06 March 2010

the extremely long story of what is still unknown

As most of you who are my friends (and family) know, I was in the hospital this past week. Many of my friends on facebook and here, know the things I have been going through and some are still finding out. I thought it would be much easier to blog about it here, to explain in detail, the events of this week.

I'll begin with last week when I had my fourth painful episode that lead me to the ER again. This time to a new hospital since our insurance changed in January. They did the usual thing, hooked me up on an IV and gave me zophran for the nausea and a narcotic to ease the pain. The same tests had been taken to only reveal the same thing as before: nothing so we will conclude (again) that you have GERD. Yes, we already know. (GERD is short for Gastroesophageal reflux disease, a condition in which the stomach contents whether food or liquid, leaks backwards from the stomach into the esophagus, the tube from the mouth to the stomach. This action can irritate the esophagus, causing heartburn and other symptoms).

Tuesday was just like any other day until I felt 'the burn' that begins the 'episodes'. I started with my first line of defense (good ol' mylanta) and when it wasn't quenched I resorted to my emergency medicines (nitrostat, darvocet and nifedipine). I called Rick to let him know what was going on and left in the message that I was remaining calm and was just going to wait it through. He called me back and it was beginning to worsen. Eventually, it began to subside and I was more happier than anyone. I mean, I just had an attack no less than a week before, there was no way it could be happening again this quickly, this close to the last one.

I thought it was going to all go away, or at least I wanted to believe that. Natalie's first t-ball game was later that afternoon and there was no way I was going to miss it. I did. The pain came back in full force, worse than earlier and I knew I had no choice but to go to the ER again. I was overcome with nausea (I have vomited in previous attacks), the pain was beginning to spread to my arms, I became very dizzy and my vision was beginning to get spotty. All I said to Rick was 'hospital' and walked, determined not to fall, straight to the car. I felt even worse for Nat, having to see me that way always kills me.

This time at the ER there were no beds available. I had to wait with the pain for so long. By this time it was early evening and I had hardly eaten anything. I usually try to eat something every few hours because I can feel the acid building. In this case, it was coming and going and I was starving. They finally called me in only to sit me inside the ER and talk to me. They decided to give me a narcotic shot. My dad had went to buy some crackers so I could eat something. I took two bites and couldn't eat anymore. Suddenly, the pain escalated again and I closed my eyes, told my mom to tell the doctor that it was getting worse and to get me some water. My mom came back with water, raised my head so I could take a drink and all I remember was my body rejecting the water.

I woke up in a haze, surrounded by a rush of people, poking things in me, putting an air mask on me and I was wondering why I was laying down and how I had gotten there. It took me a few minutes and eavesdropping to realize that I had passed out. That was actually the real ticket into the ER and later, into the hospital and for that (as much as it terrified my parents who were with me) I was thankful for. It would be the first time that extra measures were being taken to find out what's going on instead of just sending me home to wait for it to happen again.

the emergency room.

I was completely out of it for awhile, constantly in between being awake and asleep with visions in my head of the last thing I remembered before passing out and how the pain made me feel. All I could think of was tiny dragons with their sharp, jagged skin and their fire breathing wrecking my insides. At least I was confident that I shouldn't worry about being in too much pain, I was at the hospital after all and medicines sure work fast when they are going through an IV.

The next few days basically consisted of talking with the Doctor who was overseeing me there, having a consultation with the GI specialist, taking a cat scan, a MRCP, and a EDG (endoscopy). The cat scan had showed that I had an enlarged common bile duct so they wanted to see it there was a stone lodged anywhere. Being as I don't have a gallbladder anymore, they had to rule out gallstones and I think the Doctor was a little surprised to hear that I hadn't had any of these troubles prior to the removal of the gallbladder. The MRCP didn't find any stones and so I had the endoscopy done (again).

the endoscopy.

