Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Room with a View

This has been my view since Saturday night. The view is great even if the location to obtain this view is not. I'm on the ninth floor of Penrose Hospital. I'm hoping I'm released before I finish writing this blog post. I spent my Mothers's Day here. I spent yesterday here. I've spent half of today here. I'm watching a storm roll over the mountain. After watching folks on the street below my window walk, jog, or bike in the sunshine while I was cooped up inside, I have little hope of feeling "sunshine on my shoulders" if or when I'm released today because rain in in the forecast.

I'm breaking a rule of advice my father always gave me by writing this blog post. "No one wants to hear about your maladies and surgeries," he'd say, but here I go writing of such things even after his advice.  For weeks, I've not blogged much, nor have I done much of anything, because I've been unwell. I've had more medical tests than I've been able to keep track off.

For years, I've had chronic problems with my esophagus and digestive track. After my ninth scope of my esophagus in January, I decided to get a second opinion from the GI doctors at National Jewish Health in Denver. I've been fortunate enough to be a patient at this prestigious hospital  for respiratory problems for the past seventeen years. My wonderful doctor at NJH, an outstanding doctor who has been treating me, caring for me, and listening to me at least once a year since 1996 referred me to their GI docs. Since my initial consult with the new doctor, I've had enough tests to make my head spin: CT scans, ultra sounds, MRI, colonoscopy, and there are more to come.  Unfortunately, I have more than one type of GI problems.

In the meantime, I've continued to have terrible upper right abdominal pain. On this past Saturday evening,  after two days of persistent pain, I had my husband take me to the ER. This was my fourth visit to the ER since Easter. This time, the lipase levels were up high enough to get the doctors' attention in the ER. Thankfully, the surgeon I had consulted just last week for the possible removal of my gall bladder was on duty at the ER. After reviewing my symptoms and my blood work, he determined I should be admitted to the hospital for monitoring, observation, and for further testing.

I was told I would have a HIDA scan  on Sunday.  So, I spent Mother's Day in the hospital waiting for this test.  This meant I had only fluids coming into my body via an IV.  So much for the nice brunch that my husband had made reservations for at the Fine Arts Center.  I was very disappointed, frustrated, and upset that I found myself in the hospital on this special day, but on the other hand, deep down inside, I knew I couldn't eat anything anyway.  Food has just not been agreeing with me.  It hasn't for weeks.  Finally, at about 4:00 in the afternoon on Mother's Day, the doctor, a hospitalist, met with me and told me the test would not happen until the next day. He said I could order anything I wanted from the hospital menu because they wanted to see if I got sick.  (That seems a bit sinister, doesn't it?)  I chose wisely and ate salmon and other low fat options.  Once I finished eating, I was told I would have nothing else to eat until after the test scheduled the next day  for "first thing in the morning."

In reality, I finally had the HIDA at about 1:00 in the afternoon.  The test showed that there wasn't enough criteria to prove the gall bladder was not functioning.  Even before the test, my GI doctor in Denver had told me that based on my symptoms and the MRI, she suspected I had a condition called Sphincter of Oddi.  After having the HIDA, even though the tests showed no remarkable signs of a non-functioning gall bladder, I became quite symptomatic.  My symptoms became worse after I ate my hospital sanctioned low fat dinner, the first meal I'd had on Monday.  By bedtime, I was given morphine for pain.

As predicted when I started the post, I was released to go home after the sun went away and the rain began to come down.  Before I was released, I was advised to talk to my GI doctor at National Jewish Health about having the test and procedure for Sphincter of Oddi done.  As I already knew, this procedure is only done at the University of Colorado hospital in Denver.  I called Dr. M at NJH and told her nurse what was going on. Within an hour, Dr. M was on the phone calling me.  She said, "I'm sending a text to Dr. S at the University Hospital to see you ASAP."  I told her a text sounded pretty impressive.  She laughed and said they were close colleagues and she was sure he would see me as soon as it could be arranged.  In the meantime, she said I was to meticulously follow a fat free diet and go immediately to the hospital for my lipase levels to be checked if my pain got worse.  She said she doesn't want me to get pancreatitis.  Believe me, neither do I.  The pain I've had is bad enough.

So, the testing continues.  I still have no answers, but I believe we are on the right track.  I am grateful that I was fortunate enough to have the wonderful doctors at National Jewish Health looking after my health.  I have never known a place that is more responsive to medical needs or more thorough  in checking for the cause for a problem.  They don't just treat the symptoms.

I am also very fortunate to have great medical care here in Colorado Springs.  The surgeon who was consulted on the gall bladder didn't just jump in and take it out.  He made sure all things were checked out.  My  GI doctors in Colorado Springs were on the case while I was in the hospital.  The PA that has cared for me for years popped in twice to check on me, consult with me, and do her part in getting to the bottom of this, while also bolstering my spirit.  She has always taken so much time with me, listened to me, and treated me with extraordinary care.  Just seeing her smiling face when she appeared at the door of the hospital room and walked to my bedside lifted my spirits.  I felt a friend had come to visit; she was not just someone from the medical profession.

