As the stomach turns… Part 1

I promised the tale about my Mother’s Day weekend, and so – here it is.

But – of course – the story actually starts before then. So I gotta back up a bit.

There was a Friday, about the 3rd week of April – a couple weeks after I got my walking cast (post ankle reconstruction surgery) – when my very dear friend agreed to take pity on me and accompany me shopping. See, I don’t really know how to shop for clothes for me. I know, I know – it’s one of those things girls are supposed to just know how to do. But if you were ever the fat girl growing up and all you had available to you was what was the least miserable or reprehensible to choose between – then you’ll get it. Went shopping. Actually had a great time with my friend. Found two DRESSES. Dresses, people! ME! I OWN TWO DRESSES. (Can I just plug Nordstrom Rack shamelessly one more time here, please? Lord have mercy! $140 dresses for $30 each! WOW!) I needed a dress or two for an upcoming court date – so yeah.

That was a busy day. I had to pick Jonathan up early from school. John and Jessica were actually back East visiting colleges galore. Had to get the last minute details squared away for Jonathan’s impending drop-off at the church where he and 50 other high schoolers would be departing for their annual Spring retreat. William had a friend coming to spend the weekend. I had dishes to do. Laundry to fold. Eggs to gather. You get the idea. It was a normal day in the life of me! J

Only, as I was driving toward the high school to pick Jonathan up, I realized I felt AWFUL. Not just sort of – but really. I felt feverish. I had this weird pain in my left side. The weird pain in my left side radiated to my left shoulder – and owie – it hurt! And I kinda felt like I was gonna hurl. And I just wanted to go to bed. Not normal. Life had to go on, though! Got Jonathan picked up, we ran over to Fred’s to pick up a couple of last minute travel sized toiletries – and I couldn’t bring myself to get out of the car! In fact, I could hardly stay awake! So I handed the kid some cash, told him to go get what he needed and to hurry back. Weird! Eventually got Jonathan all packed the rest of the way, duly deposited at the church, hugged, kissed, prayed for, and sent on his way.

The day progressed. I felt worse with each passing moment. I actually went home and went to bed. Before I fell asleep I remembered to take my temperature – 101. My normal is less than normal – more like in the high 96’s. (Amazing what being a DS post-op will do for your body temperature! LOL!)

I had to drag myself out of bed after an hour or so – get William and pal fed and settled for the evening. Thankfully we had a quiet evening planned. I finally felt so horrible that I texted John (who was in Boston at that point in time) and said I didn’t know what I should do. Ever being the practical guy that he is he said, “Go to Urgent Care!” So I did.

Went to the Urgent Care down the street. Nice enough folks. There was a supposition made that I likely had a bladder infection – and so a sample was given, an RX for antibiotics was offered, and off on my merry way to the pharmacy I went. Eventually got home and started the antibiotic.

Amazingly enough, within about 24 hours of starting the antibiotics I felt considerably better, and felt there was hope for the future. Which was good, since William and I were slated to leave for Denver about 48 hours from then! Interestingly enough, I got a call from the Urgent Care doctor on the Monday morning informing me that I did NOT, in fact, have a bladder infection, so I could stop the antibiotic. I mentioned that I was feeling so much better since starting it and that I’d be flying the next day, so he said I should probably take it for a couple more days, and then call it quits.

While we were in Denver I had some days when that shoulder pain made me wonder if maybe something musculoskeletal was going on. I was so thrilled that I’d packed my heating pad – and so I plugged that baby in and wrapped my poor aching shoulder in it!

Of note, I was also finding that pretty much NOTHING I was consuming – pretty much all food and beverages – was settling well. I was having pain, some nausea, and then the pain in my side would worsen, and shortly thereafter, the pain in my shoulder, too. This was the same week that the whole Swine Flu thing was hitting the media. I was pretty confident that I didn’t have anything like THAT going on, but maybe I did have a virus of some sort, so decided to try simpler foods for a while. So I was soup girl! Good thing I love it so much!

I soldiered through the rest of the week in Denver, actually took more of the antibiotic than originally directed to – it made me feel better, darn it all! And was relieved to get home. Only, the thing is, I didn’t feel so good. In fact, I felt pretty awful. I even started throwing up the day after we got back. I never throw up. Like never. I hate it. Abhor it. Detest it. Blech! Shudder! My temp continued to run around 99 to 100. Food was not my friend. I decided to go to a liquid diet. Oh, and go back to urgent care.

I actually had called my PCP – but being the popular gal she was, and the lateness of the hour, her MA directed me to their urgent care (as opposed to the local neighborhood one I’d been to previously). So off we went, John and I. Gave them the run down, they were concerned about that shoulder pain and the fever, so ordered a chest x-ray, asked for another urine sample, and when everything came back clean, decided to give me another RX for antibiotics and send the sample for culture. Said they’d call me with results in a couple of days. BUT, the doc made sure I understood in no uncertain terms, should anything worsen, I should go straight to the ER.

