Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Fall To Forget

It was an interesting time.

And I mean that in the sense of the old curse, "May you live in interesting times."

Around 1 PM on Saturday September 18th I experienced a stab of pain in my abdomen. It was abrupt and painful enough that I sat down and opened my pants a la Al Bundy to relieve the pressure. I had no idea what it was but decided to treat it like bad gas-- antacid tablets. When that did nothing I tried a laxative thinking if I just got everything out of my system relief would come.

I didn't find relief but I did spend that evening in the worst pain I've ever felt while also experiencing chills and fever. By the middle of the next day, Sunday the 19th, I was still in pain. My wife and I headed off to the sparkling new emergency center about 10 minutes from the house. After a wait of about an hour they checked my vital signs and got me into a bed and on a morphine drip for my pain. Late Sunday evening I drank the dye solution, an hour plus process, that would allow them to do a CT scan of my guts. When that scan was read everything went into high gear.

I was told that an ambulance would be speeding me to Carolinas Medical Center where my surgeon was already waiting. He had seen my scan and knew what he would be doing. The ER doctor didn't tell me what exactly the problem was, only that speed was needed. She said that my surgeon would explain everything. However, she did ask me if I knew that I had diverticulitis. I didn't. Oddly enough I had a colonoscopy scheduled for the end of September. An appointment I now wouldn't make.

We met with the surgeon just outside the operating room and he explained that I had a perforated intestine and my abdomen had filled with gas, fluids, and the contents of my intestines. Peritonitis had set in and it was extremely important to open me up and get that infection under control. At 1 AM on September 20th my surgeon began a successful two hour operation. I spent another 5 days at CMC and then recovered at home. Recovered enough strength to endure a second surgery on November 6th.

That surgery, just eleven days ago, was also successful. I remained at the hospital for 6 days before coming home. The first days at home have been difficult-- the second surgery was actually tougher than the first emergency one. But this past weekend I turned the corner and can now see my way to a healthy future. Since the doctor removed a foot and a half of colon he assures me that I will never have to worry about diverticulitis again.

The sudden nature of this was, of course, striking. One moment you have no major health concerns and the next moment you are in real trouble. It does strike you how fleeting life is and how important it is to not waste the time you are allotted. More importantly it reminded me how much I cherish my family and my home.