Being sick

I'm generally healthy as a freaking horse, so it was quite a surprise to me that I couldn't shake this belly ache I'd been having for over a week. It was a painful, sorta all around mess in my abdomen that was reminiscent of my normal girlie pains. Nothing but a hot water bottle and a whole mess of Pepto could help me.

I thought I had it beat when it went away on Thursday afternoon, but it came back with a vengeance on Saturday morning. Eventually, we decided to go to an urgent care center. We packed up the baby, I took a shower, and off we went only to have the urgent care doctor send me to the ER.

Eesh. I was terrified. I've never been to the hospital for anything other than suspected broken bones, which are much less mystifying and life-threatening than an ominous week-long belly ache. But the ER staff were professional and very much determined to figure it all out so I felt a little better about it all. My mom came to help with Hollis and she and Anthony switched off for his feedings and naps.

After a very long night of pelvic exams, CT scans, and an inside and outside sonogram (that was interesting) they discovered what they thought was a 6 cm ovarian cyst. The ER doc recommended I stay the night so they could my now unbearable pain (I was resistant to morphine and they had to give me 1 mg of dilaudid in the end, which I guess is a whole shit load) and I was moved upstairs. The oncall OB/GYN was paged and notified of my case and we were told she'd come and see me in the morning to discuss surgery and options.

If the whole day wasn't Twilight Zone-y enough for me, that night it got even weirder. While on the dilaudid my breathing got r e a l l y slow. I already have low blood pressure and heart and couple that with slow breathing this monitor thing I'd been hooked up to in the ER kept going off because it detected low levels of oxygen. They didn't have me hooked up to that upstairs and when I was trying to fall asleep I'd wake up in between breaths with nothing in my lungs. I was so scared I was going to die. My family was gone, I was exhausted, still in quite a bit of pain and I couldn't breathe right! So around 1:15 am I rang for the nurse and explained to her my situation and could she hook me up to something so someone would know if I stopped breathing? She looked at me like I was nuts, but she said she'd give it a shot. Then I heard her telling others my situation and that it was weird. I felt terrible and tried to not overhear any more.

Eventually I was hooked up to a monitor and felt much better and was just drifting off to sleep when my door opened and someone came in. It was a woman I knew from my masters program who was working as a CA (clinical assistant or nursing assistant). I said, "Did I [accidentally] ring the call button??"

"No, she says," and proceeds to walk around to the other side of the bed and sit down in a chair. "I can't believe you're here! How crazy is that?" and she proceeds to chat me up for 40 minutes while I lay in bed, barely conscious thinking to myself, "Why don't I tell her to leave?!"

I only get about and hour of sleep that night due to pain. The nurse comes in and thankfully keeps giving me more pain relief whenever I ask which I keep to about every 3-4 hours. In the morning, there's a shift change and my mom shows up. Around 10 or 11, Dr. Schneider, a blonde bulldozer of a doctor, comes in and says, "The cyst is just a straight cyst, nothing abnormal and it should go away on its own. However, your other option is to have surgery. Which do you want to do?" She goes on to tell me that she'd send me home with pain meds and that I'd be just fine in a couple of weeks with no surgery. That cysts like these were no big deal and tons of women got them and didn't ever have surgery for them and that mine wasn't even that big. She'd send me home with some vicadin and some anti-inflammatories and I would be just fine. On the other hand, if I opted for surgery she'd be happy to do that too, but since she'd been up for 48 hours, she wouldn't do it until Tuesday so she could rest up on Monday and get all the myriad of moving parts necessary for surgery all lined up (it was Sunday morning we were having this conversation). And did I also know that there were always greater risks involved with surgery because of the general anesthesia and whatnot? Because there are and I should think seriously about those.

When she left my mom and I looked at each other and said, "Well, it was obvious which of the two options she wanted me to do!" It was so crystal clear that she did NOT want to do surgery. I don't know that I can explain it here well enough to do her persuasive powers justice. Without coming out and saying so directly she made it perfectly clear she thought I should go home and deal with the pain until it went away. Clearly, she wasn't listening to me about how much discomfort I was in. My first thought was, "How the hell am I supposed to take care of Hollis and run our lives all drugged up and what could they possibly give me that would do the trick when I was on fucking dilaudid!?" Not to mention I didn't want to be in pain for my trip to California in September (my first vacation in two years). She left saying she'd be back in an hour or so for our decision.

It wasn't too difficult of a decision for me. I wanted surgery so that I could definitively end the pain and recover in time for my family vacation and get back to 100% normal a whole lot faster. She didn't say, "Ok, great decision, I'll get right on it," instead, her eyebrows shot up and her eyes got all big and she sorta shook her head to clear her thoughts and said, "Wow. Ok, I wasn't expecting that," and you could see the wheels spinning in her head as she scrambled to rework the next 48 hours. It seriously looked like I'd slapped her.

While she went to go figure out when she could perform the surgery I continued to get pretty good care. I still had the IV drugs coming, but then Dr. Schneider came back and told me that she for sure wasn't going to be able to perform the surgery until Tuesday so there was no reason for me to be getting IV drugs anymore and why don't we practice with the take home drugs/anti-inflammatories for the Monday I'd be at home prior to surgery? So they gave me vicadin and a shot which didn't really help with the pain all that much.

