Tag Archives: #emergency

?!Appendicitis August Part 2 ?!

Hello fellow bloggers and readers welcome back to what was a whirl wind month of August 2k16. In my previous post I started telling the story of my unbearable abdominal pain, which involved a lovely trip to the Gold Coast University Hospital, where I was poked and prodded, dosed up on pain medication that didn’t seem to be helping the pain at all. So I was transferred to CDU (Clinical Decisions Unit) the place where you go to wait to see if you will be transferred to a proper ward for further investigations or sent back into short stay just to manage pain. (Kind of like the cycle of emergency or not)

 

(The following events transpired over the 16th and 17th of August, It was very fast and much of it is a blur.)

On the 16th of August very very early in the morning I was seen by two young female gynecologists, they asked me similar questions to what the ED doctor had asked? Where is the pain? How bad is it out of 10? Does it feel worse if I push on it? To which majority of my answers were YES and Excruciating and 20/ 10. They didn’t stay for long and just told me that they didn’t believe that it was gynecological related and because of the pelvic ultrasounds I had done whilst under the ED team and there were no clear results they left.

I was told I wasn’t allowed to eat all day in case I had to go and have more tests, I ended up having to go for another X-Ray and when the results came back they said they couldn’t see anything except that I was heavily constipated and my bowel gas was blocking visuals of anything else. So the only treatment plan I had in place was to manage pain and to give me movical and an enema to help loosen my bowels.

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This day is all a bit of a blur with so many nurses and doctors walking in and out of my room and my pain still not dulling at all, I was exhausted because I hadn’t been able to sleep and to make it worse there was no TV in my room to help distract me, I was bored and I felt like I was going insane with pain.

I had already been fighting for my patient rights for one night and I remember one of  the nurses on change over , she had to do my regular obs,blood pressure, temp,heart rate and she asked me the same question “How is your pain level out of 10?”

and when I replied with 10 she said “no your not, you would be screaming and crying if you were”, just because I didn’t have any tears left in my eyes from crying the day before I was dehydrated. This comment didn’t sit well with me, because I thought how would she know? She is not experiencing my pain and everyone’s pain tolerance is different. I had been dealing with pain since I was 16 so I had to have some sort of coping mechanism to deal with the pain right? So I asked her as I burst into tears, so much so that I was no longer able to speak for myself and mum now had to step in and speak for me. She explained to the nurse that I was just fed up and incredibly frustrated because I have had to fight and face comments like that all my life. The nurse then became very sympathetic because she could see how upset I was and she had not wished to upset me. The nurse and mum then tried to explain to me it was the chart used to help the nurses to help me so what I thought was a 10 may have been an 8 so they could provide me with the proper dose of medication and that she did not mean it in a way that my pain was any less then I had been describing. I now understood she was just doing her job which I respected and felt sorry for her that I was being such a pain. I was now physically and emotionally exhausted so I tried to sleep.

I was in and out of sleep when suddenly I awoke with the horrible pain again, I sat up in my bed crying and clutching my stomach, it seemed like there was no one around now, mum had gone to the food court to get some dinner. I felt like I was in so much pain and the halls were empty when suddenly a doctor/ surgeon or someone pointed at me and said she may have a kidney stone as well so get her a test done. I waited and waited and nothing….

it was almost 7pm at night now when I was seen to by a gynecologist, he seemed above the level of the two girls I had seen earlier, he had a feel of my stomach and went through the same questions again. “How is your pain out of 10?” Does it feel worse if I push on it?” “Is it a sharp or dull pain?” “Where does it hurt the most?” I answered with all the same answers as before yes, it’s excruciating, the pain isn’t getting better. To which he then turned around to me and said ” Look I don’t think it is Gynecological related, all I can do is either discharge you from here because I do not see the need for further investigation or put you into short stay and let the morning doctors discharge you.”  This made me furious I had already been fighting for a few days, I yelled at him and said the surgeon before wanted to check my kidneys and no one did that, I am in agony, the pain meds haven’t been working, I haven’t eaten in three days, and my GP wrote me an emergency referral to come into  hospital because when I was at Robina they wanted me to get a laparoscopy done. To which this surgeon basically tuned around and told mum and I that because of the money, and the stupid public system they would not do the diagnostic surgery unless I was physically dying and because all my test results were clear they couldn’t do anything. I argued and said if bowel gas is in the way how do you know something isn’t wrong if you do not look?

