The Cautionary Whale.
by, 11-20-2013 at 08:22 AM
I haven't posted on this in awhile and I figure, big life change- I probably should.
Initial questions: no I did not get married, have kids, sudden relationship thing. Nope, I'm talking something completely different, and it was unfun and scary. And I'm sharing it to the Micechat community at large.
About five weeks ago I woke up at 2130 (9:30pm for those mere mortals) for work. My back hurt, but I had been sleeping with my 60lb golden retriever, who sleeps all paws out and has given me multiple pressure sores. I attributed a sore back to that. This was a Friday night. I took a shower, got my coffee, slowly sipped that as I woke up and got mentally in the head game for going to work. I talked to my mom around 2235/10:25pm and then went to brush my teeth when I got nauseated and threw up. It was too late to call in sick, plus I thought it could have been the milk in my coffee. You know how you ignore things because you think "I'm busy, I have to go to work and do things"? We all have that. Had back pain and nausea at work that night. To describe the pain it felt like two of those Alaskan semi-circle knives going up my back with the tip stabbing me mid back every 90 seconds. When the cycle would start (going up my back) it would be an uncomfortable 2 and at the top a 6 on the pain scale. I had a patient even ask "Are you okay?" and I brushed it off. At one point that night I got nauseated in a patient's room, grabbed a yak bag, and threw up in the soiled utilities. But I brushed it off. I had some left arm pain towards the end of the night, which freaked me out. And again I was like "I'm 32 there's no way I can have a heart attack... Not going to the ER" (signs and symptoms of a MI in females is nausea, back pain, and left arm pain... just for reference.). I told myself I was going to go to bed after work and hopefully whatever happened would resolve itself... because you know that's what I learned in nursing school (not!). Came home, didn't eat, sat with the golden, fell asleep on the couch (which I never do), went to bed, took two sleeping pills, and still was waking up every 30 minutes in pain. I woke up at 10 minutes to 9pm thinking if I was going to call in sick I should see if I was still vomiting. It never comes on demand.... So I didn't call in. I was uncomfortable all night. I think at one point I had a patient that was two person maximum assist to get up and I said to her "you know, you can help a little rather than making us lift you up" (she was a middle aged woman being lazy in my defense. And she was grossly obese. It was me and another skinny gal lifting her, come on.). My coworker (who I've known for years, we went to nursing school together... tight bonds), was like "you should go downstairs to the ER after work." I thought it was just milk.
Two/three days of feeling gross not doing anything, I came home after night two and the stabbing was now constant. It wasn't cyclic it was all the time and it had grown to an 8 on the 0-10 pain scale. So I instant messaged my EMT friend and she was like "Kim, go to the ER. Go now. It sounds like you have a kidney infection. Have your mom drive you." Well I'm an aries (and dumb). So I put on cute unders (because in my brain that's what you do...) and told my folks I'm going to do an errand. I got to my Emergency Room at my hospital, and was in pain. I got checked in and instantly started vomiting. The ER in our small town for some reason was busting at the seams. I apparently was dehydrated too. Called my sister, she's my "go to person" she wasn't picking up. Texted her a bunch. The doc had said it could be my gall bladder or something with my kidneys and that got me freaked, and they needed to run tests. So I'm trying to get a hold of my sister, because I don't want this to be "Kim is a hypochondriac" situation and don't want something little like back spasms to have my parents freaked. So sis isn't picking up (there was a Seahawks game on, let's be realistic.). I'm texting/calling my brother, to try to get a hold of my sister because I know if he calls her, she'll pick up no matter what. Apparently if you say "I'm in the emergency room. They think something maybe wrong with my gallbladder. Come here. Don't tell the parents yet..." It translates to "Call Mom and Dad right away." Because within 10 minutes of calling my brother, as I was getting an ultra sound of my gut, my folks and my sister were there. I hadn't taken anything for pain at this point because I didn't want to find out "oh it's back spasms you can go home..." and then be stuck going "how am I supposed to drive home...?" (Granted I live a mile away from the hospital- small town living.). So I had taken stuff for nausea. My mom was like "nice errand." Trying to explain why you didn't want to freak anyone out while it feels like the Invisible Man is actively trying to stab you... not the easiest thing.
Something quick to note that I'd learned at this point: if someone in the medical field feels the need to drive themselves to the ER after working a night shift at noon/their midnight, apparently it's not hypochondria. Because I must have some sort of knowledge to know when something is "really wrong."
Moving on... I had been in bed sitting in a yoga-esque position, cross legged leaning forward, one arm holding my back the other long in front of me. The doctor came in and said my labs showed I had pancreatitis and they wanted to admit me. Cue first breakdown. I may have gotten kinda'... mean. I was like "what? I don't drink that much. You can't admit me here for that." He asked why not. I said "because pancreatitis has a certain connotation and you can't admit me to the floor I work with that disease." He said we could either admit me on the floor where I'd stay a few days or go home. My mom was like "well she's being admitted." Then I took the large dose of diuladid/pain meds. And I was kinda' freaked out. I should note here I love our ER. I want to work there. And I'm friends with a lot of people there. So when my friend/coworker came in to take me upstairs I was like "but the hospital's full..." She was like "honey we protect our own."
