The past few days have put me through the ringer. It all started this past Sunday around 4 p.m. That unmistakeable knotting pain began to form just below my sternum. In the past I have had this pain, but it usually lasted just a few hours and it was gone. However, that was not be the case this time. I did not sleep at all on Sunday night as the tightness in my chest was relentless. It seemed like no matter what position I contorted myself into, nothing helped. I knew that I was having a gallbladder attack.
Fortunately, I was off work on Monday due to Veteran’s Day, as most of my time would be spent in the ER. I checked in there around 6 a.m. on Monday where they ran blood cultures, did x-rays, EKG’s, and then sent me home with a prescription for acid reflux medication. I was kind of dumbfounded. Here I was doubled over in pain and I was sent home with instructions to come back if I started feeling nauseated or feverish. At this point the doctor knew that I had gallstones, as the x-rays had shown. However, I was supposed to wait three days before seeing a general surgeon. Perhaps, I did not express succinctly enough just how much pain I was experiencing.
After stopping by the pharmacy and getting the prescription for acid reflux medication, a problem that I didn’t really have, I went home laid down and tried to get comfortable again. However, this was not to be. I did start to feel nauseated. So, just a little over an hour after leaving the ER, I went back and was not going to leave until my pain was addressed. Finally, I made some headway with the ER staff and I was was given some morphine. This allowed me to get some rest as I waited an inordinate amount of time to hear what was next on the docket for treatment. I was sent for more tests, and then it was finally decided that I would be admitted. That was with the caveat that I may or may not have surgery the next morning. I would be put be on the surgery schedule, but only tentatively. They’d get to me if they had an opening on the schedule.
I understand that my case was not critical. I also am aware that most surgeries are scheduled at least weeks in advance. Likewise, I don’t believe that my condition was critical. However, to have to “fly stand-by” while I was in so much pain was not a comforting feeling. It was also frustrating to know that I was truly not listened to the first time I visited the ER. I was having a gallbladder attack, not a problem with acid reflux!
Fortunately, as noted above, I was finally admitted and was kept comfortable throughout the night with morphine. However, I did not get much sleep, as I was connected to an IV, heart monitor, and an oxygen mask. I understand that since I was taking a very potent narcotic, the nurses were interested in keeping a close eye on my respiration. However, with no sleep on Sunday night and very little sleep Monday night, I was at my wits end. The only positive at this point was that the pain in my chest began to fade away early Monday morning. This is good because much of Monday was spent waiting to hear if they could “pencil me” in on the surgery schedule.
I will say that all of the nurses that I had were very caring and professional, but I found there to be a lot of disorganization throughout the whole process from the ER all the way up to the time of my surgery. Feeling that things were not being orchestrated very well behind the scenes produced some anxiety, which is never a great thing when you are in the hospital.
It was around 2:30 on Tuesday afternoon that I was finally wheeled into surgery. Having surgery is not something that scares me. I have had around 30 different procedures throughout my life. So, I know the process once an individual gets to the operating room (OR). The nurses have you transfer to the rock-hard OR table. They then drape warm blankets over you. These actually feel like a little bit of heaven, as the OR is usually the same temperature as a meat locker. I am sure this is to help negate the heat that radiates from the enormous lighting fixtures that are mounted over the OR table.
A mask is then usually placed over your face that is pumping oxygen. Then, in order to put you under for the the procedure, the general anesthetic is sent through the mask. This sends you into a euphoric state that quickly fades while you slide into unconsciousness. I do enjoy that euphoric feeling. It is just too bad that does not last for very long. It seems like almost no time has passed until you are once again awake. That is when the pain from the procedure sets in and seems to get worse before it gets better. That is where I am today.
Currently, I feel as if I have gone a few rounds with Muhammad Ali while he was still in his prime. To have laparoscopic surgery where your gallbladder is removed through your bellybutton is an unusual thing. I don’t like to have my bellybutton poked, much less to have it cut open. I am sure that this too shall pass, as the pain from other surgeries have. It just always seems when your body is healing that it will never get back to the state where it was before. I am ready to be able to move again without pain. No more surgery for me for a while. I have had my share.