Hilarity Ensues

So when I say “hilarity ensued”, it did on a couple of occasions. It started all the way at the beginning of the story when my wife took me to Urgent Care. See, I called the Nurse line for our Health Insurance and described my symptoms, what I did to attempt to relieve my pain, etc. The Nurse told us to go to Urgent Care and that we had the option of going to a location in Fredericksburg or Woodbridge. Now, it’s getting late at night. Fred is a good bit closer to my home that Woodbridge, so that’s where we head.

After being in Urgent Care for a couple of hours, the Doc orders up a CT Scan. Which is great. Except for the fact that the Fredericksburg facility doesn’t have the ability to conduct a CT Scan. The closest facility that can is… Guess where. Yep. Woodbridge. Thankfully, Fredericksburg had the barium prep in the pharmacy. You may be asking yourself why they had the prep but no CT; I asked myself that same question as well. Heck, I even asked the Nurse and she had no idea.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “Man, that’s really unfortunate but I’m not sure I would describe it as hilarity ensuing.” That Friday evening when things (OK me) stopped; I did the same exact same thing. Called the Nurse line. Informed them of what is going on. They then gave me an option of what ER to go to; Stafford Hospital or Virginia Hospital Center. Stafford Hospital is a ton closer to where we live, so that’s where we chose. We hit the ER, get checked in, go through triage and make our way back to a room. Fortunately, the ER wasn’t THAT busy, but it takes a little bit to run the gauntlet. ER Doc comes in. Guess what facilities Stafford Hospital doesn’t have? If you said an Abdominal Surgical Unit, you win! Do I even need to write where the closest Hospital is that has an Abdominal Surgical Unit is located? It’s Virginia Hospital Center (VHC), if you didn’t see where this is going.

To really appreciate this situation, you have to be familiar with Northern Virginia and the traffic that we endure out here. While the distance driving isn’t all that much, the traffic. You’re talking an hour, maybe two hours from Stafford where I live to Arlington where VHC is located. Oh, and that amount of time. It varies depending on when you leave and what direction you are going (North or South).

Moral of this story is “Don’t allow me to pick a medical facility in an emergency.”

So, yeah. At least I got to ride in an ambulance; never done that before. Truth in lending here. I slept most of the ride in the ambulance. I was tired by that point in the morning and had already received some pretty nice drugs for the pain I was having. While it was a new experience, it was pretty much wasted on me.

No. That’s not true. Not true at all. The experience wasn’t wasted one bit. I spent the entire ambulance ride from Stafford to Arlington praying. I prayed and left this entire “thing”, for lack of a better word, at God’s feet. Whatever was going on, and whatever the outcome would be; I left up to God’s Will. There were two verses that went through my head during that ride. The first was Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discourage, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” The second was Joshua 24:15 “… But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Those two verses got me through that ambulance ride, as well as through the first few days in the hospital.

Once Upon a Time

Every journey has a beginning. I guess this is mine.

I spent most of Halloween with abdominal pain. Gutted through the day and Trick or Treating, because that’s just what we do. I took November 1st off of work, hoping this was something that I could sleep off, or it was just something that I ate. My wife ended up taking me to urgent care and hilarity ensued. Around midnight, I found out via CT scan that I had a partial blockage of my colon and an appointment with the Gastero.

My appointment with the Gastero doesn’t yield much, except a Colonoscopy on Monday and not one, but two gallons of prep to drink over the weekend. The thought being, drink as much of the first gallon that I can tolerate and it might loosen things up and relieve some of my pain. Sunday, drink the second gallon and get ready for my close ups. If you’ve ever had a Colonoscopy, you know what a ridiculously daunting task this is. Two gallons of that nonsense. I’ve reported my Gastero to the Hague, as this was a crime against humanity, and I’m still waiting for them to call me back.

Then Friday happened. I guess it would be more accurate to say…didn’t happen. That evening, my partial blockage turned into a full blockage and a trip to the ER. (No Gas. No Ammo, Sergeant!) Hilarity ensues once more and I’m admitted to the hospital. A potential of Monday (maybe Tuesday) surgery, means no eating or drinking for me. Fortunately, my blockage allows things to pass again. I say I’m fortunate, because I end up getting a partial Colonoscopy at the hospital. This means my surgery gets postponed until Thursday. Armed with some CT scans and my pictures, the surgeon can see what he’s getting into and it’s not a blind emergency surgery.

I’ll take a short break from the story to point something out. Surgery got postponed from Tuesday until Thursday. I last ate something on Friday November 3rd. Surgery is Thursday November 9th. Six days. No food. This would kinda become a theme during my stay, “No Food or Drink”.

Surgery goes great. I end up getting 14″ of my Colon removed, which seems like a lot. In talking with my Mom and Wife the surgeon is absolutely giddy. Apparently, he’s never seen anyone with as long a Large Intestine as what I had. I live to serve.

I spend the next couple of days recovering from surgery with enough tubes and lines coming into and out of me; I feel like the world’s most inefficient IV filter. After about 2 days, all the lines come out, to include the NGT that is pumping out the contents of my stomach to take the pressure off of my small intestines so they can wake up. Which means, you guessed it, no food. Once the NGT comes out I’m ecstatic to order from my … clear liquids only menu. Great. instant beef and chicken broth, Jello, and an Italian ice for dessert.

Apparently, not all of my intestines got the message it was time to get back to work or a segment just wanted to sleep in a little bit longer. After enjoying two days of delicacies like Orange and Yellow Jello, the NGT goes back in. In truth, I enjoyed two meals of clear foods. I spend the next few days in misery. They end up putting in a PIC or Central IV so they can shove a pre-mixed bag of food straight into me that looks kinda like a vanilla milk shake, but is nowhere near as satisfying.

This goes on until about November 20th. At that point, my NGT is capped and the nurses start measuring how much fluid is being generated for around 16 hours. The magic number is 300 mL. If it’s under 300mL and I’m up for it, the NGT can come back out. 65mL later the NGT comes out and I get to sample clear foods for breakfast. After a meal or two, I get progressed to pudding. Pudding then takes me to a low residue diet on 21 November. My choice? A cheese burger, fries and pudding. Come on.

For those of you playing the home game, I went from November 9th until November 21st without eating. Yeah. I lost about 30lbs in the Hospital. Effective, but not a method I’d recommend.

Nervously, I get discharged on 22 November; the day before Thanksgiving. I say nervously, because we still had a lot of questions that were not completely answered. Due to some complications in the Hospital, I also have a 12″ wound in my stomach from the surgery that is healing really slowly.