Category Archives: testimony

Postoperative

Standing

The bladder was working. Water as solid and liquid had been consumed. How was I going to get out of this bed and to the toilet? I remember being told to ask for the assistance of a nurse at this all-important juncture.

Using a pillow to place suitable, bracing pressure on the abdomen, I used the mechanical bed to position my body for standing. However tentative, I was vertical. Steps more like shuffles, one at a time.

Trying to urinate without exerting internal pressure on my abdomen was a new challenge. Perhaps I could duo with Weird Al Yankovic for our parody – “Let it Flow“. The gas with which my abdomen had been pumped made an initial escape.

Laying

Flushing and washing, I shuffled back to the bed. Getting up was a level 1 challenge, getting back into bed would be level 2. I was exhausted but thankful for the mechanical bed.

Postoperative pain was certainly mitigated by the anaesthesia that remained in my body. But there was a lingering difficulty when it came to breathing. It felt like there was pressure being applied to my rib cage. Breathing properly, low and slow, was a painful exercise. Thankfully there was some strong pain medication, charted to help relieve postoperative pain, that was relieving the pain in my chest.

I was admitted on the Sunday. I had the surgery on the Monday.

Tuesday

Mobility had improved significantly, necessitated by a regime of self-imposed fluid replacement. Sure, getting up and down, in and out of bed, remained a low-level challenge, nothing my postoperative body couldn’t handle. It seemed there was another reason why getting up to go to the toilet was such an exhausting endeavour. It had to do with the breathing. Between attending nature, I was getting oxygen through a nasal canular, with my spirometry and blood pressure remaining relatively low.

And yet, I was discharged. Initial conversation with the initial consultant seemed optimistic. Surgery went well. I was independent and mobile. Further recovery would be made at home. Low-grade analgesics were prescribed. Pushback One: That wouldn’t be enough pain relief. A new script issued with next level drugs.

There were no further instructions given, at least not straight away. I asked the nurse to take the anchor out and attend my dressings.

Packing my things, I let my ride know to come get me. Packing my things was exhausting. By the time my ride got there, I was in a lot of pain and was apparently looking pale. Heeding her guidance, I began reconsidering the wisdom of the consultant. Further heeding her guidance, I cleared the bed and lay down.

Charles

A man with brown skin in a yellow high-vis knocked, entered, and sat in the corner. His initial assessment was that I was looking pretty white. Upon iteration, he upped his diagnosis to looking pretty under the weather, questioning the discharge order.

I had decided I would stay, that I would put my foot down. The second conversation with a second consultant resulted in a rescinding of the discharge order, on the grounds of my concerns with painful breathing. Off he went to do the necessary paperwork. He soon returned with questions, “Is it the pain that makes you want to stay in?”, “What if we gave you something stronger?”

Even though, at this stage, I would have happily remained an inpatient, the pain was the main concern – now addressed with the offer of something harder. A new script in hand, including the requisit paperwork for a controlled medication, I was discharged – officially.

View previous post.

Beds

A New Bed

I would be wheeled to Surgery Assessment.  A doctor had seen me and was concerned that my abdominal pain was more than a stomach bug.  How much more, they wouldn’t say.  This was the better of the beds.

There the vomiting continued.  Yellow.  Bright yellow, bile.  Later I would hear what others heard as I reached and wrung the content of an empty stomach into the little white pail.

I was put on a new list, to be seen by a different team of doctors.  This time the doctors I was to be seen by had hard soled shoes.  These were unaccustomed with the halls of General ED.  Nonetheless, it was their job to tend to the specifics of my conditions, to make clearer estimations.

It first came from one of their mouths, “It could be appendicitis…” I was sure an ultrasound would be ordered.  Rather, I was told of two basic ways of determining appendicitis.  The first was a CT scan, which I have come to understand is very seldom ordered.  The second was exploratory surgery.

