Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Monday morning at the ER: Gallstones

After my gut-wrenching experience at the ER Sunday night, with the determination my condition was not a heart attack, I returned home emboldened by the fact I simply had the flu. I wasn't going to die horrifically on the wrong end of a pair of paddles, I was just destined to languish with a supply of Peptol Bismol, green tea and soup.
But the pain got worse, like a knife in the back, made worse by lying for any length of time. So sleep came two hours at a time followed a level of pain which was excruciating.
By 3 a.m. the day after the first ER visit, on Monday morning, it was time to go back, to call the doctor on his diagnosis.
Gut pain is the worst because it can come from anywhere. It's always hard to nail down, so I wouldn't have blamed the original doctor except for the fact he didn't even palpitate my abdomen during my visit and only focused on the symptom of chest pain.
Before my visit, I scoured my usual Internet favorites: WebMD, the Mayo Clinic, some British sources which seem to be much more reliable. Wondered why I had to go to American and European sources for specific help. I knew I didn't have the flu; I wasn't throwing up, didn't have a fever nor diarrhea. It had to be one of two things: pancreatitis, which would be worse case or a gallbladder attack. And so, upon presenting myself at the ER the second time, I focused on my specific symptoms:  strong pain in the right upper abdomen and generalized pain around the band just under my breasts.
Thankfully, it was pretty quiet at the ER, just a few sad souls throwing up and looking miserable. I sat down with my bottle of water at admitting.
"You shouldn't drink water when you have abdomen pain," the triage nurse scolded.
Since when? That advice wasn't anywhere on the Internet. I suppose it's because I might face the scalpel in the morning depending on the nature of my abdominal crime.
I felt like saying: "you shouldn't have sent me home last night" but everybody knows smart mouthing the triage nurse will get you more time in the chair writhing in pain. So I smiled and asked her about her evening.
Just like the night before, I was seen quickly by a friendly nurse and blood collector. The ECG machine was on the fritz, with squiggly lines everywhere. The nurse and vampire chuckled but reassured me my heart was strong.
Then came the doctor who asked me a few questions and palpitated my abdomen. He said he'd come back as soon as the blood results were in.
The nurse came back and we had a chat. Or was she an intern? I couldn't tell.
Whomever she was, I told her that I'd been on the Dr. Oz Two Week Rapid Weight Loss diet for a week and started having symptoms when Scott rewarded me with a steak dinner.
"Well, that'll do it," she said. "Your gallbladder has been on a holiday and you just gave it some grease."
What I had done, unbeknownst to me, was woken the sleeping giant in my belly, the hobbyist who has been collecting precious stones over the years. It had become angry that I'd interrupted its vacation and was handing me a can of whoop-ass.
The result came back. Gallbladder it was.
The doc sent me home with a script for Percocet and told me to see my family doctor.
It did that yesterday. He gave me a requisition for an ultrasound and a script for medication which is not on my drug plan. Which would mean I would have to fork out $65 for pain meds.
I told the pharmaguy I'd rather chew off my arm than spend $65 when I had a drug plan for which I'm already paying $150. So I'm rationing the six pills of Percocet. It could be weeks until I get help for this damned condition.
Who knew?


A little aside. While I was cooling my heels on my little bed in the ER, I saw girl being brought into the observation area accompanied by a pair of cops and paramedics. She was handcuffed to the gurney and was talking trash to her protectors.
"Sorry in advance," said the male cop. "It's going to get a bit crazy in here."
Thank you, God, I said. A little action in the ER to make the time go faster.
Turns out the lady had been having a little fun with substances and was found by the super of her building faceplanted in the lobby without her pants.
You'd think the little waif, who had leaves in her hair when I saw her, would have been grateful to see the emergency crew.
Nuh uh.
She tried to punch out the female paramedic, so the cops were called.
By the time the group arrived at the hospital, the female paramedic was just about to throttle little Miss Roundheels. The paramedic had to leave the ER.
"Keep it down," said the little female cop. "Are you going to be quiet?"
"As long as she's not around," said the patient. "She needs to get into another profession. Not everybody gets the world handed to her on a platter."
Wise words.
I felt a little sad for her, to be honest.
Nobody really knows what's going on in her life, right?
Where the hell were her pants?
And paramedics don't get paid enough.


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