As the stomach turns… Part 4

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

The good news? They were able to pull 3 ccs of the collection for culture.

The bad news? It really hurt afterward! Okay – not that bad, but I was sore for a few days. Honestly, the hardest part? Knowing I’d have to wait for Monday or Tuesday to get results back from the cultures.

In the meantime, they continued to give me two different IV antibiotics – gram negative and gram positive. My big panel of labs came back and they started giving me IV magnesium and eventually potassium, as well.

I did get to start eating again. I hate to whine – okay, not enough to not do it! LOL! But, I kid you not – the food at Good Sam was just – well, awful. How horrible is it that I know that two of the three major hospitals in the Portland area have HORRIBLE food (Emanuel and Good Sam – same health system!), and the third has FABULOUS food (St. V’s). The big problem being that the antibiotics were giving me some pretty significant nausea, some vomiting, and this seriously wicked taste in my mouth. So adding gross food on top of that didn’t help a whole lot.

It just so happened that I landed in the hospital at the start of a big time heat wave here in Portland. I swear to you – I did NOT plan it! Anyone who’s been to the house here knows: no air conditioning! And if it gets hot – it gets HOT in the house.

So that wasn’t so horrible being stuck in the air conditioning! I actually was trying hard to stay warm enough – you know us DS’ers after surgery – always cold! I think the nurses didn’t know what to think of me when I was asking for yet another warm blanket!

Interesting note! On Sunday morning previously referred to Dr. _____ showed up at about 6am – with his attending – to talk to me. I’d been up most of the night – not having slept well at all and had just dozed off. I was immediately awakened by his whisper, “Mrs. McBride?” My eyes immediately flew open – obviously much to his surprise, and he introduced himself.

He said, “You may not remember me. We talked when you were in the ER. You’d had morphine, and so you may not remember it.”

I raised an eyebrow and gave him the stern Mom look and said, “Really? I don’t recall having ever met you. And I only had 1 mg of morphine in the ER and didn’t ever go to sleep – although I was resting with my eyes closed. I think I’d probably remember you.”

He seemed a little flustered and went on, “Well… just want to touch bases with you and talk about where we see the course of your care continuing…”

Once again – guilty of forming a snap judgment on character: dork!

I don’t know. What do you think? Should I tell Dr. Zelko?


Monday dawned… around noontime Dr. Zelko himself – freshly returned from his trip away over the weekend – showed up with a big smile. “Dina!” He beamed, “That tap they did on Friday was worth its weight in gold! We’ve learned so much!”

And he went on to explain some stuff…

There are THREE organisms that had grown in the culture thus far. The rest of the cultures would be back in about 24 hours.

We knew for sure at least two of the organisms would not be addressed by any oral antibiotic – thus, the reason why the previous courses of antibiotics only made temporary strides toward wellness.

Continued IV antibiotic therapy would be necessary for a time.

I wasn’t going home any time soon.

We talked about the why. We concluded there was just really stinking way to know for sure. Although the ibuprofen use was definitely the frontrunner.

And then the BIG question: could I still have an active perf? Again – nothing visible on any of the diagnostics – no way to know for sure, without the passage of time.

Before he left, Dr. Zelko let me know that he’d be bringing in a “really good” infectious diseases doc, and that I should expect a visit soon.

Sure enough – about an hour later, a very nice, very distinguished looking doctor walked in the room and introduced himself as Dr. Crislip. He’d stopped to read my chart, came in discussed details like he really knew me (I’ve since learned that he’s got this amazing memory – the nurses are in awe of him!), and we started chatting.

“You realize you’ve been very, very ill, right?” He asked.

“I think so.” I responded. I know I haven’t been that sick in a long, long time. (I had sepsis when I was 17 years old – honestly, the feeling was not too unlike what I’d just been through!)

“Well – you were very ill. And if you hadn’t come to the hospital when you did, you could very well have been in significant danger. Thank you for listening to reason and coming in when you did.”

