Acute pancreatitis brought on by gallstones. Been here since Tuesday morning but only now really felt with it enough to make an actual post about it.
Can I just say? Fuck me, this is fucking painful. I've seriously never ever felt pain like it in my life. I actually wouldn't wish this sort of pain on my worst enemy.
It all started last Saturday lunchtime and I fought it for three days. I thought it was my stomach playing up again, being a bitch and being all acidy but by Monday night I was in total agony. Dave took me to A&E (the Emergancy Room for my american friends) at 4 in the morning on Tuesday where they dosed me up with morphine (which did fucking NOTHING to the pain but did make me really loopy apparently.) and other drugs for stomach upset before the blood work came back and showed I had increased amalyse levels which means pancreatitis. Apparently pancreatitis is when gallstones (or other foreign bodies) get stuck in one of the ducts leading from the gallbladder by the pancreas. This causes the pancreas to produce...something...I was sort of drifting in and out of consciousness while she was explaining it to me so I might have missed all the ins and outs...and basically start trying to fight off an invading organism. Now because our bodies aren't smart about things like this, it actually starts to necrotise the pancreas with its own enzymes. The pain comes from the body basically trying to fight itself.
And im not joking when I say it's truly impressive levels of pain. The girl next to me had the same thing and she's had two kids, both long labours, and she said that this pain is way more painful than childbirth. MORE PAINFUL THAN CHILDBIRTH. If I wasn't already planning to never have children, this experience would have made damn sure of it. I'll try to describe it but thinking of a comparisonis hard. Oh okay...you know you get a stitch in your side when you run? Think of that pain and then apply it to the entirety of your digestive system. And then times it by ten. And then make it constant. And THEN make it worsen by another factor of ten whenever you try to take anything but the most shallow of breaths or when you try to take a sip of water.
The point i'm trying to make here is - WORST PAIN IN THE HISTORY OF EVER.
Once they figured it out, they moved me to a surgery ward where i've been sitting until the acute phase - the extremely painful phase - calms down enough for me to go home. The other reason i'm on the surgery ward is that it could have gotten worse and actually started killing me rather than just feeling like it and if that had happened they would have had to have taken the gallbladder out as a matter of urgency. Luckily that didn't happen and i'm getting better every day.
I am going to pester the Doctor to let me go home today. I feel totally fine in myself and having been here for 6 days now I know for a fact that I am taking up a bed that someone else could be using. I'm still in the tiniest (well compared to the initial bout anyway) bit of pain but until the gallbladder and the stones are removed that's to be expected.
It's funny...as a generally well person, or at least a person that doesn't get sick enough to require hospitalisation, this whole experience has been deeply deeply interesting. I've never spent any time in hospital at all, not even as a kid, so it's been a steep learning curve.
Things I have learned about the NHS while i've been here:
- Nurses are extremely underpaid and underappreciated for the work they do.
- British nurses are outnumbered 3/1 by foreign nurses.
- The beaurocracy of the NHS is astounding in it's complexity and complete inability to function without someone arguing the toss over something. Ususally a non-medical person arguing over a point of administrative nonsense.
- Doctors at the top of their professions can be total arseholes.
- Junior doctors are in fact the hottest people on the face of the planet. Until you throw up on them. Then they react just like everyone else and freak the fuck out. ...I may or may not have done this to the young american doctor on my ward when I first arrived.
- NURSES DO NOT GET SHOWN ENOUGH RESPECT BY EITHER (SOME) PATIENTS OR QUALIFIED DOCTORS. Seriously, some of the disrespect i've seen from the Senior doctors towards the nurses - especially the Philipino nurses - is horrifying. One doctor was doing rounds the other morning and a nurse was taking some little old dears blood and he literally yelled at her to hurry the hell up and get the fuck out of his way so he could get his rounds done. And the patients are just as bad. Especially some of the men on this ward. One guy keeps spitting on the floor whenever the nurses come near him. Another is literally standing over the desk demanding things or ringing his call bell all day long and harassing them. If I were his nurse I would have smothered him in his sleep a long time ago for being a dick. ... Which is probably why I should never be allowed to be in any sort of position of authority.
- Hospital beds and pillows are incredibly uncomfortable and are coated in plastic so if you tend to run hot (I run around 37 degrees naturally) then overnight you sweat enough to wake up soaked through.
