The Gall of Dallas
Our trip to visit some of Captain Sarcastic’s family had gone well. His entire family welcomed me into their hearts the second I met them years ago. So it was as good for me to see them as for CS.
We stayed at CS’s paternal grandfather’s house. Being 90 (or 92, there is a debate about his age), he keeps his house warm. As in no A/C. In Texas. In the summer. Ninety degree summer. My husband did manage to get Poppy to turn on the air at night (but not during the day!) but it took most of the night to cool down. Fans blew in every room.
Our last evening was spent with Poppy and his son and wife. We had dinner at the lake. I don’t recall which lake–like a lot of things in Texas, the lake is named after someone. The meal was mediocre BBQ (and to me that is bad). The view and the company were delightful, even if the meal wasn’t.
We ate around 6pm. Then we all headed back to Poppy’s and visited. Aunt and Uncle left around 9pm. About when they were leaving, I began to have a stomachache. I felt overfull and blamed it on the bad BBQ. I’ll leave out the copious details (you’re welcome), but I was up all night, yakking all of what I had eaten Sunday. My ribs were hurting terribly–front and back. The back rib pain was concerning. I’d never experienced that before and rattling in my memory was something about it being a sign of a problem with some organ. I am a wealth of medical knowledge
Around 4am, I woke CS (well, I am sure I was waking him all night long) and told him I was really concerned that maybe I needed to go to the ER. He asked if I wanted to go right then. When he asked, I doubted myself. Surely this wasn’t serious and we’d have to wake the baby and Poppy and make a big deal. Instead, I asked CS to go to the pharmacy and get me some meds. He did. He got up at 4am and drove around a town he does not know to get me meds without one word of complaint.
The meds did nothing. Time passed slowly, I continued my trek to the bathroom, den, bedroom, all the while grateful of Poppy’s bad hearing and the noise of the fans drowning out what CS would otherwise have heard.
At 6am, Sun woke up. And so did Poppy. My bad situation just got worse with a little person who needs attention and an onlooker.
Finally, I knew our plan to drive 7+ hours to get home was not going to happen. I was going to screw up CS’s work. I was going to have to stay in Dallas until I was at least medicated enough to not yak or roil in pain. I was going to be imposing on all kinds of family. I was not happy. And I continued to think it was a stomach virus that I was just going to medicate so as to get on the road.
We called Uncle No. 2 who recommended we go to Baylor Hospital. I checked in and was seen relatively quickly. Initially, the ER doc, too, thought I was dealing with a stomach bug. But they ran a battery of tests that abdominal pain warrants to be sure my symptoms weren’t masking anything serious. First, they took my blood and gave me an IV of saline to rehydrate me.
And in the meantime, they started me on morphine. Ah, morphine, my old friend. I had you with my delivery of Sun and with my wrist surgery. It did not take away all the pain (and I really thought it would), but made it bearable. I asked for ice chips but they wanted to see the results of an upcoming CT scan before I had anything in my stomach. On the off chance surgery was needed.
The bloodwork came back. It showed an accelerated white blood cell count. “What’s that mean?” I asked, really scared for the first time. What with my wealth of medical knowledge, I thought they were concerned about it being cancer. “It is a sign of an infection,” my nurse told me. My male, hot, straight, soon-to-be-a-daddy-of-a-baby-girl-too nurse. I loved Nurse Tim.
“Oh,” I said, thinking we were back on track of a stomach virus. You know, a viral infection. Nurse Tim knew we were on a new track. He switched me off morphine. So as I was swimming in concern and self doubt, in pain and not dealing well with the big imposition I was being on, em, everyone around me, Nurse Tim injected me through the IV with dilaudid. And before the syringe was out of the tubing, I was seeing clouds. And my body was immediately light as a feather and heavy as a sinking stone all at the same time. My muscles decided to release. I could HEAR my head turn to look at CS. I could see my head moving in slow motion while it was already turned to face my husband. And all the while that cloud I had seen was now beneath me and I was floating on it. I still felt some pain, but I no longer cared.
I was in good hands. And I was beginning to suspect the CT scan was going to show whatever it was for which they there were now looking. And it did. It showed my gall bladder was quite infected. Acute cholecystitis to be exact. What caused it? My diet (the word “cholesterol” was mentioned)? Something I did or neglected? He said it probably wasn’t my diet; that I am not overweight (take THAT Wii Fit!); that it occurs more in women in there 40s who are still fertile. Well, I am not quite 40 and did have fertility problems, but I tend to fall in that group, I guess.
In talking to us, the ER doctor showed a look of surprise. He said that he’s usually good at “seeing” that a person is sick when they come through ER. And not that he thought I wasn’t feeling well, but he didn’t think I “looked” as sick as I was. How sick am I? Why are you saying this? I worried. He explained that my gall bladder needed to be removed. Standard procedure and all, but one that I’d prefer to have back home, but one that couldn’t wait nor endure the drive home. “Sooner than later,” he said. “This afternoon.”
Then a resident came to talk to me about the procedure. This doc was hot, too! As was another resident that attended the surgery. Girls, if you must spend time in a hospital, find one like Baylor with all the male hotties!! Where was I? Oh, right, the procedure. He drew my gall bladder, liver, pancreas and small intestines on a wet board. With the gall stones they were certain I also had, his rendering of my gall bladder looked curiously like the head of a cartoon mouse.
The standard procedure is to cut four incisions around the gall bladder, locate the gall bladder, snip it, and remove it through one of the incisions. See? Straight forward. Unfortunately (and due to all the lawyers), they need to tell you every potential risk. This list was harrowing to hear. But doing nothing was just not an option as it could lead to some of the same risks and others far worse.
Then we waited to meet with the surgeon. During this time, CS made calls to key family and friends. And rubbed my back. And assured me the work he was delaying was not a concern for him in the least. That he wanted the best care for me and we were where we needed to be. He outshone all the male Baylor hotties.
So after coming to terms with it in my mind, a second dose of dilaudid, and meeting with the surgeon and anestheaologist, we proceeded with the surgery. Me, with much trepidation.
Then I woke up in recovery. I was told that things went well, nothing but the standard occurred. The doctor told my husband he was surprised I was not having problems prior to the day before because the gall bladder looked really bad and had several large stones in it. He also said two very small stones are still in me and should go away on there own, but for me to otherwise follow up with my primary care physician in six months.
They sent me to my room around 11pm. And finally, for the first time in the day, I was able to put something in my mouth, my belly. Ice chips never tasted so good.