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Inspirational Reads

The Ordeal, Part II

October 29, 2006

In case you've never had a gall bladder attack, you might not know some of the more fun symptoms. I've told you of the burning and the pain. Well, one thing is, there's all that bile spewing forth out of your gall bladder, and it has to go somewhere. The most convenient place for it to go, since it's a liquid and all, is out through the kidneys and the urinary tract. Now, I'm a person who doesn't mind tossing a good whiz. However, I always loathed and feared the after-effects of a gall stone attack, mostly because of the urine.

For one, it turns a dark orange color. Almost an amber color. It's seriously disgusting. The nice thing is, it doesn't burn, which is amazing considering how much acidic crap is in bile (chololithoic acid is one of them). I mean, there's a little burn, but nothing like pissing shortly after rubbing one out. Now THERE is a burn.

The worst part, though, is the odor. It's this intense urine stink with an added bilious stench. Sorry, I can't think of anything else to describe it. It's the same stink as that shit that comes up the back of your throat when you throw up in your mouth. And it hangs in the air like the haze from a cheap cigar. Oh, it feels better to be out than in. But the stink and the disgusting color are enough to make you gag (if the stone pressing on your pancreas isn't enough, as is).

So, for this reason, they like to take a urine sample and test it for the liver and gall bladder enzymes. Naturally, almost comedically, sweet Jennifer came bearing the urine sample cup moments after I had emptied my bladder and flushed away the evidence of my urinary biliary drainage. Not only did she bring a little cup for a sample, she also brought a jug for me to fill up at my convenience. Uh...

Now, here's the tricksy part. Being that I had a stone lodged in ye olde common bile duct(e), they were trying to figure out what to do with me. Nice guys that they are, they just left it sit there. Something about shredding my insides and the deleterious affects this would have on my health. They also planned on having to go in and fish it out. This is a surgical procedure, and you know the drill for procedures: no food or drink prior to.

So, the remainder of Monday was spent in a foodless, waterless wasteland of morphine, sweat and bile. I stayed hydrated thanks to my IV, but being as I slept--hard--whenever I got my morphine refreshed, I developed a lovely pellicle on the inside of my mouth. It would literally take me five minutes of working my tongue against the roof of my mouth for my saliva glands to moisten the inside of my oral cavity. Worse was the sheets of dried mucous that hung on the inside of my mouth, which I would have to work out of place with my tongue and spit as I could. However, dried mucous is a wonderful food substitute, in case you ever need such a thing.

For most of the rest of Monday, I was in and out of sleep. That night, however, I was visited by an angel.

I've heard something about how the guys in the Vietnam war would go in for treatment for wounds and such and they would fall in love with the person giving them their care. I'm sure there's a name for this syndrome, but I don't know it and can't be bothered to look it up. Anyway, place me in that category, all you amateur psychologists out there who read this (all five people).

Her name was Jamie, and she bore an UNCANNY resemblance to this girl I knew in high school named Jamie. She had beautiful brown/green eyes, soft skin, a pleasant voice, blonde hair and a frame that was ample in all the right places. Most of all, she was tender and kind when prodding my midsection to see how "tender" and "sensitive" I was to the touch. She would come and check on me to see if I needed anything. She would ask if I was too cold or too hot or if I needed any pain medication. Sure, this might have been her job, but dammit, I was convinced that she did it because she wanted me.

I mean, what woman WOULDN'T want a man 5 to 6 years older, unshaven, unkempt, overweight, sweaty, with IV lines running out of his arms, with foul mucous-covered breath and the stench of bile clinging to him no matter HOW many times I cleaned myself after peeing? It was inconceivable that she WOULDN'T want me, right? Perhaps it was just the morphine talking. But she was very nice.

I rested through most of the night, and toward morning I was visited by my second angel. At least, I think so. An intern came in to tell me what awaited me later that Tuesday. She was gorgeous, or so my morphine-sodden brain told me. She also bore the good news that all angels bring.

I found out that I was to undergo an ERCP, which is an acronym for something I don't remember altogether. Emergency Removal of Choleolithic Pain is something I came up with. Essentially, it's a procedure where they send a scope down my throat (so the E stands for endoscopic), through my stomach, and into my intestines to find the end of my common bile duct from there they would extract my nefarious little stony friend. Unfortunately, the stone was allowed to drift off into the void and pass out through my pooper. I wouldn't get to keep it. Damn. However, the great part was that they would, of course, retrieve their scope. Which means that it would have to come back out through my mouth. After it had been in my intestines. Lovely.

