Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Okay, which organ are we supposed to take out?

In February of 2006 around 8 pm I started having horrible stomach pains and I felt like I had to throw up and also like I needed to poo. It got worse and worse to the point where I was up all night and crying and shaking and having difficulty even standing up. I was hot and vomiting. Finally after hours of this and a couple hours of telling Greg that we were not going to wake up Carson (who was not even a year old yet), I decided to drive myself to the local ER.
Dumb idea. I was driving there about 3am; crying, shaking, trying not to vomit in the car and truly believing there was a major problem. As I drove, I passed a police car and kept praying he would pull me over. I was in so much pain that I couldn't even think straight and figure out that I could just stop by the policeman and tell him I needed to go to the ER. I finally got to the hospital and parked in the regular parking area, not the ER pull-up. I tried to exit the car and fell to the ground. I could not get up, there was no one around, so I crawled through the snow (no hyperbole here folks) into the ER. The nurse made me sign in. Oh yes and the *itch even made me give her my insurance card and such before I was taken back to a room.
I was sitting on the bed and a very grouchy nurse came in to start an IV. I was sitting still and crying and just saying over and over, "it hurts, someone help me". I knew she was there, but when you're in pain sometimes repeating things over and over is a distraction. The nurse snapped at me and said, "I'm trying to help you!"
I called my parents who live about 30 or so minutes away because I was still not willing to let Greg wake up Carson and bring him to the ER. My parents arrived quickly and the hospital had still done nothing at this point except give me a mild pain medicine and fluids. I had not even see the doctor yet or even had someone so much as push on my belly.
Shortly after my parents arrived the doctor came in and said they were sending me for a CT scan. I had a regular CT scan of my abdominal area with no contrast or anything. No other tests were done. After this CT the doctor came in and informed us that the test was inconclusive. There was nothing on the test to explain the pain. He told my mother that when that happens it's appendicitis and that an infected appendix is usually inconclusive. He told my parents and I that my appendix had to be removed immediately and he'd already contacted the surgeon.
Now this town we live in is small, very small, still full of farm supply stores and the like. This is not much of a hospital and not affiliated with any other area hospitals or doctors. My mom was concerned and asked that I be transferred to another hospital. The doctor looked my mother in the eye and told her there was no time for that and I would likely die in transit.
So I was rushed to surgery in this little town before sunrise that Monday morning. After the surgery, I was admitted for observation. I was feeling all better and thought well, I it all worked out. The surgeon came in later that day and told me that my appendix was sent to pathology and they would contact me with the results, but that my appendix appeared normal and healthy.
????? I thought, I have no idea WTH that means, but figured, hell the pain was gone so woohoo I'm happy.

Almost exactly one month later, I was at work and the pain came back. I was alone in my classroom and I crawled on the floor to the door and asked a student in the hallway to help me to the office. The student got another teacher who helped me and another teacher drove me to my regular doctor. He immediately sent me for an u/s. Within just a couple minutes and a very cheap and simple ultrasound I was told I had a gallbladder that was stretched and completely full of small-medium sized gallstones. I was given some pain meds and had a surgery scheduled to remove the gallbladder a few days later.

So a few morals here:
*Don't ever drive yourself to the ER when you can barely stand
*Don't ever go to a hick town ER if you can at all help it
*Don't have your appendix removed without a complete battery of tests
*Make your doctor start with the simple tests first
and last, but not least
*Sometimes the prospect of 'dying in transit' is the better option. hehe

BTW- I did not have to pay anything for that 'appendix' trip after a couple of phone calls were made.


Jessica Harris said...

What a CRAZY story Heather!!!!!

kim said...

Ouch. I had my gallbladder out after over a year of trying to convince my doctor I was not having back problems. All my pain was in my back, but I knew something else was going on. FINALLY he sent me for an MRI (of the back) and they happened to see my gallbladder full of stones.
Did you ever figure out what was going on with your pains the last time?

Heather said...

No still don't know what the current pains are. Nothing was found with my kidneys or bladder. I'm just so frustrated with doctors who don't listen and simply say 'you're normal' that I haven't gone back yet. I know that's awful. I'm also afraid their next step would be to check my colon. UGH