Getting admitted where you work in a small hospital is really weird. Because everyone on evening shift knows you and it's like "wait why are you here? Didn't I just give you report 16 hours ago?" Ha yes. I found out when given enough pain medication I am Catholic (hmmm). I told the coordinator/charge RN "tell everyone I don't have this disease because I drink a lot. I don't want them to think it's alcohol related..." I posted what was happening on facebook (give me a pain button filled with pain meds an I'm awesome on social media!). That evening shift all my coworkers were great. I know my mom and I watched QVC and she ordered stuff. She brought me my teddy bear.
My sister was so cute because she came in after work. I should note NYE my sister came to the same hospital and I was her "person." So when she came in to check on me she brought me tacky trashy magazines and had to hunt down my favorite ice cream (Cherry Garcia. I was not allowed to eat but she didn't know what NPO meant. When she was hurt- broke her foot in 12+ places, 12+ bones, I stayed with her, got her tortilla soup, spoiled her. She refused aides that she didn't know to help her go potty, but she was like "oh you're my sister's friend, you can help me... Spoil each other.). I guess she told my mom "I'm taking care of her. I learned from the best." And I guess I walked down to the main nurse's station and was like "I don't think I need to tell you, but I'm calling in sick..."
Three days in the hospital, found out I'm allergic to diludid (it makes me itch) and you can't give me Benedryl to calm the itch because that makes me violent... don't want to get violent on my coworkers. It was very difficult for me to be a patient because I didn't want help going potty. Also I didn't want to let the pain catch up to me, so I was on my pain button every 10 minutes which meant at one point my sister asked "how are you?" in front of my coworkers/friends, and I said "I'm a lizard..." everyone giggled. "I'm a lounge lizard" and I stuck out my tongue. Kell, sister, took my pain button away. Although I will say I was spoiled greatly by my friends and coworkers. They were giving me crap about what I had. I was like "yep, apparently 2 beers or 2 glasses of wine every other night does it to you" (before this I thought pancreatitis was an alcoholic's disease. Nope, it's not.).
Apparently I cried to my charge nurse that I'm friends with about bacon at 0600 too.
What they found out, came to the conclusion, is I had a gallstone that was stuck which caused my pancreas (which I kinda' thought those two were fictional until this point. Apparently they're not) to inflame and get pissed off. I was put on a "bland no residue low fiber diet" for two weeks. Ew. They also found out at 32 I have high cholesterol. Yay!
What has happened and why I'm posting this giant blog post, has basically changed my life. What I've learned is with acute pancreatitis is after this I could have 2 more flare ups which will be even more painful, and then it becomes "chronic" which means I will always have a pissed off pancreas and pain in my gut. This now is a life long thing. Not okay. Also I have gallstones- yay! I learned that writing out your full family medical history is important because I had just told my doctor about my mom's tachycardia and not told her my mom's side has a long history of heart disease. I said at my last visit "everyone on my mom's side has a heart something at 50, and dies from heart issues... My dad's side everyone lives until they're 100." My MD was like "wait back up." That lead to breakdown/crying mess 3. I guess if your primary care doctor sees you cry and melt down because you can't have bacon or pork, that grants you access to 15 visits to the nutritionist a year...
As of now with help of a nutritionist and Weight Watchers I'm on the most... odd diet every:
Pancreatitis-Heart healthy- lactose intolerant-anemic diet.
What does that mean? Red meat and pork are out. Right now I eat non-fat Greek yogurt or oatmeal, sushi or a super healthy lunch from Pita Pit, and fish or chicken for dinner. Lots of veggies, lots of oatmeal and grains. I work night shifts so when I go to eat for breakfast/dinner (at 0730) I eat a lot of meatless-eggless hashes. Butternut squash has become my new best friend. Non-fried, whole wheat breaded chicken tenders are awesome. And if I deviate from this diet, about 30 minutes later it feels like someone is punching me in the back (where my pancreas is!). Nothing like severe pain to keep you in line. In 5 weeks (more like 3 because the bland-low residual diet I was eating a lot of bagels and toast not realizing the cholesterol was a problem) I've lost 16lbs. My pants are falling off. I noticed today my lovely cleavage is gone (noticed that in my favorite shirt. I was like "wait usually I have to bring back the girls and wrangle them in more in this shirt...").
So long winded why I'm posting this is:
I live in the debate lounge on micechat, that and the Disney cruise forum (because I love cruising). And we talk a lot about obesity there. Diabetes is a topic there. What isn't a topic is something freaky like me. I have a very active job, I take my dogs for runs (my lab has a bad hip, I have a bad knee, we run a mile about 2x a week, while the golden run laps around us). But I'm like a lot of people, I figure the day is hard, I'm going to eat what I want. Or "I'm on a Disney vacation! I'm going to eat like crap!!!!" And looking at my figure before I wasn't huge. At my biggest I was 221, 5'10". I was curvy. When I would tell people my weight they'd be like "really?! No way!" And then when my back started hurting and I tried to ignore it... no your body gives you signs. And it sucks when suddenly you find out you weren't as healthy as you thought you were. And it sucks to find out you can never eat your favorite foods again unless you want your gut to hurt. So I'm posting a cautionary tale, an informal education of what has happened to me and what can happen to others. I'm not going to be one of those people that are like "keep junk food out of kids hands!" Never. But I'm learning eating a pound of bacon a week may not be the best idea.
I'm a foodie and a lot of memories are associated with food and now it's hard to change all that. I did the WW points for Thanksgiving and a lot of the gals at the meeting were like "My meal is going to be 40 points." I'm like "yeah... 11, 13 if I'm being wreckless." Changes.