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Welcome to the second installment of our hospital saga.
Our story ended last time with the surgeon telling us that surgery wasn’t indicated based on Greg’s symptoms of abdominal pain that was barely tolerable with IV pain medication and two ultrasounds within 36 hours that showed gall stones & sludge. If that wasn’t enough of a summary, click here.
I finally convinced the doctor to re-order the HIDA scan that he had cancelled. I was absolutely sure that something was wrong with Greg’s gallbladder other than a few gallstones and some sludge. The doctor was exasperated but he finally gave in. Around 4:30pm on Sunday night, Greg went to Nuclear Medicine for the test. My bestie and her momma brought me some yummy dinner from Addison’s while I was waiting. I even saved Greg half of my pulled pork sammy because if they weren’t going to take him to surgery, he was going to get to eat.
And then I waited.
I checked facebook.
I worked on some bloggy stuff that I’ve got going on.
I texted my mom, Greg’s mom, my sister, my friends, Greg’s aunt, etc.
I did some light stretching because my butt was going numb. Good thing I wore my yoga pants to the hospital!
Then at 6:30pm, the nurse came into Greg’s room and said they were asking for me in Nuc Med. I took off like a lightening bolt despite the fact that I didn’t know where I was going. I finally found him and he looked terrible. It had been hours since he had gotten any pain medication and he was definitely feeling it. The surgeon (a different one than before, she was actually very proactive and sweet) said that his gallbladder didn’t show up on the HIDA scan at all which indicates that the bile ducts were completely blocked and surgery was a necessity ::pause for gloating:: and they were going to do it that night.
I finally felt at peace about the situation. We had been right all along and it was going to be taken care of immediately.
Greg and I both signed the consent for surgery (he as the patient, me as the witness) then they sent us back upstairs to wait for the surgical team to arrive.
After an hour of waiting in his room (8:00pm by this point), the patient transporters walked in to take him to the OR. They said I could follow them down and somebody would take me to the waiting room.
We got into the OR holding area where we were greeted by the OR nurse & an anesthesiologist. Greg was briefed about anesthesia and just before we signed that consent, one of the surgeons came over and said:
“Well guys, there’s been a change in plans.”
My heart sank to my toes.
I knew what they were doing.
Sure enough, they decided to push his surgery back until the morning. They felt that since it was a semi-elective (I’m pretty sure somebody needs a vocab lesson because, at this point, this surgery was no longer elective in any form) and since it was getting late, they should wait until “first thing in the morning”.
Then another surgeon came over and I swear he said these exact words:
Hey partner. I guess Dr. Bloo-Blah told you that we are going to push your surgery back to tomorrow. We’ll get you done first thing in the morning and besides, you don’t want a worn-out skeleton crew working on you, right?
Hmmmm. I wonder what the trauma patients that can’t wait until the morning feel about their surgical team being “too tired” but that’s another post for another day.
At that point, Greg was so exhausted he had given up. He figured that we would go home the next morning and still not have had anything done. I promised him that I wouldn’t let that happen.
When we got back to his room, his nurse said that he could eat but it was after 9pm and the cafeteria was closed and did he want a frozen dinner? Very sweet, but no thank you. I went to security, got a pass so I could come back after visiting hours, left the hospital, drove to the grocery store, bought my husband a cold sandwich, drove back to the hospital and watched him die of happiness over the first thing he had eaten in almost 3 days. 30 minutes later, they made him start fasting again in anticipation for the Monday morning surgery.
I got home just after midnight and collapsed into bed. I got up at 5am Monday so I could shower (which I desperately needed at that point) & get to the hospital before they took him for his surgery.
This was a very very very stupid thing.
We waited very patiently until about 8am when the surgery team made their rounds. When they walked into his room, they said something along the lines of, “I guess we are going to do the surgery today?” And Greg replied, “Uh, yeah. I was told it was going to happen about an hour ago.” Then there was a little more back and forth between Greg, myself and the doctors about the exact time. The final answer we got?
“The surgery will be sometime today.”
So we waited. Greg cat-napped, waking every 10 minutes or so from either excruciating pain or his roommate hacking loogies everywhere.
Seriously. It was disgusting.
All the while, we were asking the nurse if she had heard anything. We were speaking with the manager of the floor about how shitty we had been treated and how all of our concerns were being dismissed by the doctors. We walked the halls just for something to do.
