Friday, August 26, 2016

Excuse me, have you seen my gallbladder?

You know those big-assed pain in the abdomen I got from time to time that made me want to run to the hospital but never did because the pain went away eventually? Well, last Wednesday night, it revisited and this time, it would. not. go. away.

The pain got real bad after midnight. At first I thought I could walk it off. So I walked/crawled around my home. By the time hubs got home from work around 2, it was still bad. He gave me a back massage but it didn't help. Then I started vomiting. I don't know why I had the good sense to keep count. I vomited 7 times at home. By the time I tried to take painkillers, I could hold nothing down. Once the vomiting started, I decided I should go to the hospital. The stupid thing was I had promised to wake my son for school and he had to go earlier than usual for an exam. So I hung on and I hung on. Finally at 6am, I dragged my son's ass out of bed and told him I was going to the hospital. I couldn't care anymore if he went back to sleep. The pain was killing me.

I woke hubs, called for a taxi and we left for the nearest hospital. Over there, I vomited 3 more times. We waited quite a while before a doctor saw me. I think it was around 2 hours. I lay down next to the window in the waiting area while hubs killed time on his phone. Once we saw the doctor, things started moving very quickly. I had my blood drawn and was given some medication, I think anti vomit kind plus drip through IV. Next I had an x-ray of my abdomen. I had a small cubicle where I had a bed to lie in. A radiologist came and did a scan of my abdomen. After the scan the first doctor I had seen said I should be admitted. Interestingly, I kinda resisted being admitted because I just wanted very strong painkillers and be on my way. Anyway, after some more conversation with hubs and the doctor I agreed to be admitted. Hubs took care of the details. Meanwhile, slightly delirious, I shouted out, "Get the cheapest ward." If I were in my right mind, I would have asked for the best ward.

 
As I had requested, I went to a non-air conditioned female ward with 6 beds. I got lucky and my bed was right next to the window. Over the next few days, I discovered the pros and cons of having a bed next to the window. The sun came in a lot. It's windy which is good. The rain. You get splattered as well.


Soon, a doctor (I think it's a resident based on my knowledge from Grey's Anatomy) came by and promised stronger painkiller because the first painkiller administered barely masked the pain. For some reason, the hospital required swabs of my nostrils, armpits and groins.

Later the resident doctor returned with a serious looking man whom he calls the registrar. The registrar did some exam and asked some questions. I asked for stronger painkiller because the pain was still bad. In return, the registrar asked for an ass swab. Gulp. It was not nice. The ass swab. The resident doctor really went in and dug around. No mercy. Meanwhile hubs was trying desperately to escape seeing his wife being ass swabbed by another man.

Finally a nurse delivered my one precious dose of tramadol. But I had to take it orally. So first I had to take some magnesium to make sure I don't throw up again. I've never loved magnesium so much before!
Dr Seow
More resident doctors, the same registrar and a new doctor, let's call him the surgeon came. Their prelim diagnosis is my gallbladder is f*cked. But I needed an ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis. Which means more waiting because the ultrasound department hasn't opened yet.

While waiting for 8am, I expected the tramadol to kick in. But honestly, the pain had reached a level where modern medication cannot access. An orderly wheeled me to the Radiology department to wait for my scan. An old guy was already in the waiting area and you know what he said to me?

"You look very healthy."

My immediate response was "f*ck you" but he's an old guy so I humoured him and said I was. He started telling me all his ailments from head to toe. I fell asleep. Fortunately I was rescued by my radiologist who was ready to scan me.

After the scan I went back to my bed. We had to wait for the surgeon doctor to come back to talk to us. Hubs was hungry and I asked him to get lunch. He left and returned without getting any food. The surgeon doctor still hadn't shown up. Hubs was getting itchy. He wanted to leave and not only that he wanted to go somewhere 45min away by train. I forgot why. I wanted him to stay and wait for the doctor but I was too tired and in pain to argue with him. Finally, he stood up with his backpack and announced firmly, "I'm leaving." At that magic moment, the Universe saved him. The doctors came back!

The diagnosis was confirmed. My gallbladder was shat. The medical term is acute cholecystitis. The surgeon doctor, let's call him Dr Seow gave 3 options. 1. Remove the gallbladder immediately. 2. Remove the gallbladder at an elected date. 3. Treat with antibiotics and deal with it again when the pain returns. (Hello, the pain hasn't left yet)

At first we were a bit shocked at the idea of removing the whole gallbladder. Hubs asked about removing the stones instead. Dr Seow said it was useless as the stones come back. After some talking and persuasion, we chose to remove the gallbladder. The doctor said it was the best option. The next question was to do it right away or wait. To do it right away was to use the emergency operation route. That means if another patient with life threatening conditions comes in before me needed the OR, I had to give way. I decided to take my chance.

