Saturday September 25th, 2010
I'm sorry that I haven't written in a while. Tuesday I had become swollen in my abdomen. I tried to see if they could squeeze me into the liver clinic to get drained. The nurse informed me that they were full and recommended that I go the the ER if I couldn't wait until Wed. morning @ 0800. I tried to tough it out that day taking my diuretics, stool softeners and pain meds. Mother Hen One called later, by then I was getting worse and I kind of went off when she told me to go to the ER, she told me not to be a martyr. This coming from someone who hasn't seen her doctors in a while. I apologized for being mean. By 5:30 pm, I had become severely short of breath and had severe back pain and pain along where my liver travels along my ribcage in front. Jenny and David took me to Our Lady of the Resurrection Hospital, it's the closest one to the house. I don't think I could've made it to UIC: a) it was traffic down the Kennedy and b) a wicked storm was brewing. Dad & Marie got my wheelchair and an overnight bag ready to go. They also packed a sandwich, pretzels and a soda for Jenny who also missed dinner. She was pleasantly surprised, she only expected a sandwich but I told Marie to throw in the extras. It came in handy later, when Dave started to get the munchies while waiting in the ER. I called Viv back to let her know that I was following her advice and again to apologize. FYI, she has had a few appt.s to check her own health recently, yeah. Thank you Jenny for giving up your movie & dinner with your friend to bring me to the hospital.
The storm broke as we pulled up. David got me into triage, the timing was perfect. The triage nurse got my vitals, history then, chief complaint and got us into the ER into the last available bed. They had gotten so busy that night that they were examining people in litters in the hallways. It turns out that the nurse who took care of me in the ER lives in our dad's neighborhood. Mostly everyone remembers our brother, Joe, who worked there, they were pretty nice. Jenny assisted me to the bathroom and we had to ask if they wanted a sample, which they did and gave us a cup. That's a pet peeve of mine when I was still working in triage, people would complain of urinary problems but would go to the bathroom before seeing me. Now we have to wait for them to pee again. The nurse came in and accessed my portacath to get labs and an EKG. I was sent to X-ray for a chest film. They came back a little later and did a 2nd set of cardiac markers, just to make sure it wasn't a heart attack. Our family was texting us but we didn't know that we had reception in the room, plus I was on the monitor, so we had our phones off. Joe called radiology and the tech came to let us know to contact the family.
Around 11pm they told us that I'd be admitted, the attending didn't want to do a paracentesis in the ER. I was starving and Jenny had a mini bag of Chips Ahoy. The attending said I could eat, there were only 5 cookies in the bag and I hadn't eaten dinner. We each grabbed one then I was greedy and ate the other 2. I also had an Ensure in my bag which I drank. After the change of shift, the night nurse came and gave me 40 mg more of Lasix through my portacath, she didn't wipe it with alcohol, so if I get sick, that's one potential source. They didn't get us up to my bed in telemetry rm 418, until 1:30 am Wed. morning. OLR have these beds that puff up randomly, to prevent bed sores. I never experienced inflatable beds until then, I just sat down and noticed that the bed was "alive". Jenny and David left around 2am, what troopers, thank you both for being there with me. I had a private room which was right above the ER, sirens all day & night. I'm used to noisy nights, I've always lived off of busy streets. They put me on a Holter monitor and oxygen with a nasal cannula. My oxygen saturation was 97% in the ER but they put it on me anyway. They gave me some juice & 2 puddings in case I got hungry. They also put a container in the toilet so I could urinate in it and they could measure it later. They were also kind enough to get me 2 extra pillows. I had my usual restless sleep, I get comfortable for a bit, then the pain kicks in, my bladder calls or my belly wants a snack, I readjust the bed & pillows, then I go from feeling hot, then cold kicking the sheets on & off, then it's time for vitals check, etc..
