A Long Week in the Miserable Hell of Feeling Icky!

Last Saturday I finally got around to writing a new blog post about stuff going on in my life. Well, things to take care of in regards to the new job, some comments on TV shows, movies etc. I had finished the draft of this post in the afternoon and had planned to post it later that day, after I got back home from a birthday party of a family friend. I had been feeling a bit off the whole day, like I was coming down with something but that vague notion didn’t warrant staying away from the party, because I haven’t seen the birthday girl (it was her 40th birthday, but we grew up together, so she’ll always be a girl to me) or her siblings in a long time.

When I bent over to tie my shoes that Saturday afternoon at 16:30 all of a sudden I had a searing pain in the side, like classic stich after a long run or other exercise. The pain was much worse than a usual stich though and made feel so sick that I had to throw up. The pain didn’t go away and I was feeling really sick all of a sudden. Pain in the right side, throwing up… the first idea that came to mind was appendicitis, of course. I didn’t really want to take any risk with something like that so I called my family and asked that one of them take me to the ER. Bro2 showed up a few minutes later and I had used that minutes to pack a back with necessary stuff for a potential hospital stay. When your mom has been admitted to the hospital as an emergency a few times you get the hang of what to pack for those occassions quickly.

Before you start worrying: it wasn’t appendicitis or any other serious issue. But it took six hours in the ER to get that confirmed. As avid Grey’s Anatomy fan I so wished that for once real life would be a bit more like the show, in the way that there are eager interns trolling around for patients (surgical or not) and to be dealt with quickly. It didn’t have to be a McDreamy, just one doctor rushing to my side to take a look at me would have sufficed. But a I wasn’t bleeding or collapsing and as the ER was only staffed with two nurses, one surgeon and one internist that evening, I had to wait a bit. A lot actually. Unlike some other patients in the ER waiting area I didn’t blame the staff, because they did the best they could, but they can only treat one patient at a time.

After I told Nurse1 about my symptoms, she suspected that I might just have strained a muscle when I bend down to tie my shoes. She prodded around my spine for a bit but didn’t find any proof for that theory, which I found ludicrous anyway in that moment. Looking back on it all now she might have been right, because even though the pain hasn’t disappeared completely after almost a week, but it still feels more like a sore muscle or something like that. Maybe a strained one? Anyway, in that moment in the ER I huffed at that idea.
After a while Nurse2 found time to draw blood and even had me give an urine sample. The lab work took ages and the ER surgeon wanted to wait for the results until he examined me. It makes sense but still… Argh! I was in pain and feeling sick and hugged the toilet twice more until there actually wasn’t anything else to barf up except bile. Ewwwh, just writing about it makes me want to hurl again. But I think you should get a true account of my misery of that Saturday evening in the ER. Be warned, there is more to come… :-)

All the lab work came back clear and when the surgeon examed my abdomen he didn’t find anything wrong that might have caused the pain and the sickness. I couldn’t even quite localize the pain in that moment, which I think he found a bit frustrating, but I was feeling too miserable to care about that. He wanted to get a consult from the internist and suggested that his collegue also did a ultrasound of my abdomen. Back to the waiting area and to feeling miserable and in pain. Because I didn’t know what could have caused it I didn’t dare to even take a sip of water in case I might have to have surgery for some reason. A bit of water in my stomach probably wouldn’t have hurt, but I wasn’t thinking logical that evening. After my last trip to the bathroom I took a good look in the mirror and I looked ghastly, which scared me a little. But maybe it was just the vomiting and the pain…

Some time later the internist found the time to take a look at me and even though he was nice and competent (I guess) he also did not have a very organized mind. He talked to the surgeon again and looked at the results from the lab and then they agreed on some kind of plan. Then they had to do a consult together in another exam room and when they returned the plan had somehow changed. Don’t know if the other patient had anything to do with it and I didn’t care. I just wanted to know what, if anything at all, was wrong with me. I also wanted the pain and the sickness to stop. Probably even more than finding the cause of it all.
They had agreed to not admit me, unless I absolutely would have wanted to get admitted. Which I didn’t, because from past experiences (with my mom in the hospital) I know how much or to be more precise how little doctoring actually happens on the weekend. Once again, not their fault, understaffed and all, but I really didn’t need to be in a strange hospital room to feel miserable, I could do that in my own bed, or on my own couch as well.

