Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mrs Stevie: Breaks, Recent, Catching (NOT)

Well, the good news is that Mrs Stevie's emergency gall-bladder excision went well.

Sometime around 2 am on Wednesday morning she began having stomach pains (I'm not absolutely clear on this because Mrs Stevie often sleeps in a recliner since the cancer treatment started, on account of her falling fast asleep during the late evening while waiting for "The Daily Show" to come on and my cowardice common sense in not awakening her from a deep sleep being as how I don't want my face clawed off) . By the time the Stevieling kicked me out of bed to drive her to school the woman was doubled over in agony. I suggested a trip to the Emergency Room, which she vetoed. The night before I had brought home a burrito for her from a local Mexican fast food place (no spices or hot sauces involved, just soft meat which I thought she might a) enjoy since they are a favourite of hers and 2) the meat is almost liquid to start with) and I immediately put the blame on food poisoning.

A little later I gave her some Malox through her stomach tube (she was not keeping anything taken orally down) and that seemed to help. So she decided to take a can of the liquid food we still use to suppliment her inadequate intake of solids (she still cannot swallow reliably owing to the damage the cancer treatment wreaked in her throat). This turned out to be the worst idea in the history of ideas, and brought on another attack of pain that wouldn't subside even after a dose of Pepcid (which works by shutting down the digestion altogether and was a great help during my attacks of Pancreatitis).

Around noon, she asked me to call her G.P., who in turn suggested a visit to the G.I. specialist who had put in the stomach tube (technically a "peg" in docspeek) as she felt it might be an infection at that site, although there was no outward sign of that. This was a possibility that had occurred to me too, and the implications of that had me quite worried.

The G.I. specialist made a hole in his schedule and I hustled her there, where she began to become seriously ill. She looked worse than she had right after chemotherapy, which was truly scary. He took one quick poke at her stomach, paused to medicate his now-ruptured eardrums and told me to get her to the E.R. for an immediate cat scan.

The E.R. for once wasn't a complete zoo, and her condition was by now so visibly poor that they fast tracked her into a bed for observation and tests. It was by then around 3 pm.

We sat and waited, or rather, I sat and waited while Mrs Stevie entertained us with some impromptu screaming for about half an hour, at which point someone ponied up some Morphine. Which did no good, so it was on to something polysylabic beginning with "P" that did. That wore off after an hour, so we did our double act until they returned with more.

I was desperate for a pee but had told Mrs Stevie I wouldn't leave her. The hospital wanted to do an ultrasound test but needed her sedated because of all the screaming every time a waft of air hit the spot on her stomach they needed to ram the sonic probe into. Eventually I had to go. I was gone a matter of approximately five minutes, two and one half for bladder drainage, the rest for cell-phone calls to tell the family and the Stevieling what was going on. I've got the clock times of the calls and can confirm that bit to the second.

I returned to find her bay empty.

They did bring her back though, and around 6 pm a very nice young doctor hove into view saying that the tests indicated a problem with her gall bladder and that it would have to be removed that evening. We discussed the implications of the aftermath of the cancer treatment and the stomach tube being there while the pain meds wore off and Mrs Stevie once again burst into song. This time it took me quite some time to get medication since the doctor, now absent, had given strict instructions about the dose which were at odds with Mrs Stevie's views on the matter. We eventually prevailed and Mrs Stevie was drugged back into quiessence so we could wait some more.

And some more.

And some more.

Some time during this period the "this evening" part of the plan was aborted, but no-one bothered to tell us. Not only that; although we had filled in exhaustive paperwork concerning Mrs Stevie being admitted to the hospital sometime shortly after 6 pm, it was now around 9 pm and no-one could tell us when she would actually be wheeled into a room for the night.

I had to call the Stevieling again, which meant leaving Mrs Stevie's side (they allowed no cell phone usage in the E.R. for some reason). I told the pain-demented, drug-addled woman not to let them take her anywhere before I returned.

When I did return some four minutes and thrity-five seconds later (I timed it) They were trying to remove her again. I dashed in and confirmed they were taking her to a room, and allowed them to get on with it.

They took her to a lobby on the opposite side of the hospital, where an irritated staff nurse told them she had no record of Mrs Stevie having been allocated a room. Fortunately, it turned out that the architect had been as lackwitted as the patient-admission process and had given two sets of rooms the same numbers, so eventually (around 10 pm) Mrs Stevie was in a bed in a room and demanding more drugs with menaces. Once she had them I checked that the operation was not going to happen that night and went home to my own bed, arriving there around 11 pm. Mrs Stevie had given me a task list of stuff that needed doing at once, so it was well after midnight that I hit the sack.

I was woken from a sound sleep by the Stevieling rushing into my room and screaming DAD! WAKE UP! which, thanks to my having thrown off all the covers during the night, produced a very satisfying demonstration of human levitation for the child's education.

I took her to school, then gathered up some pyjamas, a robe and sundry other clothing, stuffed it all in a bag and went back to the hospital, where I spent a disagreeable four hours persuading Mrs Stevie that it wouldn't be long now. Finally they decided to take her up for the operation, having timed it to coincide with the wearing-off of the medication. Nothing enhances a session with the surgeon, anaethsetologist and sundry other medical types all demanding the same information and signatures than the onset of truly mind-altering pain. Sometime around 2 pm they wheeled her away from me.

I drove home, grabbed a bite to eat and just got the call (3:00 pm) from the surgeon that everything went well and that I could come back and see her in an hour or so.

So that's what I'm going to do now.


Gil said...

Mrs S is not having an easy time of it. I am enclosing our best wishes for a speedy recovery, but, in the interests of your own health and safety, I'll let you choose the moment to communicate this ineffective, though sincerely heartfelt, wish. I speak as a sufferer from kidney stones, a similarly agonising stomach pain, and I recommend Voltarol suppositories, if you can get them.

Steve said...

She has regained her senses and now reports the pain much reduced. She says that childbirth didn't even come close to it in the discomfort stakes, but I have no way of knowing if that is true.

I used to get regular attacks of Pancreatitis, which I liken to being stabbed with a stiletto, which is then moved back and forth so the point scratches something very sore in the middle of my body around the line of the bottom ribs. I use a pan of boiling milk poured over my right hand (agonising) as my yardstick, the stiletto being the worse of the two.

If you think I am going to risk an attempt to put anything up Mrs Stevie's bottom you are sadly mistaken. The "honeymoon misundertanding" and subsequent "testicle impact ardour reduction maneuver" is still fresh in Mr Memory twenty-two years on.

Thanks for the good will.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear that the pain much reduced. Hope that this weekend gets you all some much needed rest, no quacks involved.