Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Can a guy get a break? -or- Here, have some bacteria!

I just lost five good days.

They were stolen from me, actually, but I'm not getting them back. Today isn't looking like a winner, but it is better.

I mentioned I took a trip to the emergency room in my last post. Welp, it happened again Wednesday afternoon last week and I got an extended stay in the hospital for my trouble. I had the prior experience going for me as I struggled to drive home and call for help. It was back to the ER where I writhed and just hoped the pain would pass just like Monday. I wound up being admitted for a possible bowel obstruction and the possibility of surgery. And yeah, it's making me cry just remembering that. :'(

I cried and prayed and just begged that no new serious thing would block us on the path out of this nightmare.

I got a very rough IV and started taking on fluids. The ER had given me a laundry list of painkillers that managed to get me through a "dry" CT scan that showed only the possibility of an obstruction or maybe twisting of the large bowel. By then the pain had started to move to my left side and I was sure it was not my stomach (or my appendix... that crossed my mind very early on).

I'll get to add to my list of painkillers not to give me as whatever they pumped me up with got my stomach in knots and kicked over the vomit machine.

Let me pause here and say something about the hospital bed. They kill me. Slowly and thoroughly. I now have a darkly humorous understanding of the expression, "laying on his death bed." The gem I was given had some system of air chambers underneath that would inflate and deflate if I dared to move. I never quite figured out its method, but I was told it was to prevent bed soreness. As a user, let me be the first to say IT DOES NOT WORK. The Bionic Woman can hawk those SleepNumber beds all day, but I'll never buy one again. Be on the lookout if you end up in the hospital! (Unless they're giving you bionic legs or something cool. That might be worth it.)

Obviously the vomitting had to be mitigated so what faster way to empty my stomach that with... another tube! Yay. I literally cried in terror and half hyperventilated myself unconscious. I begged that my stomach was already empty but I had no choice in the matter. At least this time I knew what to do and I spent every microsecond praying that it would go down easy.

It was easier than the first tubes I had way back when but that's not saying a lot. When nothing came up, only an x-ray would satisfy. No amount of me pleading that I was empty could convince the nurses. At least the x-ray guy came to me.

Since the dry CT hadn't been definitive, I had to get a contrast CT. Normally you'd drink the liquid and fill yourself up with stuff that the machine can see real well as it floats through you. Mine went down the tube; a consolation prize for not having to drink the stuff that tastes like El Cheapo white-label brand lemonade without enough sugar. Why they couldn't do this downstairs in the radiology department I do not know, so I got to enjoy the Mad Hatter's spinning teacups ride with a tummy full of yuck.

What goes in must come out and the vomit machine started once again. FINALLY the nurses listened to me and gave me painkiller that wouldn't make me barf. For my last ride, I was sitting half Indian-style in the bed when the wretching probably caused a hernia (of sorts... grrrr) that I will be trying to have addressed today.

With the "possible" hernia came a whole new set of consultations with urologists. I'm sorry, but what part of "this is all swelled up, it hurts like someone pulling on me, and I can feel stuff that shouldn't be there" does not translate into hernia? "Well, it's probably not small bowel and that's what I call a hernia."

I wanted to punch that knuckledhead.

I got the all ladies version of the Three Stooges in the imaging department. I'm not joking. The one urologist lady walks in while the technician lady has her magic wand on my friends "down there." Another one walks in and says, and I'm quoting directly here, "Oooh, this is the one I wanted to check out!" I guess it has been beneficial to have lost my modesty because I'd have otherwise been scarred for life.

Yes, it's a hernia, "of sorts" they said but it's not as bad as a bowel intrusion. I now understand why some hernias hurt like crazy and others are just uncomfortable. Regardless, I really don't want anyone but Dr. Grasso messing with my guts if surgery has to be done. I did manage to convince the weekday doctor to CALL him which the weekend doctor confirmed for me.

Oh yeah, you came in here with a possible bowel obstruction...

When the CT scans turned up no blockage and no clear evidence of a twist, someone dug just a little deeper and learned that chemo patients are prone to bacterial infections. (gasp!) So, let's try you on some antibiotics and see what that does.

Bing! I cleared up pretty quickly while I was on it, but when I got home, literally less than a day later, I was sick as a dog again. So, while trying to get all my doctors caught up on what has happened, figuring out if I should resume my chemo (round three should have started Sunday), coping with a hernia "of sorts", and being bummer that this all happened on just my second week back to work, I got scripted some more of the antibiotics I'd been given in the hospital. Yes, if you're reading closely, they discharged me without any prescriptions to finish off any infection. Hopefully there will be no more vomiting today now with the antibiotics back in play.

Jody doesn't want to go back there again. Not to the hospital, but not to that hospital. And I have to agree it was a less than wonderful stay. If it wasn't the guy sharing my room and his relatives who spoke only Spanish, loudly, it was the guy sharing my room and -his- relatives who spoke only Chinese. Loudly. And that guy snored like a train at all hours. I wish I could fall asleep that fast. And doctors just do not visit patients like you see on television.

But Tara visited me twice and Dad's friend, Terry, did as well. Naturally Jody and my parents kept me company too. I got a surprise visit in the middle of the night from Tara Ross, a nurse I'd met at a Superbowl party last year. She'd heard through her and Jody's mutual friend, Sue, that I'd been checked in and spent a nice long time with me on her break in the middle of the night. So, the lonely times weren't so much and the waiting times went by as fast as they could. Thanks to all of you. :)

Now it's off to try and get some food to stay in me today. We'll also see if I should get back onto the chemo and if the hernia is a real problem or something I can live with.

A year ago I was saying how much I wished this was over. I'd give anything just to be myself again.


Lynn said...

Hang in there John!!

Renee said...

It's great that you keep your sense of humor through all this. I'm not sure I would. The hospital staff sounds unbelievably unprofessional.