So the new plan (or was it the old one which the got back to? By that point I had no idea) was to give me an enema (so I can check that off from the lists of undesirable medical procedures now) and then maybe send me home with some laxative if necessary. And if I wouldn’t be feeling better on Sunday I should get back in to have lab work done again. So there was another trip to the bathroom after a while ;-), but honestly I excepted and enema to be much worse. Anyway, the doctors were glad that the enema obviously had emptied some of my bowles (Is that TMI? Sorry, that’s just the way it was that night) and the internist finally also did the abdominal ultrasound, but everything seems to have checked out just fine. Their diagnosis or better said assumption because there obviously wasn’t anything wrong to diagnose, was that maybe I just had some random digestive problem and once I’ve completely emptied my bowels it would get better.

By that time it was almost 23:00 and I had spent almost six hours in the ER. Still feeling sick and in pain. But at least knowing that nothing serious was wrong with me. Bro2 had patiently stayed with me for most of the time, he only went out for a short walk a few times and drove to McDonalds on the next block as well, when he got hungry. I wasn’t really good company that night but he didn’t mind and that was one of the moments where I’m so happy and grateful that I still live close to my family and that we all get along well and that I can count on them in these times of need. He took me back to my Mom’s place because I didn’t feel comfortable going back to my apartment alone for the night. So I spent the night on my Mom’s couch, which isn’t the most comfortable, but at least I wasn’t alone. I didn’t get much sleep because of all of it, but at least I didn’t have to throw up again.

I had some toast and tea for breakfast and was hoping the icky feeling would pass soon and so would the pain. Neither really did, until today in fact, even though the pain is much better and I only sometimes feel it, depending on which position I’m sitting, standing or lying in. Which makes the strained muscle theory all the more probable. I put an ice pack on it when it got too much too handle and it usually worked. Oh, and I also took ibuprofen at night, just in case.

I spend a miserable Sunday on my couch and in my bed and on Sunday evening I had moderate fever (38.8 °C). Great! So maybe it was some kind of stomach bug after all? It didn’t really feel like it, because even though I felt and still feel icky and and have a strange taste in my mouth and some smells/tastes makes me want to gag, I haven’t since that Saturday evening. I neither developed diarrhoea, which I would have expected at some stomach bug.
My temp was down to 37.something on Monday morning and as my colleague in our two-person-office was out on vacation I decided to go to work, because there were a few things to take care of. I didn’t last long though because the icky feeling remained. I went home, cancelled a meeting I had planned for that night and went to bed feeling utterly miserable. Still without a real fever on Monday night though.

On Tuesday morning I decided to see my GP and ask for her opinion on the whole ordeal. I gave her the short report from the ER doc, she examed my abdomen again and of course she also didn’t find anything wrong. She also suspected some kind of bug and I should monitor if the fever returned or anything got worse. So I went to work on Tuesday as well and of course I didn’t last long on that day either. The fever was back on Tueday night so I sent a mail to my bosses explaining that I’d like to stay home for the next day and maybe even Thursday. Luckily at this time of year there is no real urgent stuff going on at work which can’t be dealt with via mail or phone. So there were no objections to me staying home.

I spend a miserable and still feverish Wednesday at home and decided to see my neurolgist on Thursday morning. The ongoing fever without a real sign of a stomach bug (except the icky feeling) worried me, because there obviously was something troubling my immune system in a way that it decided to pull out the fever card. The MS meds I’m getting are suppressing the immune system (because MS is an autoimmune disease) so I was advised to consult my neurologist when I encounter any kind of unspecific infection, ongoing fever etc.

The neurologist was a bit out of his depth from what I told him about my symptoms, he had the hospital fax over my lab results, which he also considered quite normal. At the hospital they hadn’t checked the Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) (for German readers: Blutsenkung (BSG) ) so he decided to do that to check if this would show that there was some inflammantory process going on.
At noon they called me to tell me that the result was 46/90, which is pretty high and thus a sign for some kind of inflammation and they asked me to get back to my GP and talk to her about it. So I spent another 3 hours in another waiting room this week.
The ongoing fever and the ESR result also were proof for my GP that there was something going on. She listened to my lung sounds and thought she might hear some signs of respiratory infection but I hadn’t suffer from coughing in these days. And nothing really hurt (unless the “strained” or whatever muscle) so the fever was even more mysterious. To be on the safe side she prescribed broad spectrum antibiotics and strongly suggested I’d stay home from work on Friday as well. Thank God my bosses were understanding about that because it really would have been a stupid idea to drive in to work today. I felt a bit better or compared to last weekend almost a lot better, but still not really up for work. And for public transport commute in this April-y weather at the moment.

I had hoped that the moderate fever would break today, at least it look like it for a while, but now it’s back up to 38.5 °C, so I have no idea what to think of that. I had plans for the weekend but right now I’m not sure I’ll feel up to those. I guess I’ll have to wait how I will feel tomorrow at noon. And maybe sometime next week I’ll even feel up to post the almost finished blog post I wrote last Saturday before my life went to the miserable hell of icky!

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