Apparently the title I chose for my last post was a bit presumptuous because shortly thereafter, the universe decided to send me an opposing editorial. I don't often feel like going into as much detail about boring everyday tedium as I am about to do, but the events of the past two weeks have packed so much crazy into such a short period of time, I just had to write a follow-up piece.
Last Thursday evening I was hanging out with some friends and we had pizza. I ate some of this pizza (it was good stuff) and then a couple hours later I started having a lot of abdominal pain, really uncomfortable like when you have eaten way too much, but I only had 2 pieces. Once the pain hit, it started growing stronger and stronger by the minute; it eventually reached what I would call a 9 out of 10 and all I could do was try my best not to hyperventilate.
My wife drove me to the hospital around 3:00 am. By the time we got there, the pain was so strong that I burst into tears and it took them THREE
I.V. doses of Dilaudid just to get the pain under control and bring it down to about a 7. I overheard my nurse and CNA talking out in the hall about how that much pain killer is typically used for gunshot victims. Yikes. A subsequent ultrasound revealed gall stone blockages in my gall bladder which told us what was causing the pain. I didn't know this before, but when the chemicals in your gall bladder get backed up and just sit there with nowhere to go, they actually start breaking down your gall bladder itself. As it turns out, having one of your internal organs start digesting itself
from the inside out, is unbelievably painful. Like, sincerely-beg-someone-
to-punch-you-hard-enough-to-knock-you-out, kind of painful.
I stayed in the E.R. all night, and was rushed into surgery first thing in the morning to have my gall bladder removed. An hour and a half later, I was missing one of my internal organs. I know it is actually pretty common and happens to people every day, but it still sounds kinda crazy to me hearing myself say that. It all happened so fast that to this moment I haven't fully processed the finality of the decision to go ahead with the surgery. There wasn't really a choice though, it had to be done because the pain was utterly and completely unbearable. That being said, being wheeled away from my wife's side and sedated was still an unexpected development. There is always the little voice in the back of your mind that repeats all the potential risks they make you sign that disclaimer for. I have definitely learned over the past 8 years that it is foolish to take anything for granted.
I got to come home late Friday evening, to begin the path to being better. I can't make it all the way to the porcelain throne without help, and the stairs in our house are completely out of the question. Laughing is painful, and coughing/sneezing = death. I'm gonna make it through this though, just like I always do. I am so grateful for the love and support I have surrounding me, my wife and kids are so helpful and sweet.
I've been totally wasted (in both the doped-up way, and the complete exhaustion way) all weekend, starting to feel a little more human by Sunday evening but still pretty trashed. Still can't do the stairs on my own, but I can walk on a flat surface pretty decently. Sleep Sunday night was very restless and Monday morning the feeling of recovery and any energy I had gained back, was gone. I have a gut feeling (no pun intended) that something is wrong, but I am so tired I can't move. I can REALLY feel the spot inside me where one of my internal organs was cut out- it is such a weird feeling! I curl up in a ball in bed and try to sleep it off.
Monday afternoon, my temperature starts rising and pain levels along with it. I wind up with a fever of 102.5 while ON the acetaminophen that is in my pain meds. Something worth noting is that Multiple Sclerosis + fever = OVERWHELMING nerve/muscle pain from head to toe. One of the primary symptoms of MS is extreme temperature sensitivity, and raising the internal temperature of the body you live in definitely counts. All hell begins to break loose inside my body as I seemingly revert to the state I was in BEFORE the surgery. A couple hours of this and by Monday evening I called on 2 of my buddies to help drag me out to the car so my wife can drive me back to the hospital.
The hospital ran a battery of tests because my fever had us all worried about the possibility of infection from the surgery. Thankfully it turned out not to be surgical infection, but a Cat Scan and chest X-ray revealed that I have pneumonia. PNEUMONIA?!?!
I told you the universe decided to teach me a lesson this week.
Silly, silly, silly me.
I spend the night in the hospital again as my pain levels were really resisting control, but finally my nerves and muscles relented and I was stable enough to transport. We returned home early Tuesday morning with antibiotics, still kind of shell-shocked. Upon walking into our house, we discover that one of our pets is dead. Seriously? Our beautiful blue parakeet "Sky", who was so sweet and never bit anyone, was gone. My wife and I looked at each other and just shook our heads.
I loved Sky.
So anyway, pnemonia coughing fits + four different sets of stitches in your abdomen = OMG WHYYYYYYYY??? So I went to bed and hibernated for the next 12 hours, briefly waking up only to take my medications and go right back to sleep. It's pretty chilly in the house... the furnace is acting flaky and not always turning on when it is supposed to. Hmm.
Tuesday morning I was still in hibernation/healing mode, sleeping all day. "Maybe if I keep my eyes closed long enough, everything will go back to normal," I thought. Tuesday evening I feel juuuust rested enough to get out of bed to find the wife and kids and give them all a hug. Oh... and it's Valentine's day... *sigh*. Then I found out that my sister had sent my wife and I a Valentine's Day care package with some of our favorite treats. All things considered, it turned into a relatively happy Valentine's evening. I soon realize that walking around the house has really taken a toll on me and I curl up in a ball again.
Wednesday evening the bigger of our two dogs (a Rhodesian Ridgeback) jumps up on me, jamming her front paws precisely into two of my incision sites. I scream like a little girl who has seen a ghost, and crumple to the floor. This immediately sets me back a couple days in my progress toward being able to walk around confidently or go up and down the stairs on my own. Thursday is pretty much the same as the second day home from surgery, I have lost a lot of progress. I know our puppy was just excited to see me up and about, I can't stay mad at her... but the pain and frustration are real.
On Thursday it gets really cold in our house overnight again. Our furnace is clearly having serious issues now, and with the extreme temperature sensitivity which came with my MS, there is very little margin of error concerning what the temperature is in our house. By Friday evening it is obvious we are going to need the furnace looked at. It's way too cold in our house. Saturday we have someone look at the furnace, and... we are now buying a new furnace.
So anyway... having degenerative discs in the neck & back by itself = nerve/muscle pain. Having IBS by itself = no energy. Having Hypothyroid by itself = no energy and memory problems. Having Multiple Sclerosis by itself = nerve/muscle pain AND no energy AND cog-fog/memory problems. Having insomnia by itself = no energy. Having a hiatal hernia by itself = pain & restless sleep. Having gall stone blockage by itself = unbelievable pain. Having surgery to remove one of your internal organs by itself = a different kind of pain. Having pneumonia by itself = no energy & generally being miserable. Having a mood disorder by itself = hard work fighting all of the ups and downs of life with one hand tied behind your back.
Having EVERY single one of those things at the same time, WHILE recovering from surgery = OKAY UNIVERSE, I AM SORRY! PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE NOW. PLEASE. PRETTY PLEASE!!!
That being said-- I will not give up.
I will fight another day, because the journey is it's own reward;
after a week THIS insane, it has to be.