- Hospital food is AWFUL. I haven't eaten anything they serve other than toast since I was allowed to start eating again. Me and another patient go fetch sandwiches from the canteen at lunch and Dave takes me to the canteen for dinner. Apparently up until a few years ago this hospital had an onsite chef staff and it was excellent food. Now it's all pre-prepared and heated up in nasty plastic boxes. The food staff don't care either. They ignore specific orders and bring whathever they want. Someone in my room has been told strictly no dairy. She orders an egg salad and the bloke brings her a jacket potato with cheese on it. I ordered a turkey with no mayonnaise. Got an egg-mayo sandwich. If a patient isn't around cos they're having tests or they have gone for a walk or something, their food gets left on their table to either get cold or go bad in the sun. I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole frankly...
General things I have learned about myself whilst being in hospital:
- I am apparently extremely pliable when off my face on morhpine.
- Catheters and everything to do with them are shaming and embarassing. Also the people putting them in are bloody freaky ninjas cos it happens in less time than it takes you to go "Hey - what the hell are you doing down there!?"
- Doctors dislike me, generally speaking. They especially dislike me because I ask vaguely innappropriate questions and make the little troop of juniors following them around have to bite their lips so they don't laugh when he is forced to answer.
- Conversely, the nurses love a bawdy sense of humour and I love that they're huge gossips. I've heard some AMAZING stories about the senior doctors in this hospital.
- I kind of love how sweet the two American junior doctors that are here on training programs are. I feel bad for teasing them mercilessly. Not that bad though. They just blush very prettily. Shut up. You'd all do it too when faced with a sweet faced and politely mannered southern american boy that still calls all women 'Ma'am' despite being in the UK, so don't even lie.
- When i'm very poorly i'm very quiet.
- When i'm feeling better i'm a noisy menace especially when bored.
- I am exceptionally grateful to find people who can put up with my weird sense of humour when stuck in situations like this.
- I have zero patience for family members of confused and fragile old ladies when they show up at 15 minutes to the end of visiting hours and grumble about having to come 'all this way'. In fact I get exceptionally angry. Theres a little old dear across from me who's 91 and her ignorant children haven't been in to see her more than once in the five days i've been here. How can people be so callous? I mean really? She's fine in herself, a little forgetful but she knows where she is and she's fucking lonely. And they can't be arsed to come see her? Fuckers.
- I'm whiny when my partner in crime is allowed to go home and i'm stuck here for another four days.
- I have to physically restrain myself from offering the nurses help despite how rushed and manic they look.. I have however started looking after the entertainment of the old ladies in my room. The nurses are so busy and they just don't have time to notice the little things like a dropped pair of specs or a missing slipper. It costs me nothing and the visiting hours are so few and far between that they're often alone for long stretches of time which is just deeply unfair. *shrug*
- I don't like putting the pinched, worried look on Daves face at all.
- No one will be impressed by me pushing too hard too soon. It won't impress the doctors into letting me go home. In fact it will make them keep me in hospital longer because it'll fuck up my body and make my blood tests come back all wonky. Not that I did that on Friday at all. Nope. *shifty eyes*
- I miss my own bed more than I miss food. And I think we all know how much I love food.
Currently i'm sitting typing this on my alienware. Don't look at me like that. It was NOT overkill to get Dave to bring my gaming rig into hospital for me. If I have to be stuck here i'm damn well having my machine and playing WoW over my mobile broadband stick. (Seriously - there is no internet here at all. No wifi spots or plug in spots. Nothing. It's a total black hole. Luckily 3G gets through alright.) I get pretty decent speeds actually. 600 to 700kbps over a usb reciever is pretty impressive IMO.
Anyway...thats all by the by. I am feeling a million times better, and after a scan tomorrow I can hopefully go home to await either an edoscopy to remove any trapped stones and then the six weeks until the gall bladder removal, or, if the scan comes back negative for trapped stones, just the six weeks for the removal op. It's a long old wait but it's necessary apparently to let the pancreas and all the associated bits settle down. It's possible that the pancreatitis might flare up again. If that happens then I will have to come back and have the op as an emergency but we're thinking positive and that I won't have that problem.
So there we are. That's how things stand at the moment. Scan tomorrow and then hopefully i can go home :)