Tuesday, November 10, 2009

You know you're sick when . . .

WARNING: Long, "detailed" post!
First of all, thanks to Jules for her ideas on fixing meals, etc. About 2 weeks ago I made a plan for myself and continue to work on that plan, regardless of the past week of bumps and setbacks. To say the past 7 days have been some of the most challenging I've experienced in a while would be close to the truth. One of the greatest things I learned on my mission was that trials, if taken and used the way God intends, lead to strength in spirit, testimony in miracles, and growth in wisdom. I also learned that there is an individual and personal plan He has made for each one of us. He has promised that if we are willing to trust Him, He will guide our paths for good.
That being said- this past week has been a trial of health, mind, and faith. I met with a surgeon earlier in the month to plan for gallbladder surgery the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Not the most ideal, but most convenient and manageable. I felt good about this decision and the next few days were filled with good health, strength, and energy.
Wednesday: I came to work as usual, went to class as usual, came back to work as usual . . .then I passed out at my desk, which was most unusual! Well, I didn't actually pass out, but rather yelled to my coworker to grab me because all I could see was black. Yes, this was in front of my kind, grandmotherly patient and her sweet husband who jumped up and yelled for help with me. After laying me down on the floor in front of EVERYONE, my coworkers called the radiologist (the closest DR) to come check me out, called my family, and pulled me into a wheelchair to take me over to the ER. Embarrassed, but very lightheaded, I was pushed over to the ER waiting room, still cycling with black outs. I have never passed out in my life, so it was an especially strange and scary experience. Skipping over a few parts . . .skip . . .skip . .skip . OKAY, after some testing, the decision was made for me to get ANOTHER EGD with colonoscopy ASAP. I went home, frustrated, and made the appointment for the procedure at IMC.
Thursday : ready to go to bed, I start feeling a little pain and fullness in my stomach. I lay down to see if the symptoms will go away, only to end up at the toilet (um, I won't get too graphic, but it was probably the worst case of "spewing" I've ever had.) After some other discouraging signs, mom and I made the decision to head back to the ER at 2:00 am. Wrapped in a blanket, with the hospital's little blue baggie held close by, I wrenched in pain, exhausted and weak. They gave me zofran. Still doing it. They gave me more zofran. Still doing it. They gave me some morphine. Still doing it, while experiencing a warm and fuzzy sensation. They gave me some phenegrin (sp?) and FINALLY things slowed down. They worried about a bowel obstruction, so they sent me in for a CT scan. I sat on the cold table while the sweet rad tech got chewed out by my nurse because my IV line wasn't working and she had to poke me again. (I don't blame her for her grumpiness. I'm sure it's no fun to measure your patients' barf, change the sheets twice because the barf (and . . .whatever) didn't make it in the toilet or stupid little blue bag, try drug after drug to get your patient to stop barfing, and do all this at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning at the end of your 12 hour shift. No, I don't blame her.) The rest of the night . . . morning . . . I don't remember. I do remember waking up in a hospital room with a young resident doctor asking me my name and birthday for about the 100th time. I remember him writing down my whole history for the past 2 months and then telling me his theory. I remember the 2nd young resident doctor waking me up and asking my name for the 101st time and asking me to repeat everything I had just told resident #1. I DO remember his boyish smile, dark hair, beautiful blue eyes . . . and strongly wishing we could have met in better circumstances when my hair wasn't plastered to my face, my arm hooked to an IV pole, and my breath smelling like 4 hours of barfing. I also remember doctor #3, the actual hospitalist, coming in my room with #1 and #2 following her, asking my name, birthday, history, and current symptoms. At this point, any goal to be a friendly and good-tempered patient slowly slipped away and frustrated, annoyed, weak, and sick Megan took over. I "nicely" demanded to know why I had to stay in the hospital, what, or if, they had found anything yet, and what they needed to do so this never happened again. From the looks they gave me, I realized that they were no closer to an answer than I was to being voted "best-dressed" in my sexy checkered hospital gown and matching BP cuff.
To make a long story much, much longer . . . I stayed in hospital room 930 for another 24 hours, watched, monitored, filled with fluids, and driven out of my mind. As I started to feel sorry for myself, I decided to take a walk around my floor. As I dragged my IV pole behind me, I would look into the rooms I passed and see patients sleeping, visiting, and staring out their windows. I then remembered reading "medical oncology" on Suzie's badge (the best nurse ever!) It hit me that many of these patients, unlike me, were here for a much longer and harder stay, and their doctors' answers didn't have as much room for hope and cure. I continued to ponder this as I watched a good friend sleep on the very uncomfortable couch next to my bed, as I packed my things and left the hospital with my dad the following morning, as I gagged down the prep and water in preparation for the colonoscopy, and as I walked through the doors of endoscopy, turning around to hug and kiss my mom as she was escorted to the waiting room and I was escorted to the procedure bed, IV hooked to my arm again and 4 EKG leads hanging around my neck.
What hit me were the words of my wise mother, who has been dealt her fair share of health problems. Saturday night I fell into a dark place of discouragement and after crying to her, she said, with tears in her eyes "It really stinks. Believe me when I say 'I understand completely'. But, at this point you've got to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and keep going. The light always comes. Don't doubt that it will come for you." As I lay on the bed waiting to talk with Dr. Fenton, I attempted to identify the successes and "rights". Good doctors, good nurses, medicine to help feel better, state-of-the-art facilities and ability to find out much more much quicker. I was inconvenienced for a week, even a month. Others are inconvenienced for the rest of their lives. I have supportive family, friends, coworkers, and classmates, who give of their time and effort to make sure I'm okay. Most of all, I have the knowledge that I am never alone.
For the most part, this post was meant to inform concerned friends and family, but also to journal this experience so when other things come up, which might happen, I can look back and see that the "light" did indeed come and there is always the hope that things will be better tomorrow. In conclusion: there really is no definitive conclusion to why the past week has been so rough, but some educated guesses include: 1) my gallbladder really really REALLY needs to come out, yet this doesn't explain the persistent diarrhea (w/bld) for the past month, which leads to guess 2) checking for Crohn's disease or enzyme levels that would indicate irritation or intolerance of certain food groups (i.e. milk, wheat, etc.) I really hope #1 is the right answer. It was considered at the beginning of this exciting adventure that internal bleeding might have been causing some of the symptoms, yet my blood levels came out normal, with a Hematocrit at 42. I had an EGD about 4 weeks ago where ulcers where identified all down my esophagus and small intestine. It was thought that maybe the ulcers were getting worse and bleeding, causing dark diarrhea and + for blood in rectal exam. But, yesterday's EGD showed the ulcers were gone! Dr. Fenton reminded us that even though they did scopes from both ends, there still is a great amount of small intestine to be checked and so they did some blood tests, along with biopsies, to check for Crohn's and allergies to the different foods. There is slight inflammation in the stomach and colon, but nothing that could be the cause of what's happened over the past week.
I want to thank all my family, friends, coworkers, etc. for their prayers, love and concern. I do feel better and hope to be back to work/school tomorrow! As far as a plan, we will continue to watch the symptoms and wait to hear back on test results in a week or so. I will do my best to keep you informed. Peace!