No pictures this time I am afraid. I'm writing on my iPad and if there is a way to insert them I haven't figured it out.
For the past couple of months I haven't felt like myself entirely. I've often been queasy after I eat, tired and about two weeks ago developed very intense back pain. I attributed most of this to any number of mundane causes and wasn't alarmed. Last Sunday morning though I woke up to very severe abdominal pain, nausea and a fever. The night before I had had a blood glucose of nearly 500 for no reason and in retrospect I'd been running hire than I should have for several days. My PCP suggested I go to the ER and we did.
Of course, I am who I am. I pulled in comfy yoga pants. I grabbed 3 novels, my kindle, several magazines and my sock knitting and iPad. I took my insulins and glucometer of course. I wore hand knit socks. I claimed I was just making sure I had stuff to amuse me during an anticipated long wait at an ER to be seen, but I think I kind of knew I was really sick.
There was no wait. I was brought directly to a room and bed in the ER and labs were taken, IV started and we knew pretty quickly that something was probably up with my pancreas and that I had an infection going. A quick cat scan (well, the scan was quick, it took a couple of hours to actually get it) later we confirmed I had pancreatitis and was being admitted.
I was in the hospital for almost 7 days. Most of it I was on IV fluids, NPO (nothing by mouth) and initially morphine for what had become the most severe pain I ever remember experiencing. My days were marked by having vitals checked every few hours, including through the night and 3am visits from the vampires who apparently collect their blood then. The staff was amazing and the doctors were surprisingly willing to actually pay attention to what I said and asked. This was a marked change ( the latter that is, the snursing and PCA staff are always great) from the last time I had to be hospitalized several years ago. This time I was allowed control of my diabetes, I just needed to keep a record for them to record.
Pancreatitis is not curable. You basically stop all eating and drinking and support the patient with IV fluids and if needed pain meds. There were other meds to counteract t the lack of food and my inactivity, but basically it's rest the pancreas. Pancreatitis is, most often, as in something like 80% of the time, caused by heavy alcohol intake. I do not drink. The second most common reason, accounting for almost all of the rest of the cases, is gallstones. I do not have a gall bladder. I had a cat scan and later in the week an MRCP (fancy MRI for pancreas) that confirmed the inflamed pancreas but did to see any blockage or stones ( which can happen) in it, despite my lack of gall bladder. At this point I had an epiphany and remembered that one of the newer medications I take, Bydureon ( a weekly injection that helps me use my I skins better in part by stimulating the pancreas), has a huge warning that a small percentage of patients develop acute pancreatitis. I informed the doctors and they agreed it is likely the culprit (although we aren't completely certain).
What's amazing is several years ago they wouldn't have listened to me at all, but this week they were eager to hear my thoughts and researched my concerns. I felt less like an object that was sick and more like an intelligent person that could be a participant in my own care.
That said, no matter now well run, hospitals are not places to heal. They are, as my husband pointed out, MASH units. The job of the hospital is to get you stable and get you out. I never slept at night there except for when on the morphine and then it was only briefly. I blew 4 IV lines, although the IV nurses there are fantastic, it's just something that happens. I really only slept when John was by my side, reading to me (The Princess Bride) and mostly warding off anyone from waking me unless they had to. I had no idea of the weather, news, etc and used skype and FaceTime to stay in touch with the kids. I brought all that reading, but until my last day or two never had the energy for more than a few sentences at a time.
I had visits from family and friends who understood when I wanted to talk and when I didn't.
In all, while I wish I wasn't sick in the first place, it's been an experience full of blessings because it highlights how much I have to be grateful for. Good health insurance of course and good doctors. Amazing family. My mom found a way to visit every day and John was with me and caring for me even while keeping the home front and kids on track. My friends jumped in and took care of my family.
Best of all, I was home in time to curl up on the couch with John and the kids and watch Doctor Who. I was able to finally get an uninterrupted nights sleep and slept until almost noon and woke to a beautiful, sunny Mother's Day, at home. There is a cardinal in the magnolia tree outside my bedroom window. My pink dogwood is blooming. I plan to sit outside for a little bit later and enjoy my garden and the glorious sunshine.
I'm lucky. Everyday I am reminded that I haven wonderful life.
Nap time now though.