In September of ’06, I got out of bed on a Monday morning in order to get ready for work like I always did. I noticed that my stomach had been hurting me for the past week or so, but I figured it was just normal stomach cramps either from my medications or possibly from my period.
But as I went into the washroom to brush my teeth, I was in more pain than before, so I decided to sit this one out. I called into the “sick line” at work, left a message, and went back to bed.
Food was gross to me. I didn’t want to hear anything of it, especially since I knew that I’d be throwing it all back up shortly thereafter. Both Monday and Tuesday, I was in quite a bit of pain, and my only relief was when I managed to fall asleep for a few hours. The only reason I was actually able to fall asleep through such pain was due to utter exhaustion.
On Wednesday, Dad decided to take the day off from work and stay home to take care of me. I was in the worst pain ever. I couldn’t sit down, I couldn’t lie down, I couldn’t stand up…I couldn’t do anything. My dad went out in the afternoon to buy a TV because the TV in my room wasn’t working. He figured that I could watch TV in my room so I’d be more comfortable. So thoughtful.
By the time he returned, I was literally writhing and moaning in pain. I threw up, and what came up was something that I never wish to see again. I was throwing up a thick, black substance…and that was strange to me since I hadn’t eaten anything even CLOSE to that colour. The smell of what I was throwing up was very off as well. Off to emergency it is.
Before going to emergency, I called my rhuematologist who worked in that hospital. He called down to emergency to let them know I was coming. When I got there, he promptly came down to see me, and also told the ER to skip me ahead of the others. I only ended up waiting about 20 minutes. After discussing that situation with my rhuemy a few months later, he said that he took this action because
A: I looked REALLY sick,
B: I looked like I was in EXTREME pain (which I was)
C: I rarely complain too much about anything….and he could tell that THIS must be serious.
So I changed into my gown and was promptly whisked off to get an xray. Shortly after that, I was given a large container of fluid to drink for a CT scan. I dry heaved just looking at that cup. But I chugged down as much as I could and was then taken to get the CT scan. Luckily, even though I didn’t drink the whole cup, I managed to drink enough for them to see what they needed to see.
The look on the ER doctor’s face is one that I’ll never forget. The first words out of his mouth are words I’ll never forget: “Umm…It doesn’t look good.”
I don’t thinl I’ve ever told anyone this, but my first thought was….Oh Lord, please don’t let me die. And he didn’t….because what I had has killed many others just as soon as it happened.
I had a blood clot in my intestine. This blood clot/blockaged caused holes in my intestine. Because there were holes in my intestine, all of my already digested food (waste) was leaking into my stomach….and I was very toxic. This explains the dark coloured vomit and the off smell. The doctor told me I would need surgery. Essentially, I had a perforated bowel.
Great. Naively, I asked “Ok, so when’s the surgery going to be scheduled?” The doctor looked at me and said “we’ve already paged the surgeon on call. This is an emergency. You’ll be having surgery tonight.”
I was scared. Oddly, I was more scared for my parents than for myself. I hated the idea of seeing them suffer. After the doctor left, I picked up the phone in my room and called my sister. I also called one of my co-workers, Andre Finny.
Before I knew it, my surgeon had arrived and reiterated to me what was happening. I would need to wear a colostomy bag for at least 6 months, at most forever. The cause? They weren’t sure. Probably Lupus. It was all happening so fast that I couldn’t process the information. I didn’t even know what that meant….nor did I even want to ask questions at that point. I wanted the surgery to be done. Now. So I could be out of pain.
I remember being wheeled away. I remember saying goodbye to my rants.
I remember waking up and wanting to immediately know where my parents were. It was probably 3 in the morning, so they had gone home. My surgeon had called them already to let them know I was ok, but I wanted to hear my dad’s voice myself. I was in the ICU and was feeling good because of all the drugs I was on.
I called dad and told him I was ok. He didn’t say much. I told him that I felt much better and my stomach didn’t hurt anymore. He told me that was good, and he would see me tomorrow. I wondered why he was ending our conversation so quickly. I still wanted to talk! I later found out it was because he was crying….he was so impressed…and probably shocked that I felt the need to talk to him/call him myself that very night.
Wrapped up in hospital blankets like a cocoon, I fell asleep…with no idea what was underneath those blankets. No idea what I was in store for…