Around 6am, my pain and shortness of breath came back. They gave me a Tramadol, which takes a while to work. Later I had received more Lasix, Aldactone and a breakfast tray. I had taken my latch hook rug to work on and was able to get a few more rows done during my stay. It was quite a conversation piece. I finally saw my primary doctor around noon. Judy & dad came to visit. Dad left and returned later. Judy had worked in a chiropractor's office years ago and had a massage that was wonderful, not too hard but it was more like pushing on the muscles and then you'd go away from the spine. I'll have to have her show the others. She'd also get to the tickle spots and I told her, it distracts me from the pain and makes me laugh. The GI doctor came around 1pm, they had me NPO "nothing by mouth" for lunch, he had wanted an ultrasound of my abdomen. When he examined it, he cancelled the U/S and ordered items for him to drain my abdomen. He wanted it to drain slowly so he hooked the needle up to a foley drainage bag to gravity. He also entered my abdomen on the right side further up from where Dr. Lam enters. He also didn't use a topical lidocaine. Thank goodness Judy was there. I'm more ticklish where he went, and I tried really hard NOT to laugh when he wiped it to clean it. Then he came with the syringe with lidocaine. Believe it or not, it tickled, hurt and burned all at the same time. I was laughing, crying and trying to control my breathing as he injected the area. He was telling me to calm down but how can I? I can tell he was getting annoyed. I was already squeezing Judy and the nurse's hand.
I had that drain in me for the next 7 hours. Joyce, Lisa and Gabe showed up @ that time and thought it was urine in a bag, nope, that's from my belly. I started to feel better and was concerned about getting a dinner tray. Of course I couldn't move my position until 10 pm. I should've urinated before he started. It didn't matter because they gave me more Lasix. Oh NO! I officially graduated into "patienthood". I had used my first bedpan. It felt like I was peeing all over myself but I didn't. The nurses aide helped me. Thank goodness I didn't have to do #2 then I'd have my masters degree in "patienthood". I had put out a total of 6.5 liters this time. I also got the usual "my organs are resettling" pain and shortness of breath that comes with it. I had my friends feel the tumor filled liver since it protrudes from my abdomen after my paracentesis. After 10 pm, my nurse came to remove the needle and all the tape that had secured it in place. You don't realized the little body hairs you have on your belly until someone is ripping tape off of it. OUCH! I had to use the commode chair, the Lasix was still working and I didn't want to use the bedpan again. The nurses aide assisted me with that and helped change my gown and underwear, both had gotten wet from the drainage procedure. She gave me a soapy towel and a dry one before I ate. I saved some of my tray for my midnight munchies.
During the night, the nurse came and said I was NPO again and hid my goodies in my nightstand. She knew I couldn't get up without assistance and sneak the food. I was to get the ultrasound in the am and they'd hold my breakfast tray. Darn! I should've eaten more of the tray when I had my chance. Again, another restless night, but I did breath a bit easier and my sleep periods were a little longer. I couldn't wait for morning. The chest discomfort started getting worse around 7 am Thursday, they did give me another Tramadol. I kept an eye on the clock and they got me to u/s around 9am. The tech said that I didn't have much fluid in my abdominal region. As soon as I got back to my room, I kept pestering my nurse, Manny, for food. Oh I was so happy when it finally arrived after 10:30 am. You can tell I'm feeling better if my appetite is back, with a vengence.
Dr. Ahmed came to evaluate me and didn't like how fast I was breathing. He hadn't seen me since we found the liver masses back in May. He promised to let me go on Friday and we shook on it. So I had the day to myself. Jadwiga, the nurses aide, help situate me in the bathroom by the sink to wash up while she changed my bed linens. I had a room that faced the south, so every morning I'd open the blinds to let the sunshine in. It really pepped me up to watch the day go by, sunny or gray with clouds, construction and of course, the sirens reminded me that life is going on outside even though I was trapped inside. Throughout the day, when the pain meds kicked in, I was able to move around my room better and worked on the rug. I kept dozing off throughout the day, catching up on what I can't get @ night. I had received Communion twice and the Annointing of the Sick rite while I was there. I had impressed their priest with our conversation with something he recently experienced, one can talk about a situation but until you actually go through that experience, will it have true meaning for you ie. his parents dying & me going through this cancer journey.
