First off I’ll have to apologize in advance for my grammar, spelling and language. I’m currently sitting in a hospital bed, high off my ass on morphine with my dominant arm in a splint and in incredible pain, despite the narcotics.
How did I get here, you ask? I mistakenly called 911 for severe abdominal pain. I’ve been in the hospital for 3 days now. I should have taken my chances that I didn’t have acute appendicitis and sweated it out at home.
Late Wednesday evening, I started getting severe abdominal pain – a type of pain that I recognized from my pre-Paleo days: gas pain. I knew I hadn’t eaten anything with wheat in it so I didn’t know what was going on, but I figured that I would pass the gas sometime in the night and would be better in the morning.
By the time the morning came around, I couldn’t walk. I stayed in bed and my husband took the kids to daycare and went to work. When he came home at 5 p.m. I was still in bed. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t even get up for a glass of water. Once he realized I was running a fever and that the pain was getting worse, my husband called 911.
At first I felt like a fool going to the hospital for what I was sure was gas pain. But when I realized that I looked 8 months pregnant and hadn’t been able to actually pass any gas for almost 24 hours, I didn’t feel so stupid. When the nurse asked me what my pain
level was on a scale of 1-10, I could honestly answer 15. I vaguely recall shouting obscenities at the attending technicians and sobbing uncontrollably as they insensitively bumped my stomach, jostled me around and then left me on a gurney by myself for almost an hour.
An ultrasound and CT scan later, they were no closer to finding out what was wrong with me, except to tell me that any theory I had was incorrect. They were the only ones who knew anything about medicine and how dare I have an opinion. I was pretty sure I had some sort of bowel obstruction, since I had had gas pain before and while it was similar to this, there was no comparison in the intensity. Here is what they told me was going on:
- You have appendicitis.
- You don’t have appendicitis. We don’t know what’s going on.
- You have an abdominal abscess. We are going to have to operate and it’s not going to be pretty.
- You don’t have an abdominal abscess. You have dilated fallopian tubes that are filled with fluid. We’re going to have to take out your ovaries.
- You don’t have dilated fallopian tubes. You have TWO abdominal abscesses. We’re going to do laparoscopic surgery, and will probably have to remove your ovaries, your fallopian tubes AND your uterus.
- You don’t have any abdominal abscesses. We don’t know what’s going on.
- You can’t possibly have a bowel obstruction. You are too young for that. Besides, you don’t WANT to have a bowel obstruction. Do you know what the treatment is for that? We have to split you from stern to stem, spread you wide open and clean you out. (I swear to fucking GOD, this is a direct quote.)
- We’re going to observe you for days and control your pain while we continue to pump you full of life-saving antibiotics. We don’t know what’s going on.
- You have an intestinal infection, probably from something you ate. It caused extreme bloating and distention and probably a small bowel obstruction.
- You don’t have any markers in your blood for infection. We actually gave you antibiotics because your white blood count was higher than normal, you had a fever and we assumed you had an infection. But you didn’t.
- You have pelvic inflammatory disease. We’re running STD tests. By the way, your white blood cell count has now dropped to dangerously low levels. Probably because of the antibiotics we gave you.
- You don’t have PID. You don’t have any STDs. We finally reviewed images from your records four years ago that show the same damage to your fallopian tubes and the same mysterious “abscesses” we’re seeing today. The picture looks exactly the same. We still don’t know what’s going on.
- We are unable to diagnose you. We’re going to write that you have the stomach flu and discharge you, even though you are now leucopenic with white blood cells lower than those of a chemo patient. Good luck and don’t touch your kids!
I knew from past experience that most doctors won’t actually listen to you if you have any theories as to what is wrong with you. In fact, a lot of doctors I’ve seen will outright refuse to investigate my ideas, simply because: (please pick one of the following 5 options or feel free to combine them to create your own) 1) it wasn’t their idea 2) they’re insulted that Google is smarter than they are 3) they secretly feel ashamed that they haven’t read a medical journal ever 4) they want to feel smarter than their patients 5) they’re egotistical pricks who don’t really want to get to the bottom of the issue, they just want to peddle drugs.
I’ve never been one to just sit back and let some doctor tell me something I happen to know is complete bullshit. Somewhere between “you have appendicitis” and “you might have lupus” I told them that I refused to let them operate on me unless they could give me a definitive diagnosis, that I wanted a second opinion and that after three days of not being allowed to eat, I was going to fucking eat whether they wanted me to or not. And I wasn’t going to eat their MSG-laden broth from a packet. I was going to eat pastured MEAT. Oh yes, I was the problem patient.
And you know what? I’m glad I was or else I would be recovering from a pointless surgery right now, having lost my ovaries and uterus for no fucking reason whatsoever. Sure, it would have been great to not have periods anymore, but that isn’t reason enough to let them do experimental, exploratory surgery on me without any official diagnosis.
I was lucky enough to have one doctor on staff during this debacle who is actually against surgery, except for life threatening cases. Otherwise, I would be telling a much different story right now.
The reason I’m telling you all this is simple: whether you’re at the hospital or the doctors, delivering a baby or donating blood, you have to stand up for yourself! You are the only one who knows your body and how it’s supposed to feel. This crack team of doctors weren’t willing to investigate my theory until the third day in the hospital, when they still couldn’t diagnose me. They didn’t review
my medical records until the fourth. At the end of it all it could have been a case of too many cooks ruining the broth – a team of doctors, all with different specialties, who all saw something different in the blood work. It’s amazing how subjective diagnosis can be – so honestly, why can’t YOURS be the right one? It seems to be the case in my story.
I could have died by going to the hospital. I’m not saying you shouldn’t go if you have acute pain, a broken limb or a gunshot wound, but most minor aliments can be taken care of by your own body. That’s right. Your very own immune system is fantastic at sorting things out. At the moment, my immune system is so compromised by western medicine that if a bug sneezed on me, I could get very sick. My WBC levels are starting to increase on their own and I’m confident that they’ll be back to better than normal fairly quickly, since I take care of myself and eat properly. Speaking of which, eating Primally at the hospital: if I can do that, you can manage to stay Paleo at a restaurant. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you what I did.