I would like to take a break in my ranting for a positive encounter we had. During Greg’s hospital stay, we had many bad experiences. We also praised the nursing staff for the fantastic job they were doing with communicating information (little as it was) to us, staying on top of pain medication administration & advocating for Greg to the physicians. The nurses we encountered were phenomenal. They were one of the few things that made this weekend bearable. They were not only sympathetic to our situation, they did everything they could to make us more comfortable and to keep us informed.
While we were waiting, I called Greg’s primary doctor and explained the situation to his receptionist (she was told to call us because we had called the doctor-at home-on Friday night. It’s a long story why he wasn’t involved until now.) and set up an appointment for him to be seen. I fielded as many phone calls/texts that I could so that Greg could rest as much as possible. And, obviously, I updated facebook.
Finally, at 3pm on Monday afternoon, the transporters walked into Greg’s room to take him to surgery. I tried to control my heart rate as it spiked because I didn’t want another disappointment. We walked down to the OR holding area and they hooked Greg up to an EKG, O2 monitor & a blood pressure cuff. They verified that all of the consents had been signed. They took Greg to the bathroom so that his bladder was empty and he didn’t need a catheter (apparently, dudes don’t like giant tubes shoved into their junk since he was more than willing to do whatever it took to keep that from happening).
Then we waited some more.
For another 2 1/2 hours, actually. Various different people came into the holding area to talk to us, most of them were repeating what the last person had just said about, “sorry for your wait” & “just be patient”.
I kept my fool mouth shut (for maybe the first time in my life) because I was terrified of the repercussions they would rain down upon us if I said one more cross word to any of them.
At 5:35pm, an OR nurse and the CRNA came and wheeled my husband into the OR. As the first dose of sedative was hitting him, Greg managed to slur out, “Babe. Don’t forget to take the peas to the bathroom. Okay?”
Of course, babe.
I’m still not sure what he was dreaming about but we later found out that he was talking about jet skis when he came out of anesthesia. Then he and the anesthesiologist starting throwing quotes back and forth from the show East Bound and Down which I hate.
I’m so glad they wouldn’t let me back to see him in the recovery area.
Boys are so weird.
Once the surgery was finished, the surgeon met me in one of the consultation rooms and told me how it went. He walked in, shook my hand and said, “You married a helluva man. With a gallbladder like that, I’m not sure how he wasn’t rolling on the floor in pain.” To which I responded, “Well he was getting 50mcg of Fentanyl every hour for the past 24 hours.” (if you are not familiar with that dose, just know that it’s a lot.) Then he told me, “Wow. I’m kinda surprised that he’s still breathing!” (I know he said it half-joking and it was sort of off-the-cuff, but still. I already knew that and I didn’t need to hear it.)
He also told me that Greg’s gallbladder was gangrenous & was so inflamed and swollen that as they were trying to remove it, it ruptured. Spilling bile, infection, sludge & gall stones into his abdominal cavity. They washed it out with “at least” ten liters of fluid and they were going to continue his IV antibiotics overnight and in the morning.
Go ahead. Re-read that last paragraph. Then refer to the line in the last post that said the surgical resident didn’t feel that surgery was indicated because Greg wasn’t running a fever and his WBC count wasn’t elevated.
It was about another hour before he was recovered enough to go back to his room and he looked a million times better. He was in pain (but it was surgery realted) and he was nauseated (but it was from the ride from the OR to his room). They were able to do the surgery laproscopically (4 1-2 inch incisions) rather than a big, open incision so that’s good.
Because of the spillage in the OR, Greg stayed in the hospital again Monday night. We left the hospital about 1:30pm on Tuesday afternoon and vowed to never go back to that hospital again.
There really is so much more that I can tell but I’m tired of typing it all out and God knows that you are tired of reading it. If I think of things later (that are important), I may come back and add them but, for now, this is my story and I’m sticking to it.
Thank you a million times over for all of the thoughts and prayers that were sent our way over the weekend. Thank you if you commented on the blog or facebook or if you just made a silent comment to yourself as you were reading. We are so incredibly lucky to have such wonderful friends and family. Also? Can I give a huge shout-out to our parents for stepping in and taking care of our children for the past several days? Because I’m gonna. There is no way that we wanted them in the hospital, but I really felt like I needed to be with Greg so that I could ask the questions and do all of the arguing when he didn’t have the energy. Both sets of our parents took them and picked them up from daycare. They kept them overnight so I could stay with Greg past 5pm. They made sure they were fed, bathed & that they had so much fun they are going to hate to have to come home tonight.
Thank you for listening to me spout all of my ramblings & for not telling me to shut-up. At least, not out loud 😀
Also? I promise my next few posts will be fun & light & won’t be about hospitals at all.