*DISCLAIMER* This is a freakin’ LONG blog, but it has all the details that people have been asking for. Hope you have time to read a small novel right now. *END OF DISCLAIMER*
It was 3 weeks ago that it all started – serious cramps at random hours of the day and night…
So there I was, every evening, feeling all crampy and gross and thinking that I needed to go easy on the fiber. Then Thursday night, September 2, I was in A LOT of pain. Like, curled up in the fetal position on the floor with a heating pad kind of pain. My husband woke up, gave me some ibuprofen and helped me into bed, and I went to sleep. Friday morning I woke up and didn’t feel much better, so I called my OBGYN and asked if they could get me in for a quick checkup. They fit me right in and decided that I probably had either salmonella, e-coli, an intestinal parasite, or some bug that was going around at the time. He gave me a prescription for some kick-butt antibiotics and sent me home. I was really excited about feeling better because I had the awesome woman’s retreat coming up and I wanted to go to it sooo bad! I felt better during the week I took the antibiotics, but I was really, really, tired. Thinking that I had a parasite sucking all the nutrients from my system, I used this as an excuse to go to Carl’s Jr. and eat their famous (and ultra-super-yummy-delicious) mushroom burger. Twice. Boy, I am salivating right now just thinking about that burger. Ahem.
So, I ran around all crazy doing laundry, cleaning and getting ready for my trip. Then I went on my trip and it was amazing. So amazing that I have made changes in my life because of this incredible weekend with these women! I needed it soooo much. My parents watched my boys on Friday and Saturday and I headed back home on Sunday afternoon.
Tuesday, I scrap-booked with friends, welcomed my room mate from college Leslie into my home for a week-long visit, and helped throw a fantabulous baby shower for a friend. Wednesday, I was busy entertaining my college friend but by Wednesday evening, I was feeling crampy again. Really gross and crampy. So I said goodnight to Leslie around midnight and tried to go to bed, but after using the restroom, I was in so much pain and had such bad cramps that I couldn’t stand up. Gila Man helped me get into bed and gave me the heating pad and an ibuprofen. All I wanted was to go to sleep, but I had a strong feeling that I should call our insurance’s 24-hour nurse hotline. We did and the nurse told me that I needed to put two fingers in my stomach, push and wiggle them. I told her I couldn’t do it. She told me I had to. I wiggled those fingers and just started crying, it was too intense of a pain for me to even continue talking. She then told my husband that I had better get to the ER ASAP.
On the way, I got hot chills, cold sweats, and pukey pukes. It was a fun trip. Gila Man also ran two stop lights (that part was a little awesome). I’m gonna chop up what happens next: Waited in ER waiting room for 30 minutes, got admitted, waited in a next to a crazy deranged mad spouting expletives for 30 minutes, saw a nurse, waited 30 minutes, talked to ER doc who ordered a urine sample, an ultrasound, and drugs for pain (yay!). 40 minutes later, (around 3 am) I got to take a little ride with the ultrasound tech, he took ultrasounds, I saw his face turn to stone, I knew something was wrong, I peed in a cup, I got another ultrasound, I went back to my ER cot next to the crazy man and a woman who had an allergic reaction to avocados to the other side of me.
About this time I was thinking that this was one CRAZY stomach bug.
I waited. One nurse thought I had a URI, another came and told me that I would be pumped full of dye to see if I have an intestinal blockage. It is 5:30 am and my husband planned to go home to get Mr. B ready for the bus. Then the ER doctor came running up to me and told me that my pregnancy test came back positive. There was one teeny little infinitesimal second of joy, followed by a jolt of concern – the doctor’s face was a face full of worry.
“Until we can confirm otherwise, we are going to treat this as an ectopic pregnancy.” she said. “I’m calling your OBGYN right now and we’ll go from there. I will tell you right now that you are looking at going into surgery sometime today.”
Talk about shock.
Gila Man decided to go home and get Mr. B ready for school while I waited for surgery. 10 minutes later, there was a whirlwind of activity around me; nurses whisking me away to the surgery room, doctors asking me for my blood type, the anesthesiologist asking me for my signature on a release form. I asked him if my insurance would cover all the anesthetics I would need for the surgery. He turned, put his hand on my shoulder, and said, “Sweetie, you are going in for emergency surgery right now. You can worry about those details after you get yourself taken care of.”
I looked at him, looked up at the ceiling, looked back at him and asked tearily, “Um, can I call my mom?”
After I called my husband to let him know that I would be in surgery before he got back to the hospital and called my mom to let her know that my stomach bug wasn’t a bug after all and that I was headed into emergency surgery in 10 minutes, I heaved a big sigh got ready to go under. Dr. Duran came in and let me know what was going to happen in the next hour or so and away I was wheeled into the fa-REEZING operating room to fix my inner workings.
