The Pancreatic Revolt
14 days ago I was doing fine and enjoying a great meal provided by my friend Jon and a movie on a Friday night. Meanwhile, my pancreas was deciding that it had had enough chemotherapy and was not going to stand for it any longer. I went to bed feeling well and woke up at 4:00 am with a stomach ache. My stomach felt hard and bloated with a sharp deep pain inside behind my belly button. I woke Jeffrey up and took some antacids and pain medication but I couldn’t go back to sleep. I stayed on my hands and knees with my head down for the rest of the night and into the morning. I’ve had pain not entirely dissimilar once at the hospital and it turned out to be acid indigestion and constipation. Yes, I had an abdominal CT scan to tell me that. So, I treated this pain as such. I sat down to eat a little oatmeal around 9:00 and I immediately started vomiting after the first bite. My dad and Jeff were busy moving us into the house so I miserably called the doctor myself and was told to go straight to the ER. We packed up and headed once again to OSU Medical Center emergency department.
By the time we got there I was in so much pain and so out of it that I don’t have much recollection of what happened between triage taking us straight back and earning a room on the 8th floor. At some point we were given a diagnosis of pancreatitis, an inflammation of the innocent enzyme producing organ located behind the stomach. This was most likely a side effect from one of my chemo meds. I was started on IV morphine but even that could not erase the pain but did make me hallucinate. I was told I would need to go on stomach rest to let it heal. This means no food or drink by mouth until the organ becomes peaceful again.
Day 2 into the saga the story got worse. My body started to go into shock because of the disruption. My blood pressure dropped low, very low and would not come up. My room was full of doctors and nurses trying to fix it. The doctors told my dad who was there with me that he needed to call my husband to come in. I earned my first ever trip to the ICU.
ICU was an experience. Those nurses are there to keep you alive. And for the first few days that’s what I needed them for. The solution for my blood pressure was to give me fluids. I was given 22 liters of fluids in a day or so and I gained 50 lbs from that in spite of not eating or drinking. I actively refused intubation. I don’t remember much but I remember a doctor wanting to put a tube down my throat and I remember saying no. I refused intubation twice. I’ve worked in a hospital enough to know what intubation means and I wanted to avoid that. This means I was stuck with a pressure oxygen mask that helped me breathe. It was insanely uncomfortable and I fought it at times but the nurses would not let me take it off. I had hallucinations from the morphine and didn’t know where I was most of the time and didn’t understand why I couldn’t move. Jeff was told by the doctors at one point that they had done everything they could do and they had to wait and see if I would turn around. The endocrinologist were starting to talk kidney dialysis because my organs weren’t processing. But, it turned around and I started to get better. There was some discussion that the cancer hospital had over medicated my pain so they cut down my meds which means I was in pain most of the time. I hurt in the middle of my belly and it radiated around the sides and to my back. The nurses had to turn me to change bedding and the pain was excruciating when they rolled me on my side. But after a few days I started getting better. With that I also started to become more demanding.
ICU likes their patients quiet and sedated and I was no longer sedated. We had to wait for a bed back at the James and my ICU stay ended on Saturday a week after it began with a move back to the cancer hospital.
To be continued…