I’ve recently started a new job. I left the previous one under a slight cloud because I just couldn’t stand the drudgery of it. Anyway, that’s beside the point. I am in new employment.
But why the headline above?
Well, After less than one week in this new position, disaster struck in the form of a night of agonizing abdominal pain. I’ve suffered similar pain before but being prone to ignoring illnesses, I waited for it to pass and told no one.
I hate being ill, or to be more precise, I hate the idea of being that person who is always ill with something seemingly trivial. I don’t like being nursed or receiving sympathy for something that isn’t visual and clearly an injury. I understand when people talk about ‘Invisible Illnesses’ such as M.E. but I don’t tolerate it in myself.
To return to the story, the pain gradually increased throughout the night until I had to decide whether I could tolerate it enough to go to work. Finally, the fact that I couldn’t move without agony let alone stand made the decision for me. I called work, let them know that I was really sorry but I couldn’t make it in and called the emergency services. I tried to call my local doctors surgery but, it being a weekend, they were closed and directed me via a recorded message to the non emergency number, 111.
Trying that, from my prone position, I soon felt panic rising. The operator ran through the obligatory questionnaire and then told me that due to my restricted movement caused by the pain, they would despatch an ambulance immediately!
Admittedly, the paramedic arrived within five minutes. It turned out he had been ready to go and stationed at the Ambulance Station just to streets from me anyway. Andy, the great and very calm paramedic, took all the samples he could, checked everything that needed checking and prodded apologetically around my tummy before radioing for an ambulance crew to take me away. Again, the fear was crawling up inside me.
I’ve never needed to go to hospital before and certainly not by ambulance. Ambulances mean urgent threat of death surely? I mean that’s why they have the lights and sirens. Admittedly I was gripping the bed sheets so hard my fingers were threatening to tear through and my face was a permanent picture of tortured hell but I didn’t need to be rushed screaming to the nearest operating table?
Apparently, I did need transporting to Accident and Emergency but I wasn’t about to die. Not yet at least.
The crew took me gently down to the vehicle, after selecting some clothes for me and we trundled off, silently and within the speed limit. Five minutes later I was being wheeled feet first to a bay in what appeared to be the ‘let’s find out what is immediately the problem’ ward. We were like the cars in bays in an M.O.T. garage. Each one was being examined to discover where to send them for repairs. I was greeted by a nurse who asked me the same questions Andy and the Ambulance Crew had asked, then I met a Junior Doctor who also asked the same and I was prepped and prodded and stabbed with needles until I was being drip fed morphine and then saline while people, including a surgeon, came and left in rapid succession.
The surgeon, a young bearded amiable fella, decided I needed further investigation. The junior Doctor had already decided that, as my blood tests and sugar tests had been given the all clear, he needed to check if my description of darker than normal bowel movements indicated blood in my stool. So he had to make sure by physical examination.
The rubber gloves, cold gel and ‘relax and I’ll be as gentle and quick as possible’ examination.
Thankfully, he was quick and the results were perfectly normal. My sudden reminder of a Family Guy episode was dismissed and my heart rate returned to a more acceptable norm. The further investigations the surgeon recommended were thankfully less intrusive, being X-rays followed by an ultrascan. It was the latter which discovered the offending article, or articles as it turned out.
I have Gall stones.
These little bundles of spiky hell have also caused an issue with my gall bladder, described as cholecystitis.
In short, I have tiny particles of cholesterol derived rocks which can and do get lodged in the pipework in and around my gall bladder, or bile reservoir. The stones themselves can hang around for years without being known but occasional intakes of high fat foods can make them jump about and create an agony that hell can only hope to recreate. By high fat I don’t want you to imagine I ate a plate of dripping or duck comfit. I had home made wholemeal pizza with a sensible amount of cheese. Not covered in cheese with extra cheese. Not dipped in mayo and deep fried. Wholemeal with some cheese.
After the diagnosis, or rather after the ultrascan confirmed what the surgeon had thought, I was wheeled to a ward, Surgical Assessment and Observation, to be, well, observed and assessed for possible surgery.
There was that fear again.
I was told to strip and put on one of those impractical night gowns and wait for the surgeon to come and tell me what fate awaited me. As it was, the surgeon brought along the Consultant too, who, after more prodding and the same routine of questions, decided I could try some food and more painkillers and then, providing I survived without a further attack, I could be signed out pending a future operation. I was given a course of antibiotics and some paracetamol and moved, when dressed, to a side area to sit and wait for my family to collect me, as the bed was in demand.
This sudden need to be ejected for a more worthy occupant was, to be fair, my only experience of the apparent cataclysmic collapse of the N.H.S. The nurses were efficient and welcoming, the Doctor was competent and well spoken, as was the Surgeon and Consultant. There were several immigrant staff but without fault everyone was comparable in skill and efficiency to all the other members of staff.
In fact, I can’t fault anything that happened during the whole experience, other than the actual pain that caused it all.
Now I am on my second day off work, looking to return tomorrow as the painkillers and antibiotics combination seems to have things under control, reducing the pain to little more than discomfort. I imagine I won’t be able to do much heavy lifting but the furniture sales world doesn’t really demand too much of that so I am hoping to continue as normal until the operation, with a brief period of recovery before I can resume eating nice things again. Until then, no fats, no dairy or oils or sauces containing either. This should mean I’ll become a lean, svelte but miserable shadow of myself.
So, no bad thing really.