I’ve learned a lot since waking up Saturday morning in excruciating abdominal pain.
Pain is scary. In the span of about 10 minutes I went from “I’m sure it’s nothing serious and will pass” to “maybe we should call an ambulance. I can’t get off the floor.” It was serious when I said it wasn’t. What I meant the first time was “It’s not so scary that it trumps my fear of going to an emergency room, or even my fear of calling a doctor to see if i should.” What I meant the second time was “I’m more afraid I’m dying than anything else I’m afraid of right now.”
There is a point where pain trumps vanity. I arrived at the ER in a “nighttime bra” (a tube top to keep the girls and the leak-preventing pads in place), a t-shirt, and some yoga pants. They were the nearest and easiest things to put on. I was way over-due for a shower. I did not care. 4 hours later, when I finally caught a glimpse of my unbrushed, greasy hair in the bathroom mirror, I understood why they’d asked me if I was on any recreational drugs like cocaine.
You never want to hear someone ask your nurse, “is this an I.V. I can do?” You really don’t want her to say yes. You also don’t want the person installing your I.V. to tell you that “sometimes I can be a little messy.” “Messy” in this case means that you’ll end up with a pool of blood under your elbow. As obnoxious as the I.V. in the crook of my left arm was, she clearly wasn’t comfortable poking around anywhere else on my hands/arms. I’m on board with that.
The pain scale is easier for me to use when I think of it in terms of how much the pain affects my daily activity. I’m never comfortable calling a pain a 10, but since writhing and moaning on the floor unable to stand, is pretty much a complete inability to go about my day, that makes it a 10. By the time a doctor poked at me, my pain was down to a 3 and fading fast. I felt foolish until he dug a few fingers up under my ribs and “tickled” my gallbladder.
Morphine isn’t as much fun as they make it out to be. It mostly just made me nauseous. I wanted to be loopy and say silly things. Despite a mis-twitter and a fantastical back-story I created for one suspicious looking doctor, it was rather uneventful. Or so they tell me. I do know that I answered the “how do you feel?” question with “I’m on morphine. I have no idea,” several times.
Ultrasounds are way less fun when you’re not pregnant. Instead of it being a great event and getting a play-by-play from the technician, you just sit there, in silence while someone pokes around at you. Breathe in and hold it. Poke. Poke. Repeat for 25 minutes. He wasn’t “allowed” to tell me what he saw, and the few times I risked a look, I couldn’t tell what I was seeing. It turns out he saw a bunch of stones in an irritated (but not infected) gallbladder but no stones blocking anything anymore.
Once they’ve decided you’re not going to die or do anything else interesting, the ER folks stop caring about you. I don’t really mind. I wouldn’t want nurses or doctors rushing around to discharge a patient while I was waiting for painkillers or anything. I only became a priority when it was clear they needed the room for someone else.
Monkey’s Paw Wishing is dumb. While waiting for various verdicts, I realized this “fixed” a few things I’d been worrying about. We’re still in a risky window with breastfeeding. It’s getting better, but we’re still not “there” yet. I’ve also been worried about making sure I kept off (and kept losing) the weight after giving birth. Nothing says “no more breastfeeding” or “severe weight loss” like a bit of abdominal surgery. Fortunately I think we can work around the breastfeeding issue. This has helped me realize that breastfeeding is important enough to me that I’m willing to fight for it.
Gallbladder attacks hurt more than giving birth. I’m not sure I agree with this, but I was given twice as many “use sparingly” pain pills from the ER doc than I was sent home with after giving birth.
Living in fear is no way to live. Gallbladders are funny things. I’ve had these stones for a while and I might go years to forever without another attack. Or I might never be able to eat a hamburger without ending up on the floor while I still have mine. There’s no real way to know until you push it too far. We went through almost 3 years of Ryan testing his boundaries (without knowing it was his gallbladder) and I don’t want to deal with that. When I woke up this morning, I thought a short-term diet of low fat foods would be just fine. Maybe I wouldn’t even need surgery. By the end of dinner, I was bored and cranky. I wanted more than rice and pasta, but I was afraid to venture into more fat-filled fare. How far could I push my diet until it pushed back? Am I more afraid of triggering attack or having an outpatient surgical procedure to eliminate the problem?
I mostly just want to be past it. Since I can’t ever be “past it” while I still have a gallbladder, it needs to come out. So out it comes.