So, this is the whole story of what happened . . .

Turns out it wasn’t a hairball after all.

Two weeks ago yesterday I woke up with extremely violent and painful stomach cramps, which got so bad that I went to emergency at a private hospital the next day. They took an x-ray of my abdomen, told me I had gastroenteritis (even though I had none of the other usual symptoms that accompany gastroenteritis) and sent me home with an enema and a special diet.

By Friday I was in such agony that I couldn’t even eat anymore and went back to emergency to see if they would give me an ultrasound or some other test to find out what was wrong with me. The doctor there was a piece of shit very snooty with me and said I couldn’t come in and tell them what tests they should run. So I was sent home again – this time with an oral laxative and some anti-spasm pills. That afternoon I started vomiting, which continued every half hour for the next 24 hours.

On Saturday afternoon I couldn’t move from my bed and got a couple of very concerned phone calls from Pipocas telling me I should get back to the hospital. But I was so weak and exhausted that any sort of decision making was quite beyond me. Finally Pipocas phoned again and told me to get ready – that she’d be there in half an hour with a taxi.

So, back to the hospital emergency where they finally said they would keep me in overnight for obervation and further tests. The good part of that being that whatever drugs they gave me finally stopped the cramps so I could breathe again. The next day (Sunday by now) I was taken for two different kinds of ultrasounds as well as another x-ray and a CT scan. And then in the evening a very worried looking surgeon came in and said I needed a special x-ray with contrast taken and so that was done (though it seemed like they took about ten of them because they couldn’t get the right angle or something). Then around 8pm the surgeon came back into the observation room and told me that I required an immediate emergency operation but that they couldn’t do it because he was the only surgeon on duty that night and so I was to be transferred to the nearby general hospital.

Around 11pm I was finally picked up and taken to the general hospital by what appeared to be the Keystone Paramedics – it’s only a five-minute walk between hospitals and Nog beat them there on foot. Honestly, they seemed so inept and were constantly bickering about this and that I had to laugh. Anyhow, then I was put in Observation at the GH and was told that they wanted to wait until morning and try a procedure that might relieve the present symptoms so that I could then have the operation under better conditions. Meanwhile, I had texted one of my ex-students who works at the GH (head of nuclear medicine) and told him what was happening. He called me and said he’d be there to see me in the morning.

So I spent quite an awful night there but was almost too exhausted to care anymore. And then at 8am the white curtains were drawn back and there was ‘The Team’. Ricardo and two of his colleagues (Isabel and Pilar, also friends and students) and Ricardo was shaking his head asking what the heck I’d been up to and I just wanted to cry with relief. By this time it had been decided that surgery was required NOW (well, probably the week before, but …) and so Isabel went off to see who my surgeon was going to be. She came back and told me his name and said he was one of the best and so I was in buenas manos which also helped me to relax.

By then Nog and Pipocas had shown up and were briefly allowed in to see me because I told everyone that Nog was my husband and Pipocas was my sister (a pretence we kept up the whole week) and later on La J came and they all waited while the operation was going on. But then I got stuck in the wake-up room all day until 10.30pm waiting for a room so they weren’t able to see me till the next day.

The very best news upon waking up was that I was told the operation had gone better than had been expected and so I wouldn’t need a colostomy bag. Also the surgeon was very pleased that ‘nothing was left behind’ so, in the event that it was a malignant tumour, I should only require a preventative treatment and there shouldn’t be a risk of the cancer having spread elsewhere. But that is something I am choosing not to think about for now. One step at a time.

What I am thinking about – a lot! – is just how fragile we actually are and how much we take being alive & healthy for granted. I’m also thinking about suing either the private hospital or the insurance company, but not until I’m feeling better. 🙂