I am sharing my story in hope that I might help someone else out there. Thank you for listening.
Just like that, I am awaked at 3 am on Thursday morning, January 29th. My stomach was hurting and incredibly distended. The pains would come and go and were very familiar to me. I laid in bed praying that this couldn't be happening again.
It was 5 years and 2 days ago (yes, I looked up the date! Isn't that weird?) that I woke up with similar pains and a belly that resembled one that was 6 months pregnant. It was such an awful experience that I prayed that it wouldn't be happening again. But I was fully aware that there was no way to prevent it from happening again. So now I share my story.
As a woman and mother, we are so busy taking care of everyone else that we always seem to be the last on that list. Isn't that right? So when this terrible pain began, I didn't want to wake up my husband and didn't want to wake up the kids. So I walked around the house, clutching my stomach. A part of me wondered if it was gas and it would just go away. My gut instinct (pun intended) was that it's happening again and knew I needed to get to the hospital ASAP. But I waited.
My husband's alarm went off at 5:30 when I immediately tapped him on the shoulder and told him what was happening. His first words, "Is this like last time?" I told him I didn't know and burst into tears.
"The last time" consisted of me leaving me three babies, who were only 1, 4 and 6 at the time, taken by ambulance and staying in the hospital for over a week where I recovered from emergency surgery. I've had quite a few abdominal surgeries which over time have created an excess of scar tissue which shut down my intestines.
But this time? I didn't follow my "gut". I waited for a while, looked up my symptoms online and I worried how devastated my kids would be if they saw me being taken away by the ambulance. I thought maybe my husband could take me to the ER after we dropped the kids off at school. I also worried that my husband would have to take a day off of work for no reason, maybe I just had the stomach bug? And then all of a sudden, the pains became worse. I was having trouble breathing and I was hunched over in pain. Luckily, one of my friends pointed out that I should take the ambulance immediately to the ER so I would be seen right away. I called the ambulance. And then proceeded to pack for the hospital, took a shower and wrote down some of our schedule for my husband. I knew I wouldn't be showering for a while and I knew I wouldn't be home for a while.
The police came. Only one of my kids were awake when they got here. He was half asleep and confused. Then the fire truck (with the flashing lights) arrived. Next, the ambulance came (with lights flashing also) and before I knew it, there were 10 people in my living room, and I was hunched over in pain on the couch. As I was leaving my youngest little guy opened up his door, eyes half shut asking what was going on. I started to cry. I didn't want them to be scared or aware that I was terrified. As I got into the ambulance, I saw my oldest guy peaking out his window looking at me. I couldn't believe this was happening again.
Before I knew it, my husband met me at the ER. I met with the doctors, told them my history and they immediately ordered a CAT scan to see what was going on. By this point, I was now the size of a 7 or 8 month pregnant lady and in unimaginable pain. I was also vomiting but I had to drink this barium drink that's required for a CAT scan in order to identify your organs and to identify if there is a blockage. Besides the fact that the drink is gross, it was nearly impossible to keep it down. I drank it and took the CAT scan. Then the doctor came back to report that it was indeed another intestinal blockage. I burst into tears and my husband stood there in shock.
We knew what came next and that's why I started to cry. They had to put an NG tube up my nose, down my throat to try to aspirate the fluid in my stomach (which was causing the distention). They do this in hopes that this will help drain the contents in my stomach and prevent further blockage and in turn, preventing surgery. After 5 hours of no relief in pain ( I literally was SCREAMING in agony) and vomiting constantly, they decided that it was time for surgery.
I was so upset but literally feeling crazy from the pain. I was almost begging for them to do the surgery even though I knew it meant that I'd be in the hospital for a long time, not eating, with a gross tube up my nose…I needed to be out of this excruciating pain.
We immediately called friends to take our kids after school. I was so upset that my kids would be confused and then my husband made me realize that they LOVE going to their friend's houses and they would be fine. By the time I was prepped and finally went into surgery, 3 hours later, I couldn't see straight. I was screaming at doctors, hysterically crying and practically hallucinating from the pain. All while on two different pain drips. I was ready for the surgery.
By the time I got out of surgery it was almost 10:30 at night (212 stitches, both internal and external) and my husband arranged for my kids to stay at friend's houses since he wanted to be with me. That's a huge deal for the Kelly kids to have a sleepover on a school night so I hoped they were ok.
I ended up staying in the hospital for 10 days. I had the nose tube in for 7 of those days and I didn't eat or drink anything for 8 days. (I am sparing you the pictures of me with the nose tube!) My little guys came to visit me a bunch. They were sad to see me with the gross nose tube and that I was hooked up to so many machines, but they were troopers.
