Are you tired of this story? I’M tired of it. How pissed would you be if I ended it “And then the pain went away and I went home. The end”?
But, that’s kind of what happened.
In my room, finally, so happy just to have a pillow, a nurse quizzed me in the dark as he completed my intake paperwork. I asked for more pain meds and anti-nausea meds. He obliged happily, and then gave me a shot in the stomach.
I was so out of it that when he approached with the needle, I assumed it was the morphine. I almost took the needle from his hand. Then he said it was heparin, a blood thinner, used to prevent DVT. Blood clots in my legs, y’all. So I rolled over and showed him my ass, at which point he laughed and said, “Not there!” Now I was out of it AND embarrassed and dammit. I JUST WANT TO SLEEP ON MY LITTLE PILLOW. Fine. Where do I have to get this blasted shot? “In the stomach.” Oh, sure. Of course. Why not just give it to me in my eyeball? And the heparin BURNS. “Don’t rub it!” he tells me as I grip my stomach. Then he tells me I’ll be getting these lovely things every 8 hours. I just laughed. And then he pushed my pain meds and turned off the light and I went to sleep on my little pillow.
A large team of doctors came into my room at 7, and I tried to wake up as quickly as I could because they were all staring at me expectantly. Some looked young, really young. TOO young, frankly. One was THE surgeon and she explained that she was pretty certain I would need to have my gallbladder removed, but as long as I responded well to the antibiotics, the surgery wouldn’t need to happen for 6 or 7 weeks. She outlined the tests that would be done over the course of the day, and I tried to memorize everything she said so I could repeat it back to Fred. She was very nice but I wanted her to leave because I had been sleeping and I’d heard that was hard to do in a hospital and could I just get back to it?
The other bit of news given to me was that I was not to eat or drink anything. At all. Nothing. No water, no ice chips, nothing. My roommate was in for the same issues and she hadn’t eaten for a couple of days. She was not happy. I could see myself reaching that point very soon.
A couple of hours later I was wheeled away for an ultrasound, and when they brought be back to my room, Fred was waiting for me. I explained the morning, and we chatted quietly until a doctor came in to say those magical yet altogether confusing words: “Your ultrasound was clear.”
No stones. No inflammation. The dilated liver duct? No longer dilated. Everything looked perfect. As for my blood work, the numbers had come down significantly from the day before. Diagnosis? Murder. Wait, no. There was no diagnosis. But they let me order some chicken broth and it was the best thing ever. Then they let me order DINNER. And that made my stomach very unhappy, so they made me stay in the hospital one more night. Stupid stomach.
On Sunday morning, they drew more blood (the tech actually gasped when she saw my arm; I, uh, bruise very easily). Fred showed up and we waited for the doc, who eventually came in and said, “Your blood work looks spectacular. You can go home.” Yay! But wait! What happened? To that, a shrug. “Maybe a stomach bug gone haywire?” Mmm, comforting. No matter. I WAS FREE.
And then we waited three hours for them to submit the paperwork. The end.
I saw my doctor a few days later, and he looked over my chart and listened to me explain the whole thing. His diagnosis? Murder. Crap.
No, a gall stone (or small cluster of stones) that had been ejected from the gallbladder and had gotten wedged in a duct, causing the liver to go “MAKE MORE BILE!!” and the gallbladder to go “SEND MORE BILE!!” and my body to go “NO MORE BILE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!” and then the gall stone(s) most likely became unwedged and plopped into my stomach and everything went back to normal. Sort of. It took about two weeks to recover, which my doc told me was standard. Apparently, the liver does a lot of jobs, and when it gets dinged from something like a gall stone, it takes its sweet-ass time to heal. As do I, my friends. As do I.