“The sense of smell can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back pictures as sharp as photographs of scenes that had left the conscious mind.” – Thalassa Cruso
This is long so grab some coffee or tea or chicken broth.
Saturday night I took B out for steak dinner for his birthday. It was pretty good but I didn’t know this particular restaurant cooks green beans in over salted bacon grease. When I felt nauseous after laying down Saturday night, I blamed the few fork fulls of the disgusting greens I had eaten while trying to convince myself they didn’t taste that bad. I guessed I had just eaten too much of them because I din’t think a plain filet and plain mashed potatoes would make me feel so sick. My extremities had also begun to hurt but I thought that was just because I was due for my nightly nerve pill.
Sunday morning I woke up with the worst headache of my life. I also had a pain on the right side of my abdomen near my belly button. Again I blamed it on the food and thought maybe the Lexapro might be partly to blame because some of the side effects are headache and slowing of the erm, lower digestive system. I wasn’t awake for very long before I decided to drink some mil of magnesia and see if getting things moving a little faster would ease the pain. It didn’t and only seemed to bring the nausea back and increase the headache.
B got up a little while later and when he turned the TV on the sound went straight to my brain. The pain was as bad as that of driving at night with a migraine when light from oncoming cars enters the eyes. It wasn’t hard to decide to go lay back in bed so I shuffled into the bedroom, switched on my white noise maker and climbed into bed. That was where I spent all of Sunday.
I never spend entire days in bed. Even when I have bad MS days, I just lay on the couch. It has to be really bad to keep me in bed for an entire day. I even ate in bed. I couldn’t stand sitting up on the couch long enough to do anything. When I first got into bed the headache was so bad I didn’t even put on my audio book. I just pulled the covers tightly around me as cold began to set into my bones and my body began aching even more. The headache and body aches distracted me from the abdominal pain, that’s for sure. Probably around noon the headache began to ebb after lots and lots of fluids and some ibuprofen. Every blow from the referee’s whistle as B watched football in the living room still cut through my white noise machine and dragged long fingernails down the chalkboard in my head. I decided to stay in the bedroom to keep the headache from coming back.
As the day wore on I had moments of intense cold under the covers and then moments of feeling ok. I was able to take Jayden out like normal but that was about it. Luckily I was able to tolerate my audio book so I just lay in bed and read and Jayden snoozed beside me on his bed.
Eventually I knew I had to be running a fever. I was freezing but my skin felt warm even to me. When B came in to check on me, he felt my forehead and agreed so I got up to get the thermometer. I still don’t have one that talks so B had to read it. It was 100.6. It had been so long since I had had a fever that I almost forgot what to do for one. Oh yes, Tylenol, wipe the skin with a cool cloth, ok, yes, fluids, lots of fluids, bring the fever down, the MS doesn’t like fever, the MS can get royally pissed off and start making my immune system attack me if I run a fever, bring the fever down, bring it down.
I wet a washcloth and wiped my face and the cloth became warm where it touched my skin. I grabbed my ice pack and took it and the washcloth back to bed and swallowed two Tylenol. I lay in bed with the ice pack on my stomach and alternated the cloth on my forehead and behind my neck. I was freezing. Then soon I wasn’t. I finished my book and began another. I was warm. My body had begun to melt the ice pack. I kicked the covers off. I was uncomfortable but the fever was beginning to break. I checked it again. 100.2. Down four tenths. I went to sleep after telling B I was calling my doctor in the morning.
Unfortunately she had no available appointment so I found an urgent care and B came home around noon to take me. They got me back quickly and a nurse practitioner examined me after I described the pain as a four on a scale from one to ten unless the spot was touched then it was higher. At first she thought kidney but she told me she was going to thump my back and when she did it didn’t hurt. So she checked my abdomen and the pain was too high to be appendix so she thought maybe gallbladder which freaked me out. She asked if I had weight fluctuations which I have my whole life and if I’d recently eaten a high fat meal. I explained about the filet the night before and the green beans but she said the fatty meat she was thinking of was more like a prime rib. She then suggested going to the emergency room for an ultrasound to check my gallbladder since they didn’t have the proper equipment there to do that. At this point I started getting a little more scared. She wanted to check the urine sample I had given before settling on a possible gallbladder problem but that came back normal so it was the emergency room. Joy.
She asked which hospital and I named the one I had been to for my two big MS flairs and she sent all my info there and said they were expecting me so off we went. We signed in and a man asked B for the envelope please and I cracked a joke about him sounding like an award show host but no one laughed and my mood darkened and we sat and they called me back to triage somewhat quickly and then had me sit in the lobby again. It wasn’t too crowded but I could feel the anxiety starting to try and boil up. Thank God I’m on Lexapro. I mean really, thank God. The Ellen Show was on the nearby TV so I just tried to focus on that. It didn’t take too incredibly long for them to call me again and Jayden jumped up the minute he heard my name, which made me laugh.
