Tuesday, May 9, 2017 – Warning: This post will contain bodily function wording. If you don’t want to read all that, close this one now! If you don’t care and you want to be informed about warning signs I should have paid attention to these signs before finding out I had a bleeding ulcer, read on!!!
Here’s a little cutie to keep you from seeing the rest if you choose not to:
Okay, if you’re here you’re okay with reading about bodily functions! I recently spent five days in North Oaks Hospital in Hammond, Louisiana in Room 3403. I want to document this event in my life and share some things I learned. I’ll tell the story and then point out somethings afterwards.
I woke up last Thursday morning around 8 am with my stomach hurting, felt like indigestion. I thought if I stayed in bed in a different position and wait it out I would feel better. I quickly realized that wasn’t helping so I thought if I went to the bathroom that would help. I tried to stand up and couldn’t go anywhere without holding on to the bed further than one step before having to sit or lay back down wherever I was. This happened enough times to get me around the bed nearer to the bathroom. When I tried to stand up to walk towards the bathroom and passed out, landing on the floor next to the bed. We live in a motor home so the space between our bed and the door to the bedroom is barely big enough for anyone to lay down there.
Let me say now that throughout all this I can now see God taking care of me. Believe me folks, if you are not a follower of Jesus Christ and haven’t given your life to Him you cannot imagine the wonders of having God in your corner every step of your life. I said this here, because for some reason I have recently begun the habit of pushing all the bedding decorative pillows to Roy’s side of the bed when I get in bed at night. They land on top of two small containers of Madisyn’s craft things. Those piled up pillows on the containers are where I landed when passing out causing me to have my head raised some which was perfect. God thing, right???
I had been calling to Roy who was in the living room about 20 feet away at some point after getting up. He was there when I passed out and said that while I was out I made guttural sounds that sounded to him like death sounds, my eyes rolled back in my head and he was very troubled. He immediately called 911, told them I passed otu and was incoherent.. I don’t know how long it took the Husser (a nearby town) Fire Department to arrive but they made it there first before Acadian Ambulance. I was awake by the time they arrived. My wonderful husband, Roy, is my absolute hero for his care and concern of me throughout all of this, especially those moments till help arrived. A very nice fire lady was able to fit in the tiny bathroom hallway next to me. No one else would fit. The first thing she did was check my blood sugar which was 467. Shockingly high. When she tried to get my blood pressure, trying several times, even having someone else try with different equipment she couldn’t get one and I don’t understand this but it was finally called 80 stat. They could not find a pulse for a while. They started giving me oxygen then also.
Hearing all this I knew I was in trouble. But I knew God would get me through this or He had plans for Him to join Him in Heaven when I’m more than ready and happy to do.
When Acadian Ambulance got there they took over. I will forever be grateful to that lady angel with the Husser Fire Department who comforted and cared for me first. Acadian verified everything Husster FD saw and prepared me for an ambulance ride to the hospital. I was given Getting out of our motor home would involve the stretcher having to be lifted through a too small door and over a passenger seat and with me on it that couldn’t happen. Because of this they have this big canvas mat with handles that they placed me on and dragged me through the RV, over the passenger seat and down the steps to the stretcher.
Once in the ambulance, my first time ever as the patient, the Acadian EMT or Paramedic was wonderful. The drive to North Oaks is not a quick one. During the drive I was hooked up to an IV I felt very peaceful. I’m always up for an adventure, although I never want to have this one again. That being the case, once I was all hooked up I started to pay attention as best I could.
Arriving in an ambulance lets you by pass the ER waiting room which was a big blessing. I was taken immediately to a private ER room and hooked up to everything there. After twelve hours of testing it was determined that it might possibly be pancreatitis and I was admitted. They started me on Protonix also known as pantoprazole (I think in the ER) to treat and soothe my stomach pain. During those twelve hours my husband was with me, both my sons and my daughter in law Misty took off work and came to be with me. Madisyn was brought in to brighten up Grannie’s world after she got out of school. The time I got to spend with my husband and sons, our original family, were precious moments I am also deeply thankful for. God’s blessings are abundant. Chip helped me see what a blessing that was through my foggy thinking, one reason I love him so much! Our oldest son came all the way from Baton Rouge and had to make up the work time, working till 3 am that night so he wouldn’t be behind. That’s love, and I am thankful for it. I have good sons, I might want to beat each of them – often – but they are good sons. The rest of the family is pretty cool too!