The other fantastic news was that I wouldn't be staying in the hospital for this one. I was headed over to Duke for this fantastic procedure. I spent the morning getting clean and prepped for my trip and procedure. But still not eating. If you're keeping track, we're nearing something along the lines of 42 hours between meals, or eating anything (I had a brownie around 8:00 pm on Sunday). Around 1:30, two ambulance drivers came to pick me up. They were nice young ladies, but the stretcher (I'm guessing it's a general-issue) wasn't quite long enough for me. And, let's face it. I'm a big man. So, they dragged me downstairs, and I felt bad because my shoes were hanging over the end of the gurnee and popping the cuter redhead in the bottom (so I felt bad, but not guilty...heh heh heh). Loading me into the ambulance was just as fun. Finally, we were away, and the ride was...less than pleasant. Especially since my morphine was wearing off and ever bump and bruise could be felt in my midsection, where that happy little stone remained lodged tightly. It was even better when the stretcher collapsed under my impressive weight (my upper torso, at that...not even the bulk of me). It shot back to 180 degrees, chipping my left incisor in doing so. Not pleasant nor fun.

The ride over was long and wending, but we arrived at Duke and I must say, their "Student Health Center" put anything I saw at St. Joe or Notre Dame to shame. Hell, put both of them together and they didn't hold a candle to this joint. I guess that's what happens when you've got a research hospital tied in with your health care system. Huh. Who knew?

After long waits to get into the rooms where the procedure would be done, I made it into my little bay where I talked withe nurses who would be helping out with the ERCP. And then the good news came down: no pants or underwear.

This is when I learned that people without reservations and inhibitions should probably have them. I'm a fairly free person when it comes to being nude and having others see me. I don't care. Especially in the medical profession. I figure ever doctor has seen a dead dick. My living one won't shock them. Oh no! A penis! Gah! However, this news horrified my wife. She ran around making sure my gown was tucked in tightly around my thighs and then pulling blankets up so that the passing nurses (who I am also sure have seen penises before, as well as asses) wouldn't see. Oh well. The big problem was the Carol Channing clone in the bay next to me who went running around in all her shrunken, wrinkly glory back and forth in front of my bay. Like I said. People without inhibitions should probably get some. Soon.

After a lengthy wait (filled with choleolithic pain), I made it into the procedure room. I don't think it's properly called an operating room, but that's where I went. Low lighting, plenty of torturous machines filling the space. All very cool. I went into the procedure room. My wife, curse her, went to the waiting room with a stop at the cafeteria for something to eat along the way.

In the room were two nurses and two doctors. The doctors left to get cleaned and the nurses started prepping me. The odd thing about this was that I would be on my stomach for the procedure. I'm guessing it's so that I wouldn't gag and throw up and choke on it and die, a la Poe (or pretty much any gutter drunk). So, I had to roll over onto my stomach when I got to the operating table. Of course, my wife wasn't here to cover me up. As I was rolling, I had an oxygen tube or something wrap around my legs or something, so I adjusted and handed it to my nurse.

"I'm pretty sure you don't want this lassoing me down, or at least I think you don't," I said.

One of them laughed (I think her name was Heidi) and said "You don't want to be tied down by two blondes?"

"Well, my wife wouldn't approve. However, I'll be back tomorrow for the same procedure, ladies," I responded.

And that was the last thing I remember.

Sometime during the procedure, my IV moved from my right arm to my right hand, just outside my index finger knuckle. Also, there was a sore spot on the back of my throat where the tube to aid in the swallowing of the probe had brushed my tender skin. However, it was a successful procedure, and the 8 mm stone stuck in my bile duct fell into my lower GI tract and, presumably, was passed a couple of days later.

I woke up in my bay again, with pants and shoes and socks on. Apparently, Heidi had accompanied me out there. Also, apparently, some small slice of lucidity also accompanied me. While my wife was helping me into my underwear, my body, having just been "under" for an hour and a half, was slightly...unresponsive. My wife apparently looked up and said "help me get your underwear on." to which I replied "Underwear is highly overrated."

Again. Those who have no inhibitions, should find some...


Will Shannon said...

First off, glad to hear you are on the road to recovery. I knew that you were going through some tough shit (pun kind of intended), but it is good to hear that you are feeling better than you were.

Second, while the fact that you asked questions about isotopes to the doctor is amusing, it is not surprising in the least.

Thirdly, I will check into the nurse-angel thing, but I have certainly heard of that before. Off the cuff, sounds like a more positive version of the Stockholm Syndrome.

Fourthly, fuck Iowa.