I spend a lot of time in the ER will William.

We’re there at least a dozen times a year – yes, his asthma is poorly controlled on maximum therapy – well, it has gotten better since Denver, I must say!

I hate the ER.

It sucks.

I don’t believe in wasting time.

Going to the ER typically means 4 hours of investment for about every 5 minutes of doctor time.

Did I mention I hate the ER?

Well, it was Mother’s Day weekend that coming weekend, and I wasn’t feeling so fly. In fact, really not so great at all. And it just kept baby stepping worse. So I chose to do the stuff I had on the agenda first.

Saturday, the 9th was the Portland Baltasar Support Group meeting – which I lead! I had to go to that! So I did. I was talking to one of my Baltasar siblings and she suggested – “I wonder if you have a kidney stone?!” She’d recently had one, and so had another patient I’d been talking to recently – and you know, the things they’d mentioned suddenly sounded somewhat vaguely familiar…. Something like what I was experiencing.


I must have a kidney stone! I’d had one 16 years earlier, but really didn’t know about it until it was passing (owie!), peed pink for a couple of days, and life went on. Maybe, I thought, this was a larger stone. Only way to know would be a CT scan.


On the weekend, when one is feeling sicker and sicker, that means the ER.

I had a flashback to the stern admonition to go to the ER if anything got worse, and started mulling it over.

By late afternoon I looked to my amazing husband (who’d been quietly saying in as sweet and gentle a way possible for more than 24 hours by this point in time) and said, “I don’t know, maybe I do need to go to the ER. Maybe it is a kidney stone. They’ll do a CT, they’ll find out for sure, and then they’ll send me home.”

He looked like I’d thrown a brick at him. I’m pretty sure he was about to faint at the wheel as we drove down the street. So I said, “I know, you’ve wanted me to go for a while now. I think you’re probably right.”

Have I ever mentioned I’m strong willed?

So, we went home, checked on the kids, did a little printing of medical records (I keep copies of pretty much everything on my computer and take 2 copies with me whenever I go to the doctor), and with a hint of reluctance, set out for the Emergency Room just 5 minutes down the street. (Yeah, I know, it’s not like I’ve got to drive across town to get there or anything, huh?!)

I know – going to the ER on a Saturday night! What was I thinking? Know what else? It was a full moon! There were some VERY interesting characters out waiting in the waiting area. The place was packed, I was checked in, handed a beeper, and encouraged to take a seat.


Suffice it all to say that after a couple of hours I did get back to a room, got changed, got an IV, they took some blood for analysis, I gave them my self-diagnosis (ha!), answered all of the questions, and the doc said, “Well, the only way we’ll know what’s going on is to do a CT scan.” The order was given and I was shortly sent off to CT.

Just as they got me on the CT table a tech came scrambling into the room and said, “WAIT!”

And the CT plan cane to a screeching halt.

They got me back to the ER bed, delivered me back to my ER exam room, and the resident came in and said, “You know, we decided to do one more blood test before we CT. If it comes back positive, we’ll want to CT the chest and abdomen.”

Um, okay.

So they drew more blood, sent it away, and we waited. Again.

Eventually, the test came back positive. This test is called D-dimer. It’s used to evaluate whether or not a patient might have a DVT (deep vein thrombosis), PE (pulmonary embolism), and a few other conditions. Given my shoulder pain, the attending had wondered if maybe a PE was at play and thusly stopped the CT and ordered the lab drawn.

But I KNEW I didn’t have a blood clot! I’ve had blood clots – DVT’s anyway – in the past. And the last was when I was 23! In 1980 whatever!

I couldn’t have a blood clot! I was sure.

So off I went to CT again – in a little more STAT order for a chest CT and abdominal CT. I was back to my room in quick order, and before long the result was in.

NOT what I was expecting.

NOT what anyone else was expecting, either.

No, I’m not pregnant.

There was NO PE – okay – I was expecting that.

But there WAS a collection of fluid and free air in my abdominal cavity – indicating I probably had a perforation somewhere. They were going to admit me right away and start IV antibiotics.


…to be continued…


9 Comments Add yours

  1. Kilaani says:

    You’ve got to be kidding me – leaving us hanging like that?!

    1. dinamcb says:

      Sorry Jill! I’m still kinda tired, so am breaking it up into chunks. It’s a L-O-N-G story!

      Part 2 is up, though. 🙂



      1. Kilaani says:

        Wow, Dina, I read it all. I’m glad you’re feeling better and what a blessing to have the best Drs!

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