You know all those things doctors have to warn you about before you have a medical procedure—all the things that could go wrong or happen, but only go wrong in about one in every million time? Well, yep…I was one of those “one in a million”.
My journey into “specialness” started on the night of March 17th. It was a normal Sunday like every other…we went to church, out to breakfast with my parents and returned home for an afternoon/evening of resting and watching a little “Once Upon a Time”. After washing my face and brushing my teeth, I settled into my comfy bed for a little reading before going to sleep. As soon as I laid down, I felt some tightness in my upper abdomen. The more I laid there, the worse it got. I figured I just had some bad heartburn (the Reuben for dinner probably didn’t help…) so got up and took some Tums. The Tums did not help. The pain got worse and worse, and it did not matter what position I got into, the pain was horrible. When I started sweating and having problems breathing, I knew something was not right. I called my sister-in-law, who is a nurse, and asked her what I should do. She told me that I knew my body and if something didn’t feel right I should probably go to the ER. My oldest and youngest daughters were already in bed, so I got my middle daughter and told her she would need to take me to the ER.
We arrived at the ER, and since I was having “chest” pains, they took me back immediately. After about 5 hours undergoing EKG’s, ultrasounds and x-rays, it was determined that my gallbladder would need to come out. At about 4am, they gave me a prescription for the pain and a phone number for a surgeon with instructions to call him later on and schedule the surgery. We went home and went to bed. When I woke up, I was really nauseated and started vomiting. I vomited most of the day and evening. Tuesday morning, I woke up with a horrible headache and more vomiting. I called my mom to see if she could take me to my chiropractor’s office. I thought I was vomiting because I had a migraine and if I get an adjustment, I usually feel better. The chiropractor took one look at me and said I needed to go to the ER immediately. He said I was dehydrated very badly. So, we headed to the ER!
Once they got me into the ER, a surgeon came back and said they were going to admit me to have the gallbladder surgery the next day. I was admitted and put on IV’s and painkillers. The next day, my gallbladder came out and they sent me home for my recovery. All was well for the first couple of days. I was sore and couldn’t eat much, but that was pretty normal. By Saturday, I could eat a little more than just broth and jello, so ate some delicious homemade chicken soup that one of my friends had brought over for us. The next day, I started to feel some pain again. …the very exact pain I’d had with the gallbladder! I called the surgeon Sunday night to see if it was normal and of course, since it was the on-call doctor, he couldn’t tell me much because he didn’t know the specifics of my case—here’s the specifics: I had my gallbladder out and now I’m experiencing the same exact pain–is that normal?!?! All he could tell me was to call my surgeon’s office the next morning and see him. Thanks, for your expertise, doc!
The next morning I woke up vomiting once again, and when I saw undigested carrots in the mess, I knew something wasn’t right. I called my surgeon and my mom, and she came to whisk me off to the doctor’s office. When we walked in, I told the receptionist that I needed to get to a room asap because I had been vomiting and figured it wouldn’t stop just because I was there. She told me to have a seat in the waiting area. I went and sat down, and thankfully, I had the wherewithal to bring a grocery sack along with me, because I once again started to vomit. That got the receptionist moving! (I tried to warn her!) She came rushing out to take me back to a room…. The surgeon came in and said it sounded like I had a gallstone that had escaped and was now stuck in a bile duct. He asked me if I wanted the name of another surgeon that does the procedures to remove gallstones so I could call him and make an appointment, OR did I want him to admit me to the hospital through the ER so I could have the procedure asap. Now….I want this over now!!
Once again, we headed over to the ER, where I was assured they were ready for me…wrong! I had to wait with everyone else, and after they took 3 other people ahead of me, I finally went up to the front desk and told the lady that my doctor had called ahead and said they would be ready for me. They finally took me back, but only to triage, where they proceeded to sit me in a chair to wait for someone to take my blood. When a nurse finally noticed that I looked like I was going to pass out, someone finally came to take my blood and escort me back to a room. After a few more hours, I was finally admitted to the hospital. Another surgeon came in and said they would do the procedure the next day to remove the stone.
Tuesday morning arrived and I waited most of the day for the procedure. They finally came and got me and took me down to the operating room. I said hello to the anesthesiologist, he said he was giving me some good juice and the next thing I know, they are waking me up in the recovery room! The surgeon came over and said that yes, there was a gallstone, but it was now impacted into the tissue and the more he tried to remove it, the more inflamed the tissue became so they had to quit and would need to try again on Thursday. What?!?!!
I spent the rest of Tuesday, all day Wednesday and most of the morning on Thursday just waiting in the hospital. Thursday came and they took me down once more. I got more happy juice and awakened to find that they had been successful in removing the stone, so I could go home that evening! Yippee!