The First Night

I was kept in overnight to monitor the progress of the pain in my side.  Perhaps aided by pain-relieving drugs, I drifted in an out of sleep.  I took the occasional walk.  I made a cup of tea.  Around me, the sound of sleep apnea contributed to my restlessness.

At least I had stopped with the vomiting.  A nil-by-mouth policy was imposed from 2 am and my name added to the surgery schedule.

I woke with parched lips, seemingly desperate for a drink.  It wasn’t going to happen.  In a moment of cruel mercy, I was allowed to swish but not swallow.  Next came the tight white stockings requisite for those pending surgery.

Suspicions Confirmed

A group of hard soled doctors at varying stages of their training made up the entourage of the Chief Surgeon.  Her proddings, interjected by questions for her students, confirmed a classic case of appendicitis.  Surgery loomed ever closer.

I called my boss to tell him I wouldn’t be into work that day, or for a few days.  It was a quirky conversation.  We’d speak again in the coming days, once I knew what recovery might look like.

“In the next 15 to 30 minutes, we’ll take you up to theatre….” The elevator stopped as the hospital switched over to reserve power.  Reengaged, the elevator completed its journey, doors opening to the clinical white of theatres.

Awake

The mains power was now back in.  A stream of individuals who would be involved in the surgery came to talk to me.  They emerged from the operation theatre to me, in a sort of anti-chamber.  The anesthesiologist was tasked with putting me to sleep, keeping me asleep, and managing the pain.

Theatre was ready and I got to walk in.  The bed, more like a bench, was narrow.

I woke up in recovery, not knowing how I got there or how long I was out.  My concerns turned to quenching a half-day thirst.  I did so with abandon and an ice block.

I was still highly medicated when I was allocated to Ward 34 North.  Initial visitors would bring my toothbrush and I would begin the journey back to normality – without an appendix.

Nurses

Waiting

Room 9.  I had seen it before, but never as a patient.  In fact, I had never been beyond the security doors as a patient at this hospital.  There was the time I hurt my knee, joined the queue and ended up at an after-hours clinic.  The bed was somewhat more comfortable and afforded me opportunity to sleep between bouts of vomiting.

Samples were asked for.  Solid and liquid.  The loud-voiced other patient was right, this toilet space wrecked of urine.  I had to take my socks off.  There was a pool of water in the toilet.  I would tiptoe gingerly around it to procure a sufficient sample.  It would be a while before my bowels willingly offered anything so it would be just the one sample – other than that drawn out by intravenous.

Relief

Time passed slowly and I was surprised to learn how short a time I had actually been at the hospital.  This time the inordinately long wait times didn’t quite apply to me.  Though I was yet to see a doctor, I was being attended to and had even been given a cocktail of variously administered medications to help ease symptoms.  Abdominal pain, now most certainly localising in the right side, was being addressed by analgesics of varying strengths, to my relief.

Looming

Between having my plastic patient ID tag printed and seeing the first actual doctor, there was a small band of nurses attend me.  None of them had ventured to suggest what I feared.  So I asked. “What do you think is actually wrong with me?”  The suggestion of a severe stomach bug seemed to be the go to, but as nurses, they were confident (or perhaps obligated) to say they simply didn’t know.

My fear was that it was as my friend and I had co-diagnosed – that I was under the sway of appendicitis.  I knew what this would mean.  I knew this would result in me having to endure something I had never before experienced: surgery.

Serenity

There were things about this situation that seemed beyond my control.  I had learned how to pray through these situations.  God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…

Fetal Position

Double

I was doubled over in pain, in bed.

The pain was centralised in my abdomen as if I had a bad stomach bug.  It seemed the internalised pressure was having a significant impact on my stools, a squeezing like liquefaction.  I was no stranger to watery stools so I was mostly unconcerned.  My mantra was This too shall pass.

I slept, in the fetal position from early evening until what would normally be bedtime on a Saturday evening.  The pain had not abated and I was to make several trips to the toilet before the clock struck twelve.  Some pills before back to bed for the night.