The operation was likely to be in the evening around 5 plus. Meanwhile, I had to fast which was cool because I hadn't eaten anything at all since Wednesday night. I knew the operation was a-go-go when I got prepped for the OR.



At the OR, I was asked a bunch of questions by different people over and over and over again. The last thing I remembered was the anesthesia doctor asking me if I had any questions. I did. I said, "Why..." and suddenly I was asked to wake up and told everything went well.

This is me back at my ward. Honestly, I don't remember posing for the photo. I look like I have just experienced a Stephen King movie.

I spent the rest of my stay at the hospital recuperating. I went in on Thursday and left on Monday. The rest of my stay - the biggest issue was the IV.

This was the first site and it kept leaking. Maybe I was at the cheapest ward but the nurses (who were frankly overworked) just wouldn't listen to me. The second IV site, done at the OR was really bad. Finally one nurse took pity on me and removed it. On Saturday, a new nurse acknowledged that the first IV site was shat and she relocated it. Unfortunately, the new one hurt like freaking hell.


The pain in my abdomen disappeared completely. However, it was replaced by new ones. I had keyhole surgery and there were 4 incisions in my abdomen. Sitting up, lying down, turning - they all hurt. Walking was the worst. I was told to walk around to get better so I hobbled around.

Hubs came to see me everyday except Saturday because he was busy. He would visit me, go shopping and come back for another visit. Somehow it never occurred to him to bring me stuff from home like toothbrush, toothpaste, facial wash, shampoo, ipad, iphone charger.

My girl came on Saturday. She brought a charger but used it on her phone instead. I asked her how to logon to wifi because by Saturday I was going mad staring into space. She also brought toothbrush, toothpaste and a bag of facial stuff but still no facial wash. The third day I did not wash my face with facial soap. Saturday I was allowed to eat. I had gone without food and water for 2 days already. The food sucked. No surprise.

Sunday was more fruitful. Hubs brought iPad and facial peeling gel. Ugh! The fourth day I did not wash my face with facial soap. I was so close to walking to the nearest Guardian. On Sunday I realised that my taste had changed. Salty food tasted 100 X saltier. Some food tasted bitter. Hubs bought me some food I used to love and it was confirmed. My taste bud was weird. The only thing that tasted the same was apple juice.

My son paid me a visit on Sunday. He also took me for a walk.

To be honest, I was dying to go home on Sunday but I needed to take antibiotics via IV so I could only go home on Monday. I was getting sick of the ward. It was hard to sleep through. The nurses wake you up every few hours for bp/temp/pulse and changing of meds via IV. The mattress was horrific. I hurt all over.  One of the patients was a real pain in the ass. During the night, she would shout out names she knew. Every five minutes, she also would call for the nurse to change her diaper. One night, I almost hobbled over to smother her with a pillow. Good thing I had the IV thingy to hold me back.

The visitors too were never ending. I thought there would be a limit to the number of visitors and everyone would respect visiting hours. Nope. The nurses were pretty relaxed about it and a whole kampong (village) of people kept coming and going. Some came early in the morning and stayed late at night. A few very insensitive ones kept walking around staring at the patients as if we're circus animals.

My abdomen became quite distended after the operation. Apparently, gas is pumped into your stomach for the op. I kept farting and farting. Later I had diarrhea and farting became something fearful. The doctor said the diarrhea would stop once I stopped the antibiotics and the bloating would eventually go away.

I've been back home since Monday and I'm getting better and better each day. This was my first meal at home. And yes, I finally washed my face with facial soap on Monday at the hospital. Sleeping next to the windows has brought forth extra brown spots on my face. I completely forgot to ask my family to bring me my sun screen.

You know, when I was at the hospital, I did wonder how my family coped without me, especially my kids. My kids had huge trouble waking up. That much I knew. The house was exactly how I left it. A complete mess. Dirty dishes still in the sink. From last Wednesday??? My blanket had dried vomit! Somehow, magically, I expected my home to be transformed into a clean home while I was gone. I heard that my girl did a round of laundry. She had no choice because she needed her uniform. But she had NO IDEA she needed to put laundry detergent in the machine. The dry laundry left on the sofa almost reached the ceiling. I felt quite sad to come home to this scenario. After taking a very, very long nap, I organized the kids to do a few chores. The "upside" to my hospitalization is my kids are now less resistant to doing chores.