He replied “I’m sorry, that’s just the way it is, I can help with the bowels but I can not promise that you will not be discharged tonight.”

I was sobbing now and hyperventilating, I couldn’t breath, I was so upset, I thought I’m not getting sent home just to come back again tomorrow to go through the same thing. Mum was furious she got on the phone to her private gynecologist told him the situation and he asked to speak to the public doctor and basically told them that they were idiots for not checking everything. The public doctor just said the same thing he said to us that there is only a certain amount of money allotted to the public system to perform operations. Now all he was saying was that he would transfer me back to short stay and under the care of the ED doctors again. I was overwhelmed by the generous amount of support from Facebook and people offering to pay for my private health if the public system refused to give me tests.

It was now  11 pm at night, I had been given some more movical and another enema and once that kicked in things started to flow like a fire hydrant, It would suck because I would be in bed, then I would feel this horrible flushed feeling on top of the pain and would have to rush around the corner to the toilet, this happened five or six times within the space of 10 minutes to the point where mum just said stay down there, I also now had another hydro lite/ saline drip to keep me from being dehydrated because I hadn’t eaten all day.

When I finally got back to my bed, I found that there was a wardy there waiting to transfer me to short stay in ED, I remember asking him if my bed was next to a toilet, luckily it was. Once I was transferred I was allowed to eat something, not that I really felt like eating because I had been so sick, I now had a TV in short stay and had finally been given my night time meds, I started to get settled in and it was really late so I sent mum home. There must have been a conversation between mums private gynecologist and someone up high at the public Gold Coast Hospital because within an hour of my getting transported to short stay the head consultant of the gynecology team was at my bed and had decided to speak with me. He did the same tests as everyone and then said they would be transferring me to CDu2 which is the surgical ward just to manage my pain on a more regular basis. It was 2am by the time I was transferred to the ward, so I fell asleep pretty much straight away.

In my next post i will continue this story and my journey and fight to not give up on my body and to always believe in myself.

Lauren x

 

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? Appendicitis August ?! Part 1

Hello blogosphere,

Here we are again, you cruising over other peoples pages you may wish to look at and even read and here I am sitting in a Gloria Jeans coffee shop on a not so sunny day on the glorious Gold Coast preparing to write yet another invisible illness story. I have titled this post ? Appendicitis August ?  with the question marks and all because the month of August was such a whirlwind of a crazy month. This story starts only two months after being discharged from Robina Hospital with the unsure diagnosis of ‘Pelvic Inflammatory Disease’ (PID).  (Quick re cap: PID is inflammation of the female genital tract, accompanied by fever and lower abdominal pain.) I was prescribed two very strong antibiotics Flagyl and Doxycycline, and even though they gave me horrible side effects they had seemed to have cleared up the painful symptoms which seemed like the end of it.

Now lets fast forward to the month of August, my cousin Jacob had only just recently been in and had his appendix taken out. His family ended up opting for the private health care route as he was stuffed around for multiple hours at Robina hospital. I however am not as lucky to have the option of private health care as it is too expensive.

I was on a film set for a film myself and a few others had been shooting for a few months now to raise awareness about Invisible Illnesses and Mental Health such as depression etc. We had just eaten and I seemed fine and then out of the blue filming in the middle of beaudeseret and an abandoned train track I felt the most excruciating pain on the right side of my stomach that I had ever felt. It felt like someone had sucker punched me right in the gut, I crippled over in pain, at first I thought perhaps it was because I had eaten really unhealthy junk food (McDonald’s) and that my body wasn’t agreeing with it. Then I wondered perhaps whether it was my nerves playing up because the pain didn’t stay there the whole time. However I had some sort of feeling that this was not my typical nerve pain because I had only recently had my (RIF) T12 nerve ablation surgery done. (Radiofrequency ablation (or RFA) is a procedure used to reduce pain. An electrical current produced by a radio wave is used to heat up a small area of nerve tissue, thereby decreasing pain signals from that specific area. )

and even though my pain was in the same area on the right side it was a pain like any other, I had never ever felt something so excruciating in my life, and I was convinced that it was something different when the other crew members that I was with told me that “I looked pale” and that “I should sit down and drink water”. So that is exactly what I did, sat down and had a rest and then I soldered on and pushed through the rest of the day and to my surprise I thought the pain had gone away.

