So about mid-afternoon on Wednesday I started feeling a serious pain down in my lower abdomen. Like, in the bladder/uterus area. It got steadily worse and worse and worse, and I was nauseous, cold and clammy and lightheaded. I finally called the Kaiser advice nurse (which is a rarity for me, 'cause I HATE seeking medical help) and described my symptoms, which included vomiting while I was on the phone with her. Fun. She said to call 911 and that I wasn't stable enough to wait for my husband to come home to drive me to the ER. Of course, I disregarded this advice because a) I've never called 911 for medical help in my life and I didn't want to start now and b) They'd take me to a non-Kaiser hospital and then Kaiser would charge me a million billion dollars for the ambulance ride and the hospital stay even though their own nurse told me to do it.
So my husband got home a few minutes later (I'd called him on his cell to make sure he was close) and I staggered down the apartment steps to his car, and he drove like a maniac to get me to the closest Kaiser ER, about a half-hour away. I was moaning in pain the entire time - it now felt like someone was repeatedly stabbing me in the uterus.
Got to hospital, got through triage, which took frickin' forEVER, with me in excrutiating pain while they were trying to get me to verify my address and phone number and blah blah blah. Sample of the triage nurse's caring bedside manner: "Are you gonna puke?" me: "I dunno, I might." Her: [shoves a puke bucket at me] "Well, don't puke on me."
Had to wait in the waiting room for a good 15 minutes, then finally got to a room (well, a curtained off area in the ER), where a nurse told me to strip and get into the hospital gown, waited another good 15 minutes, during which I threw up EVERYTHING I had EVER eaten while my husband held my hair back and tried not to freak out completely. By this time the pain had spread to my left side and I felt like I was going to pass out.
FINALLY, a doctor came bustling in, and was like "Oh gee, your condition might be life-threatening!" so then suddenly everyone and their freakin' UNCLE was in there, taking a look at me while they gave me an IV (the nurse hit some kind of vein which ended up making a huge mess, spurting my blood everywhere), gave me a pelvic ultrasound, stuck a foley catheter in me, and generally fluttered around in and outside my room saying stuff like "Oh, check out 11 [that was my room] - it looks like a true emergent situation!" I was in too much pain at this moment to give a fuck what anyone was seeing - which was everything. I was saying "Please, give me drugs. Please, I need drugs." I have never been in such pain.
So the nurse gives me a few units of morphine along with an anti-nausea drug. I've never had morphine before, and she tells me that after a few seconds, a wave of warmth will hit me and the pain will recede. Umm, nope. Nothing. Not a goddamn thing. I still was in the most agonizing pain I'd ever felt. The doctor was like "oh, yeah, if it's an ovarian torsion [this was the first I'd heard that this was the probable diagnosis] morphine won't even touch it. Give her 6 ccs [or whatever the unit was] of dilaudid." So finally, FINALLY, they gave me massive amounts of a drug that actually seemed to do something. Not that it numbed the pain, mind you - it just made me so completely groggy and distant that I didn't CARE that I was in excrutiating pain.
So now that I'm doped to the eyeballs, they finally start talking to me. The doctor, Dr. Bush, is super-nice and shakes my hand and says they have a great team in the ER tonight and he's going to take care of me. He says I might have an ovarian torsion, which is just what it sounds like - the ovary can actually twist and then the fallopian tube gets blocked, which also blocks the blood supply there and requires immediate surgery or can be life-threatening. He tells me an ob/gyn consult is on the way to take a look. I'm too spaced out to really care, but my poor husband is freaking out and trying to stay calm for my sake. Still with all the nurses and extra doctors hovering around me.
So the ob/gyn gets there and he's super-nice too, and kinda looks like Kevin Spacey, when I can actually focus on his face, which is kinda hard at this point. He does the whole internal pelvic exam with hands and ultrasound and finally pronounces that it's not an ovarian torsion, but rather a ruptured ovarian cyst. The whole room breathes a collective sigh that's part relief and part - I swear - disappointment. I still don't know what the hell is going on, so I'm trying to ask what that means, and finally I manage to obtain the information that it is an excruciatingly painful, but not medically serious condition. Again, basically just what it sounds like. I know I have ovarian cysts (I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) but I've never had one rupture before, nor did I know that was a possibility. I was trying, in my practically comatose-from-drugs state to find out what the impact was on my fertility (I've been trying to conceive), whether it was likely to happen again, what I needed to do to follow up, etc.
The problem was that I was left talking to thin air. As soon as it became clear that it wasn't the exciting sexy life-threatening condition, everyone freakin' DISAPPEARED. No goodbye, no more handshakes, no more reassuring words. Just GONE. I'm left with a nurse, who is very sweet, but is either clueless or has been well instructed by Kaiser's legal department (curse them to hell) and isn't going to give a word of medical advice. So she takes out the catheter and tells me to get up and get dressed (the IV lead apparently comes out last). She leaves us there for another half hour or so while my husband picks up a prescription for me (vicodin for pain and aspirin for inflammation) at the discharge pharmacy, while I try to get dressed and go to the bathroom without swaying and falling. The janitor comes in and starts picking up the room with me still in it, and I seriously feel like a piece of trash that is being left to be swept out with the rest.
The nurse eventually comes back with the discharge instructions, only when she glances at them she realizes they're the wrong ones - they're for a patient who has had a C-section. So she goes back to get the doctor to print out the right discharge instructions for me. After about another 15 minutes, Dr. Bush, he of the kindly bedside manner, comes back - he's obviously one foot out the door, because he's in his leather jacket and carrying his satchel and generally acts very put upon to have to be talking to me again, so he pops his head in and shoves the discharge instructions at me and takes off. No farewell, no "I hope you feel better" or anything. I'm trying to thank him but it's like he doesn't even hear me. So then I look at the discharge instructions he's given me, and it's the EXACT SAME SET. the C-section ones again. He didn't even bother to reprint them, just gave me the ones that he knew were wrong. Of course, by the time I look at them and look back up, he's gone. The nurse comes back but I don't tell her about this because I don't want to wait another half-hour while she tracks someone down to try to get us the correct discharge instructions. She just chirps brightly about how I must be thrilled to be going home. Umm, not really - I still feel like I'm going to fall over at any moment, still in pain just too groggy to care, and now feeling like they can't get rid of me fast enough, almost like I'm some criminal drug-seeker who pulled a fast one to get shot up with pain meds. They don't even offer me a wheelchair to get out of there, so I kind of shuffle dizzily back through the ER, back through the waiting room, and out the door, where all the doctors and nurses who were so interested in me when I was supposedly dying now won't even look at me. I wait in the cold on a bench while my husband goes and picks up the car and takes me home. I fall into bed.
So that was my Wednesday evening. Thursday and Friday I mostly just took it easy as much as I could. The pain was almost completely gone, which was a HUGE relief. I mostly just felt shaken and bewildered by the experience, and I still don't know what the long-term implications are, if any. I need to call my regular ob/gyn and schedule an appointment.
I've come to the conclusion that just as surgeons are elitist bastards of the medical world, the ER docs are the adrenaline junkies of the medical world. They don't seem to care about the patient, only looking for the thrill of the next exciting, life-threatening condition. yay.
Yeah, I'm slightly bitter, how could you tell?
Anyway, the upshot is that I'm fine, I think. I hope.