Nana’s Back

My granddaughter Kaiya, who is 10 years old, is a faithful reader of Nana’s Whimsies. She doesn’t want to miss it because it could be about her! Hi, Kaiya…..

At any rate, this past Saturday, Kaiya told me, “Nana, on Wednesday morning I went onto your blog and saw that you said you were out of commission for a few days. I knew right away that you were in the hospital.”

Love that girl. And yes, indeed, that was the case. Another infernal bowel obstruction. Not the first. (In fact, it is the fourth.) And not the last. The doctors pretty much assured me that would be the case. I hope they aren’t expecting an invitation to the Thanksgiving table. Oh, I know. I know. It’s not their fault. In point of fact, it’s no one’s fault. I had colon surgery in 2011, and abdominal surgical scars lead to bowel obstructions. Period. Children: don’t have abdominal surgery. Eat your fiber. Take your vitamins.

I have a lot of stomach issues. It runs in my family, on both sides, really. So my tummy does a lot of talking back at me. Every once in a while, it gets darnright angry. I almost always know when my intestines have decided to put a death grip onto the surgical scars.

Up until now, all of my small bowel obstructions have been in AZ. I must admit to having a large bowel obstruction in Denver, but that was mostly unrelated to my surgery and related to, well, never mind. Take my word for it.

But just as I had decided to blame it on AZ water following my March hospitalization: ileum, meet surgical scars. It appears hard water can’t really be blamed for much more than leaving a residue on your glassware.

If you will recall, my last experience with a hospital was highly unpleasant. In that instance, I went to a Level 3 Mesa trauma hospital at 2 o’clock in the morning. I was treated with utter disrespect, and despite having told them I had a history of bowel obstruction and suspected that was the case again, it was a full two hours before I had a CT scan or saw a doctor or PA. Once diagonosed, they gave me no choice about whether or not to have an NG tube inserted (though at the end of the day, insertion failed). They assumed — and acted as such — that I was simply looking for pain meds to feed an addiction.

I vowed I would do things differently next time, and I did. A lot of the decisions I made regarding this most recent event was a result of this Washington Post article that a friend had sent me.

First of all, I didn’t go to the hospital in the middle of the night. Instead — and potentially foolishly — I waited until 6 o’clock in the morning to awaken Bill and have him haul me to the ER. I say potentially foolishly because my pain started the night before at 8:30. It always takes me a number of hours to figure out that my pain might be a bowel obstruction because see above: I have lots of stomach issues. Nevertheless, I believe it was worth the risk.

Second, I truly gave consideration to what I would wear. I recognize that opioid addicts aren’t limited to a specific population; still, I felt like wearing nice blue jeans and a clean shirt might be better than wearing saggy and worn leggings and a large t-shirt. I assure you the latter would have been more comfortable, and pulling on blue jeans was quite unpleasant given my aching belly. My nod to lipstick and high heels (see Washington Post article link above).

I’m not sure if any of that made the slightest difference, but I will tell you that the way I was treated compared to the way I was treated the last time was like day and night. From the time I entered the ER until I was situated in my hospital room, post-diagnosis, I was treated with respect. It’s true that the ER didn’t give me a narcotic pain-killer, but they gave me something for pain, and got me upstairs to a regular room post-haste, where the dilaudid cocktails began. I’m thankful I only needed pain meds for a very short time as the pain was alleviated quickly.

As for the dreaded — DREADED — nasal gastric tube, the doctor in the ER responded kindly and considerately to my abject panic regarding the notion. He assured me that unless and until I vomited, they would not insert the tube. Once I got upstairs, the hospitalists and surgeons with whom I met (and there were many, many), concurred with that decision. Let me tell you, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would have done just about anything to avoid vomiting.

So now I’m back in the saddle, having avoided both the NG tube and more surgery. In the meantime, I will resume my low-fiber/low-soluble diet, continue making my monthly payments to one hospital or the other, and keep my fingers crossed.

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