Monday, November 15, 2010

Worst Date Night Ever (And It’s All My Fault)

Is illness always in bed, a third party waiting to get in on the action?

I spent this past weekend in the hospital with my boyfriend, spending from around 5 o’clock Friday night until a little after 4 a.m. on Saturday in the ER, and was admitted from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon.

I had, had pretty severe pain in my right side for about four days. I do sometimes get a pain in the area of my right rib if I am having a flare, but this was not like that, and not in the same place. And the pain wasn’t getting better, despite me trying to nurse it. I knew that going to the student health center would be pointless because if they felt around and saw where I was tender, they would assume appendix and send me to the ER. So in a way, student health would simply have been an unnecessary step.

My boyfriend basically agreed that given my complicated medical history and medication regimen, the only real choice was the ER. So we put aside our Friday night (not) in favor of some time in the hospital, as if my BF doesn’t spend enough time there already, right?

As per usual, it wouldn’t be a medical experience for me if there weren’t some down right ridiculous moments. But that’s how I have to act in these situations, otherwise I think would totally go crazy.

I told the resident that for a body that is rejecting its own organs, it has certainly been good about keeping all the useless ones, too. She told me that was the best line she heard all day. No problem, I love to entertain.

So the running hypothesis was that I had appendicitis, which is what I thought, too. And that because I’m immunosuppressed, my body wasn’t acting exactly like a classic case. So I had an ultrasound, which ended up not even showing my appendix. Then I had a CT scan and was told that I did have appendicitis and would be having surgery. Then a few hours later the attending radiologist disagreed with the original reading of the CT, and that while I didn’t have appendicitis, I did have something going on GI-wise, especially since I had three doses of morphine and very little relief. I won’t give any more details – GI stuff can be downright nasty – other than to say that I have had some GI issues in the past, and that the problem got a bit away from me. I had been having some issues off and on for several weeks and kept saying that I needed to get in touch with my GI doc.

The resident asked how long me and my BF have been married (she obviously didn’t realize he’s only my BF right now). We replied that we aren’t married. She said that it was an awkward moment, and proceeded to tell me that the pregnancy test they did – standard operating procedure – was negative. And I said, well, it would have been a lot more awkward if you would have asked how long we’ve been married – and we said we weren’t – and the pregnancy test was positive. Maybe you had to be there, but it was pretty funny.

And you know how sometimes long-standing advice can come and bite you in the butt, literally? You know how your mother always told you to make sure you are wearing clean underwear? Well, you might also want to make sure that if you are going to end up in the hospital, you aren’t wearing clean underwear that is bright yellow and says “I Love Boys” on it. Yeah, that’s all I’m going to say about that…

The rheumatology people were their usual crabby selves. My rheumatologist didn’t come to see me, but a few people from the rheum clinic did. When they came in on Saturday, they basically said that they felt my hospitalization had nothing to do with them.

I thought that was a bit ridiculous. Because in my opinion, I have lupus and rheumatoid arthritis first. Everything else is secondary. I never had anything happen to me like either of my hospitalizations before I became chronically ill, so to me, this has everything to do with them.

The rheum guy came back on Sunday, and said he heard that I hadn’t been allowed to take my Methotrexate – I was told that because it’s a chemotherapeutic agent, there were only certain doctors who could requisition for it – that whole thing didn’t make a lot of sense, but it was probably better that I didn’t take it. Anyway, in my head I was thinking: Now you care? Now this has something to do with you? Oh well!

I think you can learn a lot from being in the hospital. A few lessons from this latest excursion? It made me realize how much I try and fit into a day or a week. It also made me realize that I much prefer orange Jell-O to raspberry (although any kind of Jell-O tastes like food from the g-ds after being NPO for 34 hours). This is really important knowledge, no? And I think I need to have an “illness” bag packed so I can be prepared if this happens again. You know how pregnant women have a bag packed just in case? I think this probably works well for chronic illness, too, especially since it seems like a few day hospitalization is becoming a annual pilgrimage for me, unfortunately.

So I am, or rather, my illnesses, are a total mood killer. On the other hand, maybe this experience was a litmus test for our relationship. If it was, my BF passed with flying colors. He was pretty amazing.

He spent the entire night with me in the ER, after having gotten very little sleep the night before. He was really calm, which is what I needed, especially when it looked like I’d be having surgery very soon. He also brought me some clothes, a coat to wear out of the hospital since I hadn’t brought one with me, and he even snuck in some food for me when I was no longer NPO. He did this all of his own accord. And he used some of his connections to make sure that I was taken care of.

Aside from my immediate family, I’ve never had anyone take care of me like he did. What would I do without a doctor in the house? My boyfriend, the doctor, that is! I know I screwed up date night. I guess I’ll just have to make it up to him.

(And I am relieved to be going back to my normal role as a patient, the one who takes a bunch of pills and doesn’t always feel good, rather than the one that is confined to a hospital bed)

(And I still may need surgery, but I have to wait to get in to see my GI doc in a few weeks)

(And kudos to my mom for being awesome and helping me navigate the world of adult diapers made for someone the size of a baby elephant)


  1. So sorry to here about this. Hope you have brighter days ahead.

  2. Glad that things aren't too serious- GI things are definitely frustrating/embarrassing. However, I think your knickers sound adorable. Just saying. ;} *hugs*

  3. I have a hospital bag, a lightweight rolly one big enough to hold everything and then some. It's great! I keep a down throw, warm houseshoes, an eye mask, a few books, $10 in singles for the snack machine, and more. Then there's room to throw my purse in on top for all the other parts.

    I take it to routine appointments too, and it's good to have when there's a long wait, etc.

  4. My mother has both RA and Lupus. I have MS. Love your sense of humor.

  5. I think your comment about how everything is related to the lupus/RA is really interesting, and something I've gone through with my health issues as well. It is fascinating how much people will do and how far out of their way they will go to NOT take responsibility for something (that clearly IS their responsibility!).
    I think it also points to how our medical system works, in the sense that even though they try to teach us that our body is interconnected, many medical professionals treat it as if it were separate entities that don't even live in the same zip code.
    Glad you're out of there. Hope you don't need surgery!! Oh... and.. orange jello is the CLEAR winner over raspberry ANY day! :D

  6. Thanks, all, for your comments. Definitely put a smile on my face!

  7. See, I disagree about the jell-o thing. My favorite flavor is strawberry-banana, but I'll take pretty much any of the red jell-o and be happy with it. And that, of course, is the main color they say not to eat when you're having GI stuff and they might need to do an endoscopy or surgery looking inside.

    I don't have an entire suitcase packed for the hospital, but I do have an emergency overnight bag always packed which is essentially a holdover from my days as an AP reporter. The one time you get sent out on a story that's not meant to last more than an afternoon and you end up spending four days wearing the same clothes because there's barely time to sleep and NO time for shopping, you get in the habit of keeping a bag packed and in the car at all times. :-) I have most of the stuff @Erin mentioned, along with a special neck pillow and small amounts of my current meds, along with at least four pairs of clean underwear and socks. (Ok, so I know I wasn't supposed to dwell on it, but I LOVE your description of your underwear worn to the ER. :-)

    I hope your GI doc is able to get the problem figured out. SOON. Feel better, Leslie!