Friday, May 17, 2013

A very unexpected week.

Today is Friday 17 May... but using a technique often utilised by sitcoms.  Our story starts one week earlier.

Sunday 12 May: We were up visiting Jamie's parents.  The kids were having a great time on the tractors, motorbikes, watching Mark be a pyromaniac.  They love the animals.  That morning I woke up with a tummy ache, it wasn't very pleasant, I don't think I had breakfast.  Spent a bit of time on the loo (if you know what I mean), excused myself to go and have a little sleep.  But the pain would not budge.  Around 11am, I convinced Jamie to take me to the little Nathalia hospital.  We arrived just as the doc  was about to leave so he saw us straight away.  I got some loverly panadeine forte, a shot of stemetil and a litre of fluids.  Pain ... gone..   We drove home that night, no further complaints.

Monday 13 May: My cold had taken hold so I took the day off, I have an awful cough, it makes people nervous and grosses them out.  As I work in a GP clinic, people don't want the girl working there to sound infectious.  All was good... cough cough cough.  Went to collect the boys around 4pm.  Got a wave of the pain again.  Wouldn't go away.  Thought to myself, I'm not putting up with this, so I made an appointment with Dr Hussain (my boss!), my plan was for Archie to be my doctor, I've stuck to that since leaving Medical One.  Don't like the idea of mixing work and my health care.  But I was in pain and considered it a bit of an emergency to to Ahsan I went (he's so much closer).  He is sooooo lovely.  Anyone in the north/west suburbs, make the switch to Dr Ahsan Hussain.  To continue with my story, I saw Ahsan he felt my tummy and said the dreaded words "I think its your gallbladder and you need to go to hospital"  WHAT? 

So super organisation had to take place, my tummy HURT. So I couldn't drive. We have 3 children at home, it was decided that Mark would stay home with the little boys with Connie on standby.  Why didn't I call my  mum?  Well she was on the way to NZ as her lifelong friend had just passed away.  My mum and dad ended up arriving at our place just after 7pm to help out.  Mum was due at the airport around 10pm and dad would stay overnight or until one or both of us came home.  Phew that worked.

Jamie and I headed into the Royal Melbourne Hospital just around 6.30pm, parked in the very expensive car park and went to emergency.  Yep they call it emergency but its a waiting area.  I got triaged, she said "I'll organise some pain relief soon for you".  Got administratively organised.  Sat and waited and waited and waited.  Around 9.30pm, I went back to triage and said "my pain is pretty bad, I'm very uncomfortable"  Would you like some pain relief?  I got some panadeine forte and within about half an hour it had settled. Jamie played games on his phone, I was reading a book on my phone.  We were enjoying the antics of two brothers sitting in front of us, one had broken/sprained his ankle and the other was a hyperactive bloke, they were texting, watching Game of Thrones on their laptop in a very cute way.  The admin girl asked if they were partners before thinking of brothers.

Finally 11pm and my name was called, felt like I had won the lottery.  I was essentially pain free at this stage.  Young Dr James examined me and blah blah, had to to blood tests (I'll do my rant about emergency rooms another day) and wait for the results.  Had an ECG, obs etc and more waiting.  After the results came back we were in for a BIG surprise.  "We're going to admit you"  WHAT????  I was positive it was going to another anxiety attack, but this time I had gallstones or hepatitis A.  My bloods showed *deranged* liver function tests that were a little contradictory and as we had been to Thailand recently without being vaccinated, they were concerned about hepatitis.

After a bit I was moved into a very STARK room in the ED.  A single bed in the middle of a very bare room, all the equipment was just behind me, nothing to look at and right next to the nurses station where there was a lot of noise, but the door was shut so nothing to look at.  Later the next morning I was told it was the psych behaviour room!  I thought I was well behaved. Hahaha, so funny.

Tuesday 13th May: 3am, still in the Emergency Department, two youngish doctors arrive they are from the surgical team.  They agree I need to be admitted and I require an ultrasound to see if there are gallstones.  Yep all good.

9.30am Jamie arrives, we watch the next episode of Game of Thrones on the laptop, there is a LONG section of it that I can't watch, the wilful torture scenes I can't tolerate.  Whoops that is beside the point - I love LOVE Game of Thrones, I'm reading it on my phone at the moment.  I digress.

