I woke up last Saturday feeling kinda puny, with a bit of an achy stomach and discomfort radiating through to my back as the day progressed. The usual antacid-type remedies did nothing to help, and by the evening I was in actual pain. I tried sleeping in bed, but couldn’t find a comfortable position and ended up retreating out to the recliner, where I still couldn’t get comfortable but at least I wasn’t waking my husband up with my tossing and (at this point) my whimpering. I tried to tough it out throughout the night (fairly positive that it wasn’t my appendix due to the location of the pain), but somewhere around 5am I woke Jack up and told I needed to go to the ER.
We bundled a sleepy Anna up into the car and headed to the ER. Jack called his son who met us up there and took Anna back to his house, which made life much easier. I was eventually taken to a room, gave about five vials of blood to the lab gods, was given an IV, some anti-nausea meds (though I wasn’t really nauseated), a PPI injection and some other drugs which really didn’t do a whole lot to ease the pain. Unfortunately there had been a serious motor vehicle accident around the time I came in, so I wasn’t exactly a top priority. A doctor came in and prodded me for a few seconds and informed me that since all of my blood tests had come back perfectly clean I was suffering from “gastritis.” (Translated: “You have a tummy ache and you’re a big weenie and you’re wasting my time.” Though at least it was delivered in a very nice manner.) Finally a nurse came in, and when she asked me what my pain level was on a 1 to 10 scale, I informed her that my pain was about a 7. (I swear, I’m really not a weenie!) She finally brought me in this obnoxious concoction of Maalox and lidocaine and god only knows what else. It was nasty, but it did finally knock the pain down a couple of notches. I was then informed that I would need to see my own doctor or a gastroenterologist if I wanted any more tests run, and was kindly released.
Still felt like crap for the next couple of days, but at least the major pain seemed to be over. Tuesday I went back to work, and took advantage of the benefit of working for a doctor–i.e. asked for an appointment, and after mentioning the trip to the ER was in a room five minutes later. Doc listened to my symptoms, prodded me and stated that he was fairly certain that it was my gallbladder**, and I’d probably passed a stone (and he might have muttered darkly about the ER not doing an ultrasound.) He ordered an ultrasound for me, but it came up clean, so the next step was a HIDA scan.
That was this morning’s adventure. I’d never had this sort of scan before, and after doing the usual google search on the procedure, I felt fairly familiar with what was ahead of me.
Google didn’t do it justice. The first step in the procedure involves being injected with a radioactive dye. Simple thing, except that they bring it out in this large lead pipe-like container. (I couldn’t help but think that if this was a proper science fiction movie, the lead container would be chrome-plated and would have some glowing blue and green lights, and would open with a soft hiss. Instead it’s just an ugly drab yellow pipe like a frickin’ pipe-bomb. Plus, the hypodermic needle itself was very small, and the amount of stuff injected didn’t seem enough to warrant the big lead pipe.) I then got to lie on a very narrow padded bench and a big x-ray thingy whirred into place over my gut.
This is when it got dangerous, and where google failed to warn me. For the next hour I was x-rayed, about once a minute. The position of the machine was such that it was impossible to do anything (like read) for the hour, and I nearly died of boredom. Seriously. It was touch and go.
Eventually the hour was up, and I was given a glass of milk and told to wait 40 minutes, which was very welcome because a) I was starving since this procedure was one of those no-food-after-midnight things, and b) the guy gave me chocolate milke after I asked him nicely and informed him that white milk is the nastiest substance on earth (he agreed) and c) this portion of the waiting was in the waiting room where I was able to read to pass the time. Finally the milk had traveled far enough through my digestive system and I was brought back in for more scanning, but this only took a few minutes and I was subsequently released.
And now, after being injected with a radioactive substance and being repeatedly bombarded with more radiation, I am eagerly awaiting my new mutant superpowers. I just hope it’s something cool. Like telekinesis, or invulnerability. With my luck I’ll get something lame, like the ability to see dirty dishes from three rooms away.
**The last time I had an “attack” of stomach pain, my sister insisted that it was my gallbladder, so she was very pleased to hear that another doctor agreed with her assessment. “I TOLD you it was your gallbladder! I told you so!”