I’m so happy to be home after 28 days in the hospital. I’m also happy to see that this site carried on without me with the wonderful comments and shares from my friends.
I’ll try not to bore you with the lengthy details, but this experience was truly unique. Just for the record, I am extremely healthy–so much so that I tend to brag that I never even get a cold. I am active, do all my own yard work, hike and am very fit. And I am a Registered Nurse who should know signs and symptoms of illness.
I thought I was getting the flu when I woke up on Monday with abdominal pain and some nausea. I let it ride, but the next day I was doubled over in pain. At that point I figured I was probably having a gall bladder attack and called my doctor. My doctor wasn’t in, but I did see her associate who really dropped the ball. She should have sent me straight to the hospital but, for whatever reason, only gave me a lab slip for some tests and an appointment for a CT Scan on Friday.
My labs indicated that my gall bladder was fine (this is common with gall bladder attacks) but said my calcium was high. Well, if you were eating Tums by the handful to control your heartburn your calcium would be high too. By Wednesday I was still getting worse, but my husband relied on my medical judgment (highly impaired by this time) to wait for the CT Scan results. By Thursday I was almost hysterical and told my husband to take me to the ER.
I do believe that the delay in treatment was the partial cause of all of the complications, but that really doesn’t explain it all and even the doctors are perplexed. In the end I had a highly inflamed gallbladder removed, a bowel obstruction that required repair, I was given too much pain medication before they decided to do emergency surgery and I was found unresponsive with O2 saturation in the 60’s. A day after surgery I was taken to ICU because my right lung had collapsed and filled with fluid and the left was only functioning at 30%. Inserting a chest tube only tapped 250cc as the fluid was trapped in multiple pockets. The next day required surgery for a full cleaning of the pleural cavities and removal of fluid on my lungs (over 3 liters) and 2 chest tubes. I woke up on a respirator (fortunately I was told that I probably would), but was so unstable that they were unable to medicate me. All I could think was, “Don’t touch the tube.” and I didn’t. This is a nurse’s worst nightmare, waking up on a vent (respirator) without medication. It was rough.
Recovery was slow, I was unable to keep any food down, and an upper GI series showed extreme inflammation of my esophagus, which was fixed with medication.
During this time my son flew in from California, my daughter flew in from Germany and my other son came over from Ohio. My three other children worried, prayed and stood ready if needed. My family support was beyond words, they were wonderful. It was a life changing experience.
Now I am home and have a lot of reflecting to do. We are not given these challenges lightly and I don’t want to miss the lesson here.
I will continue with my posts as I was working on some brain chemistry research before I went into the hospital. I’ll have some bits of that for you soon.
Thanks for all your good wishes and support. And, keep supporting each other, that’s what this site is for. Love to all.