I’m guessing this guy is an awesome Dad – you know the kind who operates on the positive reinforcement model. J

As we continued talking – at one point in time I realized I hadn’t asked him if he knew I was a WLS post-op. So I said, “You know I’ve had weight loss surgery, right?”

“Right. Gastric bypass?” He asked.

“Nope. Duodenal Switch.”

He looked at me with a question mark.

“The real name is Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch. Here, I have a picture.” I pulled out my handy dandy folder of stuff and handed him my DS Drawing. “Basically, what it means is that I have a subtotal sleeve gastrectomy that hugs along the lesser curvature of the stomach – i.e., cut away at the greater curvature to about a 50 cc capacity, with pyloric function intact. Basically – a small banana shaped stomach. And then an intestinal reconfiguration. My alimentary limb is 185 cm, then there’s the biliopancreatic limb, and the common channel, which is 65 cm in length. This means that I have significant intestinal malabsorption.”

He looked at me – smiled, looked at my drawing, studied it for a moment. Then he looked up and said, “This surgery really makes sense. What made you choose this one?”

And so the conversation began. I love talking DS to a doc who gets it! Then, of course, came the inevitable question, “Why Spain?” after I showed him my 4 day post-op photo. And so I told him all about that. He was very interested – and very impressed – with the surgery, and the results, and said so.

We eventually started talking about the fact that when I left the hospital I’d be on antibiotics. He hoped we could do oral antibiotics. “There’s another way?” I wondered innocently. He looked back at the DS drawing, said, “Your alimentary limb is 185 cm, right?” How did he remember? I know post-ops who don’t know their own specs that well!

“Yep.” I answered.

“I don’t think you’ll necessarily have a lot of malabsorption of an oral antibiotic, but you need to know that I’m not willing to take a chance. I’m going to go do some research and get back to you.”

“Do you want my drawing of the DS?” I offered him.

He smiled. “Oh no – I’ll remember that. Hard to forget a great idea.” And he left.

Gosh I like him.

One thing I should just interject here is that I am IV and needle wimp girl. Have I mentioned that before? A hundred times yet? Cause I am. Seriously, people! One time Dr. Zelko – when I was in office after my belly button was removed and some scar tissue broke loose and was floating around under the skin – let me talk him into teaching me how to take a couple of sutures – in my own tummy. It was SO cool! I don’t know why that didn’t bother me. It didn’t.

I’ve scrubbed in on one Open DS, and four Lap DS surgeries. I got to help dissect my own son’s stone-ridden gallbladder. I’ve held my babies when they’ve been ill and assisted as they’ve had to have blood draws, shots, IV’s placed, scopes done, etc. I’ve pulled many a surgical drain, removed sutures, done wound care galore. I can give other people shots – no problem, and yes, it’s true, I’ve even come to the point in time where I can give myself a shot (had to do Heparin a number of times after various surgeries).

But when I get blood drawn for labs I close my eyes, verbally remind myself to breathe, and focus on not hurling or passing out.

When I get an IV – same thing.

Why am I such a baby?

And what kinda sucks about that is that pretty much – without fail – every hospitalization I’ve ever had, I’ve blown an IV every single day. That means a new IV every day. That means more poking, and prodding, and owies.

I don’t like it.

At all.

So, Tuesday dawned. My IV had been problematic. Pain with each successive infusion. A little puffiness coming on. Stink – infiltration beginning. Another IV blown.

Just about that time Dr. Zelko walked in the door. We talked about the final cultures that came in and he said there were FOUR different organisms that had been identified now, they knew exactly what they were battling, and Dr. Crislip was working on figuring out just which antibiotics I’d be going home on.

“And…” he said, looking at me warily, “I’m thinking you’re probably going to have to go home with a PICC line.”

My mouth dropped open.

My eyes began to tear up.

I was speechless.

…to be continued…

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3


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