The Road to Recovery

It’s been a total of a month now. Four days of which I spent writhing in absolutely excruciating pain. Standing up straight required all the effort I could muster, and felt as if I were simultaneously being ripped in half and burned. The more minor symptoms included the feeling of acid reflux, and chronic pain across my upper abdomen. Any pressure whatsoever on the right side just under my ribs was pure agony. After four days of this, I finally broke down, called the doctors office and begged for an immediate appointment. They were able to get me in, so I went. After a quick exam, the Nurse concluded that it was gallbladder related. So I was scheduled for a sonogram, and given a script for pills that alleviate the acid reflux symptoms. They actually helped.

I went in for the sonogram, and received a call the following day. All looked completely normal. That was very upsetting, because the pain that I was in, there HAD to be something wrong. I had actually gotten a prescription for pain pills, and I hate (read absolutely loathe and despise with an intense passion) to take medicine of any kind, especially pain medicine. But THIS was THAT BAD. So they scheduled me for a gallbladder function test. I went yesterday morning to take the test in which they gave me an IV injection of a radioactive tracer substance which they scanned at different points over an hour. Then, they flushed it with another substance that triggered the gallbladder to empty. Only… mine didn’t.

The doctor’s office called me the next day and advised that the tests reveal biliary dyskinesia (malfunction of the gallbladder which prevents it from properly emptying). The “normal” gallbladder will empty 35-40% during the function test, mine emptied only 13%. For that reason, I was referred to a surgeon (my neighbour in fact) for a consult on a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal). He explained the procedure to me. It’s fairly straight forward. They make four small incisions in the abdomen (three are for their tools including the scope), fill the cavity with air/carbon dioxide, image for abnormalities, detach and remove the gallbladder, then they vacuum out as much of the air as they can  and finally, suture the wounds.

Today, I am less of a man. I checked in at 8:05 AM to have my malfunctioning part removed. I was miserable not only from the pain, but because I was not permitted to have any coffee prior. I was scheduled to have the offending part removed at 10:30 AM, but at 9:00 AM a call came to my nurse advising that they were ready for me. They wheeled me down the hall in the bed, past the previous victim and into the surgery section. The intern anesthesiologist was a pretty funny fellow, Micah Reece (University of Kansas Nurse Anesthesia Program), was pretty awesome as was the female anesthesiologist whose name escapes me. The surgical nurse (Laura M.) was very kind and patient with me, and described everything in detail. Doctor Morrissey poked his head in to say hi to me before they knocked me out. His smile was fairly reassuring. The intern anesthesiologist went to work on me, and the next thing I know, I am waking up sore. I try to roll to my right side, but they all instruct me to stay on my back. I pass out again. I wake up again, and once more try to roll over to my right side, only to be told not to once more. I pass out again. I wake up in my room, look around, and roll over onto my right side.

Hospital Recovery 2 Hospital Recovery 1

Once I was good and awake the nurse came in and asked how I was doing. She offered pain meds which I initially declined but which Natalie talked me in to. I wasted no time getting up to go to the water closet. After that, I ordered a meal consisting of a grilled chicken breast sandwich, mashed potatoes and cream gravy, a salad with ranch, and COFFEE. After eating, I finished getting dressed and Natalie walked me up and down the hall twice. I then got another cup of coffee on the way back to my room, and we waited for the nurse to arrive to discharge me. The nurse stated that I’m the best patient they’ve ever had for this procedure. To be honest, even prior to receiving the pain medicine, the pain was so much less than it has been in a month, that it almost felt good. I’m pretty sore now, but the soreness in no way compares to the pain over the last month. I feel great. It makes sense in the end, considering the surgeon having stated that my gallbladder was enlarged and couldn’t be removed, rather, it had to be drained first. Apparently we caught it in time, it wasn’t discharging at all.

Thank you all for your concern and for your prayers. You guys are great.