BOY WAS I WRONG!

I got home and the pain came back worse than before it was so crippling that I couldn’t even move, it was so bad that the F Word left my lips a couple of times, no home pain killer seemed to help, the only thing that made a minuscule difference was a heat pack. I remember sitting up in my mothers bed, crying in pain, hoping that it would go away when I was overcome with a sudden feeling of nausea and literally watched my abdomen grow before my eyes, it looked so swollen like a scene out of a movie to the point of where if it kept growing I thought it might have exploded. I got up, I was bent over holding the heat pack over my abdomen and hobbled towards the toilet, and within seconds of reaching the toilet bowl I threw up everything bar the kitchen sink. Normally I have quite a strong stomach and sometimes have to help force myself to get rid of this feeling (Not a pretty sight, because of the constipation, the uneasy feeling usually just sits in my stomach unless I help it along) but this time no help was necessary, I opened my mouth and out it all came. I wasn’t sure if the vomiting and nausea was related to the pain or not because the week before my mum and my sisters suffered from a horrific 24 hour gastro bug, which started with pain, vomiting and then diarrhea.

This is what I looked like when the pain and the vomiting first started to take place:

For those who know me know that I am pale but never ever had I been this pale before. This all happened on the Sunday, I ended up having to take pain killers and sleeping pills just to get through the night and in hope that the pain might go away when I woke in the morning.

 

IT DIDN’T!

Monday morning the 15th of August, I organised an appointment to see my GP at the time Dr. Jason Lo Tam from Reedy Creek Medical Centre, I explained to him my symptoms of excruciating pain on the right side, the underlying constant pain and the coming and going of the spasm like pain. He asked me to hop onto the bed so that he could feel my abdomen, he hardly pressed down on the stomach area when I was practically crying out in pain from the slightest bit of touch or pressure. He told me that I could get back up off the bed and then proceeded to tell me that he thinks I should go to the hospital to have the proper care and get the right diagnosis. He said that he had hoped he could try and work it out so that hospital care wouldn’t be necessary but he believed it was the best option. So here I was left in pain and now crying for two different reasons,

1. Because I was so sore,

2. Because now I had to wait and face medical professionals who might not believe me about the pain.

In the meantime I had made an appointment to see a gynecologist to do a diagnostic laparoscopy which had been ordered by the doctors at Robina after I had been discharged in June.

Dr. Jason Lo Tam had written me an urgent referral to Robina Hospital, I took the letter went home, packed my hospital essentials (bag of clothes, phone charger, spare underwear) and mum drove me to the closest hospital which was Robina Hospital. A volunteer from the hospital wheeled out a wheelchair, helped me get out of the car  and into the wheelchair and wheeled me to the front desk where I was met with a triage nurse. She asked me all the usual questions, checked my BP and then with a smile simply said “Please take a seat and someone will be with you shortly.”  So that’s what we did, I was in too much pain to sit upright so I laid down next to a mother and her poor little girl, and between listening to the busy rush of nurses and the cries of a man who was covered by a blanket, I looked at the clock and had been sitting there for almost 2 hours now, with no pain relief at all.

I watched a family practically push their way in front of other people to talk to the triage nurse, we were cramped, there was hardly any space left in the waiting room, no beds in emergency and this family of 7 seemed fine but needed to be checked over because they had been a part of the train derailment that had happened in varsity lakes. I was starting to feel claustrophobic and still in an immense amount of pain , still without pain killer, I got up and moved to seats at the back of the waiting room and laid back down. However my pain was interrupted and I was distracted for a moment when I saw a girl who looked worse than me, she was red in the face from crying, tears still streaming down her face, she was crippled over in a wheelchair, clutching pretty tightly to a green whistle which didn’t seem to have helped her pain at all.

