Thursday, August 26, 2010
Sticks and stones...
While I've been dealing with my skyrocketing blood pressure, my dad decided to join the fun. He and I both have problems with something that none of our doctors have ever diagnosed. He deals with more reflux/indigestion while I have nothing but the excruciating pain in my gut. Feels like I've got knives sticking in me from the front and back and lasts for ten or more hours. Both Dad and I have had test after test, both have gone to the ER, etc. without any luck. My problem started when I was in college. Back then, I'd go to the infirmary and they would give me a sedative. Nice. Wake up twelve hours later with no pain. Unfortunately, the real world isn't so accommodating. About 15 years ago, I had an ultrasound on my gallbladder, but it showed nothing conclusive. Six years or so later, I started a battery of tests that my doctor said he could do to eliminate causes one-by-one. First, an ultrasound on the gall bladder, next an upper GI test, then a laparoscopy to look at the esophagus and stomach lining. I don't know what would have come next. The first two didn't indicate any problem, but the laparoscopy revealed several ulcers, and my doctor decided these were probably the cause of all the pain. I told him how much I doubted that since for years I had been taking massive doses of Ibuprofen to kill the pain, which had likely caused the ulcers. He refused to keep working through the tests until the ulcers cleared up. I have to confess that I was fairly disgusted with him since he wouldn't listen to me, so I never went back. And of course, my pain continued. Since then, I have been eating massive amounts of peppermint candy after reading that it helps with digestion, particularly the muscles used in the process. I can usually get some relief from the pain, but it's often after four or five hours of sheer misery. I had given up on finding a cause and had self-diagnosed myself with IBS. Plus, I have cut so many foods from my diet. Now get this--drinking too much caffeine and/or eating fatty foods cause the most pain. Aha, you say. That sounds like a gallbladder problem. Uh-uh, I say. I've had at least two ultrasounds showing nothing wrong with my gallbladder. I had given up trying to get help. Until now.
My dad has had the problem for as long as I can remember, and like mine, his pain has increased over the years. Last week, he went to the ER for the second time in a month, and once again, after load of tests on almost every organ in his body, he left knowing no more than when he arrived. However, after running a high fever over the weekend, he went back to his doctor on Monday, still in quite a bit of pain, and his doc said to go back to the hospital, that he would call ahead and get my dad admitted. The doc recommended a surgeon who began the testing again. Thankfully, this guy was willing to look carefully at the gallbladder rather than pass it by for lack of info. He decided to do surgery very late on Tuesday. Turns out, Dad's gallbladder was inflamed with infection, swollen and full of gallstones so tiny that the doctor said it was like sifting through sand. The infection could have caused worse problems had it gone unnoticed. Yesterday, I asked one of his nurses why there weren't any better tests for the gallbladder. She explained that it was like looking into a deflated balloon--it's has a thin wall, but without the air, the wall isn't stretched enough to see inside. She also told me about a test that measured the activity of the gallbladder instead of the organ itself. She was surprised neither of us had even heard of it.
So I've decided to see if I can get that test done. If I could be rid of this plaguing pain, I would be willing to undergo surgery even though I said I would never have it again (I react violently to the anesthesia).
No telling what they'd find...
(Image is entitled "Hollyhock Seeds" and can be purchased from FoundDays at Etsy.)
PS--My dad is back at home and doing just fine! Thanks for asking.