Hi everyone! In case you haven’t noticed, I had a break (again) from blogging and Twitter from the middle to July until this week. I was back on track, ready to start blogging again. But there was something going on behind the scenes that I was having issues with, and it all finally came to a head the second weekend in June.
I’ve been struggling with gall bladder pain for a while, and since around April, it has been non-stop low level pain from the region. I have a family history of gall bladder issues, so I knew what needed to happen: the gall bladder (which I will name CHAD, because I hate the damn thing) needed to leave.
Chad had been causing some nausea and vomiting during the year, and it was interfering with my life. I didn’t want to do anything, I didn’t want to eat, but I was hungry, I was always bloated, and I was taking way too much ibuprofen. But when I started to think about surgery, my mind went into panic mode. I didn’t like the thought of someone in control of me when I was unconscious, even at a medical level. I could not get over that fear. So I kept putting it off. To be fair, when I knew in May that it was time to start really looking at my problem, I had a Chicago trip planned and my birthday, and with so many small issues happening, I needed to look forward to something. I didn’t want my surgery to interfere with my plans and a possible promotion at work in July. On top of that, the surgery was still expensive, even with my insurance (Hooray, USA).
I get through my birthday during the first week of June, and that was all okay, and then the next weekend comes. At this point, I was taking a lot of codeine and starting to curl up into a ball when I get home due to the constant ache of Chad.
On Saturday, June 10th, I wasn’t in the mood to cook or go out, so I ordered pizza to deliver to my apartment. This would be Chad’s last supper. If you look on any website, pizza is the #1 enemy of gall bladders. Chad was no exception. He did not appreciate the pizza.
I woke up on Sunday and I knew something was wrong right away. This wasn’t pain anymore. This was Pain. The pills were not stopping it. Laying down and standing up didn’t ease the Pain. I finally walked into my living room, and told my sister as calm as I could be: “Ok, I think we need to go to the ER.”
So off I go on what would turn out to be Chad’s final days. Sis and I show up and I’m whisked away right into the ER room. I had the whole blood pressure, history, etc etc happening while I explain my issue. I get an ultrasound and some pain meds, and an official diagnosis that Chad and I have to part ways soon. I really wanted them to remove the damn thing that day, but oh well.
I go home with more codeine and a note excusing me from work on Monday and Tuesday. I don’t call into work a lot (I’m often reprimanded for arriving to work too sick to function), but I took that opportunity to take off Monday. I was too far gone to even conciser work. That turned out to be a smart decision, since Chad and I had a vomiting party all morning long. The vomiting was NONSTOP.
The hospital calls finally to see how I am doing after lunch, and I report “I’ve puked all morning, even when I didn’t eat anything.” So get invited to come back immediately, VIP status. I call sis and ask her to please come take me back to the ER. She drops everything at her job (a new job, bless her) and takes me right back. I had a lot of the same ER staff from the previous day, and this time, they were a lot more serious.
I’m admitted this time to the hospital, with the promise that Chad is coming out that evening. I’m relieved because (I know this sounds so stupid) I can return to work ASAP. Look, I have this complex where I think everything will fall apart if I’m not there.
Chad does not come out Monday. Chad is now throwing a fit and shoving Chad stones into every nook and cranny available. Now my bile duct is blocked and the doctors fear for my liver. My mother arrives (she was an hour and a half away and had to rush over) and stays the night with me so my sister can return to work.
One unpleasant thing I discovered right away is that morphine does nothing for me. NOTHING. Ok, it does one thing. It makes me want to throw up. So I’m laying in this bed, in pain, with an upset stomach, trying to sleep while all these machines are screaming. Something else morphine does for me: stops me from breathing. That was not the best sleep I ever got.
On Tuesday, I get to go under for a scope since we have to see how much damage Chad has done. I have the scope late in the evening. So the day is filled with fluids, bloodwork and pain management. This is really blurry for me. I know my sister starts contacting people and begins my short term disability, but all I can think about is getting Chad booted from my body.