Another hour passed by and my mother realised this girl was by herself, asked how long she had been sitting there and if she had any pain relief, the girl replied “Since lunch time, and no, I haven’t had any pain relief.” So mum walked over to the nurses behind the glass and voiced her concern, but Robina hospital was waiting room was even more full now if that was even possible. So this poor girl who had been waiting in so much pain said she was going to go to the other hospital (Gold Coast), mum asked her how she was going to get there  and she replied “public transport” and within that moment mum and I had a sort of telepathic conversation and thought we are not letting this poor girl in so much pain catch public transport to get to the specialist hospital. (Especially since the trains had stopped and now only buses were running.) So we offered to drive her , I realised that if I had to be at a hospital too I may as well be at the place where all the specialist teams were. So mum helped her lay down in the back seat, I sat in the front and we drove another half an hour to get to Gold Coast Hospital.

When we arrived there were no parks in emergency, so mum dropped both of us off at the door and we hobbled through the Gold Coast emergency waiting room together, It was almost completely empty compared to Robina Hospitals waiting room, we stumbled to the front desk the other girl in front said “Hi we have both come from Robina Hospital and we are both in excruciating pain. ” The triage process was a lot quicker now, we spoke to the nurses explained our symptoms, moved on to admin and got told to wait. We didn’t wait more than an hour in the waiting room and I am glad we didn’t because as we both laid opposite each other , a man came out from behind the door we could tell that he was not quite right and he just happened to sit next to us. He too was in pain, we listened to him cry out over and over again saying “Here it goes again, Here it goes again” as he squinted his face right up till it turned a shade of red. He started to ask mum all sorts of weird questions about us girls and she was fine in answering them, it wasn’t until he went to touch the girl that was with us that mum had to step in and say no. Luckily not long after that a male nurse came and did some obs on the girl that was with me and pretty much took her straight through to a bed in ED. Mum was now helping this girl with her bags and I was left laying by myself with this man and in pain, it wasn’t until he started asking me weird questions that I started to feel uncomfortable so I got up and hobbled over to a different lot of seats. I was just about to lay down when my mother returned with the male nurse following closely behind ready to do my obs.

He hooked up the blood pressure machine, the heart rate monitor and took my temperature and for some reason in that exact moment when he was there my body entered a whole other level of pain, I thought what I had been feeling before was bad, this was 110 times worse. I was now screaming in agony, tears running down my flushed faced and the spasm lasted for a good 30 minutes. The nurse tried to come me down and said he would be right back with panadine fort, he was gone less than 10 minutes when this lovely Indian girl doctor came out and called my legal name Lauren Reich, the nurse ran over gave me the panadine fort. It didn’t even touch the surface, the doctor than asked if I could walk I nodded my head and said “Yes, but very slowly.” I walked to a different waiting room area down a narrow hallway, to a place that said minor emergencies, mum was worried about this, about the doctors not taking it seriously but this lovely doctor smiled and replied “It is just a more quiet and quicker way to get through to emergency. I got changed into a one of those lovely hospital nightgowns and was poked and prodded, finally the doctor came to a conclusion and set we need to get your pain under control, so they inserted a Cannula (a thin tube inserted into a vein or body cavity to administer medication, drain off fluid, or insert a surgical instrument.) into my arm, which is generally a painful experience for me as I have very thin, very deep and very bad veins, I was also very dehydrated from throwing up, and gave me morphine through a drip to help with the pain and a saline/ hydro lite drip to help with the dehydration and then I waited. I waited for the bloods to come back, I waited for my urine to be tested, and I was almost up to my maximum dose of morphine through the IV. I saw that girl again once or twice throughout the night, I waved one time and the other time I was fairly sure I was pretty dazed from the morphine so just kind of smiled.