Once I was admitted I sent Roy home since by then it was 9 pm. I was feeling much better by that time and felt he needed home rest instead of hospital rest. Thus began the rest of the five day hospital stay. Room 3403 was a private room in the Surgical section of North Oaks hospital, a fairly new part of the hospital. I’m going to summarize the next few days so this doesn’t turn into a book.
I cannot say enough for the efficiency, kindness, responsiveness of all the nursing and support staff in that part of the hospital. Really all the hospital, because I was visited by case management, respiratory for my sleep apnea, diabetic dietician and probably others. All were quality professionals. Some people prefer St. Tammany General Hospital to North Oaks Hospital. That’s fine but my experience with North Oaks deserves an A+. Except for the long ER time and the food, but what can you expect from a clear liquid diet other than some serious eye rolling. One nice and important thing about North Oaks is that all my doctors are North Oaks affiliated doctors so all their computer systems are connected. If I’ve kept my doctors information current, which you know they make you do that, then if I go to the hospital they don’t have to spend time asking too many questions. They can immediately start to treat me.
Okay, on to the summary of my stay. I was kept comfortable with the Protonix through IV and kept on a fluids IV. I had a chest xray, a CT Scan of my abdomen area, an ultrasound of my pancreas and gall bladder. My primary care physician, Dr. Hugo Valdes came to see me every day. Having my very own doctor there was so comforting. He called in Dr. Giesler, in the same group as my gastroenterologist, Dr. Booth. They determined it was not my pancreas or gall bladder but suspected it was a bleeding ulcer.
It was determined that my blood pressure drop was because of extensive blood loss, which if I had paid attention to signs I may have caught before it go to that point, more on that later. My elevated blood sugar (which was 512 by the time we got to the hospital) was not from my diabetes, but from the stress my body was under from the blood loss and very low blood pressure.
I was on a clear liquid diet through most of my stay there. While not fun it was all quite tasty, even if it was the same thing breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I continued to be light headed even when in my hospital room laying still. Since my blood count was very low I was given two units of blood on Friday. This helped the light headedness and made me feel significantly better by Saturday. I even got out of the hospital bed and sat up in a chair without being lightheaded for a couple of hours! This is me with some make up on! That was a big deal!!
A gastroscope (endoscopy) was ordered. Due to it being the weekend and a back up in procedures that needed an anesthesiologist, the endoscopy couldn’t be done then, so there I stayed. Wonderful friends like Jim and Jean Crain, Ms. Olga Hubsch, Chrissie McGhee and Rev. Derek Wall, along with my outstanding older sister Harriett paid me very welcomed visits passing the time nicely. I was capable of doing my RVillage work Saturday so there in the hospital bed I did my RVillage magic and worked! No magic involved, just lots of love for that company!
During my stay I got really good at handling night time visits. As soon as I heard the door open my arm went up for the blood pressure cuff and my finger went out for the thing they stick on that. My mouth opened for the thermometer. All without moving and fully waking up. This didn’t work all the time but mostly it did!
There were a couple of difficult times when my veins did not cooperate with being found or being used. I’ve never had that issue before but remember my mom having problems and I now know how painful and troubling it was. The IV put in by Acadian Ambulance had to come out after two days because it was only intended to be temporary. That meant another site had to be found. One was found but eventually blew and another had to be found. When I was given blood that required a separate stab (I thought about calling it a stick but it feels like a stab not a stick!). I ended up with five IV locations over the course of the five days. The administers of these IVs did really good and were always very gentle. I only have one small bruised area on one arm.
On Sunday my oldest son, his wife, and their four children came to visit. There is nothing like the magical place a Grannie gets in while having her little grandchildren cuddle around her on her hospital bed. They are amazingly sweet, joyful and well behaved children and it was a deep blessing to have them spend their Sunday afternoon with me. This was followed by a visit from my youngest son Chip and his wife Misty came to visit. What a treat it was to sit there with just them (no kids around) and have an adult visit. My husband, children, daughters in law and grandchildren have all been very attentive to me during this time and I thank God for all of them. I’m sure you know what good medicine love like that does for someone.
Sunday night was pretty awful for me. I think I hit the wall with being okay being in the hospital. I cried and wanted to harm everyone who came in all night. They were all just as kind and great as they had always been. It was me and some of my brain issues kicked in big time making me miserable. Upon wakening I sent Roy a text about how miserable I was and he started getting ready to come to the hospital. Right after that the nurse came in to tell me I was being taken down for the endoscopy! I raised my arms and said Thank You God! I couldn’t have been more delighted and I believe this was God seeing how desperately I needed this to happen NOW and it did.
