Chapter One: My Stomach Is Still Dying
If you’re an avid reader of my blog, you may remember my last post about my stomach dying and me barfing 40-50 times a night. You may also recall that I ended that blog post on a somewhat hopeful note, stating:
Yesterday was a half decent day though. So part of me is really hoping the antibiotics I was on for absolutely no reason decided to unleash an army inside my stomach and pillage everything good from inside me. At least then there is some chance of my stomach opening its little stomach arms and welcoming food back into its little stomach family. I would like that. Food is good. Now go eat something and think of me.
Ha. Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha.
How innocent and naive of me.
I remained super sick for the entire month of September and the beginning of October, up until my bestie Melissa’s wedding day because the wedding gods performed some sort of ancient maid of honour ritual on me to let me enjoy the big day without barfing non stop. And then near the end of November, that ancient wedding blessing turned back into a curse and I stopped being able to eat food again. Well that’s a lie, I can eat food. I just can’t eat food without then being in horrendous stomach pain and spending the night barfing. Don’t you love how much I use the word barf?
So I went back to the doctor, reminded them that I still didn’t have a date or time for a specialist appointment even though apparently the hospital placed an “emergency” scope request for me back in August. Also reminded them that I’m probably dying or something. And then I finally got a letter in the mail from a gastro specialist! It only took 6 months after getting violently ill to have the precious gift of a doctor’s appointment bestowed upon me and my house. I immediately ran outside to my altar and provided a sacrifice to the Eastern Health gods so that I wouldn’t get a call a day before the appointment being told that it has been postponed for another 3-6 years (I’m clearly exaggerating/lying about the sacrifice thing but that’s not far from how it feels to finally get in to see a specialist here in Newfoundland).
I felt like I’ve been waiting so long for this appointment and have been so sick that the night before I was actually feeling a bit giddy about the whole thing, kind of like how I used to feel as a kid the night before a first day of school, or on Christmas Eve (I’m a nerd so the feelings are very similar).
Wednesday morning came and I jumped up out of bed and got dressed for my big day at the hospital. I did the usual song and dance of handing over my MCP card, being told where in the hospital to go for my appointment, getting lost, being too stubborn to ask for directions, finally finding the place, and then sitting in the exam room waiting to see the doctor while all these thoughts of dread filled my head because I’m always so nervous to meet with new doctors and also I hate the thought of having to tell my 7 hour long epic saga of medical woes to every medical practitioner I encounter. But in strolled the doctor and he was actually a nice human being, seemed legitimately concerned for me and was a bit pissed that emergency room doctors just threw prescriptions for morphine and abdominal pain meds at me without trying in any way shape or form to figure out what the cause of the problem was.
He told me he needed to do a scope on me ASAP to get to the bottom of everything. He expected to find one of two scenarios inside my tummy: 1) Scar tissue from an ulcer that has healed which is blocking the exit of food from my stomach or 2) Gastroparesis, which means paralysis of stomach muscles that makes it very hard for my stomach to digest food on its own. He told me that if it was gastroparesis he would start me on a medication to sort of kick start my stomach muscles for me so food can move through my body the way food is supposed to and hopefully I could keep eating things.
I was barely home for 10 minutes after my appointment with him when I got a call from the hospital saying I had to come in on Monday (yesterday) to get the scope. I was SUPER impressed with how quickly he fit me in. That almost never happens around here.
Chapter Two: The Quick and Dirty
So yesterday, Matthew and I headed off to the hospital so I could look at my own insides and figure out why I feel like I’m dying all the time. It was a pretty interesting procedure.
First I had to go in a room with a nurse who explained what was going to happen to me. She told me that it isn’t a pleasant experience but that at least its a quick experience, which is why she refers to endoscopies as “the quick and dirty.” She then put an IV in my arm, fucked it up, and then put another IV in my arm. Next she had to explain to me that because I was going to be sedated I wouldn’t be able to do a number of things for 24 hours including driving, working, or signing important contracts. I was pretty disappointed with the last one because I had an appointment with my estate lawyer for later that day to sign 5 separate deeds (jk I don’t even know what a deed is). She left me with one order for the day, that I had to go home and spend the day binge watching Netflix. Trust me, nurse, that’s one thing I can do.
When they were ready for me another really nice nurse came to get me and brought me into a room and helped me up onto a stretcher. She told me that the procedure was “quick and dirty” so I assume that is the go-to endoscopy department joke, and then she sprayed some freezing stuff into the back of my throat. It felt really strange, but most times when I’m getting a medical procedure I kind of view it all as if I’m watching an episode of House or Grey’s Anatomy so I just remember thinking “I don’t think I can swallow anymore, how INTERESTING is that!” My doctor then came in, referenced the “quick and dirty” and then told me he was going to stick a tube down my throat. “It will feel like you can’t breathe but I promise you you can,” he told me. “Oh, good,” I remember thinking.
They turned me onto my side, placed the sedation medicine into my IV and put in a mouth guard. The nurse told me I would probably drool a lot, and I thought “ha I bet I’m going to look like the most attractive person ever” but then the medication kicked in and I didn’t give a crap about anything. I remember both being aware that a tube went down my throat and not really being aware of it at the same time. I don’t remember feeling like I couldn’t breathe, which is always a bonus. I remember seeing my insides on the screen and thinking “wow that’s the inside of me right there!” but I’m pretty sure I was too sedated to think much of anything else. Then the tube was coming out and I was all finished.
They told me I did a great job and that I was their best patient of the day, which I’m sure they say to every patient, but I still like hearing it and wish they gave me some sort of ribbon to prove it. Then I was wheeled into recovery where Matthew joined me. We sat for about 30 minutes while they checked my blood pressure and waited for the doctor to finish up another “quick and dirty” so he could come back and tell me his findings. It was a really romantic afternoon for Matt and I because we were placed right next to someone who just came from a colonoscopy whose only order from the nurse was to fart as much as possible.
My doctor showed up not long after they removed my IV and explained to me, between the noise of a stranger farting, that there was nothing blocking the exit to my stomach so I have gastroparesis. He told me he was going to prescribe a drug called “domperidone” but I was still sort of sedated so I heard “Dom Perignon” and said “but isn’t that a wine?” Wrong on both accounts because apparently it’s champagne.
So now I have a new diagnosis to add to the ever growing list. I’m really worried about someone else out there catching up to me and having more chronic illnesses than me so I need to hoard them whenever possible. So far I think I’m winning.
Fingers crossed that my new champagne medication will work so that I can keep eating food because I really love food. Food is the best.
My doctor wants to see me for a follow up after Christmas but is confident that the new prescription will allow me to eat some Christmas treats.
This might sound weird to hear but getting that scope and receiving yet another diagnosis is like the best Christmas gift. I don’t want to be stockpiling illnesses and I certainly don’t want to have a paralyzed stomach but it is SO nice to finally have some answers when your body keeps betraying you all willy nilly. I’m not naive so I’m sure having a paralyzed stomach won’t be easy on me, but at least now doctors won’t just be able to shrug their shoulders and say “pffft I don’t know what’s wrong with you so go home,” if I’m having a barf-a-thon in the emergency room.
Happy Christmas to me!