Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

The Business of Being Born

movie is NOT for the faint of heart or easily squeamish.  While I am 98% convinced that I will make the switch to a midwife and birthing center before the end of November, I am not convinced about particular highlights of the movie.  There are two things I am convinced I will not be doing:

Pulling the baby out of me with my own two hands (99.9%)
Giving birth naked from head to toe (100%)


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1.  It’s a fail-proof weight loss plan – 6 pounds in 6 days.  Of course along with this, you are forbidden to eat or drink anything for 4 out of those 6 days.  And I have a feeling that part of recovery is gaining back those 6 pounds in the next 6 days!

2.  A good roommate in the hospital.  Okay, those of you who met her may not have thought so between the groaning, cursing and everything else that you heard.  But she had a much longer hospital stay than I and she helped me kind of learn the “nursing system.”  She was also incredibly sympathetic and easy-going when I was throwing up at 2am right next to her.  Afterall, she was using a “commode” about 2 feet from my bed round the clock:)

3. Support of family and friends – I felt really blessed to have visitors and offers for help from friends close and family far and everyone else.

4. A chance to experience and appreciate my husband in a whole new way.  I appreciated him so much over this past week and a half.  He has not complained once and he has spent countless hours just sitting by me in my hospital room or scurrying around to hand me something or unplug my IV.  I appreciated especially having someone who would pray for and with me at many moments during the ordeal, who would squeeze my hand tightly when it helped and understand when even the lightest touch was too much for me, who held the trash can while I puked, held my belly together when it dripped blood, and held me up when I could barely stand.  These things aren’t a regular part of our relationship and it was very meaningful to experience his care in this different way.

And now … my belly.  Which I am utterly embarrassed at putting on the internet, but hey!  It looks bad for a reason at least, right?  Here is what a “lap coli” looks like two days after.  Now it actually looks worse because a greenish yellow bruise has emerged over my stomach, but one photo is enough.  Yuppers.  They pulled that bad-boy gall bladder out of mah belly button.


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Let’s Make It Three

I sounded all finished in my last post, right?  I thought I was.

I got my release orders at around 2pm on Wednesday, but told them I was going to rest for 30 minutes before calling the transport services, as I was feeling worse than in the morning.  Well, I continued feeling poorly and the wheelchair continued failing to show up.  I’m tagging this one on God, because I can’t imagine how much bigger the ordeal would have been if I had actually left hospital grounds.  By 3pm I was feeling awful and asking for stronger drugs, and Nate was telling nurses that we weren’t going anywhere anytime soon.  By 3:30 I was begging to have my IV reinserted (my third!)  At 4pm they finally gave me a shot of the strongest pain killer they have – Tardal? I think.  It did nothing, not a thing.  There isn’t much worse than holding onto the hope that relief will come if people will just help, and then it just doesn’t.  I could do nothing but lay perfectly still on my back and concentrate on each breath as it came.  Every minute felt longer than imaginable and yet time just kept seeping by without any help or answers.  It was the kind of experience where your prayers are just one word long, because it’s all you know, Jesus.

Nobody needs the down-to-the-minute details of the most painful afternoon.  It involved two shots of tardal, then two shots of morphine on top of those.  There was another ultrasound at 8:30pm and two more rounds of bloodletting for the lab people.  There was a fourth IV when the third was found to have puffed up my whole wrist, but I could have cared less at that point about a few extra flimsy needles poking at my body.  Finally at 12:30am the resident appeared and said the results were in and they were scheduling a second ERCP for the next day.  It was terrible to hear another surgery was involved and it was also all I wanted to hear.  She said she had prescribed demerol every two hours for me, but that was it.  As Nate left to get some hours of sleep I held onto a thread of hope that the demerol would do something different.  I couldn’t imagine counting the hours from 12:30-8am, roughly the amount of time I had already spent in this position.

God was looking out for me because somehow the demerol did something different.  Within three minutes I could feel the shift in my body.  It also made me vomit, so I spent the night in two hour shifts: page the nurse for demerol, take it, dry heave into a bucket, rest for about an hour until the effects of the demerol could be felt wearing off and then count down the minutes til the next two mark.   My “roommate” was incredibly nice and understanding through what most have been an awful night of sleep for her as well.  

I made it til morning, which turned into afternoon and I went back for my second ERCP at 2:30pm.  I was considerably more nervous the second time around, I guess because the answers the doctors came up with in the first place weren’t happening as they had promised.  I could feel my anxiety building and just kept having to pray.  But I made it through the second round fine again and a stint was inserted.  Apparently my bile duct became so inflamed that it closed up completely, and so “sludge” was trying to pass through my body and getting stuck, which is what I was feeling.

I was released from the hospital today at 2pm and I’m happy to be home and showered.  I’m not as upbeat and much more cautious and leary today, having experienced the 5% where things go wrong.  I’m kind of scared of my body right now and not really trusting it.  (I liken it to how I felt toward our old car that just kept breaking down and kept me in a mild level of anxiety any time we had to drive it far).  But I’m hoping for a good night and a good week and trying not to think about every sensation in my stomach or having to go back in another 2 months to have my 3rd ERCP to have my stint removed.

When I get another breathe of energy, I might put some pics up.  We never took the camera to the hospital because it was too much of a hassle, but I will check if we got any “aftershots”.