I went home Thursday night, and was so glad to be home and have this all behind me. I woke up Friday morning, but still felt pretty weak. I took it easy all day, just relaxing and enjoying time with my daughters (who happened to be on Spring Break–awesome Spring Break, right?!!?). About 9pm, I started getting the familiar pain again! What the heck?!!? My gallbladder was gone, the stone had been removed…why was I in so much pain?!?! As the minutes went on, the pain got worse and worse. I called the surgeon’s office and was once again told that since they didn’t know my case, they couldn’t really tell me anything. One of the surgeon’s finally said, that if it got worse after a couple more hours, to go ahead and return to the ER. I went and laid down, but now my stomach was starting to distend and the pain was worse. I took a Vicodin, hoping it would make me throw up(I’m allergic to them so they always make me throw up) and maybe I’d get some relief. As I was laying there, I needed to use the restroom. I knew I was too weak to make it to the bathroom on my own, so I texted my 18 year old daughter, who was downstairs doing the dishes…“Em come” was all I could text. I heard her drop a pan and come running up. She helped me to the bathroom, and stepped outside the door. The toilet was filled with blood and I became lightheaded. I knew things were going downhill pretty quickly now, and I also knew that I was not getting out of the bathroom on my own. I told Em she would have to come help me. As soon as I stood up, everything went black and I passed out. Luckily, Em caught me and gently laid me on the ground. I heard her yell for my youngest daughter to bring her the phone because she needed to call 911. When she got up to go into the other room, I got up on my hands and knees and started crawling through the bathroom. I knew the paramedics wouldn’t be able to all get into the bathroom, so thought I’d help them a little. I was only able to crawl about a foot before I fell back on the floor. By this time, I could hear my youngest daughter screaming and crying, so I tried to focus on getting her settled down. I could hear Em on the phone with the 911 operator, and God bless her…she was so cool and calm the whole time.
The paramedics got there and tried to get me stabilized to transport me to the hospital. They got as much done as they could and then loaded me into the ambulance. My oldest daughter had arrived home just as they were loading me into the ambulance. The paramedics told my other two daughters that they needed to stay home. While en route to the hospital, the paramedic told me they couldn’t get an IV in me so they would need to drill a hole in the top of my tibia bone. I told him no. He took my hand, looked me straight in the eye and said “Sweetie, if we don’t do this right now, you WILL die right now.” He no sooner finished the sentence when I heard the whirring of the drill and felt the most intense, awful pain of my life! I screamed bloody murder it was SO painful!
We (Ashley and I) arrived at the hospital and the doctors and nurses were rushing around trying to get me stabilized. They needed to make sure there was no blood in my stomach and needed to evacuate my stomach contents, so a tube was inserted into my nasal cavity. This would be the second most painful thing I had done. They needed to get another IV line in my arm but could not find a vein because I had lost so much blood. While they were doing their stuff, I lost even more blood. They called in their best guy for finding veins for IV’s and he tried every way possible to get an IV in my arm, but to no avail. The doctor finally came in and told me they’d need to put in a central line, which means they would be guided by ultrasound to put the IV into my neck/jugular vein! Eeeck! Dominic, the guy trying to find a regular vein, kept trying to get a line in, right up until they draped my neck with a sterile sheet and started the ultrasound. The doctor told him to step back, and the poor guy kept telling me how sorry he was that he couldn’t find a vein! Thank you, Dominic, for trying so hard! They finally got the central line and started pushing fluids into my body. I was sent for x-rays, and CAT scans. They tried for over 5 hours to get me stabilized enough to send me to the critical care unit. Finally, around 4:30am, I was stabilized enough to go to the critical care unit. The doctor had told me that had my daughter not called 911 when she did, I would have died on the bathroom floor! Pretty scary, huh?!?
Once in the critical care unit, we had to wait for a surgeon to come in so he could take me into the operating room and try to determine where the bleeding was coming from. Ashley finally called my parents and they came in along with our pastor. My pastor came into the room and prayed for me. I felt at peace. At 6am, they came in and wheeled me down to surgery. Once again, I got some happy juice and next thing I know, I’m in recovery. The surgeon said he saw some clotting around my liver so it was possible that when they got the stone, they could have nicked the liver. However, the CAT scans didn’t show any damage to my liver, so they weren’t really sure what caused the bleeding. He said they had done all that they could at that hospital, so they would be transferring me to their Main hospital where they could do some more tests.
So, I was loaded into another ambulance, and transferred to the other hospital. I was once again taken to the critical care unit. They took me for more CAT scans. Later in the day, they took me to the Interventional Radiology department where they would put a catheter into my groan and shoot dyes into my vascular system to look for blood leakage. Once again, they could not find where the bleeding had come from or why it stopped on it’s own! I was returned to CC unit until Sunday afternoon, when they moved me to the cardiac floor (the cardiac floor because the nurses are used to recovering people that have had an IR procedure done). I remained in the hospital until Tuesday afternoon, when the doctors could not find anything wrong and I had been stable now for 3 days. My blood levels had returned to normal, my heart rhythm was normal and I had had two blood transfusions to replace the blood I had lost. There was nothing more they could do for me because for all intents and purposes, I was totally healthy!
I have been a healthy person all my life. The only times I had been in the hospital was to have my tonsils removed as a child, and to have my 3 daughters. I never go to the doctor because I’ve never been sick enough to require one. At most I might get one cold per year. Why a perfectly healthy woman can all of a sudden have gallbladder problems and then have everything that could go wrong, go wrong, is beyond me. I was the one in a million that the doctors have to warn patients about. I left the hospital with quite a few doctors and nurses scratching their heads because they had no answers.
My daughters were my heroes. Through the whole 3 weeks, they stepped up and took control. They cleaned, they cooked, they prayed for me and for each other, they took care of me, they took care of each other. I am so proud of my daughters. I am a blessed woman indeed.
I don’t know what caused the initial bleeding, but I know what stopped it. God stopped it. I believe in healing. My daughters believe in healing. My friends and family believe in healing. I believe with all my heart that God healed me. What an awesome God I serve that He saved my life. He must have something awesome planned for my life! I can’t wait to see what it is!