Double

The fetal position was employed all night in an attempt to mitigate the increasing abdominal pain.  By the next morning, the liquefaction was making an upward journey – water in, vomit out, abdominal tight.  Back to bed and the fetal position.  Two days of being doubled over in pain and discomfort that I reduced to a stomach bug.

Toil

More pills, this time with an anti-nausea tablet that would hopefully give me a reprieve from the vomiting.  It availed little.  I told a friend who proceded with caring questions of “Where did the pain start?”, “Where is the pain now?”, “What other symptoms have you got?”  Questions I would be asked multiple times in the ensuing days by those with large student loans and hard soled shoes.

She said what I had considered, “Maybe it’s appendicitis…”  I sought another opinion from Dr. Google.  It lined up.  I wasn’t confident in our amateur diagnosis, but there was sufficient reason to see qualified medical advice.

I thought the after-hours would be a sufficient stop as my chauffeur drove in the opposite direction.  The hospital.  The seemingly unnecessarily overcrowded hospital where wait times extended into hours.  The joy of joys.  Labourous waiting, discomforted and in pain.

Trouble

The vomiting continued into small white pails.  “How long would it be?” she enquired.  “I really need to lie down” I expressed.  Between enquiry and request, the nurse was to be called, but this hadn’t happened.  Soon after my request, the heavy and heavily guarded doors swung open.  “Mr Ward?”

The previous enquiry and the expression that soon followed it were in response to a rise in the numbers, where 1 is next to no pain, and 10 – the most unbearable of pains.  By the time I made it through the doors, it was approaching the upper end of the scale.  This was when the little white pail was put to greatest use as the watery yellow content seemed to force itself out of my body.   The pain causing the vomiting, by this stage, accentuated by the pain of vomiting.

I was given a bed, hard and hardly accommodating.  There would be other beds, in time and process.

 

Overeaters Anonymous

My name is Brendon. I am a compulsive overeater (COE). I am 33 years old, it has taken me that long to admit to that, but in doing so, I felt immediate relief.

I had been toying with the idea of attending an Overeaters Anonymous (OA) for a few weeks after having started listening to Russell Brand’s book: Recovery.

6th of January 2018 – I attended my first OA meeting where I learned how meetings work. I had only intended on observing. The meeting was an online meeting, one of many that occur throughout the day every day – an online OA meeting that draws an international attendance.

Some of the others are long time adherants to their programme so I was interested to hear them share. “Sharing” seems to be the main element in the meeting – people simply talk about whatever they have on their hearts – whether it is related to a set topic, or not. As people shared, I realised that there are real people who really struggle with compulsive overeating. I realised that because of the global attendance, that COE is a global struggle. This begins to erode any sense of isolation – that is, the idea that there only small pockets of people in certain places of the world, with particular cultural influences that struggle with COE.

As I sat, attentive to the shares of other attendees, I felt the courage to go beyond the role of mere spectator. I indicated that I too wanted to share.

My turn approached. I leaned in to the screen, the keyboard, with my left hand cradling my face. I felt a heaviness. It was welling up in my gut – it felt like there was literally something in my stomach weighing me down.

With great apprehension, I began to type. Name. Location. First time adherant.

I was welcomed, by every participant. I with chin in hand.

Hesitant. Nervous. Willing. Fingers back on keys.

“I am a compulsive overeater. I am powerless over food.”

The heaviness in my stomach began to rise. I am sure that if I had actually spoken the words, I would be able to see/hear/feel it come out my mouth. I am not sure I experienced it come out my fingers but as it rose, it definitely began to disolve.

I described ways in which life had become unmanageable as a result of overeating – especially the physical consequences as manifested not only in my being overweight, but the fact that I have bad skin, poor sleep routines, and regularly fluctuate on the scale of digestive regularity.

This was step one. I had taken it. I was on the road to recovery. And I felt good. I was thanked for sharing, encouraged to return to the group.

Concussion

It’s been an irksome few weeks.

