This has been, for me at least, the worst 12 months of health in my entire life. I’ve just been sick off and on the entire year, and often with some pretty durable stuff. So was I surprised when the coming of the dawn found me in the Emergency Room?
Early Monday morning I woke up with tremendous pain across the top of my abdomen. At first I thought it was heartburn, and I took an anti-acid and went back to bed (but not to sleep). After an hour of dealing with the pain, I got up to take a hot shower which usually puts me back to sleep. Nope. At 4:30, I got up and took a second one. And this is the first time I threw up.
I went back to bed, tossed and turned, and then threw up again. By now Courtney was up and concerned, and we started trying to figure out what was going on. We wondered appendicitis, pancreatitis, blocked intestines, ulcers, or any other of a handful of things. About this time, the pain was approaching an 8 on a scale of 1-10. No matter what I did, it would not stop, and it would not lessen. And I definitely could not sleep.
I called a friend of mine to come give me a priesthood blessing. By the time he arrived, the pain was a full 10, and all I could do was roam around the house bent in two trying not to die. I threw up again at this point, and now it came out a rich yellow (I actually had the thought that it’d be a nice paint color for the house….). Bile. We switched our focus to liver and gallbladder issues. When Michael arrived with Troy to give me a priesthood blessing, I was no longer able to speak, and I had collapsed on the couch, and we were packing to go to the Emergency Room.
We loaded up Michael’s truck, and sprinted off to the hospital with a short break to once again expel my innards. At the hospital, they took one look at me and admitted me immediately. As the two nurses were changing me into my hospital gown, Courtney had the tact to remark, “Bet this isn’t how you envisioned being stripped by three women!” Well played, Courtney. Truly.
A shot of Morphine, a shot of Zofram (anti-nausea medication), an ultra-sound, and one good solid vomiting later, I found myself with the pain unabated. It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever felt. It felt like someone had buried a knife in my gut and was just sitting there twisting it. No matter what I did, how I moved, or what I took, the pain would not drop. During the ultra-sound, I could not stop writhing around (and there really is no better word for it) on the table. When we got back to our room, they gave me a new medicine (I don’t remember it… diloudid?), but they said it was ten times the strength of Morphine. It just took the edge off. Just. And it slurred my speech wonderfully. :-)
We found out it was a gall bladder attack. An attack is more or less your gall bladder trying to do what it should do (secrete concentrated bile to process fatty foods) and not being able to. Because it can’t, it gets inflamed or blocked or even dies. We debated surgery off and on for the rest of the morning and early afternoon. The doctors were okay with surgery but suggested waiting since this was my first major attack and I don’t have stones (yet). I agreed to go until Wednesday to see what happens. There’s a good chance we can change things with diet. There are also several gall bladder cleanses out there that supposedly help. Most of them just involve eating really good foods, and apparently grape fruit juice is a miracle cure for gall bladders.
Wednesday we will find out if we are doing surgery or not, and until then I’m on a clear liquid diet. After Wednesday, I go on a BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) until closer to Friday or Saturday. After that, I can go onto a low-fat diet–and I mean low-fat–for two more weeks. No dairy of any kind except skim milk and fat-free yogurt. No fatty meat or other foods. The idea isn’t to restrict fat completely, which is just as bad for your gall bladder, but to keep the fat intake very low so as not to trigger another attack. After those two weeks, I should be able to add most things back in with the understanding that if I overdo it, I’m back to square one and potential surgery. Given the amount of pain I was in, I don’t ever want to do that again.
It. Was. Ludicrous.
The plan now is to try the cleanse next week. I need this week to get my feet back under me. Since Saturday night, I have had maybe 2,000 calories and very little water. I’m slow, I’m tired, and I’m just now to the point where I can eat and drink stuff, and all I have is jello, apple juice, and chicken broth (thanks Deckers!!! They made me home made chicken soup and strained out the chunks so I could have real broth!). Tomorrow I’m upgrading to more solid stuff, including crackers, soups, bread, and so forth. I’m actually really looking forward to it! I’m out of work until at least Wednesday, and if I go in on Thursday, I will likely do just a half day. I can’t imagine sitting at that desk for 8 hours just yet.
Now for the miracles. It was awesome to see how quickly the ward mobilized around us to help us (in my faith, a ward is what we call the congregation). We had several people here to watch the kids be 7:00 AM, one to take me to the hospital, and another waiting at the hospital to help (she works in the OR). She took care of Courtney all day and ran her around to get all the medicine and grocery shopping I needed. We had several women in the ward take our kids, and it was wonderful to see them come home happy and clean and fed. The Deckers brought us food and company, and I had a dozen people check up on me last night to make sure I was well. We had well over 300 text messages of people checking in and asking how they could help.
I wondered more than once how people outside the church handle emergencies like this. I’m not sure I could have. Or rather, I could have, but who would I have turned to? In our case, we made one phone call, and all of that started rolling. That one phone call led to the entire ward mobilizing. If it weren’t for the inherent and natural trust that exists there, I’m not sure how we could have managed all that with just one call.
There seems to be a lot of pressure against organized religion. For me, I’m grateful to be part of an organized religion that allows me to deal with a crisis without worrying about the family, worrying about my wife, and even worrying about myself. It’s nice to just go and get healed.
Now if you’ll excuse me, a nice tasty sampling of Jello is calling me for breakfast. If I dream hard enough, I’m sure I can get it to taste like bacon and eggs….