Posted on 2007-01-13 10:53:22, modified on 2007-01-13 11:42:13
Tags: My gall bladder
To understand the deeper impact of the following story, keep the following dates in mind:
31 December 2006 - New Years Eve 31 December 2006 - My 36th birthday 1 January 2007 - First day of the year (everybody drunk)
On 30 December we went to Star City in Darling Harbour, Sydney to celebrate the new year festivities for 2006/2007. That night, from 30 to 31 December, I woke up in the middle of the night (01:30) with this horrible gallbladder pain again. Not at home, that's the worst place you can come up with stuff like this: You lay with two others (that's my wife and baby son) in a horrible bed, the bathroom is stinky warm (if you've ever been in a hotel with a heated bathroom you will know the smell) and people sleeping in the other bedroom. So between 01:30 and 05:00 the standard half-hourly trip was: wake up from a half dozing sleep, walk to the toilet, throw up a mouth full of gall, lay on the floor for a minute to regain energy and then back to the bed, where you shake and shiver of the cold (pretty strange for a heated bathroom now that you mention it). Till 05:00 that is. Dirkie slept through all of this and Naomi supported me as good and bad as it went.
At that point in time she decided that I was an idiot and called the reception for an ambulance. Of course, this is not just a hotel, it's Star City and they have their own First Aid people, so they came up with a small contingent (one person) of security personnel. It must be a common thing for them: Below this hotel there are clubs and bars, and a big casino, so when the people who lost all their money because they were drunk take it out on their roommates, or when the people who won a minor fortune and flipped out because of the cocaine and take it out on their roommates, they get called. And that's why the security guy was there. But I was in no position to hurt anybody ("don't mind me, I'm laying here on the floor and am not moving unless somebody pulls me"), and a quick negotiation between Naomi and the hotel security / hotel manager and hotel first-aid person they called for an ambulance and at 06:30 I was in a hospital. The people in the next bedroom thought we had ordered breakfast-roomservice.
"A hospital" is the most accurate description I had for a long time. I had no idea where I was ("Sydney" was the best guess for me, not that I cared). The hospital was the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and is 125 years old. Nobody in the hospital knew who prince Alfred was (He's the second son of Queen Victoria I found on the Wikipedia), which kind of freaked me. And them when I asked about it.
At emergency they asked me the standard questions, and soon I was dozing off in a morphine induced sleep. Not that it helped much, because half an hour later I was throwing up again, but this time it was without that horrible stomach pain. Not that it was fun, but it was much less painful than during the night. Then, for the first time, people started to talk about admissions and operations. Because I was snoozing, Naomi took control and she would have even out-negotiated James Bond on it. The next thing I knew was that I was carried away to get an X-ray (it's very inconvenient that you don't take your previous ultrasound pictures with you when you go on a short holiday) and an ECG scan. More sleep, more throwing up and when I woke up at around 16:00 I was painfree again. Mostly. If they promise you to remove the thing which causes you so much issues, then you will find an excuse to stay.
The afternoon at New Years Eve is an interesting time in the emergency department. They want to get rid of as much as people as possible, because the next two days are going to be hell. First you have the new years eve, with lots of drunk people falling into the broken beer bottles, getting into fights etc. Then you have the New Years Day, when all medical centers are closed and everybody comes to the emergency departments, and it will be very busy.
So I was moved to a ward on the ninth floor, and would have a nice view of the city for the midnight event. But I slept from 31 December 2006 20:00 till 1 January 2007 07:00. I missed my birthday, I missed the turn of the year. Is this going to be bad luck for me?
Waking up at 06:00 on New Years Day always gives me a headache. Despite the amount of alcohol I haven't drunk, I had one: I hadn't eaten anything for about 36 hours and been on a drip since 24 hours. And being labeled as "nil by mouth", it means that I'm not getting any tablets until the doctor approves. Thirty minutes later, still no tablets, terrible headache and a bright idea: Morphine against the headache. Two minutes later, I was happily dozing of to La-La-land again. That headache didn't come back anymore.
The doctor did come back. He told me that there was a slim chance I would be able to be operated today, but since the chance was so small, he would prefer not to worry about it and to be scheduled for tomorrow, 2 January. It saved me a day of useless fasting, and I enjoyed the presence of Naomi and Dirk. At midnight I started fasting again.
In the morning of 2 January around 07:30, the doctor came and said "we're still trying to get you on the list" and left. Oh oh.. this doesn't sound good... But then, two minutes later he came back and said "You're the next on the list, prepare yourself!". Yaaaaay! Being next on the list is kind of a rush job: Quickly a last toilet visit, quickly a last call to Naomi and quickly signing some papers which state that the above procedures are the ones they need to perform on me. From that moment everything went smoothly: The orderly pushed me through the hospital towards the operating theatres, there I was asked again by the receptionist who I was and what was going to happen to me, pushed further towards the waiting room of the theatre where I was asked again who I was and what was going to happen to me. Despite the happy state I was in, I didn't want to take the risk of making a bad joke here, and I answered honestly. The anaesthetist told me what he was going to do to me (basically: put me to sleep and wake me up again) and I was moved in the place where my gall bladder and me, together from the moment we were born, were going to be seperated. And in the way it has behaved in the last month, not a moment too early!
The anaesthetist put some stuff in the arm, I felt my eyes closing (I thought from "this is how Dirkie must feel when he goes to sleep" and smiled. Well, I fell asleep so I didn't smile, but there must have been a twinkle in my eyes, which was also missed out on because my eyes were closed. So much for special things happening at the moment supreme!) and...
...I woke up again. I was *freeeeeeezing* (not too strange considering that I have been laying in a cold room for 50 minutes wearing close-to-nothing. The anaesthetist (I copy+paste the word because it's impossible to type it correctly ) asked me if I knew were I was (why is that guy talking in English to me, and why doesn't he accept the answer "in het ziekenhuis"?), if I felt sick (not really, just cooold), if I had pain (nothing except for some serious frostbite), and a minute later I was pushed back to the ward.
Naomi was there (yay!), and later on she said that I was acting very funny (like talking very fast), but that I didn't seem in pain, I was just buried under a huge pile of sheets. One hour later, lunch came and the nurses said I was allowed to eat if I felt up for it. Not a second too early! And after lunch a quick nap, and then I started to walk around again. Without too much pain, without too much dizziness, without too much worries.
The next day, the doctor came back and saw me bouncing around in the ward and I was quickly discharged from the hospital.
So at the end, one week later, the leftovers from my gall bladder are a lot of funny memories and four little scars on my chest. Unfortunately the gall bladder is not in a jar on my desk, but it's not bothering me anymore neither, so I think it's a good end for both of us. And to counter the bad luck of missing the New Years celebration, we are going to celebrate the Chinese New Year on 4 February.
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