” I’ll give you the sedation now. It will take effect very quickly.” The Doctor had two syringes in his hand. The needles were very long. But I knew they would go right into the IV in my arm. I would not even…….
Wait! I must start at the beginning.
I had my lesson with Belinda and we worked on the canter pirouettes and the canter half pass zig zag from the Intermediare 1 test. At the end of the lesson we decided that doing that test for the Eastern Canadian Championships was going to be a stretch and decided to just enter the local Championship as for that I only had to ride the Prix St. George. Doing the Inter 1 at a schooling show would be ok but not Championships with Olympic level judges. I was happy with this as it meant I could still ride before those judges but do it with a test Biasini and I are confident with.
After dinner I got a stomach ache. I took a couple of Tums. Went to bed and slept till 3am. Stomach ache was worse. More Tums. Not much effect.
Got up and had a small breakfast that did not sit too well. Went back to bed. Got up at lunch time but just had some chamomile tea. By 3pm I made the decision to go to the ER. As some of you may know I have a colostomy following surgery for colorectal cancer 18 years ago. With an ostomy you do not want to “wait and see” with stomach pain in case it indicates a blockage.
My husband David and I go to the hospital that is 20 minutes away. I go through Triage and then register. I am sitting in the waiting room with the others who are waiting to be seen. All regular ER Saturday afternoon stuff: a kid with an ice pack on his forehead, an older man with a not stopping nose bleed, a woman vomiting, all the usual things. I start to feel nauseous. I ask David to get one of the cardboard kidney dishes as I think I may throw up. He brings it just in time. I retch a couple of times, then a hoark and then ….then I vomit bright red, fresh blood. Blood. Bright red just like they have in the movies and I always think it looks too red to be real.
“That’s not good,” David says . He takes the kidney dish, brings me another one and takes the blood filled dish into the triage nurse , ignoring the fact that she is interviewing another patient. She looks at it, stands up and calls another nurse who comes over to me with a wheelchair. I get into the wheel chair, throw up more blood, and am hastily taken into an ER room. A Doctor will see me. Less than a minute later the Doctor is there and starts to ask me questions. Then she tells me they will hook me up to IV fluids ,will take blood and will call in the Internal Medicine doctor.
I throw up again. This time is it blood and bile mixed. I take that as a good sign although I have no knowledge to base this on. I vomit again and it is only bile no blood.
I have blood taken , I am hooked up to IV fluids and also a medication to block the acid in my stomach. I am asked several times if I take anti-inflammatory medications . I say no. I am asked how much alcohol I drink. I say very little and not on a regular basis.
Some hours later I am moved to a room in a different area of the ER. This is the area for people who are not ambulatory and who will be staying in the hospital. The pain in my stomach is now severe; it didn’t like the throwing up activity. I ask for pain medication and I am asked to describe the pain. “It is like someone has stabbed me with four sharp knives,” is my reply. A doctor is sent for . I give her the same answer. She prescribes morphine which is added to the bags of IV fluids that are going into me. Within minutes the pain begins to subside.
I fall asleep.
The Internal Medicine doctor comes to see me. He goes over my medical history which includes few interesting things but no history of stomach ulcers. He tells me I will be admitted to the hospital when they can find a bed ,they will do more blood work, take x-rays and do a gastric scope.
I have stopped vomiting.
When the nurse asks me if I would like to go to the bathroom I say yes and she gets a wheelchair. I think I can walk. I stand up. Wrong! My legs do not belong to me anymore. I sit in the wheelchair and am happy to have her help to get onto the toilet. I realize I will not be going to that horseshow in two weeks. Even if I get better quickly I will have lost fitness enough to mean I cannot be at my best. But relatively speaking that is a minor issue. Minor! In my mind I am thinking……do I have an ulcer? How could I have an ulcer just overnight like that? Do I have stomach cancer? What is wrong with me?
Midnight. David goes home and I go to sleep. I am in a room by myself and the hospital is quite quiet. This ER is not an inner city ER and even on a Saturday night things are not too dramatic.