The BlackoutRegular readers of this blog will be aware that on 1 September 2016 I had an MVA: Motor Vehicle Accident.  This MVA resulted in the writing off of the vehicle in which it occurred.

The immediate impact that it had on me was that of whiplash, as per the agreement of multiple physicians that I have seen since the accident.

The Neurologist’s Opinion

Though this be the majority opinion, there have been some doctors (a General Practitioner and a Neurologist) that suspect it might  be worse than that.  Their suspicion is that I had a complex partial seizure.   The neurologist ordered a series of tests (some of which are yet to happen) and suggested I avoid driving for at least 6 months.

So the warring question has been:  What is it?

One of the reasons for the suspicion of seizure is that I sustained no head trauma, that is, I didn’t actually hit my head.  The question that arises from that is: Can I get a concussion without hitting my head?

Dr. Google seems to suggest that it is quite possible, especially given the initial diagnosis of a whiplash injury.

This is the direction Dr. Google pointed me in:

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). It can occur after an impact to the head or after a whiplash-type injury that causes the head and brain to shake quickly back and forth. Concussions are usually not life-threatening, but they can cause serious symptoms that require medical treatment. (Healthline, 2016)

Concussion – Expected Recovery Time

It’s been 68 days since the MVA.  Expert medical opinion suggests that the effects of a concussion would last a few weeks, but its been 9 weeks and 5 days, and still the headache, and neck pain persists.

The doctor I saw yesterday isn’t alone in suggesting that I have something called Post-Concussion Syndrome.

Post-concussion syndrome is a complex disorder in which various symptoms — such as headaches and dizziness — last for weeks and sometimes months after the injury that caused the concussion. (Mayo Clinic, 2016)

This describes my experience with a great degree of precision.

It also provides a window of relief.  The prospect of having had a seizure, and the long-reaching consequences, has been a source of nagging fear and frustration.  If, however, the diagnosis of post-concussive syndrome sticks, then the fear and frustration are unsubstantiated, at least in part.

Waiting

Waiting. This is my website.  It bears my name.  I pay money for that right.

So in addition to writing/posting about things pro-life, church, Bible, etc, am I allowed to shine the light upon myself now and then?

On 1st September 2016, I had an MVA – a motor vehicle accident.  This took place in a covered carpark at Manukau Pak n Save.  Until recently, despite suspicions, there has been little clarity as to how the accident happened.  I say that because to this day, there is a brief period of time I cannot recall, a brief period of time during which I had a blackout.  I came to as the vehicle I was responsible for operating came into contact with a concrete pillar, writing the vehicle off.

In the following days and weeks I was privileged to see a number of doctors (some more than once) addressing symptomatic and causal concerns.  In terms of symptoms, I have had a constant headache since the accident (though it varies in severity) as well as neck, shoulder, and back pain.

No driving sir…

I was advised by doctors not to drive.  The concern was a repeat blackout – not in a desolate car park, but a busy motorway.

How long would this doctor advised prohibition be in place?  Basically until I saw a neurologist.  Initially I had received a letter telling me I could be waiting up to four months.  Another letter, received the same week confirmed it would be four weeks which brings me to today: October Four, and the appointment with the neurologist.

Every doctor I have seen over the course of the last month or so has been very thorough – Dr. Brockington no less.  The result of the physical examination and my recital of what has now become a well-rehearsed recollection of events was a diagnosis in which Dr. Brockington suspects I had a seizure.  This seizure is a probable explanation for the blackout and post-crash deviation of character.

I had approached this neurology appointment with anticipation and expectation.   Per expectation, it would be a mere formality that would see me driving again.  So great was my expectation that I’d gone out of my way to get the key for a car that a co-worker had been using.

Following the appointment, I went to where the car was parked (in a secure, code-accessible lock-up) but only to put the key in the car.  “No driving yet, key is in the car” was the text.

No driving yet.

