K8EDID 1 – GRIM REAPER 0
I apologize, especially to all my new followers, who signed up expecting at least an occasional post from me, but I’ve been out of commission for quite some time. While one might think that illness, hospitalization and recuperation might result in a plethora of blog fodder – I remember so little and was so drugged up that I don’t even really trust the memories that I do have. Here, in a nutshell, is the synopsis:
I was walking from the bedroom to my home office when I was doubled over with an excruciating pain in my abdomen. I could not straighten up. I could not take a deep breath. Over the next 8 hours, I vomited (violently) the last thing I had eaten – a PB&J sandwich. The sandwich came up one single, solitary cell at a time.
At 4 in the morning, I grabbed my stethoscope and listened to my abdomen. Silence. Crickets. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Bowel sounds are usually a symphony of tinkling, rumbling, gurgling, burbling and squeaking sounds. Silence is not good. I could not swallow my own saliva without wretching violently. So I did what sounded like a good idea at the time. I left my husband and dog sleeping in the bedroom and drove myself to the local hospital.
I was admitted and a round of tests began. I couldn’t even swallow my own saliva, but they brought me two large containers of barium to drink. Fat freakin’ chance, Doc. Scans, scopes, x-rays, poking, prodding, listening and guessing led to the conclusion that my intestines had twisted themselves into a knot. A tube was placed into one of my nostrils and passed down my throat into my stomach to suck out all the stuff that was making me vomit almost continuously. It was every bit as uncomfortable as it sounds.
Sometime during the tests and procedures, my stomach began bleeding and I aspirated a large amount of blood into my lungs. The resulting pneumonia landed me in the ICU. The small-town docs decided they could not handle the surgery that I would need so I was transferred 100 miles to a major metropolitan hospital ICU. All that I remember about that ambulance ride is that the attendant who rode in the back with me had BO and farted a lot. I also thought I heard him snoring at one point, but I could have been hallucinating.
My lungs were so compromised that I could not have tests done to help the surgical team decide on a course of action. At one point I had oxygen delivered by both face mask and nasal canula and I was receiving the maximum respiratory support that one could receive short of being placed on a ventilator. The days and nights dragged on – I was hospitalized 13 days total – most of that in ICU. I had nothing to eat or drink for 10 days, and after 7 days they finally started artificial nutrition through an IV line. Everyone who listened to my abdomen did not look me in the eye – I would watch their faces intently. To their credit – no one sugar-coated it. When I would ask, they’d tell me there were no sounds at all.
My lungs cleared enough that I could have the final scope needed to determine the surgical procedures required. Unfortunately, I would need anesthesia and my fragile lungs weren’t up to the standard drugs, so I was given an animal tranquilizer, Ketamine, as an anesthetic agent. The hallucinations that accompanied that drug were vivid, horrifying, and when I came to I was screaming. The scope revealed that in addition to the intestinal twisting, the surgical procedure I had last summer had “slipped” and would need to be redone.
That evening the surgeon sat on the edge of the bed, took my hand, and explained that he wasn’t entirely sure my stomach could be saved. On all the scans, tests, x-rays and scopes, my stomach appeared only about the size of a walnut. Doc was concerned that my intestinal tract had been compromised for 10 days by lack of blood supply and he just wasn’t sure what he would find. I put my faith and trust in him and God, and waited for the surgery.
I made it through the surgery, during which my stomach was examined inside and out and was declared to be healthy tissue. I spent one night on a ventilator because they could not wake me up in the recovery room, but once the breathing tube was removed, I made great progress. Three days after surgery, I was discharged.
I am home, recuperating, and trying to regain some strength. I am still so weak I cannot even open a bottled water by myself. But I am home. With my beloved Sweet Cheeks who rarely left my side during those 13 days and my sweet pup.
I won that round.