01 February 2014

Galling, just galling.

Galling - as defined by dictionary.com is an adjective meaning chafing; irritating; vexing; exasperating. All four words define that which is galling perfectly. I found this out earlier this week in more ways than I ever bargained for.

I got home this past Wednesday after two and a half days of meetings in New York City and I was ready to crash early. The Boy and the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML were out at Church activities and I took advantage of the opportunity to call it early. I crawled into bed around 8PM and started reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's latest opus, "The Bully Pulpit," (BTW - I would give my right arm to be as brilliant a researcher/writer as Goodwin) and then it happened. With a fury I can hardly describe, my abdomen was on fire. This was not angry gas. This was something totally different. Think what happened to poor John Hurt on the table in that scene in Alien. It was totally like that and I was writhing in agony. I tried walking it off and nothing. SML got home and was instantly concerned when she saw my condition. Because she's smart, she began asking questions to help assess my situation, which was getting worse. She called the urgent care that our insurance/politburo allows us to use and they were closed. Apparently, the appartchik only considers emergency care between 8AM and 8PM (note that for next time). So it was off the Emergency Room at UConn Health Center.

We picked the right night to hit up the ER. I was on a gurney by 10PM. Now, if you didn't know, the UConn Health Center is a teaching hospital and I had a fourth year med student all over me like white on rice. Apparently I was going to be a fun case for her. And little did I know I was going to be a fun case for about 16 residents in different stages of their training. Good times, people, good times. Anyway, it took them a little while to decide what they could do for my pain, but once my new BFF, Dilaudid, was administered, things got all kinds of rosy. Until it wore off and things got hideous again.

Anyway, by 3AM and multiple ultra-sounds and a CAT scan, it was determined that my gall bladder was all kinds of angry at me and surgery was on the horizon. I was admitted and in a semi-private (which actually means no privacy whatsoever for you or your poor sap of a drug-addled roommate) room. There is no sleeping in the hospital. I had someone poking, prodding or assessing my vitals every five seconds (again, teaching hospitals are fun!). Then, at 5AM the warren of surgical residents came in, each one prodding my flaming abdomen, which was so not cool. This visit was followed by the chief surgeon who declared that my gall bladder was needing to check out and would I be OK with a 10AM surgery? Um, yes, bring it.

I have zero recollection, zero, of the surgery. I remember being wheeled into the surgical theater and being told to be careful as I slid onto the operating table and that's it. The next thing I remember was waking up in recovery, feeling all kinds of good. I'd been warned that my throat would hurt thanks to the breathing tube. It did. I was told I might be nauseous. I wasn't. I asked where SML was and the nurses got her and she was once again at my side, convincing me all was well in the world. I was amazed at how good I felt. I would find out later that my surgeon, as a parting gift at the end of my surgery, shot me up with Toradol, which is pretty much the greatest thing ever. Ever.

So it was back to my semi-private relaxation nest where they kept me for another 24 hours. I was released Friday around noon, with a shaved stomach and four stab wounds and images of one sick, sick gall bladder. The surgical residents all came in on Friday morning at 530AM (yeah, thanks), swooning about how sick my gall bladder was. Apparently, this was a pretty big bonus for them. Somehow I think the whole crew was in the operating room for my surgical fiesta. I hope it was memorable.

It's been memorable for us. This was my first hospitalization in my more than 47 years of living. I join my wife in living a life sans a gall bladder. I've learned that if it weren't for the ladies of the Caribbean islands, hospitals would not function at night. I've learned that nurses really do all the hard work. I've learned that beef broth is straight from Satan's kitchen.
Straight from Satan's Short-Order Cafe
I'm grateful for modern medicine. I'm grateful for people who surround us that care. I'm forever grateful for the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML. She is the best caregiver/nurse/partner/friend I could ever ask for. I'm trying to be a good patient this time. My track record has been bleak at best but I'm going for the gold medal on this one.

So yeah, it's been a fun couple of days. I've been sitting up for too long now so I'm wrapping this up. I need to go think about a cool back story for the scars, which better be good ones!

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