Midday comes, I casually ask, any news on when I might go to a ward, or have my ultrasound?  Oh... I check....

2pm is transfer to ward time... lets think about this.  When I worked at the John Hunter there was a huge kerpuffle called access block when people were 8hrs in ED, I was there for 13 hours and no one appeared concerned.  Very weird.  BTW, no ultrasound yet!

Went to the top Ward 9W, next to the helipad.  Thankfully it was only used twice.  Had my ultrasound around 4pm and it was confirmed gallstones with one stuck in the bile duct.  Crap, that is what was causing the pain and making my pee a very strange colour - dark yellow if you are interested and sorry if you are not.  So a stone was lodged in the common bile duct which means the liver isn't able to work properly either.  Hence jaundice.  No doctor came.

My dear family came to visit for about half an hour.  The boys were so cute, they love elevators so the fact I was on the 9th floor was fantastic.  Ben didn't like me being in bed, he wanted me up and to put my shoes on.  It was so nice seeing them and cuddling them.  But they are very loud and not very good at sitting still.

Tuesday late in the night I asked my nurse, any chance a doctor might come and talk to me about what is going on?  She said she had to call him for another patient, so will ask him to talk to me also.  This was about 10.30pm when he finally came.  He went through it all very nicely, said he wasn't a decision maker but very likely they'd be in to see me in the morning.  He was fairly certain they'd be doing either a lap-chole or an ERCP followed by a lap-chole at a later date.  It all made sense to me, but then I broke down, I cried and cried and cried.  I wanted a proper plan, I was VERY VERY hungry.  I had not eaten anything since 10am on Monday morning and it was nearly midnight on Tuesday. My night nurse was lovely she sat next to me, gave me a friendly hug and talked me through it.

Wednesday: Approx 9.30am the team arrived, a very proper looking fellow with a wedge of people (that is a Denny Crane quote from Boston Legal, I'm very important I walk with a wedge of people (or something like that) all senior doctors have a group of people following them in wedge formation and it always makes me laugh), I have no idea what this doctors name was.  He was a general abdominal surgeon, he does lap-chole's, but does not do ERCPs, he'll have to call his hepato-biliary colleagues to come and see me.  I said "Ok that is great but I have a question" he thought he was clever and said ohh can you eat... nope that wasn't my question.

I have three children at home, my husband works nights and has had to take the previous two days off to look after them, my family is crumbling with me being here, I need a plan and I need one quickly.  If the plan is for me to stay for another week, that is ok, but I need that plan.  He agreed, said he'd call him personally straight away and get it sorted.  Nice enough if he actually does it.  Within half an hour the EXTREMELY good looking hepato-biliary registrar was at my bedside, what a shock.  He said... ERCP tomorrow, lap-chole in 6 weeks time.  Signed the consent and then spent the day eating.  Jocelyn came to visit that night, nice little catch up with her.

Thursday: Yep, I'm still in hospital.  No work this week!  Connie had the little boys stay with her last night so Jamie could go to work.  And later in the day they all went up to the farm, Connie drove 4 kids to the farm in our truck.  WOW.  Back to me... Early breakfast and then my Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP for short) was scheduled for 2.30pm.  Lots of IV antibiotics and weirdly a GTN patch, which gave me an instant headache.  The nicest bunch of people ever was in that endoscopy room.  A gorgeous anaesthetist and nurse, they were so funny and friendly.  Met my surgeon Mr Ben Thomson (I still can't believe I didn't mention that I had a Ben, I always do that), anaesthetist said I'll put you to sleep now and a minute later I was in recovery... wow midaz is amazing.  Not a single recollection.  Stone had moved from my bile duct, but he still did the sphincterotomy.  All was good.  He came to see me on the ward around 7pm when Jamie and Mark were there.  He said he could do the operation privately as soon as Tuesday, but there is no reason not to wait and have it done at the Royal Melbourne publicly.   If I got pain at any time in the next six weeks, just give him a call and he'll have it done within two day!  That's service.

Friday:  Discharged home with no pain and a whole lot of bruises and needle marks.  What a mess my arms are.

People to thank this week is Mark the Magnificent for pulling up his socks and taking charge on Monday.  Jamie for being wonderful.  Dad for going out of his comfort zone and helping with the kids.  Connie for, well just being Connie, she's amazing.

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