2008/11/05

Fun with gallstones

... or how not to enjoy a business trip.

One morning, about two weeks ago, I woke up in a hotel room with incredible abdominal pain (or at least more than I had ever experienced).  No, I didn't wake up in a tub of ice missing a kidney.  It was about 0230 and I thought my appendix had burst.  I called the front desk to see if they had a doctor or paramedic in the hotel, but of course, that only exists in movies or on TV.  I was told the nearest hospital was more than 20 minutes of driving.  I did not think I could make that drive in my condition, so I opted for the ambulance ride.

The ambulance drivers showed up a while later (seemed like eternity, but my subjective clock was not running correctly at the time).  They were volunteers (their only identification was a t-shirt and a gurney).  They seemed to be capable of putting me on the stretcher and into the ambulance (without dropping me), but that seemed to be where their training stopped.  They had difficulty taking my blood pressure and apparently were not allowed to dispense medications.  Regardless, after a period of time that was less than the infinity but still seemed long, we arrived at the hospital.

The ER folks proceeded to ask me questions.  Silly ones, like "What's your name?"  To which I answered "AaaarrrgggghhhFuckFuckFuckGiveMeDrugsssssss!!!!!"  Eventually, they determined that my abdomen hurt, that it had never hurt like this before, that there was no blood in my stool (don't ask about how they got the sample), and that if they jammed their fingers up under my rib cage on the right side, they could make it hurt more.  They then told me I needed an ultrasound, but that I would have to wait until 0700 (eons in the future).  So they gave me morphine so I would stop scaring the other patients.  Morphine sucks, I can't see how people get addicted to it.  It did, however, knock me out, which meant I wasn't around for the pain.

After 0700, they made me take off my pants (this is part of hospital culture-there is no reason for it most times, I think they just like making people feel uncomfortable) and then wheeled me to the ultrasound tech.  Said technician took lot's of pictures of my belly, but refused to discuss what was observed (apparently I was not cleared to know about my insides-only a strange doctor that I had yet to meet could know what she found).

Eventually, a doctor appeared and told me I had acute cholecystitis (i.e. gallbladder inflamed due to gallstones).  He wanted to get a surgeon and operate that day.  I declined the offer, as I was no longer in pain and wanted to get this done at home.  He seemed convinced that I would die on the way, but gave me some percocet (percocet does not suck) and let me go, with the caution that I should not eat anything until I had surgery.  This proved impossible, so I avoided anything with lots of fat and all greasy foods.  Instead of dying, I drove 50 miles, got on an airplane and flew back home.  Percocet is really good for sleeping on an airplane.  Really good.

Fast forward 2 days:  I met with my personal Doc.  He agreed that this gallbladder was no longer worth the price of keeping it and recommended surgery.  I agreed to meet with a surgeon.  The Doc said stay away from fatty foods, greasy foods, and alcohol.  I told him I was not familiar with that diet and did not realize it would support human life.  I tried it anyway.


Fast forward a week:  I met with the surgeon and he agreed (surprise!) that surgery was the correct solution.  The next available date was about two weeks in the future.  


Fast forward two weeks:  After eating stuff I don't like and not eating stuff I do like, I finally had surgery.  I think I may have lost more than ten pounds, between the change in diet and the gallbladder that was removed.  I am now free to return to killing myself with food and beer.  


After about five days, I was back at work and not really in any pain.  After another couple of weeks, I was cleared to attempt to kill myself with exercise and give myself a hernia by picking up kids again.


Conclusion:  Don't get gallstones, but if your liver and gallbladder will not cooperate, get the surgery and go back to fun food.

2 comments:

metron said...

Did the docs divide your gallstone into three parts for you? *ducks*

Who is overseeing your rehab - Dr. Bushmill or Dr. Jameson?

spacer01 said...

Clearly there is some cultural reference I missed. No, the doc didn't divide the gallstone into three. He didn't need to, as there were 3-4 stones in the gallbladder they removed, along with fluid charmingly referred to as sludge.

I will just wait to hit you in person.

Since it is the holiday season, Dr. Nevada, Dr. Sierra Nevada is helping heal me with his Celebration elixir.