The Saga of Karen and the Evil Gallbladder

Since we are celebrating the 7th anniversary of this unique and particularly stressful Valentines Day I thought I’d look up my thoughts on this topic.  I wrote this in my cell phone at the time and luckily it is all saved on my computer now.

February 2012

The saga of Karen…

So we are nearing the end of our 2nd trip to Austin last Sunday (February 12, 2012), when – at 4am, my mate wakes me up and says she has horrible gas pains and do we have anything for it.
Drat. This is not good…
So off I go, stopping at convenience stores to no avail until I get to a 24-hr CVS and grab the big box of Simethicone (generic Gas-X) and scurry back to our La Quinta with it.
This helps not a little bit & we have to add Imodium to the mix to combat the new (fun) diarrhea.
Still no improvement in the horrible abdominal pain + now she’s nauseous. Add Pepto Bismol.

Still no improvement – and now heartburn. K is afraid she might be having a heart attack (frankly I’m starting to think the same thing) so 9-1-1 conjures up EMS and a little ride to South Austin ER.
After several hours and some IV Dilaudid, she has some relief from the excruciating pain + a diagnosis of food poisoning due to the previous night’s Chinese pork / eggplant / garlic main course.

Karen is skeptical to put it mildly.

She explains to the Dr (that’s a stretch) that she has had food poisoning before and it felt nothing like this.  The Dr says “food poisoning presents itself in different ways.”  And with that discharges my wife in excruciating pain.

We pack up & head north, driving through a spectacular snowstorm for over an hour! Yippee!  We make it back from Austin to Frisco in just a hair over 3 hours with my miserable bride in a fetal position in the passenger seat.  It snows all the way to Waco – which is beautiful, but we are far more concerned about her health than Mother Nature’s glistening layer of white.

So we are back on Sunday. She is miserable, with severe pain, no appetite and not drinking fluids.

This goes on through Monday.

February 14, 2012 (Valentines Day): By Tuesday morning, with no change in the pain, it’s time to decide: ER or family Dr. We make an appt with the latter & he says yessirree what we’ve come to believe is true: she’s got one mighty sick gallbladder.

And off to Plano Presby ER we go – with a recommendation for an excellent surgeon.
Ultrasound confirms her gallbladder is shot to hell and has to go.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the Dr in Austin had thought to do this simple test and not put my bride’s life in peril…

So yesterday at 4:30 she’s out for the count & wakes up a coupla pounds (and one gallbladder) lighter.

February 15, 2012:  Miz no_gallbladder is feeling a bit perkier this morning. Actually hungry (snorking up saltines) & having some coffee. Her tummy is making noises, so it is “waking up” & her digestive tract is coming to life. All good things.
I’ve moved the tray to her side of the bed, as she’s able to feed / drink on her own now.
We went for a walk (shuffle, actually) around the ward last night, which left her pretty thrashed.
Things are looking up 🙂 Recovery will take awhile, I’m afraid, as we’re not dealing with an athlete here (like any of us are…)
So… Yay! She’s feeling much better this morning. But not wanting to go home today – and I’m inclined to agree.

So later this morning the nurses come by with discharge papers to sign.  K tells them she really isn’t feeling up to going home yet.  She is still very weak and not particularly spry.  The nurse explains there is no medical reason to keep her and under duress she starts signing the forms.  I watch as her lip starts to quiver slightly and the color in her face edges toward scarlet.  I reach over and feel her forehead.  It is noticeably hot.

I snatch the papers away and tell both nurses in no uncertain terms:  “She has just spiked a fever.  Get the hell out of here and come back with a thermometer.  She is not leaving here until she has been stable for 24 hours, so don’t bring discharge forms back until that happens!”  Nurses scatter like cockroaches when the lights come on.
(Everyone needs an advocate when they are hospitalized.  If you have a loved one in the hospital, be their advocate!  You could be saving their life.)

Looks like I’m sleeping in the recliner another night…

(actually 3 more nights as it turns out)

Some Valentines Day huh?

Ready to Get the Hell Outta Here

The end of the saga (I hope)

February 17, 2012: Karen is finally feeling better. More perky than any other day – And – getting out of bed + to / from the bathroom all by herself.
A friggin’ milestone !

After lots and lots of antibiotics (administered every damned 2 f@&$!ing hrs all_the_damned_night_long)
…she definitely seems to be responding.

These constant interruptions to our sleep are really getting old. In case you’ve never spent any time in a hospital (and good for you – try and keep it that way) the one thing you will NOT get, is REST.

Only 10 minutes ago, during our first walk of the day around the ward, we were hatching an escape plan. Several iterations, actually… Which included:

A: Making several little trips to transfer all our stuff bit-by-bit to the general vicinity of the elevators. Then go for another “walk” & dart (like we can actually “dart”) to the left and into a waiting elevator – while booting our pile of stuff in ahead of us. And thus escaping from our captors…

B: tying together our copious supply of bedsheets and blankets (they’ve got a lotta nerve calling these pathetic things blankets) into a prison rope. Pitching a chair into the window. Then shinnying down seven floors to freedom.
… Probably oughtta figure out something heavy to anchor one end of our rope, first…

C: sign all the friggin’ discharge forms & mosey on out

Anyway, one way or another, we’re outta here today. A full night’s sleep would be such a novelty!

And just this morning I figured out why you can’t bring a gun into a hospital – even when you’re licensed to carry.

After 3 days of being awakened JUST after you’ve finally gone back to sleep – so a nurse can check your temperature – or change the IV – or some other damned thing that could actually wait…
Even the most even-tempered, rational and otherwise law-abiding individual would unholster their .45 and open fire in the general direction of the disturbance.

So now I get it.

An’ we are makin’ a break fer it…



After K is home from the hospital and feeling well enough to get back to relative normalcy, she sits down and crafts an email to the ER director at the Austin hospital.   She lets the director know what transpired in their ER and that the Dr should have listened to her.  And that by not listening to the patient, she put a very sick woman’s life at risk.  That email had not gone out but 15 minutes when the phone rang.  A VERY apologetic Director was at the other end of the phone.  He made sure to tell my wife that they were going to review her case and see to it this never happened again.  They were also reversing all charges.

Ultimately all the hospital and doctor’s charges in Austin were reversed.

K told the Director that was not the reason for the email.  We would never have sued the hospital.  We could have.  And we would have prevailed easily.  But that’s not the way we see things.  Karen is fine.  A little the worse for wear, but otherwise OK.  She just wanted the doctor to do a better job of listening to her patients.  This god complex some doctors have can result in dead patients.  Doctors can bury their mistakes.  Literally.  And Karen wanted this doctor to learn to be a better practitioner.  Hopefully that has been the case.

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