In denial of a GI bleed

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I’ve been on quite the blogging hiatus as of late. I have plenty of half finished, unpublished story, but have one that really put things over the top.

March 2009 was an eventful month. Started out a bilateral acute otitis media(for you lay people, that’s an ear infection) about a week prior to a scheduled orthopedic surgery. I immediately went on a course of antibiotics, and my ears were clearing and surgery day came.

The orthopedic surgery was done in an outpatient setting. Although I was fully under, intubated and whole nine yards, I woke up and was ready to enjoy the day. I probably would have grabbed my skis if anyone let me. I had my mother accompany me that day, and on the way to my house we stopped and I had a burger. My appetite was great and I was feeling great. I had anticipated I would sleep all day – nope, I was awake chatting on the phone and playing flash games the majority of the day.

As evening approached, I went to bed. Slept through the night, through the next day, and the next night before thinking I had enough sleep. On the second night of my extended slumber, I awoke with searing hunger pain. I got up and munched on three slices of plain bread. That helped satisfy the hunger pains.

Three days after surgery I was ready to head to work and start getting stuff done at the office. I only lasted for about two hours that first day. I was feeling very run down, tired, etc. Figured it was possibly a side effect of the antibiotic for the OM, or perhaps the body just needed some caffeine in the form of Dr Pepper to wake me up. All I could think to do was go home, curl up in a fetal position and sleep. At some point in the day I had gone to the bathroom and figured having the business result being black in color was just the side effect of a med, either the antibiotic before the surgery, something during, or perhaps something I ate. For several more days, no daily business, but I figured it was just constipation secondary to pain meds.

One week and a day after surgery I got up, still feeling run down. I nuked some mac and cheese I made the night before and had that for breakfast. It has not been an hour since eating it and I just got to feeling nauseous. That morning, I brought my cell in the bathroom with me, likely intuition that I knee something was wrong. Episode of coffee ground emesis followed by melena. At this point, having become completely diaphoretic, pale including my tongue looking whiter by the day, and having a rather weak thready pulse, I finally quit denying the symptoms and realized I had a GI bleed going on.

Luckily I had my phone with me. I was too weak to stand up. Any effort result in increased tachycardia and a feeling of being ready to pass out. I called my mom telling her I needed a ride to the hospital. I probably would have driven myself, except I could tell that I was in no condition to get behind the wheel.

After a week of circling toward the drain, I could tell I needed to get help. When I got out of the car, I basically had to squat against the wall outside and rest for a couple of minutes so that I would not black out. I got up, walked to the triage desk and was leaning up against, positioned so that I would not hurt myself if I were to pass out.

I obviously looked as terrible as I felt. Someone grabbed a wheelchair and asked me to sit in it. The waiting room and all bed in the ER were full, yet barely clinging to consciousness must have been obvious since I was not in the waiting room but a minute or two while they cleared out a room and took me back right away.

My self diagnosis of a GI bleed was very correct. Vitals which were basically in the toilet were taken, blood drawn. They set up doing a blood draw to cross and type match my blood, as it was very obvious what was going on, even before getting gastroscoped.

Got scoped, duodenal ulcers cauterized, and admitted where 4 units of life saving blood were transfused. Never in my life would I have expected to be on the receiving end of blood, but I also can not be more thankful to the donors who altruistically went to the local blood bank and gave.

About a month has passed, and life always throws an adventure or something new my way. This was just the latest chapter.

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