We had been counting down the days to Thanksgiving. Not just because we were looking forward to the food, time with family, and the shopping (let’s be honest – I love a good deal). We were counting the days because ALL of this was going to be happening at the beach. Yes, the BEACH. With the fight for disability still ongoing at the time and the way my health seemed to tank even lower than we thought possible this past year, we were most definitely vacation-deprived and could not wait to get the heck out of dodge and spend some time away. The fact that this time away was occurring at a place where we could listen to the ocean waves and stick our toes in the sand (albeit cold sand) made it even better.
My parents drove down to our place and then we were all going to drive east together for a week of family and relaxation at their beach condo. I hadn’t been feeling hot but that wasn’t anything new so we worked hard to get everything packed on Sunday night and the plan was to pick Abby up after lunch at school that Monday and to head towards the coast.
Unfortunately, my “normal” kicked up to a higher level of sick that Sunday night. Since I was up sick, John went to sleep with Abby since my parents were in the guest room (that way I can have lights and the TV on as a distraction and he could still get some sleep). I continued to get worse through the night and my mom ended up getting up to be with me (mother’s love right there – I’m 34 but I still need my mama). It eventually got to a high level that was way too familiar and I knew I was in trouble.
If you have ever had a bowel obstruction, then you will know exactly what I mean.
Instead of heading to the beach at lunchtime on Monday, I was headed to the ER. Thank God He knew where I was headed and He put an amazing team in place when I got there. The nurse landed the IV first try so they were able to get fluids and meds started right away.
My trip to radiology confirmed my fear and what my gut was literally telling me: another small bowel obstruction.
Thankfully, because I knew the signs and know my body, we caught it in the early stages. When they were working on getting me admitted, one of the hospitalists wanted to start a NG tube and even after I shared my previous NG tube nightmare experience, she was adamant that the tube be put in and the fact that I was “scared” shouldn’t be a factor. Fear wasn’t the issue. It was way more than being “scared.” The issue was that there was something anatomically wrong inside me that made inserting a NG tube a problem so I asked to speak with another hospitalist. When I explained the situation to her, she looked at my scans and backed me. She said that forcing the issue and going in blind could cause some major damage so she wanted to hold off to see what the next day’s scans said and if things were getting worse, then she would call in a surgeon.
I felt so strong not only standing up for myself to make sure that I was heard but for also being my own advocate and knowing my body and my medical history well enough to take on a hospitalist that didn’t know my history. I was wearing my “Be A Badass Everyday” awareness bracelet from FJJCreations and I totally felt like I earned my badass status for the day.
Thankfully, since we were able to catch it so quickly, we were able to clear the obstruction and jumpstart the illeus (a section of bowel that becomes paralyzed) with NPO and meds within three days. I had a couple bouts of really low blood sugar that required quick intervention which were not fun at all so I definitely caught a glimpse of what its like for John to live everyday with diabetes and its not fun. The first time I went from 44 to 248 in under 5 minutes and it was the most miserable feeling ever. Thankfully, they were a bit more careful the next time around.
The bad news is that this obstruction occurred up high near the sight of where my gallbladder was removed meaning adhesions have already started working their way up. My previous obstruction have been lower in the abdomen where the small and large bowel connect. This one was located closer to the junction of the stomach and small bowel (basically, exactly where my gallbladder was located). My adhesions are spreading rapidly considering that surgery was less than four months ago which increases the chances of another bowel obstruction occurring due to adhesions.
The good news is that the doctor that took over my care once I was admitted put me on a new medication (called Relistor) that blocks opioid receptors in the gut that would allow me to keep taking the pain medication I need without having such a dramatic impact on the function of my bowels. It means giving myself a shot in the stomach every day from now until who knows when but it keeps my bowels moving which in turn can lower the chance of a bowel obstruction occurring due to an illeus and has allowed me to actually eat a solid meal every once in a while.
The first shot at home was a little scary since they didn’t give me any kind of training in the hospital (thankfully I’m married to a diabetic so he showed me the ropes) but I can now give myself a shot without wanting to hyperventilate. Another badass point for me!
So while we didn’t get to spend Thanksgiving at the beach like we had planned, I am thankful that I got out of the hospital just in time to enjoy Thanksgiving day at home with my family and thanks to the new medication, I was actually able to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner! Hallelujah!
Point of the story: Living with chronic illness means living boldly and sometimes living boldly means advocating and standing up for yourself even against doctors when the time calls for it. You know your body better than anyone. Trust yourself.
[bctt tweet=”Living with chronic illness means living boldly which can mean standing up for yourself even against doctors.”]
And be thankful. Always.