I’m Not Average

Wow, they say you never know what a day may bring.  I never thought that the day after I put up my last blog post, “My Bad Day Roll”, I would have a seriously bad day!  Here’s the story of  my seriously bad day.

It was a Saturday night, just a few weeks ago.  My husband and I had enjoyed an evening at home with cooking great food, wine and a movie.  All was fine when I went to sleep, but I was awakened with an all too familiar stomach pain during the night.  The pain is what I’ve experienced before with bowel obstructions.  Mine are caused by scar tissue from previous surgeries.  I’ve have been hospitalized twice before with these and have had the pain on a weekly basis for the past few months.  I took some medication and went back to sleep wondering if I would be ok to run the next morning.

My husband and I are training to run a marathon and we’ve come to look forward to our Sunday long, easy runs.  The pain was still there when I woke up.  Walking and drinking are what the Doctors have said to do when I feel the pain, so if walking is good, running has to be better. I ran my eight miles, in spite of the pain.  When I got home, I told my husband I was going to get a shower and we might need to go to the hospital after that, which is what we ended up doing.

As suspected, it was another obstruction and I was admitted.  Ok, let me ask for patience here, as I share the details.  This is a pretty fresh experience and it was a big event so sharing is therapeutic for me.

The initial plan is to avoid surgery by resting the bowel, so no food or water and everything goes through an IV, including the needed pain and anti-nausea medication.  IV’s and I have a history.  No matter how much I want to cooperate, my veins do not.  They may put on a good show and boost the administering nurses confidence, but then they roll away and refuse to cooperate, making the nurse more determined to conquer my veins.  If the nurse succeeds in getting the IV started, it’s only a matter of time before the vein will no longer play the game.  Before evening set on that first day, I was already five IV’s in with the promise of a new one in the morning, aided by an ultra sound machine.

I went to sleep but was awakened often by the pain, in spite of the medication.  I asked for more and finally reached the point that the nurse said they could not give me any more.  I would have to wait until the doctor came in the morning.  The anti-nausea medication wasn’t working either, and I ended up sitting on the bathroom floor by the toilet for what seemed like an eternity.  I was so sick and the pain by now was excruciating.  The nurses always ask you on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst ever, to rate your pain.  I had to say I was at a 10 at this point.  I don’t know how many times I pushed the nurses help button, each time getting the same response.  There isn’t anything else we can do.  I called my husband crying and asked him to pray for me.  When I hung up, I pressed the nurse call button, once again.  This time I demanded to see a doctor, now!

When the doctor came in and I explained that I’ve experienced this and had been hospitalized for this twice before and something was not right this time.  The pain was unbearable and it felt like something had exploded inside of me.  He examined me and said he was calling the surgeon and they would have to do exploratory surgery.  They gave me medication at that point, enough that the rest of the events leading up to the surgery are a blur.  I remember some of the prep.  The one thing that really stands out is the masked man that they wheeled my bed up to.  He said, “You aren’t going to like me.  I have to put IV lines into your neck.  You aren’t going to like me.”  I will never know who that masked man was, but whatever medication they gave me erased my memory, so I will never know who it is I’m not supposed to like.

My husband would have to fill us both in on any other events leading up to the surgery.  It turns out that the bowel had perforated in two spots.  I was in septic shock and was a very sick girl.  They were able to repair it and they cleaned out all of the scar tissue, with the surgery lasting about four hours.

My next memory was waking up in recovery, still in a lot of pain.  My blood pressure was dangerously low, but pain medication would make it dangerously high.  They couldn’t find my happy place. I remember being told that I would be taken to ICU.  I knew I had never been taken to ICU before and that wasn’t a good thing, but I wasn’t alarmed.  I remember hearing a Doctor tell my husband that I was in kidney failure and that they were going to have to start dialysis in the morning.  I knew that wasn’t good either, but I still wasn’t alarmed.  It seemed that everything was out of whack in my body.  They were having a hard time managing my blood sugar and levels of a multitude of other things.  They would hang more bags of fluid on the IV trees to try to bring whatever it was back into line.  I do remember wondering if I was going to make it though all of this at one point.  I wasn’t hearing anyone say that, but even still, I wasn’t alarmed.

The first couple days were the worst and I never want to relive that experience, but thankfully the kidneys started functioning and they were able to get my blood pressure and pain levels under control.  I spent five days in ICU, after which I was down graded to PCU, which is a step down unit, where I spent another five days before being released.

Recovery has been slow for me this time.  I’ve had seven previous major surgeries and each time, after two weeks, I was back to work and pretty much into my regular activity again.  This time kicked my butt.  Up until the last four days, I’ve had absolutely, no energy.  All activity was followed by a nap.  I’m happy to say that I’m starting to feel like a human again.

Why did all of this happen, and why to me?  I even believe in God.  Couldn’t he have prevented this from happening to me?

I think I’ve had more than my share of surgeries already.  I wonder how many the average person has in a life time.  I know that I’ve never been an average person.  All four of my babies were born by C-Section, which is not the normal delivery route, nor does the normal person have four babies via C-Section.  My appendix ruptured once.  I had pain for five days and had even gone to the doctor.  I had none of the classic symptoms, so I was sent home with an anti-biotic and told I must have a spastic colon or diverticulitis. Even when I ended up getting an ambulance ride to the hospital, I did not have the normal symptoms, other than groaning in pain like a crazy person.  They did exploratory surgery than to find that the appendix had already ruptured.  In fact, the surgeon said that it probably had ruptured two days earlier, but the poison had been held in a pocket of tissue.  My hysterectomy was supposed to be an easier laparoscopic procedure, but due to the scar tissue from the other surgeries, I got the laparoscopic incisions and the big one.  That doesn’t happen to the average person either.

I was told that the average person with my scar tissue issues will deal with a bowel obstruction every two years.  How unfair is that?  I can’t imagine going through what I just did again, let alone a possibility of surgery every two years.  And the bills!  Even with insurance, the bills for this are going to be outrageous.  How does someone do this every two years?

I don’t have all of the answers to my questions, but I do know a few things relating to this experience.  Life happens.  Good and bad things happen to every one of us.  Some seem to have more of one or the other and it’s not fair, but life isn’t fair.  You didn’t come into this world with any promises of this world being fair to you.

This I do know.  I’m not average!  This I know, too.  Yes, I believe in God and I believe that He is powerful enough to have prevented this.  Why didn’t He then? I do not know, but I do know that He was with me through it.  I wasn’t fearful, even when I heard all the bad reports.  I was at peace and I made it.  Some things you just have to go through.  I also believe that somehow, God will work all things together for good, in spite of the bad in this.  And if it happens again, God will be with me through it again.  These things, I am absolutely, sure of!

There is a song I’ve heard on the radio that relates to this experience for me.  Some of the words are below.   I’m hoping that in whatever you are facing today, you will know that you don’t have to be alone, and you too, can find peace on your journey “through”.

“Sometimes He calms the storm
With a whispered peace be still
He can settle any sea
But it doesn’t mean He will
Sometimes He holds us close
And lets the wind and waves go wild
Sometimes He calms the storm
And other times He calms His child”

By Scott Krippayne