Today is Tuesday, i.e. #tbt’s dejected brother, #tossbacktuesday. So here’s the toss:
Let’s Talk Small Bowel Obstructions…
As I struggled free from the passenger seat I already knew it was too late. I had been in this parking garage hundreds of times. I looked around desperately as I tried to mask my panic. I’m going to puke. I didn’t wait for him –I knew he’d catch up before I made it across the lot. I heard him shuffle for the keys and jog over. He grabbed my hand. I grabbed my side. I’m going to puke. We made it out of the parking garage. I crouched next to a bush just outside the lot. To my surprise I only mustered a gargle. Huh, maybe I’m going to make it. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the hill that awaited us. Why. Why is the entrance to the ER on a hill? I wanted to lay down there and give up. Okay, I’m good. This is close enough right? Go on without me. I imagined sinking into the cold concrete; for a moment the air felt, nice. *Heaves* we didn’t make it –but at least I hit the bush.
He grabbed my hand, and we continued on. Onward and upward, right? I paused halfway up the hill and started to giggle. I winced. I look 5-months pregnant, in my pajamas, no makeup, and dry heaving on the sidewalk. I cocked my head to the side in between heaves; “I’m the sexiest person EVER right now. You’re such a lucky guy.” He chuckled and we finished out our journey up the hill. I had avoided coming in the night before. Weekends. The ER on the weekend is like lines at Disneyland –you know you’re supposed to be having fun, but you’re caught on the other side, just watching. I braced myself for the crowded room. Empty? I stopped for a second and scanned the room. I half expected a mob to jump out from behind the chairs and yell, JUST KIDDING! I snapped back. It’s really EMPTY. I know the ER doesn’t exactly trigger feelings of joy, but holy cow, IT’S EMPTY. I winced again.
I handed the registrar my insurance card and ID. She stared at me. “Um, I think I have a bowel obstruction.” She continued to stare.
A few belly taps and one CT scan later confirmed, your insides hate you –I mean, you have a small bowel obstruction. The nurse approached with a nasal-gastric tube. Oh man. I was already mentally preparing myself. “You done this before?”
After you’ve had a large plastic tube shoved up your nose, down your sinus cavity and into your stomach, you feel like anything is possible. “Swallow, swallow, swallow,” the nurse continued her mantra. Blood flowed down my face. Didn’t quite fit. Onto the next one, or rather, nostril. Luckily a downgrade in tube size did the trick and my gastric juices were flowing out of my nose within minutes. Sorry for the visual… I know, didn’t think this could get any sexier, right?
I closed my eyes and waited. Flashing call lights, morphine, emesis bags… before I knew it, Sunday came and went and Monday had arrived.
Let’s get surgical, shall we? I felt an odd sense of relief in the holding room. I needed relief. I was like a giant water balloon that the kid next door had filled up too far, and well, I was just waiting to fall and POP. At this point popping sounded nice. The obstruction almost got the last word. I laid down on the OR table and felt something creeping its way into my throat. “I think I’m going to be sick.” I winced again. Luckily for me I’ve got some pretty amazing doctors and before that feeling could make its way out, I was under.
I woke up relieved. And then quickly snapped to…as I stretched I felt my abdomen. Staples.
Just as I started projecting my recovery time my nurse walked in. The NG tube was coming out. HALLELUJAH. Okay, I’m so ready for this… I sat back and waited. I was ecstatic. She turned to me; “actually it’s easier if you pull it out.” Wait. What? “Um, are you sure?” Something about putting yourself through physical discomfort… I can handle an external pain source, because I can focus on blurring the pain. But it sends conflicting messages when I’m the one causing the discomfort. It’s like smothering a tiny voice in your head that’s screaming, “STOP STUPID, WHY, WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT?!?”
I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and pulled. The pressure wasn’t too bad, until I realized I was also holding my breath. I could hear little alarm bells going off in my head. BREATHE. No, no, not yet. I pulled faster… I felt like gaging. No, no, no, just pull it out. How long is this thing?! Finally I felt the end travel up passed my throat and slide out my nostril.
A few days later I was home, hobbling around –you know, that post-surgical swagger. It’s been a little over a month since the obstruction and I’m back to “normal.” I mean as normal as you can get with an ileostomy and stoma named Dot. But, bloated bowel humor aside; I’m extremely lucky to have such amazing people by my side. Thank you to the boy who held my hand; my parents, whose dedication frequently goes above and beyond the call of duty; my friends and coworkers, you guys are the bomb –who else would keep you company at 2AM in the hospital?
Until next time…
Kate & Dot