Two hours later I woke up shaking from the anesthesia with my husband on one side, my doctor on the other, and my mom brushing the hair back from my forehead.
Fast forward past the text messages I sent while still under the influence of STRONG drugs, past the first night, past the morning when my doctor saw my hematoma and decided that I needed more observation (Friday morning), past the on-call doctor advising me to go home and past my insisting to stay because “something didn’t feel right” (Friday afternoon), past the nurse who ignored my chest pain, past the nurse who ignored my chest pain, past the nurse who actually listened to my concerns (Friday night), past the EKG to test my heart for problems, past the first CT scan, past the second EKG, and right up to 6 am on Saturday morning when the on-call doctor came in and said,
“Your lungs and heart look good. Looks like you had a pocket of gas trapped in your chest from the surgery and that’s what was causing you so much pain in your chest and upper shoulder…”
“But?” I asked.
“BUT…” he replied, “I found something unexpected on the CT scan. Something we never would have thought or known to look for if we weren’t scanning for something else. It looks like a mass of some kind.”
“Like, a blood clot from the surgery?” I asked.
“No, nothing like that.” he said.
“Well, then some sort of infection from having my fallopian tube burst and releasing all that gross-ness all over the place?”
“No. This is big. This is not something that just happened. I’m a worried about this mass. I’ve already scheduled you for another CT scan, this time of your whole abdomen so we can see exactly what we are looking at.” he said.
“Sounds good. If we find out what we are looking at, it is another laparoscopic surgery?” I asked.
“No, no. This is much bigger operation than that was.”
(And I’m thinkin’, “Wow, that was a BIG operation to me!!!)
He continued, “You’ll probably have to be arivaced (seriously, that’s how it’s spelled) to Tucson to have the operation there. We don’t have any surgeons out here who could do that kind of operation.”
“Ok,” I said, “Let’s get this started and find out what we are looking at.”
So I went in for a second CT scan, which is amazing because you are filled with iodine (contrast is the technical term) and you feel HOT from the inside out, there is the strangest sensation that you are wetting the bed, and your mouth feels like it’s FULL of pennies. So.fun.
Karla came and sat with me for a few minutes and chatted while we were waiting on the results which took my mind off of the waiting part, then the doctor came back in and shut.the.door.
“We found a mass in your lower abdomen.” he said. “It’s big. It’s really big. It’s located at the end of your pancreas close to your spleen and it’s pushing up against your kidney on your left side.”
“Wow.” I said. Seriously. That’s the only word I could think of. Then, “What do I do now?”
“We should get you to Tucson immediately, like by helicopter.”
“Yeah, about that.” I interrupted. “I’m not really sure that my insurance is going to cover all that, and I just used the last of my grocery money on getting admitted and getting this surgery done, so…can be driven instead?”
“Sure, sure.” He said, with a smile, “We can go ambulatory if that’s what you prefer. But we need to take a look at this because it’s not supposed to be there. We need to get this taken care of right away.”
And that was that. I called my husband and let him know what was going on (he was at work) and then I waited for my mom to get to hospital because she was taking me home after I was discharged.
We came home Saturday, did laundry and got a week’s worth of clothes and food ready for my boys, and tried to go to the hospital in Tucson on Monday. What a freakin’ mess that all was. Maybe I can break that down too:
Called UMC, they didn’t have my records, called Holy Cross, they couldn’t send my records, called UMC, they wouldn’t request my records, called HC, they still wouldn’t send my records, called my doc, got an insider’s help, called records and got my records sent to UMC. Drove halfway to Tucson, found out that the doc I was supposed to see referred me to another doc, but he didn’t have my records, also found out that I could NOT be admitted that day. Called HC and got my records sent to new doc at UMC, tried to get office number from UMC receptionist and was treated like trash, went home. Freaked out about the huge bruise on my abdomen spreading further and went to UMC ER, waited 1 1/2 hours to get into triage, was told it would be 6-8 hour wait to see a doc, waited for 4 1/2 hours before we went home. Saw local doc the next morning with NO appointment (I love, love, LOVE my local doc), found out everything was going to be ok, but I needed to rest more.
Went home and *sigh* rested. Got an appointment with the general surgeon at the UMC cancer center on Thursday (tomorrow, yipee!) and put my feet up and relaxed.
After that, I felt much better. I still get really, really tired if I do much more than walk out to the garage and back, but I finally, finally feel a little bit like a normal person. I have had a few wonderful ladies bring in meals for me and my family which helps so much when nobody knows your kitchen as well as you do and I am ready for whatever tomorrow brings!!
Thanks so much for all the phone calls, the cards and the fun comments – I love you all so much! I’ll keep you posted as soon as we find out what the next step in going to be.
And now – the yuckiness. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to edit these photos so you don’t see the bloated, swollen mass of a stomach I have, but I think I’m just gonna have to suck it up and let it all hang out. Beware, these photos are full of grossness!