Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Just one more...

I'm trying hard not to complain, since I've instituted no-complaining November, but I need to vent about one more tiny thing. It didn't feel so tiny at the time!

The day before yesterday was awful. I was sitting in a manager's meeting at work, and out of the blue my stomach started hurting. I mean hurting, like grip the chair until your knuckles turn white hurting. After a few minutes, I excused myself and went to the restroom, where I paced around and around, trying to get some relief. The pain was situated in the middle of my abdomen, under my ribs, and it radiated all the way through to my back. I've never felt anything like it before.

After a few minutes when it became apparent that I was in real trouble, I went back to the meeting, and whispered in my boss' ear that I was sick and needed to leave. I struggled to drive home. Nothing has ever, ever hurt me so much. A smarter woman would have called her husband to come get her, but I was determined to make it on my own. It was a dumb thing to do. I almost wrecked my car, the pain was so bad. As soon as I got home, I called my family doctor. It was too late in the day for them to see me; they suggested the emergency room if I really, really couldn't take it, and scheduled me for an appointment the next morning.

Then, all of a sudden, like a light being switched off, the pain just stopped. Poof! It was like someone flipped a switch. I was much relieved that I could pass on the ER and just wait to see my doctor. I ate a small dinner (soup) watched some tv, and planned to head to bed. But then, about 10pm, the pain returned just as suddenly as it had stopped. Oh. My. God. I have never, ever hurt so much in my life.

Gregg drove me to the emergency room right away. I had NO dignity at all; I was begging the admissions people to give me painkillers (they didn't care). The nurses on duty made me give them a urine sample, then they took a lot of blood for testing, and left an IV line in place for later. I begged again for something for the pain. They refused on the grounds that they didn't know what was going on with me yet. Which was reasonable, I guess, but severe pain makes one desperate. Then I had to wait another hour to get a bed and to be seen by the doctor on duty. It was a most painful, awful wait.

What blessed relief, when I finally got a room, and a real nurse, and a shot of Demorol in my IV line. I could have kissed her for the Demorol. They also gave me Zofran so the narcotic wouldn't make me sick. The doctor who finally showed up is yet another friend of my husband's (only rich doctors can afford nice salt water aquariums, which is how he's gotten to know so many of them over the years). Gregg was immediately like, "Thomas! Man, am I glad to see you tonight!" And the doc was all, "Gregg, my man! What are you doing up here in the middle of the night?"  I knew then I would get a little extra personal attention, and I did. Little things like the nurse seeing I was cold and bringing a heated blanket for me, and the doctor chatting with us like an old friend, really helped make me feel better. It's an emotional, traumatic event to be in so much pain, and the ER admissions people had displayed very little compassion or empathy up to that point.

The doctor was really cool and told me he suspected gallstones. He wanted to do a CT scan of my abdomen just to make sure it wasn't anything else. Unfortunately, the CT scan involved getting an injection of some sort of contrast dye, which made me sick. That's when I discovered that the ER has a handy-dandy stash of barf bags in every room! I had to use one as I was being wheeled back to the treatment room. I didn't even care at that point. I wasn't hurting thanks to the previous injection of Demorol, so a little puking didn't even faze me. The nurse gave me another injection of an anti-naseau medicine after I got back to the room, which made me nod off to sleep. Finally around 4am the doctor showed back up to tell us that all of my tests (every blood panel you can think of, the urinalysis, and the scan) came back normal. The next step, he says, is to see my family doctor to have some follow up tests: an ultrasound of my gallbladder for a closer look than the CT scan could show, and some sort of tests to determine if I have ulcers. He thinks it's almost certainly one of those two things, and ruled out anything more serious, thank goodness.

So I finally got to go home, with no real answers except that I'm probably not dying, and I probably do have either gallstones or ulcers. The doc said he was initially almost certain it was gallstones, but since they did get a look at my gallbladder and it appeared normal he's now leaning towards ulcers. Only more tests will tell. I have to get some scheduled. I never want to hurt like that again! I was given a prescription for pain pills to help me through any potential attacks between now and having the tests run.

So the complaining thing? Yeah, I did some the last few days. Hard not to when you're hurting so bad you think you might die!! Anyone reading ever had ulcers or gallstones? I still can't believe how much pain I was in!


  1. Poor you; that sounds dreadful. I once had a stomach ulcer, but it was not a big deal. I'm sure they'll get you fixed up as soon as they have the correct diagnosis. In the meantime, I hope they give you some good painkillers.

    1. They gave me oxycodone tablets in case of another attack; that should do the trick!

  2. My goodness, honey, I am truly sorry you had to go through a day of sheer hell like that. The moment you started describing your symptoms, my first thought was gallbladder issues. I was getting massive gallbladder attacks a few years back (that would land me in the hospital for days at a time) and had mine removed in 2010, and my symptoms during an attack really mirrored the ones you described here. It's possible, too, that you just had one (or more) small stones and that they passed (some of mine passed - the number was usually different with each scan and ultrasound), which may indicate why none showed up on your scan. I have a lot of experience with this subject, so if you ever need to talk about it, please don't hesitate to zip an email my way.

    Whatever the cause was, I hope with all my heart that you never experience anything like it again.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. You are such a sweet lady; I am lucky to have you as a blogging friend! Thank you!