Up until this point I'd been reporting the worst pain as an 8 (that was in the ER after the morphine) and a 6-7 for really bad pain that needed relief. 4-5 was quite painful and uncomfortable and in need of relief, as well. 1-3, no big deal, I'm cool. With the vicadin, I was at a constant 4 or 5 and it never felt better. I kept having them refill my hot water bottle and I was pretty much miserable all Sunday.

Later that day Dr. Schneider comes back in to tell me she's going to come in on her day off (Monday) and do the surgery. I ask her if she'll sleep. She says "Yes, of course. Don't worry." And because I'll be having surgery, I'll get to keep eating, but not after midnight.

Hours later, I figure that since we're going through with this surgery tomorrow, I won't have to keep dicking around with this pain med experiment that hasn't been working and I can get back on the stuff that actually works, but the nurse tells me she only has doctor's orders for the vicadin/anti-inflammatory (which is not working!). I take a dose and suck it up and do my best. By 10, I'm back at a full blown 7 and I'm dying. I ring for the nurse and I ask for some pain relief. She says she'll have to ask because it hasn't been 4 hours, yet (she'd kept me on this brutal strict 4-hour regimen all day) - it'll be 4 hours at 10:45. She comes back to tell me the doctor told her to wait. I say ok and she leaves and I cry for 45 minutes trying to be brave and wondering if I'm just a gigantic wimp and am I asking too much from these people?

At 10:42 the nurse comes in with my drugs. At last!! But I don't see a syringe. I see a little cup with two shitty little pills in it. I say, "Vicadin? But I thought... you see, I'm so tired and the vicadin makes me all chatty and it takes so long to kick in at all..." My eyes well up and I try to keep from bursting into tears. I'm looking at hours more of pain. She says, "You wanted pain relief, right??" I say, "Yes," still trying to keep my tears at bay. I take the pills and ask her to help me with my breast pump gear and she leaves.

Thankfully, I was so exhausted I slept for 5 hours and when I woke up I got the dilaudid. I fell back asleep for a few more hours and got dilaudid again from a new nurse whose first words were, "So I hear the doctor didn't want to do surgery, but you did." Then it was go time and I got wheeled off and my cyst removed.

In the recovery room, Dr. Schneider barrels back in to tell me that everything went fine and she'd already talked to my family and that my cyst was on my fallopian tube and not my ovary as first suspected. And not only that, but it was twisted, which might explain all the pain I had been in. Then she was gone. Poof. Just like that.

Back in my room I told my family what she'd told me and they were surprised. She hadn't shared the twisted cyst part with them or that that might have explained all the pain I'd been in. She hadn't wanted me to do the surgery in the first place and was obviously skeptical of my "pain," otherwise she wouldn't have done that bullshit vicadin experiment on me and given such firm orders to the nurse to make me wait another 45 minutes. She never said she was sorry. Now I'm pissed and my mom and Anthony both are livid.

My mom's been a nurse for 25 years and she couldn't believe some of the things I'd told her. Like overhearing the nurse saying my request was weird, or that CA school acquaintance of mine barging into my room at 2 am for 40 mins, or the doctor making me wait for 45 minutes for more pain relief, or another nurse saying, "Hey, so I heard the doctor doesn't want to do surgery, but you do," or how the doctor clearly didn't want to do surgery and thought I was med-seeking, or how the doctor never apologized once she discovered something unexpected that might explain all my "med-seeking," or how every time I buzzed for a nurse I felt like I as putting them out. She went and found the hospital administrator and gave her an earful for an hour. Then the admin came to my room and apologized profusely and has asked me to come and talk to the staff that worked on my case next week during one of their routine meetings. She's appalled that the nurses didn't stick up for me in the face of Dr. Bulldozer and instead adopted her attitude towards me. I told her I'd do it (part of why I'm writing all this down - so I can better retell it later).

I'm never sick. Last weekend was so hard for me to let go. Poor Hollis didn't get to nurse for 48 hours due to something I had to take for the CT scan, Anthony had to take care of him around the clock. I couldn't manage my own pain, couldn't eat for most of the weekend, and I was terrified of surgery. Obviously, everything turned out ok, but it was rough. I still feel battle weary and not just because my belly hurts from the operation, but because it was an emotional operation, too. It was a great experience in the ER and a wholly mediocre one in the hospital itself. I can't believe that healthcare workers would be so callous and critical of someone. They don't even know me and who cares if I am drug-seeking?! I was in horrible pain, for Christ's sake!! What the hell do they care if I get more drugs than the prescribe intervals? I'm there for, what, 48 hours? How's that going to hurt them? And their general attitude towards my seeking their help, too, was bad. I felt like I was putting them out whenever I asked for more hot water, or for something to drink, or for more pain relief. Unfuckingbelievable.

Thank God it's over and thank God I was right about all of it! It was the right fucking thing for me to have surgery. I'll be as good as new in a few days with this debacle 100% behind me. I even found a new OB/GYN who's willing to do my follow up visit because there's no way in hell I'm going back to Schneider.

Anyway... so that's what my weekend was like. How was yours??

1 comment:

  1. OH MY GAWD. You, dear, win the Gutsiest Broad Award for enduring all of that and sticking up for yourself!

    I am in awe of you!

    I will be sending you the best mojo I've got for your recovery and your appearance at their meeting.