After the bloods and urine came back normal, and my BP started to drop again, I was sent off for a pelvic  ultrasound, to rule out any ovary cysts or ovarian torsion, I had an external and internal ultrasound which was a fairly uncomfortable ordeal in general because of the pain, but more because my radiologist was a male (which meant for the internal he had to have a nurse sit in with him.

External pelvic ultrasound – In situations where an internal pelvic ultrasound is not appropriate, the examination will be performed by placing the ultrasoundtransducer on top of the lower abdomen (stomach area). To ensure that the inside of the pelvis area is seen clearly on the screen, a full bladder is required.

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Transvaginal ultrasound is an examination of the female pelvis and urogenital tract (kidneys and bladder). It helps to see if there is any abnormality in your uterus (womb), cervix (the neck of the womb), endometrium (lining of the womb), fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder and the pelvic cavity. It differs from an abdominal ultrasound as it looks at the pelvic organs from inside the vagina.

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The test is requested by your doctor if you have symptoms of pelvic pain, abnormal bleeding, to check for fibroids (muscle tumours of the uterus), polyps (areas of thickening of the lining of the uterus), ovarian cysts or tumours, infertility, or assessment of early pregnancy.

 

I was then sent for an X-ray, and when all these test came back inconclusive and with the only sign being massive constipation, they decided that I couldn’t stay in ED because I wasn’t emergency enough so they sent me to a ward called CDU or (Clinical Decisions Unit) this ward is where you go in order for doctors /  specialist to decide whether you are being sent up to an actual ward for further investigation or whether they send you to short stay just for pain relief. By the time I got to CDU it was 11pm at night and nobody was going to see me till the morning so I sent my mum home to bed.

In part 2 of this blog I will discuss the events that transpired over the next week. If you have a story that you would like to share please send to: thatsteelmedia@gmail.com

Lauren x

 

The Process to my invisible illness and final diagnosis : ACNE Part 2

Welcome back to the reality of unseen illnesses blog, thanks for reading. In my previous post I started discussing the journey of my invisible illness and how we came to the conclusion that I needed to go to hospital to get some clear answers. This is part two of that story.

Some parts I remember quite vividly and some parts are still very hazy but I shall try and do my best to explain everything to you. It was the day after Katrina’s 17th birthday, I was only 16 at the time and had been staying with my grandparents, they had a friend who was a doctor in neurology who suggested I come in for some tests at Monash Hospital, Clayton, Victoria. I remember being admitted in to emergency quite easily only because my grandfather entered emergency at the same time as me because he had hurt his back. They had already given him so many pain killers that he came round to check up on me and kept asking for my jello which was fine cause I didn’t want it anyway, yet still till this day he claims he never remembers this conversation, he must have been on some pretty powerful stuff.

I wasn’t in ED for very long, I saw a few doctors who saw how much pain I was in they gave me all kinds of medications, even severely strong medications and yet the pain wasn’t any better. They could see that I wasn’t able to walk, shower, eat, dress etc by myself so they soon decided to admit me and transfer me to the children’s ward. I remember travelling in a wheel chair to the lift, going up the lift and entering the children’s ward. The walls were painted yellow and purple , you could see the nurses station as you entered the floor and the starlight room was opposite. They wheeled me down a hallway past all the girls with the eating disorders and into a nice quiet room, with a computer opposite in the hallway that the kids used to study whilst in hospital. I got settled in for a few days, nurses and doctors kept coming in and out trying to do numerous amounts of tests. I don’t remember much as I was on a lot of medicine, which soon switched to IV medicine, it got so bad that morphine didn’t even help me, that they had to put me on a drip that was one thing lower than cannabis, they said to be careful because I could have hallucinated on that drug. I don’t remember seeing anything, but I do remember hallucinating a really bad smell. I only stayed in that room for about a week and then the nurses/doctors decided to transfer me to the other side of the hallway to a room with 3 ten year old’s. Now I had never been a very assertive person before then, I was always quite shy, hiding behind people, was polite and let people some what walk over me and a big part of my illness which I have now grown out of is that I disliked change. So when the nurses/ doctors decided to move me, I finally stood up for myself, not that it did me any good cause I still ended up in that room with the ten year old’s and in retrospect looking back now I probably behaved just as bad as a ten year old.

