Monday, March 20, 2006

I'm Home!

I got home from the hospital on Sunday afternoon. There is an old Simon and Garfunkel song that starts out:

"Gee but its great to be back home, home is where I want to be!"

That just about sums it up for me.

Today I've had really good day. I have been resting, and catching up on a few things. I have felt reasonably good, and am beginning to get my new home-routine down. I really don't miss the hospital at all!

As my wife stated in her guest post, I have been experiencing a lot of abdominal pain for some time. My Dr. finally decided to have a CT scan done of my abdomen to see what was going on down there.

I had an appointment for 8:00 am on Monday morning (March 13th) at the CT lab. My plan was to go get the test done, and then report for work a little later in the morning after I was done. I had expected it to take a day or two for results to come back from the scan. After the scan was over, I found out that I would be going nowhere anytime soon!

When I got there, I was handed what looked like a milk jug of orange flavored barium, and told to have a cup full of the stuff every 20 minutes. Each cup full began to be harder and harder to take. I swear I was tasting that awful stuff for days afterword! I guess it could have been worse -- they could have administered the barium from the "other" end.

After an hour and a half, they handed me a hospital gown and a pair of pajama bottoms to change into (having bottoms was a nice touch, I thought). Then I was escorted to the CT scanner room. After the scan, I expected to go back to the dressing room and change back into my regular clothes. However, I was told to just take a seat and wait for a few minutes and a nurse would come talk to me. This should have been my first clue that something was up.

So I sat and waited for about 10-15 minutes. Finally someone came and asked me if a Dr. had talked to me yet. I replied that "no, I hadn't". A couple of minutes later, I was led to a phone where my Internist would talk to me. I sat down on a chair and began talking to my Dr. He asked me if anyone had spoken with me about my test results. Again, I replied that I had not.

He then explained to me that I had been suffering from Diverticulitis, which had then developed an abscess. In addition, the infection had spread to my liver as well, where a second abscess had formed. I had been at the outpatient CT lab at the hospital. The Dr. told me that I would be admitted to the hospital and to expect to be there for 4-5 days. I would be taken to the in-patient CT lab, where they would use the CT scanner to pinpoint the locations of the abscesses, and insert drainage tubes. I was told that the tubes would probably be in for 3-4 weeks, and that I would be on home IV antibiotics for about 2 months. The Dr. also exclaimed that he was surprised that I was getting along as well as I had been, considering the extent and seriousness of the problems I was having.

I was also told that in a few months, after I had completely healed and was infection-free for awhile, that I would need to undergo surgery to remove the infected portion of my bowel, and to clear out any scar tissue that may develop. Apparently, once you have a weak spot in your colon, it is likely to have similar problems in the future. And we wouldn't want that to happen, now would we?

Suddenly the seriousness of the situation hit me! Things were about to change in a big way. However, I had been in so much pain, that I welcomed finding out what the trouble was, and getting it resolved. Later I would learn that if one of those abscesses were to have burst, that it would have been a life-threatening situation which would have required emergency surgery. (Sort of like a ruptured appendix, only worse).

Dawn Ann, my wife, had been concerned about this whole situation, and had come to join me at the CT lab. I was so glad that she was there. After getting dressed in street clothes, I was directed to the lab for some blood-work. Then I was lead to the in-patient X-ray lab for the next CT scan. I was poked and prodded a few times until they found a vein for an IV, then they started pumping me up full of all kinds of drugs. They ran me through the CT scanner a few times until they had pin-pointed the abscess pockets on my bowel and liver. Then they poked me. The Dr in the x-ray lab pulled 500 cc's of fluid from my liver, and about another 50 or so from my bowel. They were amazed at the amount of fluid. I would learn that up until about 5 years ago, someone in my same condition would have had major abdominal surgery, to clear out the abscesses, and would have been fitted with a colostomy bag for about 6 months in order for the colon to heal. Yikes!

The good part for me, was that immediately after the drain tubes had been inserted and much of the fluid had been drained, the pressure and abdominal pain that I had been experiencing was reduced. Even to this point in time, a week later, I have not had the same amount of pain that I was having before the drains were inserted. (Of course, the Lortabs help a lot now too, but I still don't think the pain is as great as it was before, thank heavens!)

Although I was to be admitted to the hospital, they had a full-house. After the drain insertion and flushing procedure, I was left in a hallway in the x-ray dept. until a room opened up. Poor Dawn Ann spent hours in the x-ray waiting room, worrying and wondering how things went. My Internist came by to visit me in the hallway and explained what they would be doing the next few days. They would be taking cultures of the bacteria that had caused my infection. First they had to identify the specific bacteria involved, then they had to determine what combination of antibiotics, and in what dosage would be needed to kill them off. When that equation was solved, then I could go home (in theory, at least).

Eventually I was able to be assigned to a room, and got all settled in.

There are some other stories, and thoughts and reflections that I intend to write about from my experiences this past week, but I can't do all of that in one post.

I would like to thank all those who have had my family and I in their thoughts and prayers. I have received a generous outpouring of love and support from family, friends, ward and stake members, co-workers, and from my blogging friends as well. Your kindness and thoughtfulness has been very touching for us. Thanks for being there for us.


Maren said...

Oh, I am glad you are home. What an ordeal. I pray that you will recover completely and quickly.

Tigersue said...

I'm glad you are home, and that you have received the treatments you need. I'm so glad you have such a great wife to help take care of you! Take it easy, and get the rest you need!

Mary A said...

Wow! What an adventure! I'm very glad you are home and that things are going well. Take care of yourself and appreciate your nice family.

Téa said...

Praise be that you have such good medical treatment and caregivers--especially your wife =)

Take care and I'll be patient in waiting to hear more!