Friday, June 12, 2009

From Triathlon Course To Hospital Bed In A Week

From Triathlon Course To Hospital Bed In A Week

Hydromorphone One week I’m running a triathlon, the next I’m in a hospital bed with IV’s in my veins. And a week later, I still have no idea what happened.

Last Friday was pretty normal. I ran 5 miles in the morning, worked on my writing the rest of the day. At around 3 I headed over to the local watering hole for some beers, still working on my novel using my Netbook. Around 6, I went to another establishment for some specialty beer tasting, then headed to a BBQ joint for dinner with the Mrs. Pretty normal so far. When I got home around 9, I started having stomach cramps. Nothing really out of the ordinary. I figured I ate and drank too much, and it would pass. It didn’t.

At 2am my stomach was still killing me. By morning, nothing had changed. If anything, the pain grew worse. Knotting, piercing pains that came in waves. I had barely slept. I thought about eating or making coffee, but I didn’t have the energy or appetite. Standing made the pain worse. So I literally spent the entire day curled up on the couch in the fetal position. By night time, I considered heading to the local Urgent Care clinic. I hadn’t eaten anything all day except a little bit of cheese, some nuts, and and a little fruit. I felt a little better, so I figured I would feel okay in the morning. I didn’t.

I had no idea what this was. I figured either food poisoning or some reaction to what I ate, maybe even appendicitis, although the pain wasn’t down that far.

The next morning, I still had cramps, so I looked at the Urgent Care website, which directed me to the ER based on my symptoms. It was off to the Emergency Room. Fortunately, they aren’t super busy Sunday mornings, so I saw someone immediately. They apparently take abdominal pain pretty seriously. They gave me some anti-nausea medicine and an took an x-ray, then scheduled a CT scan. I had to drink a ton of this disgusting barium solution while my stomach killed me.

The doctor arrived at one point and sat down, acting all serious like I had cancer or a burst appendix. “We’re going to have to admit you,” he said. “You have a pretty bad bowel obstruction. No food or water until it’s resolved, just IV fluids.” What? I’m constipated? Then he tells me that if it doesn’t resolve in a few days, I’m looking at surgery. Gulp. I’ve never been admitted to a hospital before as an in-patient. After the CT scan (which doesn’t reveal any more than the X-ray), they shuttle me to a hospital room, and hook up the IV’s. My wife is also shocked that they were admitting me. She never realized how serious my condition was. I didn’t either. I never had this before, so who knew? Apparently this condition is pretty serious. Definitely was glad I hadn’t gone to the Urgent Care center…they might have made me take an ambulance.

Now, I’m trying to respect the privacy of the other gentleman in my hospital room as much as I can as I write this. Without getting into details, let’s just say he was a very loud person with very advanced Alzheimer’s disease. He would relentlessly beg me to help him with simple stuff, and I was, “dude, I’m sick. Leave me alone.” I was indeed miserable…until they hooked up the Hydromorphone (forget the brand, it’s all I could see on the packaging) drip. One button click, instant bliss. The immediate effect was to make me sweat buckets, but in a few minutes my pain went away. I could click a shot every ten minutes, but I did maybe one an hour. Finally around 4pm, I felt some rumbling in my guts. The blockage must have let loose around then, because the pain died away and I didn’t need any more narcotics after that.

With infinite sympathy, they changed my room so I had no roommate. If they hadn’t, I probably would have doped myself up to drown out that unfortunate man. The next morning I successfully used the potty and I could keep liquids down, so they released me about 4 in the afternoon. Still, they wanted me to keep to liquids for the rest of the day.

My ordeal didn’t end there. I was previously scheduled for some procedures on Thursday to scope the bowels and stomach. The prep for this involves eating no fiber for a couple days, ending with a day with nothing but liquids. So we headed to the store, and I bought nothing but soup, pudding, and juices. Delish. The night before the procedure was the most special. I drank a gallon of gross solution in about ninety minutes. I mixed in a little Crystal Light in each glass, but it was awful. I spent the next six hours on the toilet as the indigestible solution passed through almost unchanged. Good times.

Thursday was fun. Nothing more than water to drink. I had one of these procedures before, so I wasn’t as nervous this time. They give you a mix of drugs that put you in a semi-conscious state during the procedures. One drug is a narcotic, the other is like Valium or something. The last thing I remember is them asking if I felt drugged yet. I said, “a little,” then I don’t remember anything at all (thankfully). The rest of the day is a bit of a fog. I remember talking to the doctor afterwards, and my wife dressing me. Apparently I refused to take off the blanket so she could get my pants on. No recollection of that. I remember mostly wanting to sleep afterwards. We went to lunch, and I gobbled down some fried rice and egg-drop soup. Went home, turned on the Mariner’s game, and fell back to sleep. I didn’t get out of the fog until I woke from that nap. There was a rain delay which I slept through so I didn’t miss much of the game. End result: inconclusive. Whatever’s wrong wasn’t found in this test.

So today, it was more tests. Another force-feeding of chalky barium solution. It took almost four hours for the damn solution to make it all the way through. I wound up having to drink a latte and some food to convince things to move in there. Then came the fun part. A doctor probed my guts which I could see in a video monitor live. He literally took a paddle and moved my guts around so he could image different parts. Cool and disturbing at the same time. He finished and said to me, “I don’t see anything wrong.” JTFC! I’ve spent a week being poked and prodded and starved and fed bilious fluids, and still nothing? W  T  F????

What’s the next step after this? Surgery?

So that was my Week from Hell. Haven’t had any exercise except walking the dog. Haven’t written much at all. I just hope this resolves quickly, because I’m beginning to fall apart.


  1. Pretty damn stressful to go through all that and still not know what's wrong. You have my sympathy! On the plus side, you aren't in pain any more.

    Hope you're continuing to feel better.

  2. What a week! I hope they have some findings for you soon.

    Get well soon.

  3. Ee-gads! What an ordeal. Glad you're still in one piece -- and using crazy acronyms like JTFC which I'm still trying to figure out...

  4. Thanks guys!

    FWG: can Google it pretty easily...

  5. Poor old you! Hope you are feeling better soon.

  6. Yikes! That doesn't sound like fun at all. I hope you are feeling better soon and whatever it is turns out to be temporary. If nothing else, it should provide you some life experiences for your writing.


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