Friday, August 26, 2016

Excuse me, have you seen my gallbladder?

You know those big-assed pain in the abdomen I got from time to time that made me want to run to the hospital but never did because the pain went away eventually? Well, last Wednesday night, it revisited and this time, it would. not. go. away.

The pain got real bad after midnight. At first I thought I could walk it off. So I walked/crawled around my home. By the time hubs got home from work around 2, it was still bad. He gave me a back massage but it didn't help. Then I started vomiting. I don't know why I had the good sense to keep count. I vomited 7 times at home. By the time I tried to take painkillers, I could hold nothing down. Once the vomiting started, I decided I should go to the hospital. The stupid thing was I had promised to wake my son for school and he had to go earlier than usual for an exam. So I hung on and I hung on. Finally at 6am, I dragged my son's ass out of bed and told him I was going to the hospital. I couldn't care anymore if he went back to sleep. The pain was killing me.

I woke hubs, called for a taxi and we left for the nearest hospital. Over there, I vomited 3 more times. We waited quite a while before a doctor saw me. I think it was around 2 hours. I lay down next to the window in the waiting area while hubs killed time on his phone. Once we saw the doctor, things started moving very quickly. I had my blood drawn and was given some medication, I think anti vomit kind plus drip through IV. Next I had an x-ray of my abdomen. I had a small cubicle where I had a bed to lie in. A radiologist came and did a scan of my abdomen. After the scan the first doctor I had seen said I should be admitted. Interestingly, I kinda resisted being admitted because I just wanted very strong painkillers and be on my way. Anyway, after some more conversation with hubs and the doctor I agreed to be admitted. Hubs took care of the details. Meanwhile, slightly delirious, I shouted out, "Get the cheapest ward." If I were in my right mind, I would have asked for the best ward.

As I had requested, I went to a non-air conditioned female ward with 6 beds. I got lucky and my bed was right next to the window. Over the next few days, I discovered the pros and cons of having a bed next to the window. The sun came in a lot. It's windy which is good. The rain. You get splattered as well.

Soon, a doctor (I think it's a resident based on my knowledge from Grey's Anatomy) came by and promised stronger painkiller because the first painkiller administered barely masked the pain. For some reason, the hospital required swabs of my nostrils, armpits and groins.

Later the resident doctor returned with a serious looking man whom he calls the registrar. The registrar did some exam and asked some questions. I asked for stronger painkiller because the pain was still bad. In return, the registrar asked for an ass swab. Gulp. It was not nice. The ass swab. The resident doctor really went in and dug around. No mercy. Meanwhile hubs was trying desperately to escape seeing his wife being ass swabbed by another man.

Finally a nurse delivered my one precious dose of tramadol. But I had to take it orally. So first I had to take some magnesium to make sure I don't throw up again. I've never loved magnesium so much before!
Dr Seow
More resident doctors, the same registrar and a new doctor, let's call him the surgeon came. Their prelim diagnosis is my gallbladder is f*cked. But I needed an ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis. Which means more waiting because the ultrasound department hasn't opened yet.

While waiting for 8am, I expected the tramadol to kick in. But honestly, the pain had reached a level where modern medication cannot access. An orderly wheeled me to the Radiology department to wait for my scan. An old guy was already in the waiting area and you know what he said to me?

"You look very healthy."

My immediate response was "f*ck you" but he's an old guy so I humoured him and said I was. He started telling me all his ailments from head to toe. I fell asleep. Fortunately I was rescued by my radiologist who was ready to scan me.

After the scan I went back to my bed. We had to wait for the surgeon doctor to come back to talk to us. Hubs was hungry and I asked him to get lunch. He left and returned without getting any food. The surgeon doctor still hadn't shown up. Hubs was getting itchy. He wanted to leave and not only that he wanted to go somewhere 45min away by train. I forgot why. I wanted him to stay and wait for the doctor but I was too tired and in pain to argue with him. Finally, he stood up with his backpack and announced firmly, "I'm leaving." At that magic moment, the Universe saved him. The doctors came back!

The diagnosis was confirmed. My gallbladder was shat. The medical term is acute cholecystitis. The surgeon doctor, let's call him Dr Seow gave 3 options. 1. Remove the gallbladder immediately. 2. Remove the gallbladder at an elected date. 3. Treat with antibiotics and deal with it again when the pain returns. (Hello, the pain hasn't left yet)

At first we were a bit shocked at the idea of removing the whole gallbladder. Hubs asked about removing the stones instead. Dr Seow said it was useless as the stones come back. After some talking and persuasion, we chose to remove the gallbladder. The doctor said it was the best option. The next question was to do it right away or wait. To do it right away was to use the emergency operation route. That means if another patient with life threatening conditions comes in before me needed the OR, I had to give way. I decided to take my chance.

