The abdominal pain began a week ago last Saturday — suddenly, as it always does. Sometimes it goes away just as quickly; sometimes it doesn’t. This time it hung in tough, and I began realizing that I needed to take it seriously. Top of my feeble mind was what hospital I should choose. I considered distance for Bill to travel back and forth, as well as what kind of care I was liable to receive.
Last time I went into the hospital in Mesa, it was at 2 o’clock in the morning and I was wholly dissatisfied with my reception. I was treated like a drug addict. That hospital wasn’t in the running. Eeny meenie miny moe. I chose Mountain Vista Medical Center, which is the hospital in which I spent 28 days back in 2011. What the hell! That’s the hospital where I had the surgery that created the problem I now have with bowel obstructions. Why not make a return visit?
When you go to the hospital as often as I do, you have to look at the comical side or you will lose your mind. The first time we laughed out loud was when I finally saw a doctor. He sent me for my CT scan and subsequently broke the news to me that it was indeed a partial obstruction. The thing is, he looked like a Disney character, specifically, Flynn from one of my personal favorite Disney stories — Tangled….. He had biceps like The Rock and tattoos like Bluto. But he didn’t order the nasal/gastric tube, and for that, I am forever grateful, eyebrows and all.
Unfortunately for me, there was no room at the inn — er, hospital — so I had to spend the entire first night in the Emergency Room. I will admit that I was extraordinarily uncomfortable with that situation. Bill and Jen had left by that time (nearly midnight), and given that it was an ER, the nurses had a few other people to worry about and were not interested in holding hands with this poor patient. Having already received my dilaudid, I slept for most of the night. However, when I awoke in the neighborhood of 4 o’clock, I was all alone in a bed from which I couldn’t budge as the metal sides went the length of the bed, and the IV didn’t reach that far. While I don’t consider myself particularly claustrophobic, I will admit that I came this close to FREAKING OUT.
The good news was that they found a bed in the hospital around 8 o’clock. Probably because someone died, but I wasn’t going to consider that notion.
As in the past, my obstruction resolved itself pretty quickly, but though I was already out of pain by Sunday morning, I could take nothing by mouth for another day or so. If you will recall, Sunday was the Super Bowl. Others were enjoying their chicken wings, but I was only allowed to rub ice cubes on my lips. Go Chiefs!…..
The fun had just begun. Dr. Lopez — who was the doctor who originally did my bowel resection in 2011 which started me down the path of seemingly endless obstructions — was brave enough to show his face.
“It’s YOU,” I spat. “It’s me,” he admitted without a modicum of shame. “And I’m not done with you. Bwa ha ha ha ha.”
Okay, so he didn’t really say that, but he wasn’t done with me. He ordered a procedure in which I drank two bottles of contrast — iodine which they tried to make palatable by adding a lemon-lime flavor. They were unsuccessful. It was NASTY. Oh, that’s why they had the barf bag next to me. They then followed the iodine through my system via repeated x-rays to ensure that I wasn’t blocked. Clean as a whistle.
By Monday afternoon, I hadn’t taken anything by mouth since Saturday evening. The iodine drink took away my appetite, but I was thirsty. Furthermore, I know the drill. They won’t release me until I eat and keep down clear liquids, then full liquids, and then real food. My dreams of being released Monday night were in vain.
By Tuesday morning, and with the help of sympathetic doctors and nurses, I had gone through all three food stages. To achieve this goal, I had eaten two meals within a single hour.
And speaking of doctors, I don’t believe in all of my bowel obstruction hospital visits I have ever seen so many doctors and other medical staff. Mountain Vista is a teaching hospital, so the doctors traveled in teams of six. I felt like a patient from the television series House. Luckily, no doctors prescribed anything that made my eyeballs explode like often resulted from one of Dr. House’s ideas. I will admit, however, that there was at least one doctor who came by himself that I’m not sure wasn’t actually a maintenance guy pretending to be a doctor. It was the track suit that made me wary. I waited for him to say, “We’ll figure this out,” like on the Geico commercial.
My two sisters kept me company and provided support to Bill. As usual, Bill was amazing. On the way home, he took me to Kneaders where I enjoyed the most delicious sandwich I’ve ever had. It didn’t contain iodine…..
It is my most sincere hope that I don’t see the inside of a hospital for a long, long time. But I will tell you that when I saw the final team of doctors, I asked them if there was anything — any single, solitary thing — I could do to prevent further bowel obstructions. In unison, they shook their heads no. Well, damn.