Saturday, July 5, 2014

How I Spent My 4th of July

This was my view for about 6 hours!
Our hospital's emergency room was recently remodeled,
and I finally got to have a close-up look at it on the 4th of July!

With everyones' work schedules all over the map, our family didn't have big plans for Independence Day. Instead, we had our family cookout with homemade ice cream for Dylan's birthday on Tuesday. However, I did plan to attend the program (featuring an appearance by the band Due West) and fireworks at Show Low High School on Friday evening with my daughter and her husband.
Sometimes life just doesn't go the way we intend.

So they wouldn't mix me up with all the other old ladies.

For the past few weeks, off and on, I've not been feeling well. Every few days I'd feel all achy and sore, like having the flu or fighting a systemic infection. At first I thought it might be a feminine issue, so I visited the gynecologist. The verdict: everything is great. Yet the achiness and low fever continued every couple of days.
On Thursday evening I developed a sharp pain in my lower abdomen. I figured it was a little gas that would soon pass (pun intended), but by the time I woke on Friday morning it felt like the little critter from the film Alien was trying to claw its way out of my belly. By 2:00 I was doubled over in pain, sobbing. The last thing I wanted to do was go to the emergency room, but since it was a holiday the doctors' offices and clinics were closed. At 2:45 I drove myself to the local ER.

After the IV, I got to wear pink!

I was there for the next six-and-a-half hours. I figured it must be a bladder or kidney infection, so they had me pee in a cup. Some blood in the urine, but no infection. They did abdominal x-rays, but everything looked fine. The blood work came back showing my white blood cell count was elevated, indicating a serious infection, so the doctor thought maybe appendicitis or diverticulitis. At 7:00 they sent me through the CT scanner.
Looked like I wasn't going to be seeing fireworks this year.

Some serious antibiotics and a pain killer.

It was almost 8:00 when the doctor came by to say the radiologist had identified the problem: diverticulitis. (If you're interested in the specifics, click on the photo below. This paper from the hospital defines it.) Luckily, there were no complications that would require surgery at this time, just a raging infection. They put me on an hour-long antibiotic IV to get it right into my system (they'd already given me an anti-inflammatory pain killer via IV), and around 9:15 I was finally sent home. 
My treatment includes taking two powerful antibiotics, for a total of 6 doses per day, and watching my diet closely until I recover. Ironically, almost everything I'm allowed to eat (also listed on the page below) are things I'm not allowed to eat as a low-carber, like mashed potatoes and pasta. I have to stay low-fiber until this passes. So far I'm surviving on eggs, tuna (no bread), and leftover sugar-free homemade ice cream. Low carb and low-fiber.

I was sent home with a dozen pages of instructions.

Has today been better? Not really. I hurt all night. When I woke up, I no longer felt like someone was trying to slice their way out of my belly with a butcher knife. No, today it felt like someone was trying to chew their way out of my belly. Not sure which is worse. The only way to make it bearable was to stretch out on my bed and not move, so I slept away most of the afternoon.
By this evening I couldn't take it anymore, so I broke down and swallowed one of the narcotic pain pills the doctor prescribed. I don't trust narcotics. I've probably taken two or three narcotic pills for pain in my whole life, including for three c-sections and a breast reduction surgery, before throwing the rest of the prescription away. But right now I'm kind of grateful. Without it, I wouldn't even be able to type this right now.
So that's how I spent the Fourth of July. I have no pretty pictures of colorful fireworks or family gathered around the grill, but I'm thankful that this mystery is solved and I can get down to the business of getting well. I hope your Independence Day was more fun than mine!

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