Tuesday, July 15, 2008

So Much For NaBloPoMo!

Howdy, Stranger!

Oh, wait, that's me. I'm the one that's been the stranger lately. Sorry 'bout that!

It's not that I don't love you, my blogfriends. I have been, shall we say, indisposed. Kaput. Zonked. Stoned. (and not in a good way, either!)

So, it turns out that my idiot doctor has been wrong ALL YEAR, and I do NOT have a hiatal hernia; I have gallstones! Big ones! HELLO!

The fun started on July 4th, after a cheeseburger and a hotdog. The familiar pain in my back, the inability to lie down, the sleeplessness, yes, the whole shebang. Except this time, it didn't go away after two hours, or even two DAYS. Every time I started to feel better and tried to drink some water or have a few crackers, the pain would come back worse than ever. It was so bad I actually took some codeine I had left over from some surgery I had done on my hand awhile ago, which helped me at least get some sleep for awhile. By Monday afternoon, the pain was so intense that I left the kids with a neighbor friend of mine, who then left the kids with her husband who works from home and drove me to the ER because I was having problems breathing. The intake people were very nice, and took some blood right away, but sent me back out to the waiting area because they were swamped.

After about a half hour, I felt a POP! and knew that it was over. This has happened to me repeatedly, so I knew that things would change within minutes, which they did. I assumed that this was my hiatal hernia popping back into place. A little while later, DH showed up (the wonderful man had left work before I even told him I was going to the ER because when we had spoken earlier he could tell that I was bad off - you gotta love a man who comes home to help a woman who spent an entire conversation being witchy - and when I called to tell him where I had gone he was already halfway there), and I told him that I was feeling better and just wanted to go home and sleep, since the wait was going to be another two hours at best. DH agreed, and went to tell the nurses at the intakae area that we were leaving. A minute later, a nurse came running out to tell me that I couldn't leave, because my blood tests had shown that my 'levels' were very high, and they wanted to admit me.

(mental note - threatening to leave an ER gets you immediate medical attention if it's truly necessary)

It turned out that the levels of my hormones, etc, that they were testing were for my pancreas, and they were all supposed to be in the 50s. Mine were 250, 250, 500, and 2000. That's a big problem, apparently, because there were all sorts of people coming to talk to me, many of them asking whether I'd been on a binge the night before!!!! (Apparently, binge drinking screws up your pancreas, too.) I told them that no, although I'm sure alcohol might have dulled my pain had I thought of it, I had not been drinking. So, they wheeled me off lickety-split to a CAT scan, where they saw no stones but a gall bladder and pancreas that were all swollen. They then told me that I would be staying awhile.

Since typically you hear more and more about hospitals kicking people out ten minutes after a transplant, hearing that I needed to stay, and for DAYS, was unsettling. But, I was so happy to hear that someone was actually taking me seriously, and that there was medical PROOF that I wasn't whining about indigestion, that I really didn't care. Plus, I hadn't eaten, drank, or slept in four days, so I wasn't really all that with it, anyway.

My doctor came in, the one who has misdiagnosed me for a year, and, I sh**t you not, asked me why I was there, did I have a hernia, had I been taking any medication for said hernia, and had it been helping at all? !!!!!!!!!!! I told him, not terribly politely, that I had been having symptoms for a year, I was taking the prevacid HE PRESCRIBED ME for a year for the hernia HE TOLD ME I HAD, and that since I was in the hospital, it was apparently not helping. He then told me (this is my favorite part) that he was 'just trying to remember'. What a DILLHOLE.

The next afternoon I had an MRI, which showed that indeed I still had two stones in my bile ducts, and that from the swelling I had probably passed a very large one the day before after having it stuck in there for the weekend. After that, I finally got to eat and drink. I'm telling you, beef broth tastes AMAZING after having nothing pass your palate for five days.

