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All That I Am - Part 14

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(cont. from Part 13)


Pancreatitis! Yet another diagnosis to grace my ever increasing list of ailments.

It wasn't my esophagus this time but I had more than my fair share of attention from medical staff in a strange hospital with my long list. My battle with abdominal issues, and the terrible year I'd had so far, just complicated the whole situation further when I explained that I needed another bout of surgery to take down an unsuccessful wrap. I was introduced to another consultant who sat beside my bed with a cute smile asking if I was an alcoholic. I've been asked many things in my time but never if I was a drunk. "I think you may have gallstones," he said shrugging his shoulders." So not only did I have pancreatitis but possible gallstones as well!"


I was wheeled into an ultrasound room. I was very uncomfortable at this time -- pancreatitis is more than uncomfortable, I can tell you. I lay on a couch and the sonographer stroked the little strobe backwards and forwards. The gel they put on at first was enough to give me goosebumps all over my body, and the pain, well, let's just say it was not the best 20 minutes on a couch I've ever spent.


The results came through very quickly and I did indeed have gallstones. The plan was to remove them in a couple of days but since I was already on a waiting list in Manchester, they decided to hand me back to my own consultant there. I was in hospital for 4 days then I was allowed home for a couple more. I saw my consultant in Manchester and a date was set for both procedures to be performed by open surgery.


I was very nervous when that day came around. By all accounts it was a major operation. I'd opted for epidural pain relief afterwards and would have to spend at least a few days in HDU directly afterwards. I was in a small room with numerous green-gowned people. What happened next was no surprise as they battled to site a cannula, finally placing it in my groin. The epidural was sited in my back and by this time I was so cold that they wrapped a silver foil blanket around me. I think my surgeon had fallen asleep by the time I was anaesthetised, but after that I can only remember waking in a room full of machines, monitors and bleeping sounds.


I could feel anything, couldn't move my legs, but I had no pain. There was some concern about my blood pressure being too low so I was permanently strapped to a cuff which expanded around my arm every 15 minutes or so. The staff were brilliant. They did almost everything for me -- combed my hair, washed and changed me, in fact I felt like a child again! Then I had to leave, go back on the wards where things were much different. Left in a bed with some degree of pain and then I started vomiting. The scar accross my abdomen was quite large and believe me when I wretched the pain was terrible. I felt like I'd broken my ribs or at least that's how I imagined it would feel. The staff told me I looked awful -- I didn't need them to tell me, because that's just how I felt anyway.


10 days had passed. I'd just started to walk a little and take a bath. I was still very ill but going the right way. After another week I was home. The surgery had been successful, the wrap taken down and gall bladder removed, but I still had my feeding tube.


Two years of absolute torture and here I am facing those same old issues again. I have to make a decision and this time it's out of my hands. The decision on whether or not to have further surgery rests with me but with a dilemma: I could carry on like this indefinitely, but I could also choke in my sleep. To put the wrap back would mean going through the same procedure again. Am I strong enough? We'll see. I'm waiting for next year -- more swings and roundabouts!

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