The Penny

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

[Thursday, March 24, 2011]

A Wee Pioneer

I had a fun new adventure! Yesterday morning, I woke up at 2:00 because of pain.. sort of generalized back pain and sciatic nerve pain down both legs. Too hazy with sleep to recognize exactly what I was feeling. I went to the bathroom, trying to decide if it was really back or abdominal pain. The two can be confusing in the middle of the night... or I'm pain-impaired. I went back to bed but couldn't sleep. At 2:30, I gave up, took some ibuprofen, and sat down at the computer to play a game.

My back/stomach started feeling better! But by then I was wide awake. I kept playing on the computer.

Around 4:00, the pain came back, as well as strong urges to use the bathroom. Oh brother. I had already taken 600 mg of ibuprofen. Whatever, I took 400 more. Ran a bath.. Lay flat on my back.. Tried sitting.. Walking.. I was not a happy camper. And then, around 4:30, someone stuck me in the back with a knife.

I mean, I couldn't see the knife, but it was definitely there, in the right side of my back. It surprised me. I tried the bath thing and kept running to the bathroom without much luck. I just assume everything is a bowel problem, because for me, it usually is.

The pain got better. It had been an 8 but went down to maybe a 5. About half an hour later, it hit again, this time worse. Tears sprang to my eyes. I emailed my home teacher (it wasn't even 5:30 am, so I didn't want to call) to ask for a blessing on his way to work.

The pain started coming in ever-more-frequent waves, going down to a 7 and up to a 9. For me, gallbladder pain is a 10, and it wasn't quite there. But it was bad!

Laynie woke up around 6:20 to find me cowering on the bathroom floor. She told me to CALL our home teacher. I texted him as I took more ibuprofen. He got back to me pretty quickly, and I got my blessing before 8:00. Ugh, it wasn't what I wanted. I fully expected to be healed, but no: "slowly subside," "due time," "trust medical system." Doctors? Not my cup of tea.

There are about a million hospitals within half an hour of here, and my home teacher said he liked GBMC when his wife gave birth there. I had a not-so-enjoyable experience at Johns Hopkins (waiting five hours in excruciating gallbladder pain before a doctor even laid eyes on me, leaving the next day without answers), so I didn't think I wanted to go there. Northwest, 10 minutes away? I wouldn't leave my car in the parking lot--probably come back to no radio or tires. I decided to give GBMC a try.

I got right in! Score! I went straight to triage, right back to the actual ER, and saw a doctor within 20 minutes. Oh, yeah. I was loving it, although the waves of pain (still 9 at worst, 7 at best) were coming every 10 minutes. But I thought the end was in sight. The doctor immediately ordered dilaudid and something for nausea. The nurse tried to get blood but I was too dehydrated--managed to start an IV at least. I really didn't care what they did, as long as I got pain medicine SOON. They ended up giving me two doses of dilaudid, because the first one didn't do anything.

The dilaudid helped for a little while, but it seemed to wear off within an hour. Then my pain was ranging 8-10. Yup, 10. It was actually worse than gallbladder pain, although it didn't have quite the staying power. At least it was coming in waves and not being continually excruciating.

They gave me more dilaudid. I guess it helped. I had a CT scan of my abdomen and chest. Abdomen for obvious reasons (the pain was in the right side of my back, sort of near my waist), chest because I had pain when the doctor pushed on the right side of it--different pain than the other one. And some test was elevated that could mean a pulmonary embolism. Again, I didn't really care what they did, as long as they made the pain go away, so I said fine, scan my whole body if you want. Radiation shmadiation.

After I got back from CT, my pain was back up at 10. Laynie flagged down the nurse, and she stopped at the door to say, "I'm obviously in the middle of something; you're going to have to wait." Aaaah! I was in agony. I answered email and gave instructions for an IEP meeting I was missing--tried to distract myself. Mostly I held Laynie's arm and cried. The nurse came back in a while with a percocet pill.

Later (by now it was after noon) the doctor came in to say that I had a kidney stone in my right ureter. Great. I sort of thought that was what it was. Despite not having a family history of it, I knew there was a wee pioneer blazing trails through my unsuspecting innards. What else is going to cause single-sided pain in that area? On with it, make the pain go away. I was thinking that they should just put you under general anesthesia to pass kidney stones...

The doctor ordered toradol (anti-inflammatory and pain med) and flomax (old men with prostate problems medicine--relaxes the urinary system or something, less spasming as the stone goes through). And more nausea medicine, because I was pukey by that time. Still had pain fluctuating between 8 and 10.

Well, something started to work.. or maybe it was the combination of everything: dilaudid, percocet, toradol, and flomax. Suddenly my pain was fluctuating between 6 and 7. Beautiful. They kicked me out. Gave me some funnel sieves to pee in and sent me on my way.

Around 2:30, Laynie drove me home. She hit the cement base of a pole trying to navigate the tight ER circle. Poor Laynie. I screamed when the impact happened and freaked her out. I couldn't really be mad though--I cracked her front bumper when her car was pretty new, failing to a short sign in the little road around UVSC. And sadly this impact was not the first damage to my less-than-9-month-old car. The roofers dropped a canister and dinged the hood. The bumper was abraded, but I don't care, because it's plastic and won't rust. Poor little Bug, though.

On the way home, I got this weird feeling. It's hard to describe. Definitely psychotic. My heart raced, heat rushed through my limbs, and I had the uncontrollable urge to hit myself in the face. So I did. I slapped the sides of my face, and I kept saying (signing), "Something is wrong, something is wrong." I didn't want to slap my face, so I wrung my hands, bumped my knuckles, finally clapped my hands. That was good--closer to normal. I just had to keep the rhythm. Bad trip? The feeling subsided within 15 minutes and didn't happen again.

That's why you don't do drugs, kids.

Well, my pain didn't go past maybe 8 the rest of the day. The worst was over. Well, not really--the worst was controlled by drugs. Laynie went out and got my percocet and flomax prescriptions filled. I was dizzy, getting nauseated every time I picked up my head. I tried to sleep but kept getting woken up by small noises. I passed the rest of the afternoon in a haze. I ate chicken soup broth and saltines for dinner. I traded emails with friends. I texted with my sister. I texted with my dad, who is a PA. I think he specializes in urology. He said it would stop hurting when the stone got to the bladder. The doctor had said that could take hours or days. One thing dad had said made me feel better: it wouldn't hurt coming out. I could now pee with confidence.

I fell asleep at 8:30, knocked out by the percs. I got up a few times during the night and took medicine, but I slept a lot. I woke up feeling better but hating the drug side effects more. Dizziness to the point of vertigo, which caused nausea. But there was no way I was taking a chance that the crazy pain would come back.

Around 11:00, I started passing sand flecked with dark stuff that I thought was blood. Now I don't think so. I think it was bits sheared off the stone, which passed around 12:30. Hooray! It was dark red, looked like little spheres stuck together. Dad was right: it did not hurt coming out. It was only 3 mm.

So now I have the little devil in a specimen cup, ready for my urology appointment on Tuesday. They will analyze it and let me know what kind of stone it is and what kinds of foods to avoid or vitamins to take or whatever.

If you are thinking about my previous blog post and scratching your head, yes, I passed the stone at 12:30 and got to work by 2:30 for a 3:00 meeting. Because I rock. And I'm crazy: I was soooo dizzy. Of course Laynie was my chauffeur.

My little inquisitive guy asked why he didn't have speech today. It's Thursday, after all, and Thursday is speech day! So life goes on.


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