Sunday, June 23, 2013

My Big Gallbladder Stones Attack Adventure

Several months ago, it might have been as early as fall of last year, at the hospital's imaging center they discovered I had gallstones.   My GP recommended a surgeon.  We visited him and his main question was, "do they bother you?"

He told us many people live a life time with gallstones and never know they have them.   But if I wanted them out they would accommodate me.  It was my call.  A cut in my pretty stomach  My call: NO.

Anna had hers out  about a year earlier when she found she had  gallstones.   A wise choice I found out.

As the months continued I noticed at times when I pigged out on fatty type of  food, or something heavily doused in mayonnaise I got a very stomach-bloated feeling and I had to take it easy for the next day.

My bloatness  times increased.  Did I get the message my body was trying to send me?  It was LOUD and clear (if you get what I mean).  Nope, Good looking mouth watering food overruled any common sense that I may have.

Most recently at a sandwich shop near the hospital which we eat  at occasionally we had chicken salad sandwiches.  Mine was delicious .  But as soon as I had eaten it I realized than I had just been consumed by a big glob of  mayonnaise.  Our roles were reversed,  the mayo was consumer and I was the consumeree. 

I was sick all the next day.

Then just a couple days later we went to an all you can eat country-cooking buffet.  That was on a Monday.  Tuesday morning I was  sick and lifeless which lasted until Friday or Saturday.  By the way, if you are interested in scientific experiments, again I proved that drinking a Coke to settle your stomach is an old wives' tale, it is like throwing gasoline on to a fire..... like I said that is not the first time I disproved that theory.  It seems I would learn, doesn't it?
Saturday  I had part if a sandwich.  I was trying to get well for Fathers' Day the following day . or at least be able to fake it to smile and talk during a meal.  Our son and daughter-in-law and we were going out.  Where they were here we decided instead of food I needed ER treatment.    We spent the rest of the day in the ER and the next 5 days at the hospital.

When we arrived at the ER I was almost immediately sent to a little room, placed in a wheel chair and someone took my vitals and asked how come I was there so they would know what to look for.  There were a few us lined up in little red wheel chairs and the way they were painted and lined up it made be think we were about to partake in a bumper car race.

A male nurse was getting the vitals from someone and he asked the patient what was the problem, or why was he there.  The man said he thought his hand was broken. 
"Why do you think  it is broken?"
"It hurts like it is broken."
"Did you bang it against something?"
"A wall".
"A wall?"
"yes, I hit a wall with my first hard".
"Were you trying to hurt someone?"
"Was someone trying to hurt you?"
"Were you drinking?"
"Yes, I had a few beers.... look man, I didn't know I was going to be questioned!"
"I have to ask you questions based on what you say..."
An orderly grabbed my wheel chair and began to roll me back.  I wanted to say ask him to wait a few minutes, I'll like to hear the rest of that conversation, but  as discreet as I am, I said nothing.

From this point on the rest of our visit for the next five and half days I found the hospital staff were very friendly and almost everyone had a accent of some kind, I heard Doctor Zhivargo, those two wild and crazy guys on Saturday night Live, Cisco and Puncho, Count Dracula, a KGB spy, and lastly but not least a mixture of Beverly Hillbillies and Hee Haw.

Anna was back with me when we went back to the ER.  We were put in a curtain cubical.  There were three cubicles alongside the wall.  The good thing about curtain cubicles you can overhear everything  the neighbors are saying and the bad thing is that the neighbors can overhear everything you are saying.

A young man in the next cube was born in 1991.  About 22 years old?  By the conversation between him and his medical giver he was in some kind of dirt bike a-rama  thing near either Dallas or Cartersville.  The medic person asked him about how many feet was he in free flight.... I took this as being flung from his vehicle and was flying through the air.  He said, "about 70 feet."
"70 feet?"
"Yes  - the jump is 50 feet.... and  bla bla bla....."
I wanted to holler out, "Speak out!  I can't hear over here!"
And on the other side a young lady or teenager was pregnant.  She just found out.   She was estimated 7 months pregnant.
Speak up!

They determined I was having a gallstone attack.  They could not just remove the gallbladder because there were complications involved:  I am on Plavix, a blood thinner.  They would have to wait until the Plavix to wear off.  Exactly when did I take my last Plavix pill?  That is easy, Saturday night.  They said they could operate on probably Thursday or  Friday.  The second item was my count, whatever that is, and my temperature, and maybe one or two other symptoms which had the signature of a renegade gallstone that might be plugging up a valve hole or something.  They would have the GI group to give me a closer look by MRI and determine where that little rascal renegade gallstone was and then a tube down through me somehow and mechanically pick it up.  Shit!

The surgery coordinator I was assigned to put me on a "nothing by mouth" diet.  Nothing by Mouth means nothing.  I got fluids through the iv and that was it.  Speaking of IVs, my iv tubing was continuously tangling itself up and it would beep  and beep until they came to fix it.  Finally it got where if I just moved my arm slightly it would shot working and start beeping.  The nurses  showed me how to press start again and press the iv selections.  Which I'm sure they enjoyed their extra time.  One day it kept beeping and I couldn't get it back running correctly and the nurse came in several times and got it running but before she left good it would start beeping again.  She told me I was just going to have to keep my hand still.  As she was telling me this and my hand was in plain view being still, it started beeping again.  She called the unit to have them come and jab a new iv hole.

Speaking of holes in my arm, before the week was over both my arms were full of holes and bruises.  I told the nurse drawing blood  when I left there if the cops pulled me over and they saw my arms my car would be searched for sure.  
I should note that I don't think anytime for those five nights in the hospital I got over 20 minutes in a row of good sleep..... well, any sleep.