Dr. Patel, the GI, doctor came to see me later in the evening and told me that I can remove my dressing. I called Jenny let her know that I'd need help removing the big dressing he had put on me. Later on, Cathy and Chris stopped by for a bit. As they were heading to the lot, they saw Jenny & Marie heading towards CVS. ARRGH! Cathy's rival to her Walgreens. When Jenny & Marie arrived, Jenny used the alcohol wipes to get the dressing tape off. I think it hurts worse if I try pulling on it as opposed to someone else. Marie was able to get some homework done. Jenny has been very helpful, especially since certain symptoms get worse. Late Monday, she had helped me in the shower by washing my hair, getting the big gnarles out and washing my back. I had given up any reserve I had about my body and realized that when I need help, I need help, and if that means exposing myself, so be it.
Friday I was looking forward to going home. My vitals that morning however made me think it wasn't going to happen. My blood pressure was only 84/something diastolic. I didn't know if they'd let me go with that. They held my diuretics that morning. I was still urinating. Luckily I was able to eat throughout the day and got up to row 18 on the rug. I finally moved my bowels too. I had been passing gas and was glad that I wasn't stopped up. Dr. Ahmed came around 3pm and conferred with Dr. Patel if I could go home and what my medication regimen would be. I'd hold my diuretics until Sunday and decrease my Lasix dose. They had repeated my vitals and my BP went up to 107/something diastolic. I had asked for copies of my EKG, labs, CxR and u/s so I can bring them to UIC when I see the anesthesiologists on Tuesday. I thought I'd get the hard copies but didn't. I didn't get the final discharge papers, my monitor and the Huber needle out of my portacath a couple of hours later. Escort came and got me to the lobby. Paul picked me up from the lobby. We made a quick stop @ Portage Park Animal hospital to get more cat food. When we got home, Marie came out to help carry my stuff in. We also had our old couch on the front lawn, I couldn't wait to see the new one.
After saying, "Hi" to everyone, I made a beeline to the couch. It's higher = easier to get off of, it has nice big pillows, it's comfy and it matches our other living room furniture. I did sit in my recliner with the dogs since they're not allowed on the new couch. Lisa came by later and brought "UP". I always wanted to see it. I didn't cry after the 1st 10 minutes, everyone had already told/warned me about it. The thing that got me was the mean dog with the wimpy voice. I was NOT prepared for that and couldn't stop laughing, but my right liver/rib area was already hurting and only got worse when I laughed. It's funny because Lisa gives her dog "voices" too. We had to stop the film and I had to get that voice out of my head and prepare myself for when we turned the film back on. We were able to finish the movie. It was very cute. So many cute characters.
Later Friday night, I felt that I had to move my bowels, yet again (I'm like a bunny rabbit), however it was giving me trouble passing. I took my Colace, how can that be? I moved them earlier without any problems and my whole admission I ate fruit and salads, I moved around when my back or ribs weren't killing me, why now? I had restless sleep because of it and into Saturday, a few times I'd get the urge and no go. My hemorrhoids, not to gross you out, became very painful and bled. By Saturday evening I broke down and asked Jenny if she could get me suppositories, that'd be the first time I'd use one of those too. I was about to use one when I read the label and it said, "If any bleeding, hold and call your physician". Great. I had taken a shower around 7pm and had tried to go right beforehand and there was blood on the tissue. I said that I'd try to go on my own one more time and if no BM, I'd run it by Jenny if I should risk taking it. Because the label also mentioned that it can cause burning, I already had that.
Around 11 pm Friday I had that urge again. It's do or die time. God must have had mercy on me because he let it pass, it wasn't the most comfortable thing in the world but now I'm a happy camper. I hope the toilet is alright. :o) You must think that I need to get out of the house more and not obsess with my bodily functions. Hey, sometimes your body just wants to give you a hard time and you just want to rest and take care of whatever is ailing it. What good are you out in public if you're all moaning, groaning and belly-aching? There's a joke out there, the different body parts are arguing which is the most important, it goes something like this. The heart said, "Without me, blood wouldn't circulate to the rest of you." The lungs said, "Without me, you wouldn't get fresh oxygen." The eyes said, "Without me, you couldn't see." And on & on. The rectum said, "Without me, all the waste would back up and not be eliminated." All the other organs laughed until the rectum shut down. Then the other organs felt miserable and decided that the rectum is the most important organ. That's how I feel sometimes. I probably killed that joke too. I know the beginning and ends of jokes but my delivery goes wrong somewhere in between.
Good night y'all, may your bowels behave and not hurt you.