The first bed that comes available for me is in the Palliative Care ward. I do not really notice this as I am wheeled in to a nice room with a bed by the window. I am feeling much better. No nausea, no vomiting, no pain(and no pain medication!) and I am able to walk around the ward pushing my pole with the IV bags. I notice that all the other patients are considerably older than me and I am a Senior Citizen myself. I am the only patient walking around the ward. In the lounge the people I see are clearly friends and relatives of the patients.
When I get back to the room I meet my roommate. We chat and she tells me she has been moved from a different ward on another floor. She tells me she has been pleading with the doctors for an assisted suicide. After she tells me how diminished her quality of life is and how much pain she is coping with I can understand why she would choose this.
There is a death watch in another room down the hall. It is quiet but I can see family members walking up and down the hallway long after visiting hours are over. Some are crying quietly.
I go to sleep. Until….BEEP,BEEP,BEEP.BEEP! My stomach medication IV bag is empty and the pump is relentless in its’ demands for attention. Nurse comes in and replaces it. I cannot sleep. The sound of an elderly woman moaning and crying out makes sleep impossible. I think about the maternity ward. How different the sound of the women in labor, lusty roars of pain and then the wondrous squawk of a new born baby. Life begins. Here a life was at the end of its’ energy.
The medical staff meet outside my room to discuss how to help the woman. “Oh, for goodness sake.” I say to myself. “Could you not go somewhere else or at least lower your voices or close our door?” My brain was churning now. I wondered if they do not close the doors of the rooms in Palliative Care so they can hear the patients or …..or what ….I don’t know.
It was dark. I was not ill enough to be zoned out of what was happening. I tried to focus on meditation techniques and prayer but they barely scratched the surface of the whirling in my head. I thought about my horse Biasini. I brought a clear picture of him to my mind and then I patted him on his neck just behind his ear. I could feel the softness of his coat and I told him what was happening but that he was not to worry because I was feeling better and would see him soon. I felt like he was there in the room with me and that saved my sanity that night.
X-rays, the daily blood work and a visit from the Gastroenterologist who would be doing the gastric scope. I had not been able to eat or drink anything other than clear fluids the day before and nothing by mouth since midnight. I was getting quite grumpy which I felt was actually a good sign. If I was deathly ill I would not care if I ate or drank. I was told I would be taken down for my scope at 1:40 pm. I was very grumpy about that and went for a walk with David to the lounge and grumped on about it for a good five minutes. David is a Saint!
At 1:30 pm, just as they told me the porter was on his way up to collect me, my phone gave a little “you’ve got a new text” ping. I looked and saw this wonderful photo.
I almost cried. It was my Oakcrest Farm family. From the left: barn manager Carl Callahan, my coach Belinda Trussell, my beautiful horse Biasini, friend Barb Sinclair, barn assistant Erin Haug and assistant trainer and rider Lynsey Rowan.
It was a good omen. This scope was going to be OK! My Oakcrest Farm family was in my corner. They had my back. And I had David who came down to the Endoscopy area with me.
I’ll give you the sedation now. It will take effect very quickly.” The Doctor had two syringes in his hand. The needles were very long. But I knew they would go right into the IV in my arm. I would not even…….
I woke up and the scope was over. It was the best sleep I’d had in three days. The GI specialist came to see me and told me that they had not found any tumors, or an ulcer and that the bleed was most likely caused by a tear when I had been retching. The stomach inflammation was gone and any evidence of the tear was already healed.
What had happened? My personal theory, although not backed up the doctors, is that I had an allergic reaction to a Whey protein recovery powder I had started using the previous week. That caused the stomach ache and nausea and some lower esophagus inflammation predisposing me to the tear.
I don’t have stomach cancer. I don’t have a bleeding ulcer . I am alive and well and although I may miss that Championship show I will be back and riding. I will say a prayer for my roommate and for all those in that ward who are in life’s last struggle.
This is my response to this week’s Photo Challenge: Corner. It is also a true story of what happened to me this past weekend.