I think I’m finally starting to feel a little bit better. Unfortunately I don’t feel anywhere near as well as I should be, but I’m better than I was on Tuesday or Wednesday.
You might remember that on Sunday I spent the day preparing to have some lovely tests at the hospital on Monday. Yes, it was time for yet another specialist to have a look at my insides by way of a gastroscopy and colonoscopy. I’ve had far too many of these tests over the past decade and while they aren’t all the pleasant, they usually go well enough, and I manage to get through them ok.
These days my abdomen hurts all the time. So when I have these tests, between the preparation stuff that I have to drink and going through the procedures I tend to not feel all that great for a few days after the deed is done.
This time was very different though. I didn’t sleep much on Sunday night and I woke up early on Monday morning feeling light headed, drugged and very nauseated. The drive to the hospital was terrible. I stared straight ahead not daring to turn my head or look around because I was fairly sure I would have ended up being sick. I’ve never felt that bad prior the test before. Usually I’m a bit light headed due to hunger and perhaps partial dehydration, but never nauseated.
We got to the hospital and got me registered in the admitting area. I had been told to arrive by 7 a.m. but the endoscopy area wasn’t set to open until 7:30 am. Great, feeling this bad, and I have to wait an extra half an hour before I can lie down? When I finally got into the area the first thing I told anyone that needed to talk to me was that I was nauseated.
I’m not usually one to open up and say how I’m feeling, even to medical personnel. It’s usually – “How are you today” answered with the standard “I’m fine”. Even if I’m not. This time around however my answer was definitely “I’m nauseated and I’ve never been nauseated before the test.” Perhaps they thought I would feel better once I was sedated because they never did give me anything for my nausea.
I changed from my clothes into the fancy blue gown and faded cotton house coat they provided and I was eventually led into the recovery room where I sat with a nurse going over my medical history and getting my vitals taken. Then I had an I.V. inserted into my arm. The nurse saw that I was very dehydrated – again, a first, as my vein are usually large and popping off the surface of my hands and arms, so she set me up with some I.V. fluids to help rehydrate me.
When it was time for my procedures I was wheeled into one of the surgical rooms on my stretcher. There was a nurse inside the room who got me ready for the test and shortly after my arrival the doctor came in and gave me some sedation. I did tell both of them again that I was nauseated but it was as if they weren’t listening.
As I said earlier I’ve had a lot of these tests over the years and most of them have been under sedation. A little versed and often either Demerol or fentanyl to top it off. When I’ve been sedated I’ve never been so out of it that I can’t remember parts of the procedure- often much to my dismay. The procedures have a dream like quality when sedated, often more nightmare than good dream. The last two tests that I had were at the hospital where I work and much to my surprise I was actually put to sleep for those ones with a general anesthetic. In my opinion, that’s the best way to go, because if you are only sedated and not very out of it the procedure is more than a little barbaric.
Unfortunately I remember far too much of what went on early Monday morning. They have to put air in your intestines when they do these procedures so that they can see what they are doing. That hurts. Now, before I scare anyone who hasn’t had this procedure – and almost everyone will end up getting it done at least once in their lifetime – I must say that if you have healthy intestines it isn’t that bad. It’s uncomfortable but not that bad and the sedation covers most of it for you. When I first started having to get these tests done my insides were in better shape and the tests didn’t hurt as much as they do now that my insides are all inflamed and swollen.
Remember, these tests are often done on fairly healthy individuals as a screening method for colirectal cancer, among the tests’ other slightly less common reasons for being performed. If you need to have one of these tests done as a screening method for cancer please don’t let what I’ve said keep you from doing it. One day of preparation, and a hour or two of discomfort is far better than ending up with cancer and possibly dying.
Back to me. Yes, I felt the colonoscopy. I was a bit out of it from the sedation and my weakened state of being but I remember moaning in pain for several portions of the procedure. When that was done they prepared me for the gastroscopy which is a tube with a camera on it that goes down your throat and into your stomach and the beginning of the small intestine.
They froze the back of my throat with a spray, and then I had to bite down on a hollow blue form that kept my mouth open. They then started putting the tube down my throat. Now usually this test isn’t that bad, especially if you are out of it. The gagging parts when the tube is being inserted isn’t wonderful but it’s generally not a painful procedure. This time round however I was nauseated and once that tube started going down my throat and I started gagging I started to be sick. I kept being sick throughout the whole procedure. It was absolutely horrible. I don’t know why they continued. They should have stopped, given me something for the nausea, which when combined with the sedation that I already had on board would have likely put me out and then proceeded with the scope.
When that test was finally over I was taken back into the recovery room where I snoozed on and off for an hour or so. My abdomen was very sore but that was to be expected since they had put air into my intestines. What goes in must come out as the saying goes, and I knew that once some of that air came out I’d be feeling better.
Chris brought me home and I lay down on the couch to watch some TV and hope that the air they put in me would escape soon enough. My abdomen was becoming increasingly painful and while I had been passing some of that air I thought I still must have some trapped inside. I eventually fell asleep on the couch and woke up around 1:30 pm in extreme pain.
I could barely move. I was thinking that I still must have some air inside even though I had thought prior to falling asleep on the couch that the majority of it was gone. I painfully shifted position hoping that something would move. The procedure was at 8 am … I should have felt pretty much normal again by now.
The day crept by very slowly. I was in extreme pain and by 5:30 – 8 hours after the procedure I was beginning to think about going to my hospitals emergency department. I should have, since after listening to my own belly with my stethescope I knew that I barely had any bowel sounds and that I must be obstructed. Still, I didn’t want to go. I knew I’d end up with a tube down my nose (a nasal gastric tube) to help relieve the pressure in my abdomen. More tubes in my body was the last thing that I wanted.
By 11 pm my abdomen was starting to make sounds again. Too many sounds … now It was hyperactive bowel sounds which again often occurs during a blockage. But I felt a bit better. I know from having blockages in the past that when my tum finally starts to get noisy again that it’s beginning to resolve itself.
It was a long mostly sleepless night. When I got up in the morning my abdomen was very stiff and I was still walking hunched over. The night before when I did get up to move around I could barely move – Chris had to help me get up each time, and to go upstairs to where our bathroom is, I had to pretty much crawl up the stairs.
Have I ever told you how stubborn I am? Clearly I should have gone to the hospital.
Tuesday morning was a different story. I felt much better than I had the day before but still about 200 times worse than I should have felt. I called the specialists office to let them know how bad I was feeling and got the standard answer that If I was feeling bad I should go to my closest ER. I decided to call my family doctor and get an appointment with her as I knew she’d send me for an abdominal xray.
I went to my own hospital with the xray requisition that my doctor had given me. I knew that if the xray techs saw anything suspicious they would send me to the emergency department, and they did of course. Several hours later and after seeing my usual gastrointernologist there I was told I had what appeared to be a resolving bowel obstruction. I could stay in the hospital or go home. If I stayed I would be given IV fluids and monitored by the nurses and my doctor. If I went home I would take fluids by mouth and be monitored by me. Since there was no particular benefit to being in the hospital, and also since I only live a few blocks from the place, I chose to go home.
They wouldn’t have let just anybody leave, but being a nurse they knew I was more aware of what was happening to my body than the average Joe and that I would pick up on any adverse symptoms and get myself back there. Hmm were they listening to me when I told them about Monday night and how I didn’t show up at the hospital when I should have? Guess not.
Each day is a little bit better than the one before, but I’m still no where near as good as I should be. I’m still one aching mess. Tomorrow is Canada day and I hope that I’m feeling well enough to at least go out and watch the firework display.