The scope showed that I do have Gastritis (an inflammation (irritation and swelling) of the lining of the stomach) and a weak LES (the lower esophageal sphincter) which is all GERD related stuff. They also found that I have a hiatal hernia (a condition in which a portion of the stomach protrudes upward into the chest, through an opening in the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the sheet of muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. It is used in breathing.) but nothing indicative to the symptoms of why I was in the ER in the first place.
Maybe that can explain why I feel nausea practically every single day, why food never settles comfortably in my stomach but after all the food restrictions and this, you would think I would be a twig by now but I am not. They have told me losing weight will factor in my GERD getting better but it's so hard when you feel like crap practically every day and you can't even bend down after you eat, or even hours after you eat. I am trying though, I'm walking and you should see the way I eat and what I eat but nothing yet. It's so frustrating when you are doing all that you can, taking a grip of medicine every day and taking a grip of medicine with you every where you go in case an episode decides to rear it's ugly head.

the waiting.

I was in the hospital for three days, waiting for results, waiting for answers. Rick had stayed home from work to help with Natalie and to help with me. He kept everyone updated via facebook as much as he could. He kept me encouraged with all the words and prayers from friends and family. He helped in badgering the Doctors with the right questions and suggestions we would have never thought of if it wasn't for a friend of ours from church who has gone through a similar ordeal with her very young daughter. It's far from over but according the hospital, they did all the tests they could do. Everything else we have to ask our primary doctor and GI specialist to help us get, like to find out if it could possibly be a mass cell disorder, or to request a 24 hour ph-probe that only hospitals like UCLA can do. Though we still do not know what the exact cause of all this is, it's nice to know that something was done to find out more of what's going on.

As I stated in my facebook status since coming home last night, thank you, thank you for all your prayers, thoughts and encouragement. my heart is overflowing with gratitude more than i can say. i'm very happy to be home now. we are still on a path to finding answers and healing but at least we have gone a few steps further instead of another stalemate...

I know it's not over but I must have faith that we will find answers and find healing. I know that He is close to the broken-hearted and to those who are suffering. I know that I can not rely on myself alone but in Him and in that I find my comfort.


Jessica said...

Oh my goodness! I am so sorry to hear about this & wish I had known earlier--I surely would have said a prayer for you. Well, now that I know, consider prayers being said!

Rest up. Take care. And, let the people who love you. :)

melissa said...

andrea- you poor thing! i really hope you're feeling better soon. x

Heather said...

Im so sorry to hear about this. I hate when things like this happen...I've had some issues as well, supposedly kidney stones and yikes...I'd rather give birth. At least you get something cute and cuddly in the end ;)

Hoping you feel better soon and get to the bottom of it! Also very glad you have insurance!~

Phyllis said...

My what suffering you have been thoughts and prayers are with you,

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about your illness, Andrea. I really hope you find out the cause of your suffering soon and combat it. My best wishes are with you.


Jennifer said...

i hope you do feel better and that some sort of cure or method of alleviation can be found for this.

Cassi said...

I'm so sorry to hear you having to go through all of this and I hope you have some answers soon. I'll be sending healing thoughts your way.
Hugs, Cassi

nullalux said...

Andrea, I am so sorry to hear of these troubles. You and your family are in our thoughts, and I am so glad you have a strong network of support. When I've been in hospital, having my partner there to advocate for me has been invaluable. In a way, he was in more pain than I, just from seeing me in distress.

Again, light and healing to you,

Diane said...

My goodness, I am so sorry you have been so sick. I suffer from acid reflux, but no where near the symptoms you are having. I pray the doctors can figure it out and get you the help you need to feel better.

Amanda said...

Oh, my....Many prayers for healing coming your way. I know many doctors poo-poo the idea, but have you considered allergies as an underlying complication? I went through a very strange period of sickness in college and despite being told by doctor after doctor that it was in my head, I finally went to an allergist who found a number of surprising food allergies. Once I eliminated those foods, all the stomach problems subsided.

L said...

Thinking about you and praying for you,
keep us updated.

karuski said...

I can only try to imagine how much pain you have experienced. I truly hope you will get better.

*Caring thoughts and hugs to you*

Emily said...

My prayers are with you! You don't know me, but I love your art, and your blog...all absolutely beautiful. It's terrible to hear of your stomach problems, as I know how frustrating and painful the suffering can be (I have my own stomach disease). Sending loving thoughts to you and your family!