From the Blogposts » inbox

Beware of Warning Signs

Warning signWelcome to Fatboy’s longest hospital stay in over 9 years. Prior to this week, my longest stay since I was in elementary school was a total stay of 3 days for hemoptysis back in 2000. Well, you know how I am about shattering my records, so I was going for broke on this one.

Symptoms started Friday afternoon. I thought it odd a couple of times during the day that I hadn’t gone to the bathroom, since I can’t go more than a meal without making room for new food, thanks to my small intestinal resection at birth. When it was closer to dinnertime, I came downstairs and Beautiful gave me a playful punch in the stomach. It hurt, but it shouldn’t have and definitely shouldn’t have been sticking out like that, either.

We got into the car a few minutes later and I had a moderate cramp as the garage door closed and we pulled away. Since we were headed out to her parents’ for dinner with a family friend, I (stupidly) went against my last-minute better judgement and sat down to beef roast, potatoes, and veggies. I have no one but myself to blame for not stepping up and saying, “You know, I think I’m teetering on the edge of a blockage now, so I think I’ll stay in the living room and try to stay active.”

I 100% guarantee you that I’m man enough to do that should an “obligation” like this present itself again. They know me. They know my limitations, and still love me just the same. No one would have been upset if I had done what I should have done. Lesson learned.

So, what happened? The twinges I felt during the afternoon turned to downright cramps during dinner. Beautiful said she had no idea it was happening. Yes, I can pull a face clear up until Level 8 pain. When a cramp made me hit the ceiling with full-on Level 10+ pain, I just laid back and wiggled my legs like a happy eater. No one had a clue.

That night, I called the on-call coordinator and we tried Lactulose and mag-citrate. This was my first time trying Lactulose. I must say, it was the most pleasant laxative I’ve ever encountered. As a side-benefit, it took my cramps down to next-to-nil and I was able to spend the night uncomfortably, but not writhing in pain.

We must be the weirdest couple in America getting ready for the ER. “Honey, I think it’s time to go in. Please start getting ready.” I’m under direct orders to just lay still and let her do everything from that point on, so we do showers (who knows when the next one will come), she gets her allergy-free food packed, we pack the technology up, and head out the door about 1-2 hours later. I can’t help but laugh at the process.

Triage went rather quickly and I was back in my ER room in near-record time. My doctors listened to what I wanted to have done because the computer showed them my last visit in November and what worked. So we did it. Nothing happened. I was still clogged.

Surgery scare

Now we knew surgery was actually in play. A GI surgical resident came by and saw that I was a ways away from being “acute abdominal,” but he was going to keep an eye on me. He said that when it goes to that point, morphine doesn’t stop the pain and kicking the gurney causes extreme pain, so I wasn’t there… yet.

Stay tuned for the rest of the stay…

Back to warning signs

Deep down, I have a really hard time not beating myself up for blockages. They used to happen because of enzymes or food when I was a kid. I’m sure my parents felt awful because I didn’t control what I ate or how many pills I took with food, so they probably beat themselves up just like I do now. From high school on, it was because I personally didn’t remember to take my enzymes, not enough enzymes, or I ate too much melted cheese whilst binging on pizza or baked ziti.

I have even had a blockage from a 1-foot baked sub when I forgot to take my meds in the rush of being starving. All it took were those 2 slices of cheese!

My warning sign is a cramp, however not all cramps are blockages. That is why I have to stop beating myself over these things. I can’t just not eat for the next 12 hours every time I have a cramp. I’d say that it’s bad news 1 in 3 times, but maybe I get a cramp per month for months on end with no blockage. I can always feel if something large passes through the point where a blockage starts. Freaky, yes!

So, for the second blockage in a row, we have eliminated both enzyme idiocy and melted cheese as the culprit. Our best guesses are either: a chunk of venison that had a sheath of connective tissue around it or just being too dehydrated.