I'm now able to walk on my own to the supermarket and food court. I've managed to do some simple cooking. I can eat a bowl of noodles without feeling too full. However, most food still suck. My normal taste has not come back. Sleeping is still hard. I usually sleep on my side and I can feel my insides jostling around. It's like my organs are still working things out.

We haven't received the final bill yet but I think our out-of-pocket cash might be under 2k.

Money aside, more importantly, will my digestive health be better without a gallbladder? That's still up in the air.

p.s. I've decided not to post a photo of my gallbladder because personally, I can't quite stomach looking at it. Yes, you get to bring it home. It's in my fridge. However, if you really, really want to have a look, send me an email and I'll have hubs take a photo and send it to you.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Performance Series #3

Another Sunday morning, another run. This one's the 3rd in the Performance Series. I want to say this is the most scenic run of all because we could see in the distance - Gardens by the Bay and the Singapore Flyer. Of course Marina Bay Sands is pretty awesome too.

 
We were right next to Kallnag Basin and there were 2 boats of dragon boat rower rowing to drum beats.

My flag off was 8:45pm, 45min after hubs'. The first 1km, I felt a bit weird. I had this ache on the top of my skull, not bad enough to not run but it's there. I kept worrying if it would get worse. Then I ran round a bend and I spotted hubs.

I was very surprised to see him. He was making a loop back for his 10km and had waited to take pics of me. What a guy!

He had seen me from a distance. And this is why I wear something different from other runners.

The moment I spotted hubs.

I immediately removed my glasses.

 
After the exciting encounter with hubs, I realised the ache in my head had disappeared!



My timing was just below 40min. I'm so happy.

The run was extremely hot because we started so late. I got burnt and aged 10 years.

Another medal. To be honest, I'm starting to forget why I need a photo of the medal in my mouth...

The run organisers provided shuttle buses to the MRT station. Hubs left his sweat all over the seat.

We got an empty train again!

I was a little tired but hubs had the energy to take pic after pic. Here's a photo of me in the middle of yawning.

We went for an early lunch at The Union. I had the sampler - avocado chicken burger, soup and salad.

Then we caught a couple of creatures before we went home. And how was your Sunday?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Before I Grow Any Older

Folks,

When I first started participating in organized runs, I imagined I would graduate from 5km to 10km. But I gave up on the idea especially because last year my health was really bad. This year, I felt a little better and recently, the ambition to run 10km slowly planted its seeds. One day when we were on a long train ride, I casually mentioned to hubs that I wanted to try a 10km run at least once before I grow too old. Hubs IMMEDIATELY signed me up for Stanchart 2016 10km run. (He has already signed up for himself) You may not know this but 10km is the shortest run in Stanchart Marathon apart from the Kids Dash.

So there's no turning back now. The payment is non-refundable. I have to run 10km in early December.

Today I thought I should try increasing the distance of my run from 5km to whatever I'm capable of. I mean, I'm not going to run 10km for the first time on the day of Stanchart run. That would be crazy. Plus, there is a 2 hour limit for the 10km run. I don't want to be disqualified. It would be so humiliating. So this morning, I gave it a go and I ran until it started to drizzle.

I managed to run 8km in 1h:12min:43s. I'm so happy. I think I can run the additional 2km in under 30min so I need not worry about taking more than 2 hours to run 10km. Woo hoo. What a relief.

Today's run taught me one thing. I ran out of steam at 8km. Totally wiped out. I'm going to have to fuel myself somehow or running the last 2km would be hard. You see, I run on an empty stomach. This is the best way for me. I don't want to run the risk of stomach aches or needing to go to the toilet. I'm thinking of trying energy gels. I hope they don't taste horrible.

Physically, I feel a little tired after running 8km. It is my first 8k after all. My legs hurt a little and I expect to feel sore the next 3 days.
 

I wore my most comfortable Adidas tempo 7 Boost shoes. Hopefully this pair of shoes doesn't break down. I have 3 other pairs of running shoes and they hurt here and there after running. Not this Boost shoes. I love it to death.

I have to explore new running routes. If I were to run by the canal, I would need to loop twice to get the distance needed. Somehow, psychologically, doing a loop dampens my spirit.

Since I have written quite a number of posts on my run, you must be wondering if I love running. To be honest, I don't. When I started running decades ago, it was for fitness and health. I don't play any sports and I thought running was the easiest way to keep fit. Nowadays I have an additional motivation to run. Running clears the wind in my stomach. The first 500m of my run - I can feel a lot of burps coming out. Yes, it's quite disgusting. But after my run, my stomach feels great. My gastritis still comes and goes and it seems, running is medicinal.

Next week, if I don't feel too sore, I shall attempt 10km. Wish me luck.
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