For those of you who have checked in at all in the past six weeks, thanks for your persistence. I am offering a huge apology for this long silence.
After regular Thursday posts for the last 20 months, until mid-June, it’s reasonable to expect a weekly edition.
If you were moved to pray for me when all went quiet, thank you! I had great need of prayers.
I finally figured out my tummy troubles since spring.
It took me about 6 weeks of on and off intense pain to finally pinpoint the source!
Unfortunately the light dawned during a two-day onslaught of constant cramps and nausea that landed me in the emergency room.
Let me back up a little.
For weeks certain foods had been bothering me. I would avoid those foods, but then something new would cause pain.
Then one day I was finally feeling great. I pulled weeds and finished planting flowers in one bed, and decided to tackle another that had been let go since last year.
Well. I’m a person who likes to get my hands in the dirt. I plop down, lean in, and start digging. I like the satisfaction of wrapping those viny weeds around my fingers and pulling them up by the roots.
Except those viny weeds turned out to be poison ivy.
After a good half hour of plunging into that bed, and carrying two big armloads of debris over to throw in the corner of the field, I had a sinking feeling that those leaves of three I was now able to see looking down on them were not my friends.
I did all the things you are supposed to do. I tried not to touch anything, got in the house, washed my hands and arms as thoroughly as I could, then jumped right in the shower. I had just washed my hair the night before so I only wet it. Not my brightest moment.
It took three days before the itching started. My sinking feeling was justified.
Not glad to be right!
Also on that day of whirlwind weeding I found another food that bothered me, and was miserable from dinner on. And days later when the itching started I couldn’t decide which to give my attention to, my stomach or most of the skin on my body.
Two more days in bed yet too itchy to sleep made me willing to say yes when Dear Husband asked if I wanted to go to the emergency room to get checked out.
I had been “handling” things my way. For almost a week all I had eaten was half a banana. And by then nausea had set in. So I also didn’t feel like drinking anything.
In a three day period I think I only ingested one can of Vernor’s.
For the poison ivy I was using expired prescription cream from a reaction I’d had two summers ago.
So when I got to the emergency room the first thing they said was, “You’re dehydrated.”
Well yes, but what about my stomach? Do you think it’s my gallbladder? I’m not feverish so I don’t think it’s an emergency to get to surgery, but is there some way you can check?
Of course there is. The definitive test is ultrasound. But we had waited so late to head to the er that there was no longer a tech there to do the test. We could get that the next day. But that didn’t stop them from doing a CT scan. With contrast.
Which is really hard on your kidneys.
During the briefest of exams the doctor said, “Do you know what is causing this rash all over your stomach?”
Well, yes, but that’s not why I’m here.
So after tests and waiting, I got a whole laundry list of the things the CT showed. Actually most of them were very encouraging. Some things to watch, and no obstruction or bursting of my gallbladder.
And when they sent me home they mentioned that, by the way, I had acute renal failure. Have a nice night.
The ultrasound done the next day showed I have an abundance of gallstones. Problem identified.
The next couple of days I took meds they prescribed for my pain and nausea, and the stomach pain went away. Yeah! It actually hasn’t come back since!
And a couple days later I felt good enough to look at the discharge papers. Which told me I needed to drink lots of Gatorade and water.
I still couldn’t eat, because when you are dehydrated you don’t produce normal fluids. So in addition to not being able to urinate much, I also had no saliva for two weeks. I couldn’t eat or taste. So I tried to drink Gatorade but couldn’t handle much for the first few days. I felt like it sucked any residual moisture out of my mouth.
After following helpline nurse suggestions for relief from the poison ivy to try Gold Bond powder and calamine lotion and cool baths with various things to soak in, I was desperate for relief.
And as a lovely side effect of no saliva, I could only taste the powders, lotions and creams all over my skin! Yum.
I now know what a hot mess really feels like!
So what else could happen? Yes, a drug interaction.
Over the last year I’ve identified two drug allergies, one life-threatening. Now I have at least one more.
Either the pain killer or the nausea med or both suddenly made me start hallucinating.
It began with not being able to focus (which actually has taken weeks to get over), and needing to tilt my head to feel balanced.
Then I sat at my dining room table trying to research drug side effects in the middle of the night four days after my er visit, and the words were hard to see. They kept moving around. I looked up to an ordinary, rectangular box on top of our buffet and it grew feathery projections and started heaving up and moving.
I woke Dear Husband and said, “Let’s go back to the er.”
On the way there I saw someone’s nicely landscaped yard swoop out into the road right in front of us. Good thing I wasn’t driving!
So there I was, still badly dehydrated. And of course they did another CT. With contrast! To make sure I wasn’t having a stroke or aneurysm in my head.
As if my kidneys needed the extra assault.
Well, over the last year I’ve had three CT’s, covering my head, chest and abdomen. At least I know everything else is in pretty good shape!
I’m six weeks out, and I’m hoping I’ve learned a really big lesson about the importance of something so basic, yet so vital for life.
Plain old water.
If I could go back, you bet I would. I would have made myself sip on a glass of good old room temperature well water all day every day, even if it wouldn’t stay down for long.
(Confession time: just typing that reminded me that now at noon I hadn’t gotten my first glass of water today, so I stopped and got one.)
If I could have made myself decide months ago that even if I didn’t feel like drinking, my body needed it, and would thank me later, the contrast with those CT scans wouldn’t have been able to devastate my kidneys so easily.
The meds I was taking would have been flushed out of my system better and maybe wouldn’t have had such a dramatic effect on me.
Even the foods that were bothering me might have digested better if I’d tried diluting them from the start.
I will never know if drinking water regularly, all day long, would have lessened or let me avoid some of the things I’ve been through over the last six weeks.
But now I have no excuse.
Ahhh! That long drink of water is just what I needed.