I was so happy to be having the procedure that the people taking me down for the endoscopy were given flowery praise and love. I thought the nurses that greeted me and prepped me for endoscopy were the prettiest best angels God could have sent to care for me! They explained the endoscopy to me, showed me the mouth piece they would put in right before starting and began giving me the wonderful stuff that immediately knocked me out. What felt to me to be a second later I woke up fully awake thinking I just skipped a second but they were done! I liked this better than even twilight anesthesia because I knew nothing of what they did!
The nurse told me that a bleeding ulcer was found and there was extreme inflammation in my esophagus and another area I can’t remember. During the procedure they took a biopsy of the ulcer which looked to be benign and the results will come back in two weeks by the time I follow up with the doctor. They continued me on the Protonix, which turned out to be the perfect thing for them to start days before because it allowed me to begin healing quicker. Another God thing and a great North Oaks catch.
After coming back to my room Roy arrived, and shortly there after I had my discharge orders reviewed with me. This included being taken off of my Plavix and Naproxen for a while to aid in stopping the bleeding. They called in a prescription for oral Protonix and we picked it up on our way home. We also stopped at Winn Dixie, yes I felt good enough to do that, to pick up some reward treats for me like bananas and blueberries. Roy got a couple of good boy treats as well. Being an adult is fun like that!
I tried to do a couple of things in the afternoon and needed to rest the remainder of the day. Guess feeling better doesn’t mean I can get back to normal quite yet. After a good nights sleep in my own bed and a very attentive hubby Roy cooking dinner and taking care of all things needed doing I am starting to feel better today.
Okay here come the bodily function stuff. I will keep it as non descriptive as possible. A couple of weeks before the hospital even my stools were quite black and my urine was darker than normal. I figured it was too many blackberries. Not! It was blood mixed in with my bodily products. I learned that when you mix those things an extremely stronger odor than usual comes out with your gas (farts) and much more abundantly. My abdomen also started to grow the last couple of weeks. Had I picked up on the warning signs of black stools, darker urine and horrific stools (Roy threatened to put me outside sometimes it was so bad!!!) and seen the doctor about that I would never have ended up in the hospital. By the time I got to the hospital my stools were so black and tarry and trying to escape my body it cause a lot of issues that I won’t describe. Like I said I attributed it to blackberry eating, and just figure that a lot of things are just life as an old person. Don’t do that! Pay attention to the signs your body is giving you. I can see now that mine were quite obvious, almost screaming at me.
Since the problem wasn’t blood sugar or heart related I have no changed to my diet! Crawfish here we come!! I am making changes to how much, how often and what I eat for right now, and am avoiding all things acidic to aid in the healing process. Prayers are requested for complete healing from the bleeding ulcer and inflammation. God’s got this and your prayers are welcomed!
I have follow up appointments with both Dr. Valdes and Dr. Booth on Monday May 22nd. I also have to have another endoscopy and a colonoscopy to make sure the ulcer has healed and to makes sure nothing else is going on.
Lastly, my skin has become quite strange lately. When putting on lotion, touching my skin or taking a shower rubbing my skin, it will peel off in places. While in the hospital two places where tape was put on, when it was removed my skin came with it. Also tiny marks on my skin including larger skin openings (I call it my skin bursting open all on its own) start on my skin all the time. I’d say at any one time I have between 20 to 40 of them on both arms and hands. They go from that to larger really ugly boo boos which heal strangely. I keep antibiotic ointment on them most of the time. I try to not cover them so they can dry out but that really doesn’t seem to help. Anyway long story short, Dr. Valdes saw them and said I needed to see a dermatologist really soon. Today I called Dr. Bob Benson in Ponchatoula today and they just had a cancellation so I now have an appointment tomorrow morning. Yay!!!!! I’m hopeful this is just an old age thing but now that I am more aware I should do something about odd body things I am taking action. Maybe he can do something about my skin slipping down off my face too!
Roy will be going with me there and to have my hair done tomorrow. My sweet always kind big sister Harriett swapped her appointment with mine so I could go sooner to get a new doo and some hair color! While in the hospital, having plenty of time to think and reflect on my life I felt like I was being blessed with some mental clarity and spiritual guidance in many areas. I’d like to share that with you guys and will write about that next.
If you read all of this to here, thanks! I hope this helps someone else not ignore bodily warning signs. I’ll let you know about my visit with Dr. Benson soon as well!
Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!