Monday, March 29, 2010


There are two things in play here:

  1. We never use the front door, we always come in through the garage.
  2. I'm a terrible procrastinator.

Like I said, we never use the front door, but I do occasionally check to be sure that there aren't things stuck to the door, or that no one has left a package on the front porch. I checked this morning, and when I opened the door, a bird flew out of the Christmas wreath (see No. 2).

Yes, the Christmas wreath is still up. And now it's going to be up until summer, because a bird has built a nest in it.

When I drove myself to the emergency room, all I took were the clothes on my back and my purse. Unlike the last time I had surgery, I didn't have time to think about it, worry about it, or plan anything. I don't know what day it was that Bob asked me if I wanted him to bring me anything, maybe it was Friday. I asked him to bring me a couple of pairs of underwear, a pair of pajama pants and a t-shirt so I would have something clean to go home in when the time came.

He asked if I wanted any books or anything, and I told him that there were some library books near my chair, and I asked him to bring me a notebook that I had left in my car. He went down immediately (my car was still in the emergency room parking lot) and got the notebook, and moved my car to the regular parking lot -- I was a little worried that they would ticket me if I left it right outside the emergency room for more than a couple of days.

He brought me the library books and a bag of clothes. He was so sweet, he said "I tried to color-coordinate" -- he had brought a pair of flannel pajama pants that are kind of a faded red and black plaid, a rose-colored t-shirt and a white one, and a couple of pairs of underwear. I pulled out a pair of underwear, and said, "Is this the only underwear you brought?" He pulled out another pair, and I told him that unfortunately the first pair was definitely too small, and the second pair probably was, too.

He said something like, why did I have underwear that was too small? I said well, I don't know, but in any event, I'm going to have abdominal surgery, I don't want to have to squeeze into my underwear to go home. So he said he would go home and lay out all my underwear and pick out the biggest ones, and he teased me about that the rest of the week, that he had to go home and get "big butt" underwear. Oh well.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Week in the hospital

I meant to come back and write the whole saga of the hospital stay, but the days kind of got away from me. The time in the ER was awful because I was so sick; the ultrasound made me even sicker because I had to lie on my side. I just wanted the pain and nausea to stop. Everyone was doing everything they could, but I'm very susceptible to nausea and it's difficult to get it under control. They eventually were giving me two different medications, alternating them, and it finally helped, although it never completely went away until after the surgery.

It turned out that I had pancreatitis. One of the doctors--there were so many!--told me that, and told me that I was "very sick." I didn't really realize how sick until it was all over and I looked it up.

They were giving me the anti-nausea medication through IV, and pain medication, but weren't giving me anything to eat. I didn't want anything to eat, of course, but I was kind of worried about my blood sugar. I tend to have problems if I don't eat regularly, and I was worried that maybe some of the nausea was from not eating. But I realize now that they were letting my pancreas rest. After a couple of days they started giving me glucose in the IV, and then they started giving me insulin.

I didn't really understand that, either, I thought it was in reaction to the glucose, but I guess it was because of the pancreatitis. It was all sort of a blur, really. I just did whatever they told me to do. Once I stopped throwing up, it wasn't horrible. Bob was there every day, as much as he could, my parents came a couple of times, Bob's parents came, and my sister Lynn, and Anna from work and my friend Patti. I got flowers, and Bob brought my library books, although I couldn't concentrate enough to read.

I didn't even watch television except the last day when I caught a Pink Panther marathon, which was kind of fun. Mostly I tried to sleep, but of course, I only got to sleep about a half hour at a time before someone came in and woke me up to check my temperature or stick me with something. They were constantly sticking the ends of my fingers and checking my blood sugar; by the time I left most of my fingertips were bruised. The IV machine would start beeping if it was empty, or if I turned over and the IV in my arm moved, but as far as I could tell, the beeping was confined to my room, and it didn't turn on any alarms anywhere else. So it would wake me up, and I'd lie there for awhile, then call the nurse and tell them "the IV is beeping," and someone would come and fix it.

On Thursday they scoped me; the ultrasound had showed that there was a gallstone blocking the pancreatic duct, which I guess was what was causing all the problems. But the doctor said that there wasn't anything there; I guess it had passed by itself. On Friday the surgeon came by and said that my liver and pancreatic enzyme levels were better, but my white count was still high, and he wasn't sure why, and didn't know if they were going to be able to get it down. He said he might have to go ahead and operate over the weekend.

The ended up doing the surgery on Sunday, and only after thinking about it afterwards did I realize that I wasn't scared at all. It didn't even occur to me. I just wanted it to be over.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Wow. Talk about your lost weekends. Although in this case, it was more like a lost fortnight. Apologies for the complete drop-off-the-face-of-the-earth for the past two weeks. It was completely unplanned.

I know I've mentioned that I think I have been having gallbladder issues for a year or two. The attacks hadn't been frequent enough for me to feel like it was imperative I do anything about it--it would happen every three or four months, last 8-10 hours, then would be okay until the next time. I figured I'd just keep trying to manage it with diet the best I could, and put it off as long as possible. I had an attack on Sunday, two weeks ago, that went away like they all had so far, so I thought I'd dodged the bullet again.

Then on Wednesday morning, the 3rd, I woke up feeling kind of bad. I had a meeting that morning, so I went ahead and got ready and went to that, then afterwards I called in to work and said I wasn't feeling well and was going to go home. That was about 11:00, I think. I went home, and the gallbladder pain started up again. Since I hadn't eaten anything that I felt would have caused it -- since I didn't feel well that morning, but knew I should eat something, I had had a piece of dry toast -- that was kind of scary.

The pain just kept on and kept on, and I tried to figure out what to do. Normally I try to sleep, but that wasn't happening. I looked back in my notes to see if anything had helped in times past; one time Pepto Bismol had seemed to help, so I took some, and I can tell you that me taking Pepto Bismol by choice is one of those things that means I'm really sick. It didn't help. Nothing was helping. I had talked to several people over the past year or so who had had the same issues; I think it was Stefani who said that one time, the pain just didn't stop, which is what sent her to the doctor, so I thought, well, I think I'm at that point.

It was so bad, though, that I knew I couldn't wait to try to get an appointment with someone. I threw on some sweatpants and flipflops--at this point, I was hurting so bad I just wanted it to stop, I didn't care what I looked like--and tried to figure out where to go. I know some of the guys at work don't have regular doctors, and go to urgent care offices, so I thought about that, then thought, screw it, and drove the mile or so to the emergency room at the nearest hospital. I wasn't sure what to expect, never having been to the emergency room before. I talked to (someone who I think was) a volunteer, who asked me what was wrong. I'm always hesitant to self-diagnosis, because I know that can be irritating to people who are, you know, actually doctors, but I said that I thought it was probably gallbladder pain.

The man, an elderly gentleman, said he had had that before, too, and said, "that's really bad, isn't it?" I nodded, and he called someone, and I was immediately whisked off to an examination room. I don't really know how long it took, but I saw a doctor pretty quickly. He was the doctor on call, an internist, and he examined me, ordered an ultrasound, and admitted me. I was kind of surprised at that, but glad, because I definitely didn't feel like going anywhere.

Once I knew what was going on, I called Bob's cell phone and left a message about what was happening and where I was, and called my parents. It was all kind of a blur from that point--I think I saw three or four different doctors, had the ultrasound, had IVs put in, got pain and anti-nausea medication, etc., and was in a room within a matter of a couple of hours. As soon as Bob got my message, he left work and came to the hospital, and I opened my eyes, and there he was.

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