This time we were led deeper into the emergency department to my room and as we walked, memories flooded back to me, memories of the last time I had been there, the smells were the same and instantly I could picture the emergency department since that is the last place I saw. It smelled like going blind. I began to cry as I walked between Jayden and B. The nurse let us to my cot and told me to undress from the waist up and put the gown on and then she left and I lost it when B asked if I was in pain. I told him it smelled like going blind and he said it all came rushing back to him too. We had a moment there, standing in the tiny cubicle, wondering what came next.
There was a whole lotto waiting. I texted and tweeted and emailed and B watched ESPN. It made me think of House after B said they had cable. Honestly how can you not think of House when in a hospital? It was specifically the cable though and if you’re a House fan, you’ll know why.
After a bit everyone came in at once. The doctor, two med students and a nurse to draw blood and start my IV. Why they ran a bag of saline through me is beyond me, probably because they could get fifty bucks from Medicare for it. The doctor asked some questions and examined me and when I said the nurse practitioner at the urgent care suspected gallbladder he palpated just under my ribs and it didn’t hurt. He found where it hurt and the medical student said, “that’s too low to be gallbladder.” Yes, Thirteen, you are correct. The doctor said my pain was between my appendix and gallbladder which was curious and he wanted a CT scan. I said I was there for an ultra sound. I wonder if he rolled his eyes. He said that wouldn’t do any good since he didn’t want to focus on the gallbladder. They all left and we waited some more.
The bag of IV fluid was ready to come out not long after and I don’t mean out of my arm. I pressed the call button and told the voice on the speaker that I needed the restroom but was hooked to an IV. Fifteen minutes later no one had come so I just had B get the bag off the hook and the bag was empty. I shoved it in my pocket, grabbed Jayden and B helped us find the restroom. After that we waited some more and then the radiology tech came to tell me to take the remainder of my clothes off and she’d be back soon to take me for the scan. We waited some more and then I left Jayden with B when they came for me. I told him to stay and be a good boy and I’d be right back and as soon as we were out of ear shot I started crying. I knew he must be wondering what on earth was going on. If hospitals are scary for children, how must they be for dogs?
I told the woman that I went blind in this hospital, about going into the MRI machine with a little vision left and coming out with none. She was stunned and said I wouldn’t go blind this time. I laughed and said I’m already blind. She said I wouldn’t go any blinder and I laughed and she complimented my sense of humor. I should have thanked her for being the only person with a sense of humor in the entire emergency department.
The scan was quick, just a transfer to another table and then an electronic voice gave me breathing instructions. When I was brought back I was very happy to see Jayden. B said he did fine, he looked after me for a bit when I was taken, then B gave him some kibble and he lay down. I was happy B had done this. When I first handed the leash to him after the CT scan lady left I told him the kibble was in my bag and to give him a few pieces. I’m glad he took it upon himself to give Jayden some after I was gone. I like to make experiences as positive for him as possible and he is very highly food motivated. He was allowed to eat more than I was. When we left the urgent care I was given strict instructions not to eat or drink anything. B thought it was because of the ultrasound I was originally going to have but I told him it was probably in case I needed emergency surgery and that’s what it was. After the CT scan we didn’t see any matter of nurse or doctor. I knew Jayden would need a bathroom break because it was already well after his normal feed and relieve time. I just said screw it and crammed the empty IV bag back in my pocket and out we went. A nurse tried to stop me, saying they prefer the patients to stay in the hospital but I said no one had been to see me in hours and I am the one with the rights, not B, not my dog and he could be denied re-entry since we were unable to make arrangements with the hospital. It was well beyond the time he needed a potty break and I was taking him. I honestly don’t know how true what I said was but I was refusing to be separated from my dog. I was mobile and didn’t even have any medication in me and obviously the hospital thought I was find since no one had been by to check on me. So we marched out and Jayden peed a river. Poor guy. B decided he would run back to his office and grab his phone charger. He had left it since he had expected to return to work after the urgent care. I said that was a good idea and I bet him I still wouldn’t have any information by the time he returned. We got back to my cubicle and I proceeded to listen to the NLCS game seven between the Giants and Cardinals. I ran through obedience with Jayden, feeing him a decent portion of kibble, grateful I had thought to grab his afternoon snack and bring it along with his collapsable water bowl. I gave him some water out of my bottle and felt happy that of the three of us, he was fed, watered and relieved.