I waited to take my "walk" down the floor for when they came to visit me (the doctor made me take a short walk each day to keep everything "moving"). Although they couldn't believe how slow I was, they were sweet and patient and amazed that I became friends with all the nurses there. I am SO lucky to have had such warm, nurturing nurses. They are such dedicated, hard working people!
My husband was a rock star. He worked from home for the first week and shuffled the kids around to school and all of their many activities and still came up to visit me. Sometimes twice, once by himself and another time with the kids. He was amazing.
I was on a lot of drugs. Some through IV, some taken orally, I had heparin shots every 6 hours to prevent blood clots, my blood was taken daily to make sure all of my levels were stable and I tried to work. You know, as best as I could being all types of loopy.
It was so hard being away for so long. I was on so many drugs that I don't even remember some people visiting me! My friends were incredible. They visited me, brought me gifts, decorated my hospital room and most of all, just sat and talked with me. You know who your real friends are when something like this happens. And I was feeling incredible blessed.
I started a liquid diet on day 8 which consisted of water and this. Um, no thank you.
You'd think after not eating for so long, I'd drink that up in a minute, right? Wrong. It smelled so gross. But when they finally gave me two crackers on day 9...
Man, that was the best damn cracker I've ever had. The doctor came to visit me, checked my stitches and told me I can leave the next day. I was elated!
Then we just had to take a wheelchair selfie on our way out of the hospital (my 11 year old's idea!) Nope, definitely not the best picture of me and please excuse the (very) dirty hair, but I was so happy to get out of there.
And I got to come home to a whole bunch of homemade posters and cards from my family. Boy did it feel great to be home.
It's now 7 weeks later and I am definitely turning the corner. It's not as painful to walk (it felt like I was pulling the stitches in my stomach every time I took a step) and I am feeling more like myself each day. I am trying to walk a few times a week (very slowly) but getting out in the fresh air does wonders for my mood. It wasn't easy being home for so long and feeling helpless. It was depressing. But now I am feeling stronger and it feels great to get back to my routine. I am not driving that far (it's hard to turn when driving) but I am able to bring my kids to school and pick them up, and that's what's most important to me.
I am hoping by sharing this maybe I can help someone out there that might have to go through this. Also, I regret not listening to my "gut" from the beginning. Than goodness I finally caved, but I can't imagine if I waited any longer to go to the hospital. From now on, I will not worry about the little things and go with what my instincts tell me.
Please review these signs and symptoms of an intestinal blockage, according to The Mayo Clinic:
Crampy abdominal pain that comes and goes
Loss of appetite
Inability to have a bowel movement or pass gas
Swelling of the abdomen
Causes of an intestinal blockage, according to The Mayo Clinic:
Intestinal adhesions — bands of fibrous tissue in the abdominal cavity that can form after abdominal or pelvic surgery (this is what I had)
In children, the most common cause of intestinal obstruction is telescoping of the intestine (intussusception).
Other possible causes of intestinal obstruction include:
Hernias — portions of intestine that protrude into another part of your body
Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn's disease
Diverticulitis — a condition in which small, bulging pouches (diverticula) in the digestive tract become inflamed or infected
Twisting of the colon (volvulus)
So what does this mean for the future for me? I am going to focus on getting myself back to normal and healthy again. There's nothing I can do to prevent this from happening again so I am going to think positive and be grateful for all that I have. It could always be worse, right?
When a sickness comes on so suddenly you have no choice but to roll with the punches. And it puts all of the little things into perspective. I promise I took a few days feeling sorry for myself, but then I picked myself up and created small goals for myself. First I started with just walking to the corner. Next it was around the block. Then it was walking 2 blocks, etc. Now when I walk outside, I really appreciate the sun, birds chirping and the cool air. Instead of being depressed that I can't run or be active like I used to, I am so thankful that I am walking faster (and more steady) than just a few days ago. Baby steps. Literally, baby steps.
Thank you to all of my friends, both online and in real life that helped me. Whether you visited me in the hospital, made my family dinner or just sent me a text to check on me, IT MEANT THE WORLD TO ME.
And my fabulous blogger friends completely rallied and with Carolyn's help, (Carolyn, from All Day I Dream About Food) organized a spreadsheet where my blogger friends could sign up to do a guest post for me. This was huge because it kept my blog active and helped me tremendously. I am so incredibly thankful that you guys could meet all of these talented people too.
I also started cooking again. Small stuff mainly, but my kids are anxiously waiting for me to be able to whip up their favorites again. And I won't take that for granted. Not one second.
Thanks for listening and for all of your support! I can't wait to start sharing delicious recipes with you again!