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Two Surgeries Down

What an unexpected week this has turned out to be.  One surgery turned into two on Monday night at 10:50pm.  Yes, apparently doctors like to make decisions and relay them to patients at this hour.  I have been poked by surgeons at 2:30am because that’s when they have time, met an anesthesiologists at midnight, and had a member of respiratory team make me do breathing exercises at midnight.  That’s besides my nightly wakeup at 12:30ish to check my vitals and my next one between 5 and 6am to check my vitals again.  Hospitals are NOT designed for sleeping.  The doctor who did my consent forms for the laproscopic cholycestectomy came down, woke me up, and said “Hey, I need a consent form for an endoscopic something (ECRP) because there is a good chance that the docs will be performing this procedure on you tomorrow instead.”  I had to wait 24 hours in between the two surgeries, which meant an extra 24 hours in the hospital and an extra day without eating.  I tried hard not to have a mini-meltdown right then.  I just signed the consent, called Nate to let him know the changes, and prayed this wouldn’t be the case.  Of course it was!  And in the end it was a good thing because the doctor removed two(ish) stones from my bile ducts in that first procedure.  If they had been found during the second procedure, they would have had to stop work immediately and switch over, so this way everything ran very smoothly.

I was a little nervous before my first round of surgery, though I didn’t realize it til they put me on the cart.  The lay you down on the push cart with only one small gown on and drape a sheet over you.  Then you stare at the ceiling as they wheel you down and everyone gives you sympathetic smiles along the way.  Despite having Nate by my side all day long and knowing I have had the support of a lot of family and friends through this, there is something very “alone” about that ride.  It’s like you know, Okay, it’s just me and my body on this one.  I felt one tear start to roll down my cheek, but the prep nurse was very sweet and then the doctor came out and spent 15 minutes talking to me about what to expect.  Following that first procedure I felt really good.  I took one round of morphine, but then was drug free for about 12 hours up until the next round.

Round two of surgery was a bigger deal because it involved multiple cuts into me, but I was much calmer going into it.  Again, everything ran smoothly though I guess it took longer than expected and Nate had some time to build up some anxiety, not having received a phone call about what was going on.  Coming out of the heavy anesthesia was tougher this time around and I was kind of a mess when I entered back into Nate’s and my nurses care.  The cut in my bellybutton started bleeding and then I started dryheaving and shaking very badly.  I was really glad that only Nate was around when I returned (though very glad to have Jarrett and Catherine before and during the procedure) and once cleaned up and settled in bed, all I wanted to do was melt into sleep.  Today I’m feeling so-so.  I’ve gotten up and walked for about 5 minutes, and I’ve eaten my first round of solid food, though all I could handle was about 8 bites of oatmeal and 5 bites of eggs).  I’ve never been punched in the stomach or done 500 crunches in a day (both were descriptions of how I might feel) but I think I feel closer to the stomach punch because it hurts quite a bit to breathe.  As of now, though, we are anxiously waiting to hear if I will be released to go home today and continue recovery there, where I can sleep for 8 hours at a time!) or spend another day here.

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Yesterday my plan was …

to have some new friends over for a fun brunch, to clean up and spend some time relaxing with Nate, then to make a Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce and go celebrate my friend Em’s birthday with her and friends.  It was a good plan and I suspect it would have been mighty fun if …

halfway through brunch I hadn’t felt the most searing pain in my right side.  If I hadn’t thrown up five times in the bathroom while everyone was trying to keep their own food down in the dining room.  If I didn’t have to announce that we were going to the ER and um, super sorry that this is the SECOND time we have bailed halfway through a plan with these friends for health reasons.  Pretty embarrassing state to be seen in.  I thought we might still resurrect the second half of the plan for cake and celebrating and this might have happened if …

we hadn’t spent until 7:30pm in the ER with doctors coming in and out to ask the same 10 questions, getting my first ultrasound, and lots of poking and prodding from the nurse to try to get my blood gushing.  If I had been released from the ER, instead of being told that I’d be here overnight.  If they hadn’t discovered what appears to be a 5mm gallstone and if they hadn’t decided that I’m stuck here til Monday when they are going to cut me open and slice my gall bladder out.  If I hadn’t learned in the past 24 hours that my real age is, in fact, 72 as opposed to 27 because 72-year-olds have surgery and gall stones and IVs in their arms and get wheeled from place to place in a wheelchair and supported as they crawl slowly out of bed.  27-year-olds certainly don’t do any of this.

IF anyone had asked me, I’d have told them I’d prefer Plan #1.

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Stories of an HMO


So last week I got an MRI.  I told you about it, right?  How I realized when I got up from the machine and was wondering why my hair was so wonky that I had lost a bobby pin somewhere in that dern thing?  That gave me a little giggle.  Well, the MRI showed something (a slight protruding disc) but assured me that this could not be the cause of the pain I am having. 

On to the orthopedic surgeon this morning.  I wore a skirt because I was headed straight to work.  Please never do this to an appointment with the ortho surgeon.  Because the nurse asked me to put on a pair of hospital gownish shorts in lieu of my skirt.  You mean, take off my tights and my boots and my bottom half?  Nope.  Just put the shorts on over my tights.  These were some super rad shorts designed to fit any person from 100 pounds to 300 pounds.  They didn’t do a very good job of fitting someone on the low end of that spectrum.  So of course picture tights hanging out of the top of billowing shorts that I can’t keep up and in walks the doctor. 

The doctor says I need an MRI.  What?  A thoracic MRI.  Last week I had a lumbar MRI.  And two weeks ago, my physical therapist recommended I have both a lumbar and thoracic MRI, but of course my PCP thought that was just a dumb idea. 

Back into the machine for another 30 minutes …

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