31 August 2011

Medical Dramas!!

So what's the latest news from me? No more travel stories I'm afraid and no interesting photographs. Instead after a pretty normal first week back in Galway I've landed myself in hospital! See, I came back from Belgium, where I had been feeling mostly fine though the food there didn't really agree with me. I got straight back to work and after no proper kitchen for two weeks cooked myself a proper meal full of vegetables (no fat because I'm not supposed to have such things) and despite the perfectly healthy meal I had a gallstone attack and was terribly sick! Not only that, but instead of clearing up after a day as usual, I was left all sore and tender all week! But I figured, it would be OK, it would go away. Only it didn't, but I still thought it would be OK and I had an appointment at the hospital for the next Tuesday so I decided I'd just wait it out. But that was not the answer, apparently.

On Sunday I joined in the birthday celebrations of a friend with a trip to the circus! It was a much smaller circus even than those that come round to Invercargill every now and then, and as soon as we walked into the tent we were hit with the strongest reek of animals! The circus was alright though, but I think more enjoyable for children - it was very simple. I think there were no more than 20 people making up the troupe, including the animal handlers. The clown was not so funny as many that I have seen, but for some reason Barney the Dinosaur showed up and he and the clown danced to a Beyonce song. There was a lot of the acrobatics of the type where they climb up a length of fabric, or in one case netting, and wrap it around themselves and turn upside down, spin around and come rolling down. Which is always impressive, but what was most impressive of all that was one girl who took her violin up there with her, and played upside down! That was cool. Then at the end there was something more like a trapeze, with a woman swinging on a rope and doing some cool stuff. I think the nicest part was the little dogs, they were really good, and one skipped with the trainer. They were just so cute and funny. The other animals, they had an ostrich, a camel, zebras and some ponies, they just ran around the ring and that was it. But I guess a lot of people here have not seen such animals so must have been good for them.

After the circus (I was glad it ended because the night was getting quite chilly and the tent was not heated) we went back to a mate's place for homemade pizza, and I had supplied cookies so of course I had some of those. I wasn't feeling great but had been OK all week so had my fingers crossed that I'd be fine. Only that was not to be. I woke in the night sick as a dog and in so much pain - I think it will be a long time before I have cheese again, the smell of it coming back up was the most awful thing! Sorry for the gross out by the way. So anyway, I still thought it would be OK and go away though, as it usually does. I have since been told off thoroughly for not calling somebody sooner though! Finally, later in the morning when I could stand somewhat better I went on down to the hospital because I just couldn't wait till the next day. They kept me in A&E, did blood tests, gave me IV fluids (jabbed a lot of holes in me!). Only here in Ireland the health system is shocking, they are quite understaffed, and A&E waits are terrible. So I, like many others, did not manage to get a proper bed that night and did my best to sleep on a bed in the corridor - not a proper bed but one of those gurney-trolley things that they move you from room to room on. But at least I had that, and was not stuck in a chair all night! I've heard stories of patients being stuck in there 3 nights! Not me though, luckily.

So the next morning I got given an ultrasound, my first one ever! It was interesting, it didn't look like much to me but the technician pointed out my gallbladder and pushed a button to show the blood flow and there was all this colour, he told me it was highly inflammed. Then there were all these little bright specks and he said they were the gallstones. I thought they would be bigger! There were lots of them though. Back in A&E I kept complaining and finally that afternoon was wheeled off to a ward. They finally let me try eating, but then changed their minds. That was OK, I was feeling ill again. They gave me a painkiller but it didn't do much. Much nicer being in a ward though! I have to wear these funny stockings so as to prevent a blood clot and every night they give me an injection in the tummy for the same reason. The doctor told me that they would tell me more in the morning (isn't that always the way!). They turn the lights out at 10 pm here! There is a lamp though so I could keep reading. I am through one giant fantasy novel and nearly finished Jurassic park. I can see myself getting somewhat bored here! Then this morning the lights came on at 8 and I was so confused, I had been sleeping so deep and couldn't figure out what all the light and noise was!

This morning they jabbed even more holes in me, first to take blood and then because my IV line wasn't right and was hurting. The one that is in now is good though, doesn't hurt at all! I guess the blood test didn't show any improvement though because next thing you know the doctors come and tell me that they'd like to keep me a few days and take my gallbladder out on Tuesday! I guess I did not expect such news, I knew it was coming but I didn't think I'd be here so long! I was worried too because next week I was supposed to be at my first big conference, Tuesday was my day to present my research! So in my shock I was not so keen on the whole idea, but of course I just needed time to digest the information. Of course I can back out of the conference, it's far more important to get healthy! Only I will be here for so long! So over the course of today I have managed to get an internet stick, have had visitors, reconnected with the world and been given the OK to eat. After a very strong painkiller, an opiate that slowly but surely left me lightheaded and reeling - I had to have a nap! It made me feel so strange, I think they will not give me so much next time. It's great though, now my tummy mostly doesn't hurt and so I want to eat, and can enjoy the grapes my friends brought me, and lots of vegetables for dinner (no fat diet sadly) and they keep giving me jelly! I am still light-headed but only a little.

So finally all my news is out, it is nice to have the internet and feel like I am part of the real world still. I am expecting visitors shortly, yay! I have beautiful flowers and loads of books and lots of handcream so that I don't pick up that awful hospital smell! I hope the week doesn't drag too much and that I can keep busy, and when I am out there is a plan to go blackberry picking so I have something to look forward too!

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