For five day we saw a long list of professional medical people to come and check on me.  Members of  my cardiologist's staff, doctors and nurses kept the door swinging, along with the GI team members, gastrologists (?), one person with a plastic looking toy that he insisted I blow in every hour, ten times, and one well fit doctor in his 30s who looked like the poster child of an aggressive sportsman  and exerciser, bounded in one day, didn't identify himself, he just ask was I OK, and I said, "Yeah, considering..." and before we could have a chuckle over my wise-crack he was out the door before it even slung shut.  Who was that man?  I bet he is very self-centered and cried when his  Little League team lost and if he ever made a mistake on the sporting field he managed to blame it on someone else.  I guess each of them saying  "Howdy-you-do? will be priced and invoiced and we start seeing statements from various medical groups will start coming soon.

There were one lady that had an interesting air about her. It seems she had a wry smile on her face all the time and seemed to sense the ironic  humor in humans intermingling.  She would usually ask me if they did so and so, and based on what I said she elaborated.    She had an accent and reminded me of a KGB agent - she needed a trench coat to complete my  interpretation of her
One student nurse came through one day with the nurse watching everything she did and wrote it down and sometimes asked her why she did something.  She was a very serious learner.  Later that same day she came back and ask if I mind if she ask me some questions about my illness, which I truthfully answered everything she asked.   Somehow it came out that she loved dogs and she has a part whippet and part something else, but looks like a pit bull dog.  While we were in such a jovial mood talking about our dogs we asked her if she had any children.  She was taken by our question and was silent for a few moments.... damn, what did we say wrong?   Then she finally spoke, saying one thing as a nurse she was taught is not to divulge too much private information about yourself.   Then, she broke her own self-imposed rule and told us she was pregnant.  We congratulated her.  She  left and we didn't see her again.

The older nurses seemed to have cared less about divulging or TMI.  Bah!

During my near-week at the hospital over the PA system they announced "Town Hall Meeting" in the auditorium two to four times a day.   One nurse told me she had been there 31 years and has yet attended one of those meetings, she said she had to eat her lunch working, do I think she was going to waste her work time hearing about the hospital long range plans?  She shooed the thought away like swatting a fly.
Just like the Wheels of Justice move slowly, so do the Wheels of Medicine.  One group can't  make their move until  the group ahead of them do their thing.

But the day we thought the GI people should do their exploring we had the nurse to call and asked when they were going to do me.  They said they had no paper work on me.    Back to the drawing board.

Finally that day or the next they came and did my MIR.  The thing is by the time they got the orders and did the MRI the little renegade gallstone had moved on, probably flushed away with the water the IVs has been dripping into me.  And my temperature was back to normal and so were the numbers. 

My surgery to have the gallbladder removed was Thursday.  A team came in and made sure I was properly cleaned, stripped down with no clothes except my hospital gown, watch removed, and ring we  compromised.  I was rolled onto a gurney and down the corridors and elevators and down more corridors until we reached the operating complex.  While being pushed looking ahead I thought it would be neat to have my camera with me to video the trip down the halls, you see lots of people mulling about talking, reading orders, reading newspapers, and just hanging out.  It would make an interesting video.  Then I thought of how I would look holding a video being gurneyed down the hall and I was reminded me I only had on a hospital gown.  Damn, when the people looked up to see the gurney noise what all did they see flapping in the wind go by them?

In the operating staging cubicles again we had fabric cubicles that you could hear other people talk.  One guy with a very loud voice was telling someone with him he does all kinds of workouts every day in a gym and so far this year has ran over 19,000 miles.  He said an actual number, like 19,745 but I didn't retain it, I wasn't compulsive over his stats as he was.  But I do know he said he ran at least 19,000 miles this year.  That was June 20.  June 20 was the 171st day of 2013.   If you divide 19,000 by 171 you will see that the guy was claiming to average slightly over 111 miles each day.  

That is a lot of time improving one's body for endurance, which is commendable but when did he find time for just routine daily routines like sleep, eating, yard work, whatever.  As he told whomever he was talking to, "I'm the real thing!"
Well, as long as he is still talking he will always have a favorite subject to talk about.

The operation went smoothly, or I suppose it did.  I only remember them putting me back in my hospital bed back in my room.   Additional to my IV they hooked me up to some additional devices or gadgets.  I had an oxygen breathing tube, both lower parts of my legs wrapped in air tubes  that was tighten up whenever they felt it was needed, which was about every ten or fifteen minutes, and maybe a heart monitor, I forgot.

With all the tubes and wires wrapped around me I found it almost impossible to urinate.  There was a plastic urinal by the bed for my convenience but found it hard and complicated to use.  The wires and tubes were pulled tight and some was in a tangle.  It was hard to stand at the edge of my bed and pee into the plastic urinal.  I had to stoop over balanced on one leg with the other pulled upward by the tubes.  They were trying to flush me so was pumping fluids by the IV to I was forced to pee about once an hour, and each time I had to do an acrobatic act.

Now, I had a tube coming out of my stomach into an overflow bottle, so I could not lay on my side.  I cannot sleep on my back.  From exhaustion a couple of times I almost nodded off to sleep only to gently woken by the feeling of huge snakes coiling around my legs.

After a whole night without a wink of sleep a doctor the next morning was telling me what an great invention the tubes around the legs are, he said that will keep you from having cramps.  I told him that thing kept me awake when I could be sleeping and which is more valuable a stroke from sleep deprivation or no leg cramps?  He looked at me with a frozen smile  and left with his clipboard.  

I was released Friday with an overflow tube attached to a little bottle, which I will have to have remove early in the week.  I am gradually getting my appetite and energy back.  Now, it only hurt when I giggle.

PS - One thing I almost forgot, a nurse was helping me one day and was getting me ready for bed and giving me the proper medicines and she asked me, "Do they give you Tylenol at the Home?" 

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