B called when he was heading back from the office and I still hadn’t seen the doctor. A nurse had poked her head in and said, “oh you’re back, the doctor will see you soon now that you’re back.” Really? You’re going to put this on the five minutes it took to let my dog pee? B called after that and I told him what she had said and he laughed. We hung up and just before he got back the doctor finally came in and told me I had diverticulitis That is a Mayo Clinic link I found this morning that is really useful. the doctor briefly told me to take my antibiotics, just drink some clear liquids over the next few days and then switch to easy to digest foods. Make a follow-up with your doctor etc. I asked if I could exercise and he said give it a few days. Then he was gone and soon B was there and I told him. I was very relieved not to be having surgery and I’m familiar with diverticulitis since my dad was diagnosed with diverticulosis when I still lived at home. That just means you have the sacs and could suffer from diverticulitis. Back then they thought that seeds and popcorn played a part but according to that Mayo Clinic link, they no longer believe that. It sounds like it might be my poor choices in the past that could have brought this on since I live pretty healthy these days. I did recently take time off from exercise while the weather had me in pain and it sounds like lack of exercise can bring this on as well. I believe I had it last year also, when the nurse practitioner at my doctor’s office diagnosed me with a kidney infection even though the urine wasn’t conclusive. She based it all on the fact that I jumped when she thumped my back. I told her I jumped because I wasn’t expecting it, not because it hurt. So the two nurse practitioners I’ve seen are zero for two though at least this last one thought it was something serious enough to warrant an ER visit. I see my doctor in two weeks for a follow-up. It was the soonest she could see me.
We waited at least another thirty minutes and then the discharge nurse finally came in. B and I had already worked out that we’d take care of getting my antibiotics and broth and everything today since we were both exhausted by the time the hospital was going to let me go. The nurse went on and on about nearby twenty-four hour pharmacies and I just nodded in agreement rather then explain that we had already made our plans. He handed me the discharge papers and told me my prescriptions were stapled on top, the first one being oxycodone. I began shaking my head vigorously and telling the nurse I didn’t need that, I hadn’t even taken ibuprofen and the doctor had said nothing about pain medication but the nurse just said if I didn’t want it, don’t fill it. B exclaimed, “no wonder so many people are addicted to pills!” and I agreed, both of us beginning to rant and then realizing it wasn’t the nurse’s fault. We got the heck out of there and I swore I’d never go back. I’m obviously not filling the prescription for oxycodone. However that must be the hospital to go to if you’re a drug seeker since I didn’t even ask for Tylenol and they handed me a narcotic. Disgusting.
While we were walking to the car Jayden suddenly stopped and relieved himself. B was like, “he’s going! He’s going! Do you have a bag?” Do I have a bag. Silly man. First rule of guide dog handling, always have a bag. I theatrically pulled a bag from my pocket and snapped it open. Jayden immediately moved as far from the mess as he could and B asked why. “He’s ashamed when he goes in harness,” I explained. I wasn’t angry with him at all. He had done a lot of walking in the hospital and I was just glad he waited until we got outside. We got home at eight o’clock and I fed and relieved Jayden and then we went to bed. I was so relieved to be home in my own bed with Jayden and my cats and my man. I had had awful visions of being stuck in the hospital for days. What. A. Day.
This morning I woke up starving. I hadn’t eaten anything since Sunday. A little over an hour ago B brought me some low sodium Swanson’s chicken broth, some bouillon and apple juice. He was going to call me from the pharmacy so I turned to Google to compare bouillon to liquid broth and ran across my favorite fitness site and a liquid diet with calories article. Score! It recommended both forms of broth so I got both. I got the low sodium Swanson’s since the article recommended low sodium when possible. I tell you, that Swanson’s chicken broth tasted so incredibly delicious after not eating since Sunday! I chugged some apple juice before it was even cold and thought, well this isn’t so bad. My belly felt full and I tasted something other than water and coffee. I laughed at myself and thought, ask me again tomorrow if this isn’t so bad. Luckily I can drink coffee and tea with no cream which is how I drink it anyway but I’ve mostly only wanted water since the coffee makes me a little nauseous. After a few days of the liquid diet I can start introducing low fiber foods and then after that get back to a normal fiber intake. I find it odd that a diet low in fiber contributes to the problem yet while recovering from it fiber must be avoided.
It was quite an ordeal but we all made it through ok and I didn’t have to go under the knife. Jayden didn’t seem phased by it in the slightest. After the smells brought back all the memories of my last visit and the not so pleasant experience this time, I think I’ll be looking for a new hospital. I just hope I won’t need one for a very long time.