In the meantime, I wait until I can get more answers when I go to the University of Colorado Hospital.  I will not be eating any hamburgers!  I will be meticulous about not eating fat.  I hope I can dodge the bullet when it comes to having anymore attacks before we get to the bottom of this.

One thing is for sure, I had a memorable Mother's Day.  Amazingly, I didn't feel sorry for myself.  I didn't let myself go there.  I felt loved and cared for by my wonderful husband.  I talked with each of my children.  I was visited by a step-daughter.  A pastor from my church came twice to visit and pray with me.  I was cared for by some wonderful nurses who gave up a Mother's Day with their families in order to care for those in the hospital.  And, I had a wonderful view of Pikes Peak in a room all to myself until late last night.

 I am going have my husband take me for that special brunch just as soon as I can eat again.  He's not getting off that easy.  I'll wear the beautiful amber necklace that he gave me for Mother's Day when I finally get to go to brunch.  Isn't it beautiful?
My Mother's Day gift from my hubby -
a beautiful amber necklace.


  1. We all agree that our Father knows best...BUT...in this case, I'm glad you overrode his advice. I care about you and how you are feeling, and I certainly want to hear how your tests are going, how you are feeling, and what the prognosis is regarding your stomach pains. I am so sorry that you spent Mother's Day in the hospital, and I feel even worse that you are still experiencing so much pain. My prayer is that the doctors will make the diagnosis soon, take care of whatever it is that is causing you this great discomfort and that you will be up and about in no time soon.
    Your amber necklace is beautiful, Sally. Kudos to your sweet husband for his taste and style! Hugs to you both. Please know, that my prayers continue to be with you.

  2. Well, that is quite a saga, and still no answers! Hopefully you will get a diagnosis soon. I'm glad you are getting such good care, and are feeling so cared for!

  3. First of all, that view of the mountains is wonderful. I know you're used to them. I just don't see any mountains where I live! I love the amber necklace that hubby bought you. You really do have a keeper, don't you?! Now then, I was so dreadfully sorry about your awful stomach pains. I can sympathise, because you might remember that I had major abdominal surgery last June. Thankfully, I have been pain free ever since, and I am so grateful for that. So many tests you have had. Gosh, the doctors, medical staff and treatment and attention you have received, sounds quite amazing. I do so hope that they can get to the bottom of it, and I am sorry that you had to spend your special day in hospital. I will be praying for you my friend. Take care, and try to keep those spirits up. Hugs x

  4. Oh, Sally, I am so sorry to hear that you have been felling unwell. It is good news, though, that you are being looked after so attentively. I hope that the cause will be identified and corrected in a short time.

    The necklace is beautiful. You have a very sweet husband.

  5. Wow, that's a lot to face. Keep us informed, and I'll keep you in my prayers. Hugs.

  6. Oh, Sally, I am so sorry to hear of all that you have been going through. I had to chuckle about you starting this post with the beautiful view from your window....in the hospital. I hope you are able to get the additional tests soon and that you get answers that will lead to a quick and positive resolution for you. I'm glad you have so much positive support from family and your doctors. That brunch you are holding your husband to will be an extra special treat when the time comes.
    You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  7. Oh dear, poor you. I had my gall bladder out a few years ago - what an improvement! (This only works if your gall bladder is the problem, obviously... . Hope you soon get fixed.)

  8. Sounds like you're in excellent, caring hands as the docs work toward a diagnosis.

    Thinking of you, for sure!

  9. Ouch! This must be most frustrating for you and for the doctors as well, not quite knowing what it is they are treating. I blame stress for everything; and who knows, with more peace and quiet your gastric juices will re-balance somehow.
    Glad to know there are competent professionals around, and constantly looking for answers. I had no idea there could be so many possibilities of diseases lurking about....

  10. Sally, I am so glad you shared this in every way. I understand what you mean about hesitating to write about your health because I've gone through the same feelings recently as you know. And as you know, I wrote about things. This is what I knew in my heart and discovered was true -- the blogger community is one of magnificent and astounding support, one that collectively offers prayers and good wishes for the return of health, healing and strength to deal with whatever lies ahead.

    You have been through a peck of problems, my friend. None of them sound fun, some of them painful and downright miserable. It is time for you to wrap that cozy soft blanket of blog-love all around you and hold tight to the thought that this collective energy will help you heal.

    I am so glad you "know" and are continuing your quest to find out precisely what the issue is and how to help. It's the not knowing that brings pain and confusion and fear far worse than any reality. When you "know" you can begin to deal with things and as you do, find new ways to respond that will build your health and your spirit.

    Your are tough. You are stronger than you know and you are in my thoughts and prayers from this very moment on.

  11. OH My Gosh---I had no idea. I am so very very sorry, Sally, for ALL that you are going through. That pain must be horrible. HOPEFULLY, all of those tests will come up with some results for you. They just HAVE to find some permanent relief for you. God Bless You, my special friend. I am very teary reading about all that you have gone through... Wish I could take away some of your pain..

