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  • Nanworimo 2009

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  • And I Was Doing So Well….

    Or I was until about six weeks ago, when I started having sporadic, severe belly pain, mostly in my upper abdomen. My doc thought it was possibly an ulcer caused by a medication for joint pain. I cut the medication and started treating the ulcer.

    The episodes of pain got worse and came more often, became more generalized over my entire middle section, doubling me over until tears came unbidden. Once a week Twice a week. Then an entire weekend. Finally, two weeks ago on Monday, June 23, the pain was so great that I could hardly stand. I asked my spouse to take me to the ER.

    A CAT scan showed a partial bowel obstruction. They checked me into the hospital on “Bowel Rest” (no food, not even ice chips, and lots and lots of IV fluids), which the original doc hoped would fix me.

    David Morse

    David Morse

    Dr. Pierce

    Dr. Pierce

    But the surgeon (who looks eerily like my favorite character from St. Elsewhere, Dr. Jack Morrison played by David Morse) came in at 10 AM on Tuesday and said the CAT scan showed a distinct blockage in my bowel caused by a kink, or scar tissue, or something else wrapped around it. It was even more remarkable because above the kink, my bowels were swollen; below they were normal sized.

    Since I’d had pain off and on for about a month, he was worried about necrosis (dead or dying tissue). Because this is considered a dangerous situation, the surgeon wanted to perform an exploratory laparoscopy ASAP. It sounded like a sound plan. I said yes (then checked with both my docs, who agreed it sounded sound).

    I went in for surgery at 5:30 on 6/24. Dr. Pierce poked around for TWO HOURS because once he got in there, he found:

    Nothing.

    Seriously.

    Everything looked good in the bowel department. No kink. No swelling. Nothing like the CAT scan that had been taken the day before. He told me later that, if it was scar tissue or something else wrapped around the bowel, it could have been snapped loose by just starting the surgery, or it could have gone away on its own. He didn’t like the look of my appendix, so he took it out. Basically, the surgery was:

    Inconclusive.

    Two weeks later, my four little belly scars were pretty much healed, but I was still having twinges that reminded me of the original pain. In my follow-up appointment, my surgeon located the pathology report on the appendix, which said that I had, “early acute appendicitis.”

    “Boy,” said my surgeon. “That sure makes me feel better about taking it out.”

    But my belly still didn’t feel quite right. He told me that it might take two to four more weeks to completely heal. If I still had pain after that, I should give him a call.

    But it didn’t take two weeks. Two DAYS after my follow up with the surgeon, I had the worst attack of belly pain yet. Yes, ladies and gents. Two days ago at this very time, I was barfing up dinner, bent over in excruciating pain with a fever of 102.4.

    Despite my spouse’s best effort, I resisted going to the ER because, despite the good pain drugs they have in the hospital, they don’t let you sleep. And I really wanted to sleep. Once I stopped ralphing and stopped moving, I actually felt okay. Well, not okay, but better. Moving bad. Sitting still, good.

    I got through the night sleeping on our reclining couch propped up and protected by six pillows (lying down was out of the question – likely to lead to more barfing and pain). Yesterday, I talked to the surgeon’s nurse for a long time. My symptoms had improved enormously overnight (much less pain, low grade fever, no barfing, just fatigue, a feeling of bloating, and general discomfort), which made us agree that I didn’t have an infection from the surgery (that would cause nonstop pain and fever).

    Her advice: Wait for it to happen again, and then dash to the ER so they can run more tests on me while I’m in acute pain.

    Sorry to say I have to agree. It could be a bowel that’s twisting and untwisting. It could be something else (although the CAT scan report said that all my other innards looked fine – including gallbladder, kidneys, etc.)

    I’m better still today, but something ain’t right, if you know what I mean.

    So, if you don’t hear from me, it’s not because I don’t care. I’ll do my best to keep you posted.

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