Once I got home on Wed afternoon, I of course got online and looked up pancreatitis, and gall bladder attack, and found out all sorts of things, like every symptom I have ever had was conveniently listed on every page on the internet that has anything to do with gall bladders. Also, since gall stones cause pancreatitis (the bile ducts pass directly over the pancreas), my pancreas has been suffering all this time as well. Had I not gone to the ER, the amount of duress my pancreas was under could have caused permanent damage. You cannot live efficiently without a pancreas, because it produces insulin, and the less pain you are in, the worse off you are, because as the pancreas dies, its nerves die too, I guess. Essentially, if I had not gone to the ER, I could have died. That was why they were all so freaked that I wasn't in any pain by the time I got brought back. Not to mention the amount of dehydration I had - my pee was literally the color of burnt sienna. So, my idiot doctor and his non-listening-ness and pooh-poohing-ness could have eventually cost me my life. Once you get to the point of having pancreatitis, you can't really cure it on your own at home, because you have to completely rest your system (thus the no food or water) and if you do that on your own, you will get too dehydrated; also, it will come back every time you have a gall bladder problem from that point on.

I met with a surgeon today, and will be having my gb out on Aug 27th. They could have done it sooner, but I wanted to wait until the kids are in school. There's no way I can be out of commission like that during the summer - it will take me about a week to feel like a person, and I don't know when I'll feel like driving. Plus, there would probably be so swimming or day trips, I'm guessing. This way, they will be gone all day and I will be able to rest, plus DH will take off that Wed, Th and Fri, meaning since it's Labor Day weekend I won't be alone until the following Tuesday.

Needless to say, once this is over, I will have a new doctor. The only reason I'm not changing now is because I'm afraid it will mess up my insurance to do so, and he won't have anything to do with my care from this point on anyway, since I'm seeing a specialist now (which he told me a couple of months ago I didn't need to do, when I asked for a referral). My friend Jessica told me that I should report him to the state board of licensing, which I think I might just do once this is all over. I can understand making the more banal diagnosis at first, in the name of if-you-hear-hoofbeats-it's-probably-not-a-zebra, but nothing was improving, and I even asked to see a specialist and he told me no, there's really no excuse.

Anyway, I feel OK now, and as long as I stay away from heavy meat products, which I don't eat often anyway (otherwise this would be more than an every-few-months kind of thing), I should be fine until next month. Now that I actually know what to avoid, I can do myself some good, and stop taking the medication I've been on for GERD and stop worrying about caffeine, spicy foods, and trying to sleep upright, which has been killing my back. I can't believe that I've been taking this medication for a YEAR, when I never needed it at all.

In the end, I'm actually grateful that this episode happened, because now I know what it is, and best of all, it can be cured, unlike a hiatal hernia. After August, I should never, ever feel that way again. And that feels GREAT.


Kelsey said...

Oh no! I'm glad you finally have a legit diagnosis and will be treated accordingly. I do understand doctors not investigating every possibility at first, but after a year? It does sound like he really screwed up and I'm so sorry.

I hope you are feeling well between now and the end of August; good to know it will soon be behind you.

desperate housewife said...

That is one scary story, seriously! I am so glad you're finally ok- or will be soon, anyways. What a horrible ordeal! What a pinehole of a doctor! I can't stand when people act like a doctor's word is gospel, because you hear stories like this all the time. THEY DO SCREW UP, people. I hope you do report him. Or that you just punch him in the nose next time you see him, maybe.

Creative Kerfuffle said...

holy crap! where did that dr get his damn degree??? i had the EXACT same thing about 12 yrs ago. i too had a horrible attack that sent me to the ER where they said it was basically indigestion, gave me maalox and sent me home. it didn't get better. at that time i didn't have a reg. doc and just went to one of those doc-in-the-box places the next day. the ancient dr i saw barely looked at me but when i described my symptoms (exactly like yours) he said it was my gall bladder. x-rays confirmed it and i was in surgery the very next day. i've not had a problem since. so glad you've finally got a real diagnosis and are going to get it taken care of.

Kristin.... said...

Holy crap. That's a huge misdiagnosis there. So sorry you had to go thru all that. Can they do anything for you until the surgery? Oh yuck.
Glad you're back!