out and called my name, and she led us back to a treatment room next door to one of the bathrooms, which would have been nicer had it happened about thirty minutes earlier. I’m not the best at puking in a bucket.

While she was tap-tap-tapping on her keyboard, verifying my medical history, the doctor came in. I was happy to see that he’s one who’s seen me for migraine before, and he believes me and  knows I’m not there to get high. Since my mother is a drug-seeking addict, this is the most important thing for me to look for in a doctor.

Kidney stones will show up on imaging, but there’s no way for them to prove that anyone actually has a migraine, so I’ve been treated with a grain of salt more than a handful of times.

I hate that.

I just want to live my life. I can’t live my life when I have a severe migraine. I had planned to go help my husband with a couple of repairs for his second job. I had planned to go for a run and get a new PR. I wanted to paint some pictures because we watched some abstract art videos on YouTube last night, and dude had some techniques I want to try out.

I can go to the ER and get some medicine, but I still can’t live my life afterward, even if I walk out of there with a pain level of less than four, because I’m either ready for bed or too fucked up to see straight.

He’d already gone and attempted the repairs (they sent a part that was broken in a different way from the one it was supposed to replace), and there’s no way I can walk a mile, let alone run any distance at all after some dilaudid and phenergan.

I suppose I could have tried to paint, but I’m quite sure I would have knocked over my dirty water and/or my paint palette. Hell, I’ve been working on this post for well over half an hour now, and it shouldn’t take me more than fifteen minutes to write this.

And my doctor doesn’t want to refer me to a neurologist until he’s exhausted every single possibility he know of. Most recently I took Depakote for two and a half days until I was suicidal. I also had two migraines during that time.

Maybe next week will be the winner. I go back to the doctor next Thursday.

But I will give them this: One of the PAs put me on Prozac and Klonopin in June, and I have never felt so good in my life. Swear. I’m only extremely rarely depressed or anxious anymore, and most of the time when I do feel blue out of the blue, it’s only a sign that I’m going to have a migraine in a couple of hours. Which is a downer in itself.

I know I haven’t talked about my health here in a while, and my health is the main reason that I took such a break from blogging and am only now easing myself back in. But I’m okay, no need to worry. I’m actually better than ever, thanks to the Prozac.

I’ll fill you in some more soon. But hey, thanks for being here and reading what I write.

Btdubs, did y’all catch that? My fat ass runs now. I can’t wait for it to not be ninety degrees outside and thick as soup thanks to high humidity.

Much love.


Walking on Sunshine

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When I woke up this morning I felt freaking amazing. Swear. I couldn’t believe how good I felt. I opened my eyes and hopped out of bed and wanted to fly to the moon when my feet hit the floor.

See, I got back problems. It’s been probably eight or nine years since I could physically hop out of bed. Ever since the accident at the factory, I’m crunched up and slow moving. For a while there, it was touch and go as to whether or not I was going to make it.

But this morning. Man! It was like I had one in the chamber and the bullseye was six inches away. Just the best. And it’s not like I did anything any differently, last night or yesterday, or hell, the past six months.

I’m running on a full tank again, and I love it. I whooped, and shouted, “Soy muy hocicon!” But since I haven’t used my high school Spanish in the past thirty years, I have no idea what I said. That wasn’t the point though; the point was the emotion behind the exclamation.

I tried again. “Escuchame!”

My neighbor started pounding on the wall. I could hear him hollering something at me, but I couldn’t understand him. Besides, he wasn’t going to spoil today for me. I felt great! It didn’t matter if no one cared. Not one single solitary bit!

I opened my bottom dresser drawer, mostly because I hadn’t been able to open that drawer in years. All I found was old cargo pants, but I went ahead and put them on, because by God I was going somewhere today, and most people wouldn’t like it if I went naked.

I grabbed my work boots from the hall closet and jammed my feet in them as I struggled into yesterday’s tee shirt.

When I threw the door open, the birds where chirping like I was Snow White. Glorious.

I took two steps before I tripped over my own feet and came crashing to the pavement.

And just like that, my back hurt again.

I groaned and rolled over to stare at the clouds crawling across the blue sky. Just my damn luck. I closed my eyes and gave up.

And then I woke up. Not feeling as amazing as I had in my dream, but I was still pretty optimistic about getting that bottom drawer open. Today’s the day!

OLWG #16


Good Advice

be gracious and kind
look both ways before crossing
know that you are loved


Allergies

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Rebecca winked at the small girl at the other end of the aisle. The small girl’s eyes widened in surprise and she quickly ducked around the corner, hiding from view. The momentary bit of levity lifted Rebecca’s spirits as little had lately. The sudden loss of her constant companion left a faint gray film over the entire world.

She sniffled and continued her half-hearted search for store-brand antihistamines.


Solitude

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He sat quietly on the bench, phone in hand, waiting patiently for his train. His eyes flicked up to the top of his screen again and again to check the time even though he knew he had hours yet to wait.

The station remained empty, bereft of all life but his own.

A memory rose to the surface of his mind, a snippet of a forgotten dream from the night before: the shadowy entrance to a massive cave, the baffling runes scratched on its walls, the ebony statue guarding the fracture in the earth. He closed his eyes and shook his head, willing the images away.

A sharp, staccato noise caught his attention, forcing the dream from his mind. He opened his eyes to a bird perched on the rail across the tracks, head cocked and staring at him.

The whistle blew, and he took a deep breath, bracing himself for the hordes of people to come.