Life hands you lots of challenges, and how you deal with those challenges determines what kind of person you are, and how people look upon you. And just when I think things are getting a little better, another challenge arises. And this time around the challenge is strictly internal. As in on my right side, sorta halfway between my bellybutton and my flank.
I'd experienced pain like this once before, bad enough to put me in the ER twice in one day, about a month ago. I was given a diagnosis of a bladder infection and a pulled muscle - not much more than a pat on the head and a take-two-aspirin-and-call-me-in-the-morning diagnosis. But then a week ago last Friday the pain returned, and I was back in the ER. This time around I was given a remarkably thorough ultrasound exam to go along with a milligram of Dilaudid through an IV, and a diagnosis of gallstones. They gave me prescriptions for Percocet and an industrial-grade stool softener/laxative, and sent me home to sleep off the Dilaudid while Joy went to fetch the prescriptions at Wal-Mart. I didn't make it more than two hours - while Joy waited for Wal-Mart's computers to get over a digital hissy-fit to get the meds - before calling her to get back to the trailer and take me back to the hospital. Another visit to the ER - yay! X-rays and a CT scan didn't do more than confirm that my gall bladder was secreting stones and otherwise going south on me. An internist came down to oversee the case and recommended that I have the damn thing removed, to which I wholeheartedly agreed. An ER nurse told me that I'd be released if I could hold down food, and brought some chocolate pudding for me to enjoy.
And this was when everything went straight to hell.
About two spoonfuls into the pudding, I found myself altogether uninterested in finishing the delightful dessert. I'd already been feeling somewhat nauseous and had a barf bag close at hand, but Joy seemed convinced that I needed a second bag and got the nurse to give her a second bag. I was halfway out of my hospital gown, only another five minutes or so from leaving the ER altogether when the pudding decided that it had no interest in letting me digest it and instead chose to commit what Major League Eating would call a 'reversal of fortune'. I barely had time to grab barf bag #1 before violently retching my guts out, nearly filling the thing. And just as I handed the bag chocolate-tinged vomit to Joy, she handed me the second bag and I obliged her by filling that bag half-full of more chocobarf. Where the fuck was all this coming from? I hadn't eaten so far that day. In fact, I hadn't eaten anything in the last eighteen hours, with only a glass or two of milk in the interim. The nurse and internist conferred for all of about ten seconds, and it was decided that I'd be admitted overnight for observation.
Have I ever mentioned that I've never been admitted to the hospital before? Ever? Even when I went in for hernia surgery, it was just an outpatient procedure where I was back home within an hour of going under the knife. To be quite honest I was scared shitless. It was already early in the evening when I was admitted, and Joy was quietly advised that she'd really have to leave when visiting hours were up at eight. It was one of the longer nights of my life, alone save for nurses checking in on me every few hours. At least I had TV - something I haven't had since June. And because I was NPO - no food or drink, just ice chips - TV was all I was getting for the time being.
I wound up having the consultation with the surgeon who'll remove my gall bladder while in bed, and she told me that her office would call me the following Monday to confirm a date for the surgery (NOTE: Still haven't heard from them - have to call them in the morning), and I was eventually, gradually able to hold down clear liquids, then a low-fat lunch before being set loose that afternoon, with a second set of scripts for Percocet and stool softener/laxatives, and a stern warning that my diet will have to change because of having my gall bladder removed. I'll have to reduce my fat intake, and eat smaller portions. Nothing I've ever really bothered to do before, so it's going to take some getting used to. and I'm not particularly thrilled about it. At least I should be able to get the time off from work. The Holidays are the slowest time of the year of for merchandisers, so much so that my supervisor in Portland actually asked for volunteers to take time off in December. After the surgeon told me that I'd need ten to fourteen days to recover from the surgery (and that I'd given the surgeon a tentative date of December 10th for the surgery), I informed her that I'd be more than willing take to time off after the 10th. I'll have to shoot her a message again soon to find out if I've been approved for that leave. Though if things get worse sooner than that, I may have to have the surgery sooner than that, and to hell with leave requests - my health comes first.