    Love and Hugs and PRAYERS for you,

  12. I'm glad you didn't follow your father's advice. I'm glad you wrote your blog. Your friends want to know, even if it isn't always pleasant. I think the best part was the PA with the smiling face coming to visit. That's true medicine, the kind that works. Also, here goes a prayer for your quick return to good health. JP

  13. Well Sally we have a health connection here. I have had GERD for about 30 years.
    I am glad you have great caring doctors. I hope they find out what is going on quickly and that you are going to watch what you eat.
    I had surgery and now it is unwrapped for the hiatal(?) hernia and I have to get the upper GI every year for Barrett's. But I am okay and feel pretty good. Hope you feel better soon!
    With love, sandie

  14. I am so sorry for all the misery you are going through. Mother's Day was bad enough spending it in the hospital but to have this go on and on has to
    be so frustrating.
    I was misdiagnosed for 10 years. By the time they figured out it was my gall bladder, I was down to 98 pounds. It sounds like you have a great team working for you and I am praying you will soon have ad answer and the cure.
    Hubby came through on all fronts. Love the necklace.
    Be well soon lady and keep us informed.

  15. I hope you get some answers soon. Had my gall bladder out when I had the gastric bypass...the doctor said "might as well as long as we're in there." I haven't missed it.
    Get well soon. ...and yes, the necklace is lovely. Lucky girl!

  16. Oh poos sally, what a miserable way to spend Mother's Day. It sounds like you have had wonderful care and I do hope your medical team can give you an accurate diagnosis and the appropriate treatment as soon as possible.

  17. Wow, Sally, I had no idea you have been going through such difficult times. I'm very glad you have your wonderful husband and your children, as well as what sounds like excellent care. Please keep me posted and don't think that I didn't hang on every word, trying to find out what you've been going through! Sending you hugs and hope you will be all well soon.

  18. Sally, I'm sorry you've been going through all that pain and misery, but glad you have such a great team on your side. And a gorgeous amber necklace to wear when you finally get to have that date. Please keep us posted!

  19. Sally,
    I am so sorry to hear about all you are going through. That sounds so painful and worrisome. Glad you wrote about it so we all know how things are going!!
    May the answers come soon and bring you a solution for this pain.
    The necklace is so beautiful. May it bring you good health and relief from pain.
    Keeping you in my thoughts.

  20. My goodness Sally you've been going through a lot. And your spirit though is indomintable. We count on Mayo Clinic here for the same kind of thoroughness and wonderful care. We trust their judgement. It sounds like you have the same feeling. Its worth a lot to have that kind of confidence...

  21. Dear Sally, you've gone through so much in the last few months and there's still a distance to go. But I so hope that when you go to the Denver hospital and they do the test, you've have a definitive answer and also a suggestion for what can be done. I'll be sending you healing white light.

    And yes, the necklace is gorgeous. I so love amber. Peace.

  22. I'm so sorry to hear of all these health issues. It's not fun. And hospitalization is just terrible. I have a friend who has also suffered from digestive issues. I'm going to forward your blog post to her as she may have some insights as to what you are going through. She too has had many tests, procedures, and consultations.

  23. Oh, how horrible.

    I'm sorry you are going through all this.

    Even if your view is spectacular the circumstances are certainly not!

    Sending you a prayer of healing and peace.

  24. I'm trying to catch up on my blog reading, so am just now seeing this post. I hope you are feeling better and have found some answers to your health issues. Take care!

  25. Just really glad you are ok at the moment. My docs did an old style GB removal, and I am sure glad they did. Pain that bad has never been my friend. Hope your solutions are more immediate. Hugs.

  26. I sure hope you've averted another attack, Sally! I'm thinking of you and hoping you get definitive answers soon. Meantime, I agree you need a raincheck for brunch! Your hubby has good taste.

  27. I'm really sorry that you've been through the mill! (tough time). Hoping its nothing too bad. At least there's nothing obvious.
    I have had a hiatus hernia so do get problems down the oesophagus especially when lying down. I take medication for it and but the condition does effect some foods that I cannot now eat.
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

  28. Well, dearest one, your challenges just keep on coming, don't they. Not sure what the learning is, or the blessings, but I know you'll embrace it all as you always do. You're so fortunate to know how blessed you are with your family and the resources available to you. Sending you love and light and prayers for deep healing.

  29. You poor old thing, you really have been/are in the wars.

    I sincerely hope that with all these tests and medics somebody somewhere will soon get to the bottom of your suffering.

    I have gastric problems too, (do they go with heart problems?) I have had my gall bladder out and various stomach investigations. If I eat sensibly, I suffer little. I hope you too will find a way of living without too much pain.

    Good luck.

  30. I read this post carefully to try to understand what you are going through, it seems the doctors haven't figured it out yet. I hope as of today they have found successful treatment for you and that you are wearing your gorgeous amber necklace and dining with your hubby. Take care.

  31. Oh Sally I am so sorry! I have not stopped by in so long. I am so sorry about you having to spend Mother's Day in the hospital. I hope you find answers and treatment to help you feel better. Your necklace is gorgeous!
    Blessings, Joanne

  32. Oh my, that sounds bad! Poor you. I too would have been suspicious if told to eat what I wanted to see if it made me sick!

    I'm glad you have such care and support and pray that you will soon be sorted and out for that brunch.


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