Turns out I don’t have acid reflux, I have a gallbladder full of stones…..

Last Friday I went through one of the most physically painful days of my entire life…

As I mentioned in the last post – it’s been a rough summer – first, with having my Mom being diagnosed with heart problems, being in the hospital with her for 6 days, taking care of her now that she has been put on blood thinners.  I don’t mind doing any of that, and when that happened I thought “hmm, this is the reason why being out of a job happened, so I can be there for her.”

And just when I got a handle on that, I started going through some really painful nights — horrible pressure and pain in my ribcage — which I could not figure out the reason for since I was eating super clean and working out daily at this point I had managed to lose almost 50lbs working hard.  The horrible nights started happening way too often — and being unemployed and uninsured my only option was to borrow money and go to a walk-in clinic.  Long story, short — both places I went to were for-profit/money-driven/could-not-care-less-about-the-patient places and I was diagnosed with acid reflux.  I was sold some medicine, but that didn’t help in the long run because the pains came back and they came back with a fury.

That was mid-June until the end of August when the pain got so bad, I was sweating buckets, crying and dialing (after much painful thought about the cost) 911.  The pain started around 11am, it was now about 2pm and no one was home to drive me, but even if they had been it meant being in a county hospital waiting to be seen which usually takes 3-6 hours, so I called 911 and between fits of pain, I was able to tell them what was going on.  Less than 2 minutes later there were EMTs at the door and I told them again what was going on and they took me to the closest (in my price-range aka county hospital) hospital.  On the ride there, I was strapped in sitting right next to my Mom — I couldn’t take it anymore, I took off the seat-belt and fumbled on to the stretcher — the EMT didn’t strap me in — not sure why but he didn’t — so my Mom almost had a panic attack the entire ride thinking I was going to fall off the bed since I was writhing around in so much pain.

We got to the hospital and the pain got worse — at this point I was in a wheelchair, crying, yelling that I needed help and that I felt like I was dying.  No nurse would give me the time of day — they just passed right by me.  My Mom grabbed the EMT that brought me in and asked him to please get a nurse before he left and he did -but it felt like he took hours instead of the minutes it probably took – the nurse couldn’t even get my blood pressure because I was twisting around in so much pain — I didn’t want to scream and cry but it was like I had these fists made of rocks pushing me from the inside out and at times it felt like I was getting stabbed from the inside out.  I couldn’t sit still for the 60 seconds the blood pressure machine takes — until my Mom held me down and I started counting and crying….

Finally, she took my vitals and wheeled me to a bed and told me to get on it.  Then, she told me a doctor would see me soon — so I’m crying and twisting on a bed begging for help on a bed in the hospital hall way, and I can’t take it anymore.  Then a student doctor comes over and asks me where the pain is and how long I’ve had it and I ask when it will stop that I’m going crazy  — he says the doctor will be there soon and help me.  The ER doc finally comes, asks me the same questions and says he is going to give me morphine — about 10 minutes later a nurse comes over and starts my IV and says I will feel better really soon, by this time my sister is in the ER with us.  I did, but not really — the pain was there, but not as strong — I ask for more and the doctor poked and prodded my belly and says he will send more morphine.  Finally, after the second dose — my hearing starts to come back all the way — which I didn’t even know it was gone, but the pain must have muffled my hearing.  Around 6pm, I get wheeled out of the hallway and behind a faux-room with a curtain dividing me from the guy next to me that is screaming from getting his lungs checked out.

The doc comes back and tells me he thinks I’m having problems with my gallbladder and that I’m going to have an ultra-sound done soon and that he is going to need a urine sample before I get that done.  My Mom stays in the faux-room and I get wheeled upstairs with my sister to get the ultra-sound done — and by now I feel like a train has run me over repeatedly — I’m sore and in pain at the same time.  I had a super nice tech do my ultra-sound — she’s a very kind lady, who I guess could see I had a rough day and she treated me with so much care and compassion — she was shocked I hadn’t been diagnosed with gallbladder problems given the location of my pain and frequent vomiting.  Then she told me I definitely had gallstones and that it looked like gravel inside my gallbladder.  Now, I knew…..I knew the reason why I was in so much pain — these tiny stones were ripping me a new one from the inside, out.

By that time it was past 8:30pm and my sister went back home to get me my overnight bag since the doctor said I was not allowed to go home because I could not “function properly given the pain” I was in and I had to be admitted.  When I got back to the faux-room I could tell my Mom — who had not eaten since lunch and was beyond stressed out, was not feeling well herself — her palpitations were starting again and I begged her to go home with my sister and have something to eat and take her medicine, but being the amazingly strong Mom that she is — she refused and stayed until I was taken to my room.

I didn’t go home the next day, or the following….I was there for 4 days.  I had an allergic reaction that same night to the antibiotic they gave me in the ER — so my heart was racing and my hearing was muffled — the nurse gave me some Benadryl through my IV and another dose of morphine — eventually I got some sleep.  After that, it was blood samples multiple times a day and a visit from a surgeon that told me I needed to have my gallbladder taken out soon if not it could affect my liver.  I agreed but since I was uninsured, I couldn’t schedule it and was kept more days in the hospital until my overnight fevers stopped.  Oh, and I forgot to mention how the first half of my stay, since my liver profile was “abnormal” I was put on a “clear liquids diet” which meant I could only have broth, gelatin, and popsicles 3 times a day….after that I was cleared to be on the “bland diet” which was: baked chicken thighs, white rice with white gravy, a white dinner roll and vanilla pudding with a mashed up half Oreo on top —- it was pretty bad, but compared to the clear liquid diet, it was something.

But then my fever broke and I had a full 24 hours without a fever and I was cleared to go home!!  Then when I got home I spent most of the next few days on the phone working out my coverage and trying to get any health charity help I could get — and finally I was cleared for the surgery!! I felt blessed and relieved to know I wasn’t a ticking pain bomb waiting for another attack.

Super long summer, super long story, but on Thursday – September 12th my gallbladder says goodbye and I will, God-willing, be on the road to recovery and being pain-free!!  For now, I can’t eat anything that has over 3 grams of fat per serving to keep the gallbladder attacks away — but I’m figuring it out day-by-day.

Not sure if anyone reads this or even made it to this point in this very long post, but if you could say a prayer or send me a positive thought I would really appreciate it.  I’m super nervous and just want to flash forward to my birthday in less than a month and be feeling much better and have all of this just be a story…a painful story I never have to re-live again 🙂

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