Anna vs. H. pylori, or, the Very Bad No Fun Not Good Weekend

A lot of you who follow me on the social networks and/or who also follow userinfosolarbird got all this in real time as we were posting about it, but for those of you who might have missed it, I was in the hopsital from Wednesday night until yesterday morning. What put me there was a bleeding stomach ulcer which turned out to be the kind caused by a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. Which fortunately means that this is a very easy type of stomach problem to deal with; I’m on a big honking fleet of antibiotics at the moment as well as an acid-reducing stomach med and I should be fine in a couple more weeks as my system recovers.

I felt a little weird on Wednesday morning going into work, with the type of temperature wonkiness I usually get if I’ve got a cold coming on. I also had a distinct lack of appetite and passed up both the donuts that had shown up in our team area and my regular lunch fare from the deli next to our building–I wound up just having a tiny apple and a bag of chips out of the vending machine for lunch. Not long after that, though, I started feeling unsteady enough that I thought I’d better go home.

Getting home went okay. I bailed on my usual walk back along Elliott and through Pike Place Market in favor of a bus that would get me to Westlake Center. Dara, who was on Capitol Hill with the car anyway, came and got me and took me home. I took a long nap. And when I got up again, Dara gave me some ginger tea to try to settle my tummy, and some chicken soup for dinner. This would have been the proper strategy if I had in fact been coming down with a cold, but unfortunately, not so much.

I started feeling actively nauseous about half an hour after that soup, and decided maybe I’d better go upstairs and have a hot soak in the tub and go to bed early. Partway up the stairs was when the trouble hit in earnest. I’m not going to describe in detail what happened when I keeled over, but let’s put it this way: real-life enactments of incidents from The Exorcist or Evil Dead? NOT FUN.

Dara and Paul found me on the stairs and were immediately all “we’d better get to you to the hospital”. I was still conscious–more or less–but quite shaky, and managed to get myself composed enough to mumble about how if I was going to go outside, I’d need put on pants. So while Paul got on the phone to his mother, a trained RN, I wobbled my way up the rest of the stairs into the bedroom.

I managed to wash my face. Then I had a second wave of severe nausea, keeled over into the papasan chair in our bedroom, and had Incident Number Two. If my stomach were the Mines of Moria, then the dwarves in my system had delved too greedily and too deep–and there were definitely fouler things than orcs in the deep places of the world. Dara told me later that I was unresponsive for at least a couple of minutes after that, because she was trying to get me to focus on her fingers, and I don’t remember that at all.

At that point Dara punted straight to “we’re calling 911 RIGHT NOW” and so, shortly after, an ambulance showed up. The ambulance boys got me mostly undressed (because YUCK), bundled up in sheets, and strapped into a chair. They carried me downstairs and outside, and got me into the ambulance. I was awake for all of that and asked them to take me to Evergreen, where I’d received my breast cancer treatment. Evergreen has all kinds of records on me, after all, and I knew they’d take good care of me.

Dara and Paul followed us to the ER, where I got hooked up to a great number of IVs. Over the next 48 hours they had me in the Critical Care Unit, where I got blood transfusions, a saline drip, anti-nausea meds, and hospital-grade acid-reducing stomach meds. Once I was stable enough, they then transferred me not to a regular room, but to a ward more or less a step down from the CCU where I could still have a private room, but where they kept me hooked up to a portable telemetry box so they could keep a sharp eye on me. I was very, very relieved to have no further incidents of nausea, and the nurses let me regularly get up and take short walks along the halls, though I had to take the IV pole I was hooked up to with me. Dara and I started calling it Helper, after the robot in The Venture Brothers; I now totally want a sketch of the Chibi Anna avatar I have on our Wii, walking along in a tiny hospital gown, with Helper holding her hand.

I got stable pretty fast, happily. So while Evergreen did as expected take excellent care of me, I had little to do but let them regularly take my vitals and a LOT of blood draws. Dara and Paul kept trading off keeping me company, and I got visited by both Ellen (fellow session player and awesome beta reader and former housemate) and Erin (an old friend of mine and Dara’s from our Kentucky days, who was in town with his wife visiting their daughter). I kept up with studying my French in SuperMemo. I kept people updated on the social networks as to my status, and updated my team at work as well. I played a lot of nethack–and do in fact now have an Ascension candidate going from one of the games I started in the hospital. And Dara and I listened to the backlog of Fourth Doctor/Leela adventures coming out in audio form from Big Finish, which turned out to be huge fun, especially the adventure “Wrath of the Iceni”, which I cannot recommend highly enough.

By Saturday I was cleared to have real food again. And by Sunday, the doctors were okay enough with my status that I was cleared to go home.

I’m working from home today just to make sure I am in fact all right. And if that goes okay, I’ll try to be back in the office tomorrow. I’m a little uncertain about my system reactions to this massive fleet of antibiotics I’m on–which are amoxycillin and clarithromycin, both of which I’ve had before, but not in these quantities. But we’ll see how it goes.

All things considered this is still not the scariest experience I’ve had in the ER. That still goes to Dara’s accident in 2006, closely followed by breaking my arm in 2003. At least this time, I didn’t come out of it with nerve damage! Still, though, NOT a weekend I’d care to repeat.

And it was a great comfort, I can tell you, to see how much the cats missed me. George reclaimed his proper spot in my lap, and as of that, the Rightful Order was restored.

George Missed Me
George Missed Me

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