That One Time I had Surgery

When it comes to unexpected, kind of big things, the most exciting that happens to my little family is a pregnancy announcement or a trip to the ED for a couple stitches. 

I’m not sure how you could forget this about me, but in case you have, let me remind you how anxious and worried I get about my health. A nagging headache almost always ends in a brain tumor and a lingering cough is usually lymphoma. So on Thursday evening when I felt awful pain in my chest I thought I might be having a heart attack. I even called my dad and tried to describe the pain to him but after 20 minutes or so, it was gone. Phew, not a heart attack… Or at least it was one I lived through.

Fast forward 24 hours plus some, and I woke up with the same pain only magnified a few times. It hurt right on my breastbone, under my ribs, in my stomach, and in my upper right back. It didn’t matter which position I wiggled myself into or out of, the pain either stayed the same or got worse. Finally, I told Dan I was going to the emergency department because I knew something wasn’t quite right. So I slipped on some sweats, slippers, and a sweatshirt and drove myself to the ER, crying the whole way because it hurt so bad. (When you have six kids, it is much easier to just drive yourself, regardless of the pain, than it is to wake everyone up and have your husband drive you. Fact.)

OK, so it was 12:05 AM and I had just woken up and had been crying so I most definitely was not looking my best. I truly had no idea what happened or why I was in so much pain, and thought it could possibly be related to the little slip I had on my stairs Thursday morning where I tweaked my back a bit. Of course, I mentioned that to them. I also mentioned that after doing a little independent research, it may also be my gallbladder. But either way, it hurt like hell and I needed something for the pain. I am almost 100% certain they thought I was a drug seeker. My back hurt and I wanted pain medication. Classic. I was there for an hour before the doctor even came in to talk to me and when he did, and I was crying, he told me to drink some Maalox to see if it wasn’t just indigestion. Obviously, that didn’t even touch the pain and about 45 minutes after that, he ordered a CT scan, blood work up, and an EKG. 

I left the hospital at 5:00 AM with hydros for the pain and instructions to contact my primary caregiver to talk about possible gallbladder surgery because they saw a stone on the ultrasound and CT. 

At this point, they had given me Dilaudid which is a pretty powerful pain reliever so I was feeling pretty good, but by 11:00 AM, the pain started coming back just as bad as before. I think it was about noon that the G.I. doctor at the hospital called me and told me that the radiologist looked over my scans and saw a stone that was blocking or was inside of or whatever the main bile duct. He suggested I come in right away to get it taken care of because if it was left untreated, it could potentially cause pancreatitis which isn’t a good thing. 

(just a note to say I am so thankful for the radiologist who happens to be one of my very good friends. Had he not caught that, I would’ve been in so much pain waiting to see my primary care giver and then schedule gallbladder surgery and wait for that so on and so forth)

So anyway, I drove to my parents house because I obviously had to shave my legs because… Winter… and my mom drove me to the ED where the G.I. doctor told me to go. He told me to check in there and that they would be notified I was coming in and I could get admitted and start the process of getting things taken care of. Apparently, the ED doesn’t know how to communicate with one another because I had to sit in triage, they asked me why I came back in, they made me go over every single one of my symptoms again, when it started, what it felt like exactly, when I finally told them I had been in less than 10 hours before and everything was exactly the same so they could just look at my chart and talk to the doctor who called me back in. I was finally put into a room, given more pain medication, and was then taken in for the procedure to get that stone out of the duct (I’m not a doctor, so this lingo may not be exactly correct). It went well, I stayed overnight, and the next day I had surgery to remove my gallbladder.

Being put under twice in 24 hours is a little bit scary. It’s kind of disorienting and throws everything off. I can’t remember exactly what time I went home, but I think it was early evening. I hung out at my parents for a couple nights because tiny kittens jumping all over you when you’re recovering sounds like the worst thing ever.

Right now? I’m really sore. It hurts to bend over and cough and to laugh but it isn’t unbearable. My family is well fed thanks to incredible friends who brought food for us. My house is beautiful thanks to flowers that were sent and my heart is full thanks to all the texts from people checking in on me. The kids are happy, their homework is done, and the house is clean because Danny has stepped up and done everything perfectly. 

Kudos to all of you moms who have C-sections. I don’t know how you do it. And for people who have complicated surgeries because of medical conditions or illnesses, same to you. I just had an incredibly straightforward, fairly routine procedure and it kind of kicked me on my ass for a couple days. I am way more of a baby than I thought I was!


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