It was bad news.  Dr. Brockington’s question was not had I had a seizure, but what kind of seizure had I had.  That will be what follow-up testing will determine.  But on the basis of her diagnosis, there’ll be no driving for me in the next six months – at least.  The NZTA has laws around the suspension of drivers licenses for people who have had interrelated seizures and MVA’s.  This is a matter of public safety which was captured by the concern of previously seen doctors.

This is What We've Been Waiting ForThere’s a reason that even the medical professionals call it an EEG.  An electroencephalogram is a test used to detect abnormalities related to electrical activity of the brain. This procedure tracks and records brain wave patterns. Small metal discs with thin wires (electrodes) are placed on the scalp.  , The signals are sent to a computer to record the results.

In addition to an EEG, I will be having some brain imaging done.  Beyond just surveying the cranial landscape, the tests need to determine the probability of seizures reoccurring.  Apparently, if I have two seizures in the course of six months, it’s called epilepsy.

So this is what we’ve been waiting for.

The neurologist’s appointment, assessment and diagnosis,  and clearance to drive.  Two out of three of these things happened today, but not the one I wanted.

I guess it’s going to be a matter of waiting so more.  Waiting to see what happens over the course of the next weeks and months.  And I guess there’ll be, in the next few days, a sense in which I have to deal with the reality and implication of the situation.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/breakthrough/

 https://serendipitiousweblife.wordpress.com/2016/10/04/the-roar-of-the-waves/”>https://serendipitiousweblife.wordpress.com/2016/10/04/the-roar-of-the-waves/

http://mycrazygracedlife.com/2016/10/03/forgiveness/”>http://mycrazygracedlife.com/2016/10/03/forgiveness

October Four

An Update on An Update

In my last post – Four Months – which was an update on an earlier post – Blackout – I advised that an appointment with a neurologist could come as late as 2017.  Today, within the same week as the first letter, I received another letter confirming an appointment date: October Four.   Fourth of October.  4th of October.  4/10/2016.

That’s a relief, I tell you what.  For me.  And for my family.  A relief for my employer.  And a relief for ACC.  Pending this appointment I might be back behind the wheel of a motor vehicle within a month.  I would like that very much.

 

Four Months

It could take up to four months…

Twelve days ago I had an MVA.  A motor vehicle accident.  I still don’t know quite how it happened, though there is no double about what happened.  I wrote a lengthy blog post about it.  I guess this is a follow-up.

After catching a taxi home yesterday at ACC’s expense – because I am not allowed to drive – I opened a letter.  I knew the letter would be regarding a neurologist appointment that would result in answer the question “So when can I drive again?”

The letter didn’t tell me when the appointment would be except to say that while I was given high priority, it could take up to four months before I saw a neurologist.

No Driving for Mr. Ward

All the paper-work, from GP to ACC, says no driving until such time as I have seen a neurologist. That’s a long time in the scheme of things.  While I appreciate that the appointment could happen a lot sooner than the “up to four months” the letter promises, this takes me into 2017.

Between now and the end of the business year, there are 73 work days.  I am taking taxi’s to and from work.  That’s 146 taxi trips; 146 taxi fares.  It’s about $40 each way.  That’s over $5500 just to get me to and from work.  The blow is softened by the fact that this is at ACC’s expense.

That’s all for now.

Blackout

The Blackout

So last week, Thursday, I was involved in an MVA. MVA is code for Motor Vehicle Accident.

It had been a really good day at work – productive with positive interactions with co-workers. I was dispatched to take some equipment to an operator in the City. I decided at the same time to collect log sheets from others.

On my way back to Drury, I received a call asking me to swing by someone’s house to pick up some equipment. As I left his house I expected a service station to be on the right-hand side of the road, a few clicks ahead. But it wasn’t there. I wasn’t on the road I thought I was – or rather, the road I was on hadn’t morphed into the road I knew the service station to be on. I just wanted something to eat and drink.

I was slightly confused, but not in a way that was of any concern. I adjusted my plans, making my way towards where I was sure there was a supermarket. I couldn’t find a park topside so decided to park in the underground carpark. Easy enough.

