Henderson-Hughes Health Partners

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From self diagnosis to surgery


As child growing up in Detroit, Michigan I remember I was a hypochondriac. Every single little thing that felt off about me I requested to go to the doctor with the exception of immunization times. Thankfully as I grew older, my over active pursuit of the doctor dwindled. Soon I was able to treat myself at home when I had a headache, cold, etc. I definitely knew when I should seek medical attention if there was no improvement with self treatment.

On April 25, 2017 at 2:15 in the morning,  I woke up with an excruciating pain in my chest. I woke my husband Chris and asked that he get me a cup of Vernors pop because I knew I was having a major gas attack. Chris brought in the pop and I slowly drank the pop and expected to let out this big burp that would give me the major relief I was desperately wanting to arrive. The burps did come but unfortunately no relief came after 3 hours of self treatment. It was then that Chris decided that he was taking me to the emergency room for treatment. Usually, I would argue my case as to how I could resolve this gas at home but I decided it was best to go to the emergency room and let them confirm the gas and send me home.

We arrived at the emergency room and got checked in pretty quickly since it was not crowded. After blood pressure, weight, pulse and temperature check I was sent to get an EKG. The whole time I am thinking in my mind it is just gas. We are taken to a room where we meet the doctor orders some tests and then gives me pain medication. The pain however would return with avengeance after the completion of the ultrasound. The doctor came in and gave me a different pain medication which made me much more comfortable. All the tests results were in and the doctor came to tell us what was wrong with me.In my mind I am thinking finally here comes the confirmation of gas but that is not what happened. We were told that I had gallstones. Gallstones? Gallstones not gas? How could this be? I just knew it was gas. What a surprise! The doctor told us the next steps in the process. He said that more than likely I would continue to not have an appetite and that smoothies may be a great alternative to not eating at all. The doctor went on the to say that it would probably be about 30 days until I had the final surgery. Then I was discharged home to follow up with my doctor.

As soon as I arrived home I called my doctor's office to set up a follow up appointment. I was scheduled for the very next day. I drove to my doctor's office is more pain than I had on Tuesday.My doctor, after examination threatened to send me back the emergency room. After taking labs and providing me with the order for a cat scan she sent me on my way. My cat scan was scheduled for Saturday morning. After I got home, I talked to Chris and explained that I told the doctor that I hadn't ate anything since Sunday. Chris then tells me that I have lost some days because the last time I ate or drank anything was on Tuesday not Sunday. It was Wednesday so it wasn't so bad right? I decided I would contact my doctor the next morning to clear up the confusion on my eating and drinking and wait to hear my next steps.

Thursday morning I called my doctor to explain my error in saying that I hadn't ate or drank anything since Sunday but in fact did last eat and drink on Tuesday after returning from the emergency room. My doctor's response was go to the emergency room. I thought I was hearing wrong but I was assured that I was told to return to the emergency room. Well I had to complete some of my usual duties before going back to the emergency room. First I had to pick up Regina from school then I had to tell Chris that he would have to get Daniel from school and finally drive to the emergency room. As painfully difficult as driving had been for me, I managed to get Regina from school and take her home and then check into the emergency room. I called Chris once I got there and he told me that he would be there around 2pm. I got called back to have my blood pressure, temperature and pulse checked and sent back to the waiting room. About 15 minutes later I was called to the back to go into a room. I saw the same doctor I saw on Tuesday. He ordered blood tests, ultrasound and a cat scan. I was made comfortableafter the tests. Chris had come back from picking up and dropping off Daniel at home. A couple of hours had passed and the test results were starting to come back to the doctor. He stepped in and said he had news. Here I am at a loss because my original theory gas was wrong on Tuesday. I wasn't nervous about what he was going to say but wondered how the news was going to effect my daily routine. Can you imagine being in the emergency room thinking about your schedule and not about how to best take care of yourself? This is what mom's do all the time. The doctor tells us that my gallbladder had deteriorated rapidly and surgery would be happening on Friday. The surgeon would be in shortly to discuss the surgery. Our 30 day window was only 2 days. The surgeon arrived and said that the surgery would be a simple surgery. I would go home after surgery.

I arrived in my room only to be changed to a different room within a hour because I was on the wrong side. Chris stayed with me until 9pm and then headed home. I had a somewhat comfortable stay that night. I say somewhat because of all the visits the hospital staff during the night. I didn't have any anxiety knowing that the surgery was the next day at 3pm. I actually enjoyed watching television until I fell asleep. I had no problem not eating anything because truthfully I didn't have an appetite. Thankfully, I had IV fluids to keep me sustained until I hadclearance to eat again.

Finally the day of surgery had arrived. I spent the morning and early afternoon watching the ID channel. At 2pm, I was taken down to pre-op. My surgeon came in to check on me and to tell me that the surgery was delayed about a hour and a half. While I was waiting the nursing staff would keep me comfortable until it was time for surgery. I wanted to be awake when I arrived in the operating room so at first I tried to tough it out but my nurse wasn't having that. About 5pm the surgical team came to get me for surgery. Chris and I said goodbye at the end of the hallway where he went to the left and I went to the right. I got in the operating room and saw everyone who would be working on me while I would be asleep and then it was time to go to sleep. I woke up in recovery to hearing the nurse report to my floor nurse about my status in the recovery room. I had oxygen on and wanted to know why but my throat was sore I could hardly speak. Then I was taken back to my room and reunited with Chris. I was so uncomfortable in the bed no position worked for me until I got on my side and I was finally able to sleep. My body felt like I got hit by a truck. It took 4 people to help me to the bathroom. Would this be how my recover was going to go? No. That was just the post op experience. I had oxygen and the circulation boots until mid afternoon the next day where I walked the hallway a few times accompanied by my nurse. I returned to my room and took another nap until Chris arrived from work to take me home. Prior to discharge I saw my surgeon who explained that my surgery did not go as planned. My gallbladder was 3 times larger than expected which cause the surgeon to have to cut into me to remove my gallbladder. My recovery would be a longer process than those people who have the regular gallbladder surgery. Wow! No wonder I was in so much pain.

When I arrived home I was taken care of by Chris and Regina but I also tried to help myself as much as possible. We are now 3 weeks removed from the surgery and I am still in the recovery process. The staples have been removed but I still have a wound about the size of a silver dollar that is slowly beginning to close. I have began to drive a few places with my furthest distance being Phoenix. I am making sure that I do rest and of course not picking up anything over 10lbs to not hurt myself. Although I am still healing I am thankful that I didn't try to continue to self treat myself and went to the emergency room at the request of Chris because there's no telling how everything would have turned out for me. As far as future self diagnosis I am sure I probably will participate in the practice but with err of caution.