check your sugarcoat at the door

woe is me… and my gall bladder
February 14, 2011, 9:42 pm
Filed under: wah

I’ve been telling the doctors that it has been about six months. Looking back on this entry, it has been almost a year since I met The Pain That Would Not Die.

At my parents’ house about three weeks ago, I felt the back pain set in. I knew where it could be leading but thought if I hurried home, popped some painkillers and laid my body to rest, it would subside. Which is just a joke on me. I should know by now that I cannot beat the pain. It starts subtle in my back, the way one might feel after a day of manual labor. It settles into my lower right side, creeps into my stomach and the ache persists for hours and hours. Ache is a kind word for it… an ache is a nuisance. This is outright debilitating. I can’t hold still. I can’t lay down and I sure as hell can’t sit. Much like when I had a ferocious UTI during my pregnancy, my best bet is to hang myself at a right angle and clutch anything I can grip, hard, and hope I don’t shatter my teeth.

I finally did something about it because this time the pain lasted for thirteen hours.

One more than twelve and three more than ten, more than half of one day. That thirteen.

The on-duty doctor at the urgent care that Monday morning was set on stomach acid. She prescribed some stomach acid relievers or something, I’m not sure because I never took them, and some alternate headache medicine. She was a little freaked out by how often my shitty eyeballs cause headaches and how many Ibuprofen I’m willing to take to soothe them. While she’s right, this could be causing something in my stomach, I knew she was wrong about the pain I was there for. All she did was touch my abdomen even though I explained it did not hurt to the touch. It was deeper, way inside. Nightmares of a long lost tampon have haunted me.

Then again, this last Friday night found me in a panic, telling Josh, “I think That Pain is coming back.” Within an hour I was squirming, clutching my stomach, side and back as best I could. I took three Darvocets and was calmed enough to have some dinner and lay still with my Ipod on but it didn’t last. The pain reared up, fierce, worse than before. I declared I would see a doctor if it persisted for two more hours, visions of the last time I lay face down screaming into the carpet flashing before my eyes. (This is how I dealt with the pain of labor, not knowing I was IN labor, just that something fucking hurt.)

But I waited only forty-five minutes. I’d thrown up twice from the nausea and was slowly but surely losing my mind because I could not get away from the pain, could find not one second of relief. It does not pound or throb. I sought the emergency room a little after eleven pm, wrapped in my security blanket hoodie and pajama pants, seated among sniffling toddlers with deep phlegm-y coughs and one woman in a wheelchair, looking and sounding to be in serious agony near-abouts her ankle or foot.

Over two hours passed. I slid up and down that uncomfortable chair, leaned this way and that way, sipped tap-tasting fountain water. Every time a door squeaked open, I sucked in a breathe with hope. Visitors came and went, impatient parents left without seeing a doctor. Finally, finally FINALLY there was a bed free and my name was called. I practically jogged through the open door, mouth watering for real drugs. I just wanted to be knocked out. I was so exhausted.

Into a backless gown, shivering under a thin blanket and spreading my jacket over my chest for warmth, I waited. When the doctor came in, he said in the same breathe as his name, GALLSTONES. He knew it without checking but would order an ultrasound. Despite the pain, I felt relief. I could deal with anything, as long as it had a name. Gallstones have been dealt with for decades – it wasn’t some new strain of organ eating bacteria or any long lost foreign object clogging up the track. The pain had a name. Probably.

A short nurse brought in an IV bag and took some blood samples. She left the needle in for the IV but was too short to hand the bag of fluid from the hook above my bed. I was about to beg her to hang it from my septum piercing, just get the effing medicine inside of me! when she called out to a taller nurse roaming the halls. Which led to a short conversation between them and she walked out. With the bag. The bag of relief had been in my sight and now it was gone. Months passed before she returned. A taller, male nurse hung the bag and she connected the tube to the needle dangling from my arm vein.

Sweet, sweet relief.

Short Nurse turned the light off and slid the curtain closed. With the onset of pain relief came the sleepies and I drifted just to the edge of consciousness when the ultrasound technician flung the curtain open, metal rings on a metal rail, jolting me from half-sleep. I quickly assessed my surroundings and remembered, yes, I am really here. Now what?

He helped me to a wheelchair, my hand never leaving the opening in the back of the gown, lest he see my pink and black underwear, THE HORROR. Doctors have seen nothing of the like, in all of their practicing years! He wheeled me in and out of doors and hallways in the hospital labyrinth. Obviously, he was taking me somewhere to kill me. There seemed to be no other humans where we were going.

We finally arrived in a small room with an ultrasound machine. I’ve done these before, no problem. Careful not to tangle in the IV tube and rip out the needle, I wiggled my way onto the bed and relaxed some. Easy peesy, lemon squeazy, as Kiddo says. And then, in an attempt to dismantle all of my happy thoughts, he jammed that wand so hard under my ribs that I cried out. More squeezing my eyes shut, clenching my teeth to near breaking. He pushed so goddamned hard, I can only hope that was necessary and not cruel and unusual. At that point they still didn’t know I had insurance so no one had donned the sunny all smiles faces like they did when they realized they would get paid for this one. Maybe he was punishing me. Maybe I resembled the person who ran over his dog. Obviously, he hated me and wanted to watch me suffer.

Back to the wheelchair, back to the bed, back to shivering under the sheet and my jacket. Sleep started to come again. And then metal-on-metal of the curtain. “YES! GALLSTONES! I KNEW IT!” Much as I was once relieved to have a confirmed name for the pain, all I wanted was sleep and maybe, at that point, someone to hold my hand. He explained, “it will need to come out!” in a much too excited voice, for certainly he was short one Caucasian female gall bladder in internal organ Bingo.

Many explanations later, I was free to leave. It was after four in the morning and freezing cold out. I cranked up the heat in my car and hauled ass home to join Josh’s warm skin in bed. I’ve since seen a doctor through my insurance to confirm absolutely nothing and an scheduling to see a surgeon for a consultation next week. Anyone willing to come experiment with numbing creams and a sharp knife can take a whack at getting this thing out of me. I never want to feel that pain again.



3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I had gall bladder problems years ago. The pain was the worst! I didn’t have it removed for various reasons (health insurance being one) but I changed my diet and I haven’t had a problem since.

Comment by ken

Any tips on what to incorporate and rid of? Thanks for the note!

Comment by calamityjill

Well, I went vegan. : ) Diary and meat are the big things to cut down on. Oils and fats too. But I’m totally not saying to not get your GB removed, because the pain is debilitating as you know.

Comment by ken

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