The operation was likely to be in the evening around 5 plus. Meanwhile, I had to fast which was cool because I hadn't eaten anything at all since Wednesday night. I knew the operation was a-go-go when I got prepped for the OR.

At the OR, I was asked a bunch of questions by different people over and over and over again. The last thing I remembered was the anesthesia doctor asking me if I had any questions. I did. I said, "Why..." and suddenly I was asked to wake up and told everything went well.

This is me back at my ward. Honestly, I don't remember posing for the photo. I look like I have just experienced a Stephen King movie.

I spent the rest of my stay at the hospital recuperating. I went in on Thursday and left on Monday. The rest of my stay - the biggest issue was the IV.

This was the first site and it kept leaking. Maybe I was at the cheapest ward but the nurses (who were frankly overworked) just wouldn't listen to me. The second IV site, done at the OR was really bad. Finally one nurse took pity on me and removed it. On Saturday, a new nurse acknowledged that the first IV site was shat and she relocated it. Unfortunately, the new one hurt like freaking hell.

The pain in my abdomen disappeared completely. However, it was replaced by new ones. I had keyhole surgery and there were 4 incisions in my abdomen. Sitting up, lying down, turning - they all hurt. Walking was the worst. I was told to walk around to get better so I hobbled around.

Hubs came to see me everyday except Saturday because he was busy. He would visit me, go shopping and come back for another visit. Somehow it never occurred to him to bring me stuff from home like toothbrush, toothpaste, facial wash, shampoo, ipad, iphone charger.

My girl came on Saturday. She brought a charger but used it on her phone instead. I asked her how to logon to wifi because by Saturday I was going mad staring into space. She also brought toothbrush, toothpaste and a bag of facial stuff but still no facial wash. The third day I did not wash my face with facial soap. Saturday I was allowed to eat. I had gone without food and water for 2 days already. The food sucked. No surprise.

Sunday was more fruitful. Hubs brought iPad and facial peeling gel. Ugh! The fourth day I did not wash my face with facial soap. I was so close to walking to the nearest Guardian. On Sunday I realised that my taste had changed. Salty food tasted 100 X saltier. Some food tasted bitter. Hubs bought me some food I used to love and it was confirmed. My taste bud was weird. The only thing that tasted the same was apple juice.

My son paid me a visit on Sunday. He also took me for a walk.

To be honest, I was dying to go home on Sunday but I needed to take antibiotics via IV so I could only go home on Monday. I was getting sick of the ward. It was hard to sleep through. The nurses wake you up every few hours for bp/temp/pulse and changing of meds via IV. The mattress was horrific. I hurt all over.  One of the patients was a real pain in the ass. During the night, she would shout out names she knew. Every five minutes, she also would call for the nurse to change her diaper. One night, I almost hobbled over to smother her with a pillow. Good thing I had the IV thingy to hold me back.

The visitors too were never ending. I thought there would be a limit to the number of visitors and everyone would respect visiting hours. Nope. The nurses were pretty relaxed about it and a whole kampong (village) of people kept coming and going. Some came early in the morning and stayed late at night. A few very insensitive ones kept walking around staring at the patients as if we're circus animals.

My abdomen became quite distended after the operation. Apparently, gas is pumped into your stomach for the op. I kept farting and farting. Later I had diarrhea and farting became something fearful. The doctor said the diarrhea would stop once I stopped the antibiotics and the bloating would eventually go away.

I've been back home since Monday and I'm getting better and better each day. This was my first meal at home. And yes, I finally washed my face with facial soap on Monday at the hospital. Sleeping next to the windows has brought forth extra brown spots on my face. I completely forgot to ask my family to bring me my sun screen.

You know, when I was at the hospital, I did wonder how my family coped without me, especially my kids. My kids had huge trouble waking up. That much I knew. The house was exactly how I left it. A complete mess. Dirty dishes still in the sink. From last Wednesday??? My blanket had dried vomit! Somehow, magically, I expected my home to be transformed into a clean home while I was gone. I heard that my girl did a round of laundry. She had no choice because she needed her uniform. But she had NO IDEA she needed to put laundry detergent in the machine. The dry laundry left on the sofa almost reached the ceiling. I felt quite sad to come home to this scenario. After taking a very, very long nap, I organized the kids to do a few chores. The "upside" to my hospitalization is my kids are now less resistant to doing chores.

