27 December 2008

Not the way I like to start Boxing Day

So Christmas dinner was at my wife Juliette's parents' place. Just a small affair -- about 20 or so people, only a two-turkey dinner.

We finished eating dinner about 9:30 (my mother-in-law's pavlova is to die for), and by 10 my stomach was starting to hurt. No worries, I though, it's only indigestion. I figured I'd do what always works -- take some antacids, and lie down with a hot-water bottle. Couple of hours later, I'd be fine, yes?


The antacids got thrown up. So did the painkillers. And the next lot of antacids. And the whole time, I was in agony.

By 4am, Juliette was sufficiently concerned that she managed to convince me to go to the hospital. The nearest one is Kenepuru, which had -- fortunately -- recently started running its 24-hour emergency service. The doctor told me that there was a couple of nasty stomach bugs doing the rounds that cause severe abdominal pain, so they tried what normally works.

No dice.

By now, they were worried that in might be gall stones, bladder stones, pancreatitis, or some combination of the three. The 24-hour clinic doesn't have access to x-ray or blood-test facilities at night, so I got a shot of pethidine (in the bum) and referred to Wellington Hospital. They offered to get an ambulance to take me, but warned that it could take up to half-an-hour to get one. By that time, we could have driven into Wellington, so Juliette drove me in. I remember getting on the motorway at Porirua. The next thing I remember is going around the Basin Reserve. I was extremely tired, but the pain had kept me awake. The pethidine had dulled the pain enough that I was able to doze off in the car.

We got to Wellington Hospital's A&E, and despite the signs warning of 30 minute waiting times, got seen within 5 minutes. I got poked and prodded, and IV line put into my elbow (after an abortive attempt to put one into the back of my hand -- ouch!). They drew some blood for tests, and sent me off for chest and stomach x-rays.

After I got back, the nurse told us that it would be another 90 minutes before the blood tests would be complete. Suited us, I think I went to sleep on the gurney before she'd even finished talking! Juliette had bunched up my jumper, and was using it as a pillow, sitting in a chair leaning against the wall. We got woken up a bit later, to be told there wasn't anything on the x-rays (so probably not gall or bladder stones). I was a bit uncomfortable -- the pethidine was wearing off -- so they gave me a shot of morphine. Back to sleep!

A while later, the nurse woke us again to say that nothing had shown up in the blood tests. Apparently, in 90% of patients presenting severe abdominal pains, they never know what was causing it -- just what wasn't causing the pain. A prescription for codeine, and we were on our way home. By now it was about 10am, so while Juliette drove, I was calling the rellies telling them I wasn't dying.

Haven't had any problems in the last 24 hours, so fingers crossed...


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