Tummy troubles

Image: Ben Oh
"Stay with me, Kathleen. Stay with me."

Never in my life did I expect to hear those words spoken to me.

Never in my life have I felt so powerless, so vulnerable, and so so sick.

It happened November 15.

I had just completed physical therapy. I sat up on the table and knew I was going to be sick.
I found my way to the bathroom on the 2nd floor of the Calhoun Executive Building, kneeled on the floor, and away I went.

Within 15 minutes I was reduced to a sweaty, stinky, barely coherent, terribly sick lady. I had tried calling my doctor's office, and they said call 911. I tried calling my husband, but honestly, I couldn't get any understandable words out. (He saved the message and played it back for me - ish!)

I have vague snatches of recollection. Like hearing my physical therapist tell someone my name and say I'd been perfectly fine less than half an hour earlier. I heard a doctor's voice saying, yes, call 911. And I heard the voice of an earthly angel who was holding my head from dropping into the loo, and saying things like "Stay with me, Kathleen." I could feel my energy ebbing, and all I wanted to do was flatten myself on the cool tiles and pass out.

But that's not what happened.

EMTs showed up and managed to unwedge me from my position in that tiny bathroom stall. Two men carried me to a stretcher and started an IV. Into that port they pumped anti-nausea medicine and morphine. The pain in my stomach was excruciating. I moaned like a zombie and begged for help. Every bump in the road felt like a jackhammer to my stomach.

Image: Brian K YYZ
And then I arrived at the Emergency Department and was transported swiftly to a room. More anti-nausea medicine. More morphine, which made me momentarily even sicker. And potassium. I guess my potassium level plummeted, as did my hemoglobin and my blood pressure. To even things out, my heart raced into tachycardia.

My friends, I was a mess -- a moaning, writhing, bona-fide mess. Another round of anti-nausea meds and morphine and I finally began to feel enough relief to be taken for a CT scan. Results: normal. I was on the 6th bag of fluids when my husband and daughter arrived. And I'd finally stopped moaning and was drifting off to sleep now and then.

The decision was made to keep me overnight to get my heart rate down and build my fluids back up, and I was released 24 hours later on the condition that I get further tests.

On Tuesday, I was pumped full of radioactive dye and given an injection that briefly -- but frighteningly -- brought the symptoms back on.

Diagnosis: Biliary dyskinesia (aka a gall bladder whose warranty had expired). Not stones. Just a really bad bile-maker. On the day of the test, it was functioning at 7%. Bare minimum is 35%. Why the sucker causes so much pain when it is so incompetent I'm still not sure, but I can guarantee you it does.

Beth, RN, and me
So I'm headed for surgery December 3 and in the meantime I am on a completely fat-free vegan diet. No animal (mammalian or fish) products, no soy beans or soy products, no dairy products, no oil (healthy or not), no nuts. And truth me told, I haven't felt this good in years! It's amazing what happens when  you eat right.

But that gallbladder is a ticking time bomb, and I never NEVER NEVER want to go through the likes of that Friday again.

This past Friday, one week after the horrific day, I managed to track down the earthly angel who did so much to help me, but whose face I never saw. Her name is Beth, and when I brought her cookies, Himalayan bath salts, and a thank you card, she told me that was unnecessary, because "I was just doing my job." But I wasn't her patient. I was a complete stranger, losing the contents of her belly in full technicolor and surround sound. And I'm humbled by people the Universe puts in my path when I most need them.

So here's to you, wonderful Beth! May everyone be so fortunate as to find you along their path!

Next up: gotta track down those EMTs!


Hilary said…
Oh how utterly terrifying for you. I'm so sorry you went through that but so glad they found the cause and can treat you. Here's to the angels in our lives.
Linda said…
I'm getting light-headed just reading about your nightmare!

To Beth, another thank-you, you are a real angel!

Glad you're feeling great! (Got me thinking about all the junk I eat)
ellen abbott said…
Wow, Kathleen. How scary. Fortunately, you can live just fine without your gall bladder.
Kitty said…
Good luck with surgery, I'll be thinking about you!
Glad it's something fixable.
Love you
Linda said…
Take Care! Dream of a white Christmas.
RETA said…
Kathleen . . . Oh my goodness - what you went through. I am glad there were people around you that helped you. I am also happy to know that it can be taken care of. By now you are recovering. I pray you recover quickly. Take care.

RETA@ http://evenhaazer.blogspot.com

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