There we were – seed potatoes purchased and cut up, sprouting away. Onion plants in hand and ready to be poked into the ground. Seeds for Lettuce, Peas and Carrots all in and and ready for spring planting – then came the hospital trip.
It started out simple enough, on a Thursday evening. Leaving work I felt like I had twisted and pulled a muscle in my back, right at the lowest rib. As the evening went on it hurt bad enough that I decided to take some ibuprofen and used a heated pillow just to be able to fall asleep.
Friday morning seemed tolerable enough so I returned to work. At the end of the work day I went grocery shopping and my back started hurting again. Twisting and lifting were very painful activities. Again by nightfall I was taking medicine and using my wife’s old heating pillow.
Saturday morning was the promise of planting season. The weather was warm and the soil was ready to accept all of the seeds and plants that were purchased and ready for planting. However, Saturday morning wasn’t as forgiving as Friday morning. This time I woke up in pain. The pain had moved to my side. With hours it was at the front of my body – again still on the bottom rib, about an inch or so away from the sternum.
I told my wife that if the pain kept up I would go ahead and see a doctor on Tuesday, because Monday was President’s day and I wanted to enjoy my 3 day weekend, of course.
That was a big deal to me. You see, I don’t bother with doctors much. I’d rather just let the sniffles pass or for my body to heal on its own than go to a doctor who will either order numerous tests or guess at a diagnosis – always giving me the feeling that they are far to eager to presume my ailment is the most popular ailment than to actually diagnose my individual issue.
Time to see a Doctor
So you can imagine how bad the pain must have been for me when, mere hours later, I told my wife I was driving myself to the ER while I still could. I didn’t want her having to wait around at the hospital with 5 children just for the Dr. to confirm I pulled a muscle and that I needed to suck it up. But the fact was it was now hurting to take a deep breath.
Off to the ER I went several possibilities started to get tossed around. For example, I was asked if I had ever had kidney stones before many times. However the ER doctor seemed certain it was my gallbladder and so she ordered an ultrasound to check for gallstones.
Test after Test after Test
The test came up negative. No gallstones to be found. But the pain was real and intensifying and was still right there – right at the gallbladder. The choices were then to go home and hope it passes, go home and come back to an appointment with a surgeon later, or be admitted into the hospital and have more tests done the next day. Due to the pain that was now coming with even a modest breath and the family situation I opted to be admitted.
Eventually I received a HIDA scan. They put a radioactive (mercy me!) dye inside you and track the progress. First it goes to your liver and the liver puts it over to the gallbladder, which takes about an hour. Then they put more chemicals in you that signal your gallbladder that it needs to dump, pushing the chemicals back out and allowing the imaging machinery to watch and see if the gallbladder is functioning as expected.
Mine performed perfectly. What. The. Heck.
So here I was with terrible abdominal pain and the pain was now coming at any breath I took and was radiating up my chest. The surgeon was explaining that both tests showed that my gallbladder was textbook. We then decided that while the pain indicated a gallbladder problem the best way to be sure was to have a CAT scan and check everything else. A simple chest x-ray was also done.
The part that was really throwing the surgeon off was how well I was eating. I had no nausea, no vomiting, no gas. In fact, I was quite hungry.
Much to our surprise everything was fine. No broken bones, no pneumonia, no kidney stones, etc., etc., etc. I was, per the tests, a perfectly healthy fella.
Follow the Pain
Per the pain something was very, very wrong.
So after some discussion with the surgeon the decision was made to go ahead with the surgery and remove the gallbladder nonetheless. Damn the tests, follow the pain.
And so it was – I was prepped for surgery and about an hour later – no more gallbladder.
Once the meds subsided a bit and I was more cognizant I was able to tell that I certainly had pain from the surgery, such as the incision sites, but I could breath without pain! That was a very enjoyable thing. I think I started taking a big deep breath every minute just because I could and it didn’t hurt.
The surgeon confirmed that the gallbladder did indeed look sick to him and it was inflamed, but also that there was a fatty deposit that “certainly didn’t belong there” going from my gallbladder and forming a “tongue” up my ribs. He took all of that out as well.
Back to the Routine
And… now I am home and just about ready to go back to work – most likely I’m there as you read this. Still getting short of breath more quickly than before, but 99% pain free. Guess it’s bound to hurt a little for a few days after you get cut into.
I’m certainly grateful to have been able to have a surgeon who both had the experience and skill necessary to help me – who was willing to follow the pain and not just the tests.
Now… about those potatoes, onion, carrots, lettuce and peas…