Adventures in Hospital

Recently I went to see the doctor because of some digestive problems and a history of bowel cancer on my mothers side of the family. Fortunately she told me that the symptoms didn’t match bowel cancer but they did sound like they could be gallstones and so sent me for a blood test. That indeed showed markers for liver problems (plus I’d got some jaundice in the meantime) and so I was given a referral to the Anglis Hospital for a CT scan. I was a little ill a few nights before the scan was due so in the morning we phoned up to see if it would be possible to get the scan done sooner and they told us to come down that morning to see what they could do.

What they did was to do an ultrasound and confirm it did look like gallstones but they decided it would be better if I went for an MRI instead of a CT scan and so set the wheels in motion to get me down to Box Hill hospital for that, as well as a possible ERCP. That first night I felt a bit of pain in the abdomen (the first I’d really felt) and the next morning resulted in some worried looking doctors talking to me about how a marker for pancreas function was an order of magnitude (or more, can’t remember the numbers) higher than it should be. This was indicating that there was likely a gallstone stuck at the exit of the bile duct, just after the point where the duct from the pancreas merges with it and so the stone was causing both liver and pancreas problems. The following day I was shipped down to Box Hill and had an MRI in the morning which did indeed show a number of gallstones both in the gallbladder and stuck at the exit of the bile duct and thus on the Saturday morning I ended up in surgery for an ERCP. That procedure resulted in them being able to get about half the gallstones stuck at the exit out and they put a stent in to help it drain but because they’d not managed to clear the whole thing I’d need to come back in a weeks time for another ERCP.

Fortunately in the second ERCP they were able to clear the bile duct entirely of stones and enlarge it to help keep it free from other stones until they could schedule a gallbladder removal. In the meantime I was told to avoid fatty foods as well as spicy foods, onion, alcohol, cauliflower and cabbage (a superset of the information I was given by various people) which has meant a significant change of diet (with some great help from our local Thai and Vietnamese restaurants).

So today (May 12th) I’m going back into hospital again, this time to have my gallbladder removed via keyhole surgery. This will mean an overnight stay and then I should be home on Friday but I suspect I won’t be in a position to be able to do much other than tweet from my mobile for a few days afterwards so you’ll need to keep an eye on my Twitter feed if you want updates. That also means I won’t really be in a position to approve comments here unless I get the WordPress app for N900 working..

Catch you all in a few days!

18 thoughts on “Adventures in Hospital

  1. So my internals were much more complicated than expected and so they had to convert from keyhole to open surgery. Will be in hospital until Monday.

    Surgeon visited and told me last time he’d seen a gallbladder in the same state as mine was 10 years ago!

  2. So a further update, I’m still in hospital as I regressed after a couple of days when my bowl failed to kick its normal rhythm and I had a touch of pneumonia. Now back to 3 tubes (drain, IV drip and nasal-gastric tube) as part of the strategy to rebooting my insides. Seems like it’s going OK so far but I am likely to be in for a few more days, perhaps as much as another week.

  3. Hope you get the little bugger whipped out soon – I had no end of trouble with mine but they couldn’t do anything until various other problems had calmed down. By the time they got it out – about two years ago now – it was seriously manky and probably would have popped in a few weeks, with Hilarious Consequences.

  4. Hey Jim! Gallbladder has been gone for more than a week now, the extended stay was due to the fact it had to be open surgery and the false start in the recovery..

    Glad to hear yours is sorted out OK, how have you found having it removed has affected you ?

  5. Status Update:

    Bad news: been running a bit of a temperature and they’re trying to find out if I’ve got an infection through blood cultures.

    Good news: nasal-gastro tube is out! Suction drain tube replaced with an open bag.

  6. Pingback: The Musings of Chris Samuel » Blog Archive » Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-05-22

  7. I believe the clean up went OK, now have the grand total of 3 drain tubes in me. Seem to be recovering OK from the op though there is still concern about the amount of bile coming out (more data required). Will need at least 1 more ERCP at some stage to remove the stent from the initial ERCP’s.

    Currently on 3x2hr doses of vancomycin and 2 other smaller doses of other antibiotic’s.

  8. Pingback: The Musings of Chris Samuel » Blog Archive » Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-05-29

  9. Apologies for the lack of updates recently, been a bit of a rollercoaster ride..

    An MRI scan showed a fourth pool of liquid, this time in my back, so they used a local anesthetic and ultrasound to guide a needle to it and put in a fourth drain tube. They aspirated it with a syringe to remove the fluid and then left it on free drainage (not suction like the others).

    A few days ago my potassium (“K”) levels got to about 5.7 (max of normal is 5) and so they became concerned for my heart. They started doing ECGs and gave me medication to reduce the K level. That seemed to work OK and my last reading was 5.1 which was close enough to normal to no longer worry about!

    Two days ago (Wednesday) they did an ERCP under sedation to check out what was going on with the bile leak (which ironically had slowed right down the night before) – they were able to confirm that the bile leak was from where it was expected and things were looking OK (whole thing only took 15 mins apparently).

    Yesterday they took 3 drain tubes out – the 2 from the operation after being transferred to Box Hill and the later one in my back – all I can say is thank the pharmacists for Endone pain relief! The original bile drain tube has been converted to free drainage as there was no longer anything coming out of it.

    Today they cancelled all my antibiotics and they will keep me in overnight for observation – if there is still no sign of fever or infection then I will be discharged in the morning where the “hospital in the home” people will come and check on my final drain tube and then I’ll be back at a clinic at the hospital on Thursday for a check up (and I presume to possibly remove the drain tube).

    Phew! 🙂

  10. Pingback: The Musings of Chris Samuel » Blog Archive » Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-06-05

  11. Final update – I’m out of hospital! I was discharged yesterday (Saturday) morning and am now home in the daily care of the “Hospital in the Home” service. Due back for an outpatients appointment on Thursday to check the final (and original) drain tube and possibly remove it. Then in July I’m due for another ERCP to remove the stent in the bile duct and to check that it hasn’t narrowed (a possible complication in my situation).

  12. Another final update (er, yes, I know)…

    Today’s out patient clinic went well, my blood tests are almost back to normal and they removed the final drain tube and the 19 staples (15 from the open surgery and 2 each from keyhole surgery points) so I am now free of all medical accoutrements! Feeling a *lot* happier now! 🙂

    ERCP in a few weeks still.

  13. Glad you’re out! I’m so glad my surgeon was just about able to get mine out through keyhole, it sounds like you’ve been through the wringer. I’m *more or less* fine, but still under heavy medication for the problems which delayed the op in the first place. Being on immunosuppressants does not make for a quick recovery.

  14. Thanks Jim, it’s really good to be out! Sounds like life’s not been a bed of roses for you either health wise, I do hope things get better – are the immunosuppressants for the long term ?

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