Once I was finally settled into this new room, I remember bits and pieces of different tests, I remember going up through the chain of doctors till I reached the head of Pain at Monash and the head of Neurology and within no time I had pretty much seen every doctor in that hospital and the whole hospital was taking about me. Some of the test that I had done were so painful, the main ones that still till this day stay stuck in my brain are the most brutal ones. The first one I remember quite clearly was when I got wheeled down to a tiny room where you lay on a bed and they first connect you up to some electrode stuff, then without anesthetic the doctor placed a needle or a rod into my leg and moved it around as if it were a gamer’s joy stick just to find if there was nerve damage. If it wasn’t there before I was certain there would be some after that procedure. I remember coming back from that procedure and I was crying and silent, I would not talk because it was one of the most painful things I had to endure. The second most painful procedure/ test that I remember having done was a Lumbar Puncture which is : The procedure of taking fluid from the spine in the lower back through a hollow needle, usually done for diagnostic purposes.

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This was one of those unfortunate, unlucky things to happen to me, they had me lay up on a surgical metal type table, just casually left the door open for anyone to come in and see, did not give me any anesthetic before this procedure either and then decided that not 1, not 2, but 3 Interns would attempt to do this painful procedure before getting a head consultant to do it and to make things worse I had singing clown doctors in my face. Now I know the clown doctors were only there to try and help distract me but to someone who is in heaps of pain crying and then sees singing clowns in their face is a bit creepy. To make matters worse after the Lumbar Puncture, I then had to go back to a room full of Ten year old’s with a severe migraine, I wasn’t allowed to move and Nickelodeon had a sponge bob marathon running. Still till this day I hate sponge bob, it was so unbearable that I got up out of my bed and went and laid in the parents room. When I was finally able to return to my room I slept , but when I wasn’t asleep I still had this major headache even on strong pain killers, so the head of Pain came to see me and he said the best thing for it is “Caffeine” apparently caffeine helps migraines. So mum went and brought me some V’s, However because I had been on a cocktail of medicines and now every time a nurse entered my room she told me to chug V, I ended up throwing up so much brown vomit everywhere and have never ever drunk a V again.

I was at Monash for quite a few months, we even celebrated my sister Rachael’s birthday in the Hospital, my Friends from Drama had organised beautiful fake flowers with cute notes on them and my best friends Katrina, Rach and Sharna had organised a very special T-Shirt with drawings and lovely messages from all my friends in and out of school. I still have that shirt till this day and when ever I’m feeling down I just look at that shirt and remember there was a worse time and I will always be loved.

 

 

After a few months of mean physiotherapists, which then changed to a nicer one, harsh drugs, harsh tests and only minor results of finding minimal nerve damage in my legs, the team at Monash decided that I had now become a part of the “Too Hard Basket” ad I was sent to the “Stepping Stones” program, which was basically a mental health rehabilitation area for children and young adults. At this point in my life a major security blanket of mine was my mobile phone. It didn’t even have to be on or anything or even have a battery in it, I just wanted, but because of the no phone rule in the mental health department area they wouldn’t let me have it. I remember being wheeled through the halls, seeing the rooms, I was packed, I had clothes ready to stay and the hospital had even managed to give me a room by myself, but then a thought struck me, I AM NOT CRAZY!. I am not making this up and I do not believe I need to be in here. It was at that moment that I stopped feeling sorry for myself and decided I would get better by myself, so I Opted for out patient psychological help. This is when I truly changed, when I suddenly was able to be assertive and  stand up for myself, its funny you know because when speaking to out patient psychologists they actually said that if I had ever entered and stayed with the stepping stones program it wouldn’t have helped me, it would have actually made it worse.

 

In part 3 of The Process of My Invisible Illness to the final diagnosis: ACNE , I will discuss how I found the most amazing doctor who diagnosed me within less then 10 mins.

Thanks for reading, keep educating people on invisible illnesses.

Lauren x