When the scope is done, we find that Chad is LARGE, blocking my bile duct and has stones everywhere, delaying the surgery. Chad had made a mess. Chad is horrible. I get a huge plastic stint in my gut to help pass the stones so we can get Chad evicted.
Wednesday rolls around and the pain is just horrible at this point. I have another scope in the afternoon to see how many stones have passed, and to see if enough passed to get the stupid organ removed. All of my IV lines have failed and no one can get a new IV line in me for proper pain management. This was the worst day. I am someone who hates pain I have no tolerance for it. I also hate needles. So I get a combo of non-stop pain and 8 sticks that day.
It was not a good day.
All I could do was lay in bed, with my pain, near tears, wishing for something to happen. Before I go for my scope, I really need an IV line and blood work, so I get the head ER nurse to draw blood (she does it quickly, and is the only person allowed to draw blood for the remainder of my time at the hospital) and I get a huge mid line IV in my upper arm (which was terrifying, but with all the pain, I just didn’t care anymore). But I finally get pain meds! YAH! I was even happy to have morphine – it was better than nothing.
Around the time of the mid line IV, I go to my second scope procedure, and enough stones have passed to safely remove Chad. The bile duct is no longer blocked. Surgery on Thursday!
Thursday comes and it is time to say goodbye to Chad. I also get a wonderful nurse that day, and she gets me something better that morphine, and the pain is finally FINALLY starting to clear up. Fuck morphine.
My surgery staff was wonderful. My fears about surgery are gone. But the surgery itself is a bit worrisome. First, if Chad has fused with my bile duct, then the surgery has to be done by a specialist. And there is a chance that there are still stone that could interfere.
But we go forward with it, and when I come out of surgery, it is a new world of pain. I remember yelling, “Ten Ten Ten!!” due to the pain scale (I got very familiar with that scale) and a lot of my surgery recovery was pain management. I actually topped out on pain meds, and it took a lot time for the medication to kick in. Looking back, I had a rough surgery because Chad had fused to the lining of my abdomen, and I bled a lot due to the scoping the day before, and my liver got knicked. On top of that, my gall bladder was huge and the staff had a hard time locating it – Chad actually was not in the right place.
But Chad is gone. The horrible horrible offending organ is gone!
On Friday, I start eating liquids again (I haven’t eaten since Saturday and my stomach isn’t too thrilled) and the chicken broth I had was the most wonderful thin on Earth. I have a male nurse I have never seen before, and I’m not crazy about him. He doesn’t care for me as well, and works hard to get me to leave, even though I feel that I’m not ready due to pain management.
However, I leave Friday night, and stay with my mother to recover from the incisions and slowly work up my stamina and appetite.
During this time, my father passed away from cancer. This is a story I am going to save for another day, because that is an essay I am going to write, due to the emotional complexity of the situation.
Today, I’m still struggling with food (a lot of food upsets my stomach and I get horrible cramps if I eat the wrong things), I’m still slow at walking, and I can’t walk long distances. Stairs are still a struggle, and I get tired very easily. The plastic stint is still in, which is irritating because I can feel it – it aches all the time. But I get it out at the end of July.
But I will say there is a silver lining to everything: the surgery helped me see that I have people in my life that honestly care for me. My mother and sister dropped everything to care for me. Hell, my mom dropped two weeks worth of work and a sick brother to stay 24 hours at the hospital and advocated for me with all of the doctors and nurses. My sister updated everyone and made sure my insurance and my work place knew what was happening. Everyone on Twitter messaged me or DMed me to see how I was feeling, which was touching. My workplace sent a card signed by everyone to cheer me up. My director at work called me to make sure I was okay a week after surgery. My doctors were very honest with me, telling me I was pushing myself too hard, and my primary doctor made me take off more time when she thought I was in too much pain.
I’m very lucky and so fortunate to have so many of you. Kara was out of her head worried the whole time (awwww) and I am honestly touched by the kindness from that period of my life. Thank you for helping me heal and bounce back from a horrible, troubling ordeal.