Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Matter Of Gall

"You're dehydrated. There's glucose and proteins in your urine and your white blood cell count is 13,000."

That's what the nurse practitioner at the Graves Gilbert Urgent Clinic told me on Saturday May 29. 

I had gone to the clinic that morning because I had been sick with stomach issues and a headache for more than 2 days. I never expected to hear what I was told next. 

"It is recommended that you go to the ER to get some IV fluids and have them do a CAT scan to see if you have an infection."

Although I really didn't want to go, I knew that getting fluids would take care of a lot of my symptoms including my headache and body aches. So I had my daughter-in-law take me from the clinic to the Medical Center ER. Paula would meet me there. 

Now I'd been dealing with stomach and digestive problems for a while but I thought it was something wrong with my stomach. The NP mentioned that it might be my gallbladder. But I didn't think I had one. I truly believed that it was removed in 2009 as part of my gastric bypass. 

But after talking to my wife on the phone (I told her what the NP had said) she reminded me that after the surgery I had to take pills to prevent gallstones. I thought those pills were for kidney stones. 

So as I went to the hospital that morning I realized that I still had my gallbladder. Call me surprised. 

In the ER, I was given a bag of saline through an IV in my left hand along with some pain medicine. 

The diagnostic test that the ER doctor ordered was an ultrasound not a CAT scan. 

Shortly after the test was finished, Paula, Michael, and Heather came into my room. I was glad to see them. 

After about an hour, the ER doctor came and and told me that the issue was indeed with my gallbladder. 

However because I was a gastric bypass patient, I was going to have to go to a major city hospital to have a diagnostic procedure not available at the Medical Center. 

This created a whole entire set of issues, especially because Paula can't drive right now. But my family assured me that we would do what had to be done. 

But after consulting with hospital on-call surgeon, it was decided that the best thing to do was admit me right there in Bowling Green with the intention of having my gallbladder removed. That was an answered prayer for sure. 

My room was in the C wing of the hospital's 4th floor. I was given more IV fluids, had all my vital signs checked and answered 1000 admission questions. I was running a 101 degree temperature. 

Late that afternoon, the surgeon came into my room and told me that he had to wait until I was re-hydrated and the flair up with my gallbladder (it wasn't just heartburn)had passed. My blood chemistry returning to normal levels would be the evidence of that. Then he could take me into the OR to remove my gallbladder.  

Now life can turn on a dime and it had for me that day. When I got up on Saturday morning I had no idea that night I would find myself in a hospital room trying to sleep and waiting to improve enough to have surgery. I didn't sleep very much. I wanted to be home.  

Antibiotics and saline were the two treatments administered throughout the day on Sunday. The food offered me on the "full liquid" diet (a preventative measure to keep my digestive system "in check" until surgery) left a lot to be desired. But I did really like the cooked chocolate pudding. Luckily, my wife brought me some very good banana flavored protein drinks. 

By the afternoon I was tired of laying in my bed and my back hurt. I got up and sat in a padded chair for a couple of hours visiting with Paula before she had to go home. 

Michael & Heather were, thankfully, taking care of her transportation from the Grove. 

To pass the time before trying to get a decent night's sleep I sat up in bed and put together this Lego model. 

It was probably a topic of conversation at the nurses station that a 55 year old man was in his room playing with a kids toy. But that's okay, it kept me occupied and helped me relax. 

After requesting a couple of melatonin pills to help me sleep, I tried to rest by the light of the TV. 

Just before I drifted off the nursing assistant on duty came in to tell me that at midnight she would be taking away all my liquids. 

The surgeon requested that I go "NPR" in case he decided to take me into the OR on Monday. But she said he indicated that it would probably be Tuesday. 

Being told that I had to spend another day in the hospital wasn't what I really wanted to hear. But he was the doctor not me. 

My situation reminded me of an episode of my all-time favorite TV show, M*A*S*H. It's from season 2 and is called "Deal Me Out". Hawkeye delays operating on a wounded soldier waiting for him to be more medically stable. 

The melatonin worked and except for briefly opening my eyes at midnight when the aid took my drinks away, a few minutes when I had the location of my IV changed, and the nurse taking my vitals, I got some much needed rest. 

I woke up with the early morning sun shining through the blinds of my room window. I was really not looking forward to a full day of not having anything to eat or drink. But based on the nurses comments the night before that was what going to happen. 

About 8:10 AM my story took another turn. The 1st shift nurse came in and told me that the surgeon had decided that the only time he could do my surgery that day was at 9AM. Otherwise he would not be able to take me until Tuesday sometime. 

I told her that I was ready for the 9AM trip to the OR. Immediately I called Paula. I knew I would wake her but she needed to know what was going on. 

Her sister would have to bring her to the hospital. With the way things were going to go she would not be there when I went into surgery. While that did bother me I knew if there was a chance I could get this over with today I had to take it. 

I was familiar with the surgical area of the hospital. While working as a medical transportation driver, I used to go there every so often to pick up some materials to take them to the hospital on the other side of town.

I didn't get a "just to relax you" shot before going to the OR. So I was awake enough to easily transfer myself from the bed onto the table. 

Next thing I know I'm waking up being given ice chips on a spoon by a recovery room nurse. 

Now I have never had any issues with coming out anesthetic before and this time was no exception. 

When I got back into my room there was my beautiful wife and my sister-in- law, Theresa, waiting for me.   

Almost as soon as I got there a lunch tray was brought in for me. I wasn't quite awake enough to want to eat just yet. Later on I would have the bacon and soup reheated. 

A couple of hours later, I had kept my lunch down, made a visit to the bathroom and been escorted by the duty nurse down the hospital corridor and back. That meant I was in good enough condition to go home. 

Michael came to the hospital to drive me there.Theresa took Paula went to get my post op meds and some foods that I could eat over the next couple of days. You know, soups, bananas, those kind of things. 

I was still a little sore and groggy when I got there but I was glad to be home. 

 The matter of my gallbladder was over. All I had to do now was recover and heal. 

I want to thank all the nurses, nurses assistants, and hospital staff who helped me during my stay. I know there were times when I took up a lot of your attention. 

And I am so grateful for all the help and care that all my family members gave us as well. It's nice to know that when you really need them, your family is there.    

Without a doubt this will be a Memorial Day weekend that I will always remember and never want to repeat. 

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