I'm now able to walk on my own to the supermarket and food court. I've managed to do some simple cooking. I can eat a bowl of noodles without feeling too full. However, most food still suck. My normal taste has not come back. Sleeping is still hard. I usually sleep on my side and I can feel my insides jostling around. It's like my organs are still working things out.

We haven't received the final bill yet but I think our out-of-pocket cash might be under 2k.

Money aside, more importantly, will my digestive health be better without a gallbladder? That's still up in the air.

p.s. I've decided not to post a photo of my gallbladder because personally, I can't quite stomach looking at it. Yes, you get to bring it home. It's in my fridge. However, if you really, really want to have a look, send me an email and I'll have hubs take a photo and send it to you.


Jane McLellan said...

Oh goodness, you have been through a hard time! I hope that now your gall bladder is gone, all your health problems will improve. And I hope your children will learn more about how to look after themselves!!

Sandra :) said...

I'm so sorry you had so many problems, but glad that you got through it while retaining your awesome sense of humour :D I ... I actually want to see the gall bladder - is that weird? LOL! I had mine out a few years ago (after months of pain - damn that was bad!) but they didn't give me a memento to take home! Someone probably took it home for their own kids, for entertainment purposes ;) My situation must have been far less dire than yours, because it was day surgery for me, and I didn't even need any pain pills afterwards. They gave me a prescription for 50 super duper strength pills, which freaked me out because HOLY SH*T how much pain do you expect me to be in?! I took 2 before I left the hospital - trying to ward off whatever scourge was going to befall me - then I didn't take any more because I didn't need them. I told everybody who would listen - and a few who tried to escape from my story telling *ahem* (that includes hubby, HAHA) that it was the BEST surgery to have because it was pain free :D I'm guessing I was still hopped up on anaesthesia at that point, LOL.

Suggestion: use the "but I just had SURGERY!" card as often as you can get away with it - you don't want them to think that just because you're home, you're up to taking over all the "running the house" work. Rub your weary brow and sigh often ... maybe even work in a bit of a limp on occasion, or even a tiny stumble. You could keep that up for at least a week before slowly tapering off - I would introduce mandatory chores while I was in the first week though, because who would argue? Then when you've had enough of being the invalid, you can take away a chore or two from their list, and they'll be so thankful that they won't complain about anything for at least a month (or an hour - whichever comes first) :)

Projects By Jane said...

Hi Jane, I've struggled with my digestive health for so long I certainly don't want more issues to crop up due to the removal of my GB. I will continue with a healthy diet and exercise regime.

I too want my kids to be more independent. I mean for god's sake, they're 17 & 19!

Jane said...

Oh my goodness!! Such an experience!! I am glad you are getting better and better each day!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh Jane!
I hope you are feeling better.
i completely understand your surprise at returning home to the same mess you left before and expecting it to be cleaned up! I'm sure when your kids are on their own, they will figure this out! or not... Really, it's not your problem. Just get well and love your Hubs. Seems like he loves you MUCH.

Projects By Jane said...

Thanks Anonymous. I tried to figure out who you are but I failed. I'm feeling so much better now thanks to my being active. It seems the more you move around, the faster you get better. At least for my surgery. At home, the chores are once again taken care of by moi. I don't expect that to change. Thankfully my son still vacuums every other day. I'm able to eat more and more each day. Yesterday, food started to taste a lot better. I may have to start worrying about gaining weight again. That's a positive worry! Today I'm sewing something.


Tammy said...

omg Jane, I am just catching up and just read this. I'm glad you're home and the operation is done and that you're ok!!!

I have a few friends with gallbladder issues, from all perspectives, everyone seems better once they are removed - it seems like this should solve all your digestive problems.

Wishing you well!

Christel said...

Oh dear.. Hope you're feeling much much better now! Sincerely hope you'll have good health from now on; we don't need such drama in our lives, do we?
Ps. Sorry I haven't checked your blog in a while..

Projects By Jane said...

Hi Christel,
Thanks. I have fully recovered. I've gone running a few times already. If you touch wood ever need a gallbladder removed, ask for keyhole surgery. It's quite easy to recover from. My health has improved a lot since my gallbladder was removed. I have gained a lot of fats around my tummy though.


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