I got some food from the supermarket and got back to the vehicle. I remember getting into the vehicle and doing the usual pre-journey things. The next 20 seconds remain a mystery. I simply do not know.

The Bang

I remember the collision. I remember wondering why I had stopped. I remember the van’s cargo shunting around. I remember the engine still running.

Somehow I had left the direction of traffic, crossing the centre line, and ending up colliding with a concrete pillar. There’s a reason it takes specialised diamond blades and high powered machinery to cut concrete. Concrete vs. van. Concrete will win every time.

The BlackoutI couldn’t get out the drivers door. The impact had bent the door shut. I had to climb out the passenger side. Somehow I was able to open the driver’s door from the outside, get back into the vehicle and attempt to move the vehicle out of the line of traffic.

The engine was still running. My intention was to reverse the van into a nearby park – but the van would only steer one way – right. With that being the case, I had to find a space to put the van accessible through a series of right-turns.

I rang my boss, and then I rang Ashley. They came to my rescue. Upon their arrival, I tried to explain my versions of events. I was incoherent, confused, unable to put together a sentence.

Bakersfield Accident and Medical was just around the corner. It was Ashley’s job to take care of me as my boss took care of the badly damaged motor vehicle.

The Mystery

There were several questions that needed answering.

Was the post-collision inability to turn left the cause of the accident, or a result? Upon mechanical inspection, it turned out to be the latter.

Was the memory loss, that 20 second period of time I can’t recall the cause of the accident, or the result? It is this aspect that is of real concern. The real concern is that I experienced a blackout. The blackout, a loss of consciousness, caused me to involuntarily cross the line of traffic and collide with the concrete pillar.

The Blackout

Another aspect of the mystery has to do with the direction of travel.  I was driving away from the underground carpark’s exit.  The reason for this choice in direction is as much a mystery as the blackout, as the cause, as the exact events that lead to the collision.

The Doctors

For the rest of Thursday, I was a progressively unraveling mess.  “Am I going to college/work/book club…?”  I wasn’t going anywhere.  Several phone calls made and received confirmed my incoherence, and heightened the concern that I had had a blackout.

The first doctor I had seen ordered blood tests in an attempt to ascertain why I had had the blackout.  These blood tests came back inconclusive – though did show that I have high cholesterol.   Apart from giving me the day off and asking me to see my GP, that’s about as much help as the first doctor offered.

The second doctor extended my medical certificate, told me to take it easy, prescribed some pain medication, and told me to report back in a weeks time.

Then there was the weekend.  It was okay.  I felt like I had a serious hangover, and struggled to concentrate, focus, balance, etc.  Foolishly I did a bit of driving on both Saturday and Sunday – though on Sunday I could only drive to the destination.  I didn’t feel up to driving back.

Despite medical advice to the contrary, I went to work on Monday.  I had stuff to do.  I quickly realised that this was a mistake and decided to bring the doctors appointment forward.  I left work to see a GP.  Doctor number three.

His concern resulted in an immediate referral to the Emergency Department with the intention on getting me a computed tomography (CT) scan.  The hope was of identifying whether the trauma had resulted in memory loss.

Middlemore Emergency Department

After a 5 hour wait, I saw a Dr who seemed to specialise in the kinds of trauma that brings people into the Emergency Department.   Thorough examination marginalised the probability that the blackout was caused by the trauma.  Having a CT scan under such circumstances carried greater risk (i.e. exposure to radiation) than it would render benefit.

His action plan was to issue a no-driving order, and send me back to the GP.  It was always my plan to go back to the GP, but with CT scan results.  The change involved insisting the GP make a referral to a neurologist.

The underlying reason for a change in trajectory was the concern concerning the blackout.  If it wasn’t trauma induced, then there’s something going on.  This something needs to be attended to as quickly as possible.

So today I will have my fifth doctors appointment.  Let’s see what happens.

cake.