Monday, June 3, 2013

NSAIDs: A Cautionary Tale

So. How have you guys been? I spent my weekend feeling like death on toast. The NSAID (anti-inflammatory medication I take twice a day for my rheumatism) that I've been using for the past 9 months or so landed me in the hospital on Saturday night.
Friday morning I was fine. I even ate a sensible salad for lunch and took a short bike ride with my dad. But at about 2pm I was suddenly hit with an overwhelming feeling like I'd just been speared through the chest, right at the base of my thorax. I tried to wait it out but I couldn't sleep at all that night and after a short stint at work on Saturday morning it was quickly becoming evident that it was here to stay. I immediately figured it was probably an ulcer but couldn't get any over the counter remedies to help. I called the Kaiser advice hotline to ask if I could get in to see my doctor any time soon. I got transferred around for a while and they told me they'd call me back later in the day.
So I talked to a very twitchy little doctor on the phone at about 5pm. She was the kind of confused and baffled doctor that instills a real sense of security and faith in a patient. Regardless of the fact that the Kaiser website states that "ulcers can cause nausea, dizziness, and intense pain radiating in to the back" she urged me quite vehemently to hurry down to the ER, which I did. Well, sort of... because FOR REALIOS WOMAN it is an ulcer not a heart attack. Yes, I am dizzy. Probably because I HAVE AN ULCER. I should not have to guide you to these things. I actually had to reassure her at one point that stomach bleeding goes along with the whole ulcer thing, so even if I was dizzy I probably didn't actually have a terrible ruptured whatever-the-hell.
I did eventually get to the ER (about 5 hours later), mostly because I know that the regular clinic would take several days to run labs and the ER would run them in less than two hours. And the sooner I got this you-know-what over and done with the better (theater season just started. Ain't nobody got time for that.) They hooked me up to an EKG machine and put so many stickers all over my body that I am still not sure if I got them all off. There must have been six just on my left boob. I felt awkward, not for myself but for the poor nurse who had to cover me in boob stickers. Obviously it's her job and all, but it still must be contrary to your sense of social propriety. My own sense of social propriety ends at the point when I have to hold a little plastic barf bag and wear a gown with the butt all open, sorry. The doctor came in and we had a brief conversation about how it's basically almost certainly an ulcer (or gastritis, the precursor to an ulcer) and you can point your finger straight to my shitty rheumatologist for refusing to TREAT my ACTUAL condition and instead leaving me hanging on high doses of particularly nasty NSAIDs for several years running. He scrunched up his face when he laughed and he was terribly young. I felt old and silly and wished that my husband was there (they forgot to tell him it was okay to see me after the EKG, so I was basically hangin' out there in my boob stickers by myself for an hour) because otherwise my ER quiet room wit (which consisted mainly of pretending my large penis-shaped barf bag was, in fact, a large blue penis while trying to interpret the oddly coded ER intercom announcements) was utterly wasted (hey man, it was late and I felt like hell, okay?). I eye-balled the spare rolls of exam table paper in the cabinet. Because you know what exam table paper is great for? Pattern making.
Eventually they made me drink three small shots of tutti-frutti flavored lidocaine (they tasted like Satan, basically) and sent me home. Two IVs for nothing, man (one in my right arm that didn't work out properly that has left me with an aching blue bruise the size of a golf ball, and one in my left by a slightly more competent nurse). I tell ya what, guys. IVs suck.
I still feel non-stop nauseous, hopefully the heavier-duty acid control pills I now have to take (every morning. That makes 8 pills PER DAY, now) will do me some good. I'm not allowed to have caffeine or chocolate (I think I might cry, guys) or tomatoes or ... well. Anything good. I can eat oatmeal (without milk, naturally) and brown rice. I guess I can add some thrilling tofu in there for protein.
I already had a chocolate chip cookie. One a day can't kill me.
My husband brought home Mexican for dinner. It was a very sweet gesture. But for reals.


  1. AND you didn't even get a roll of exam table paper to make up for it? Darn.
    But at least your husband brought home Mexican :)

    1. sadly, I couldn't figure out how to smuggle one under my shirt.

  2. :( hope you feel better soon, and baggy pants could have helped with the paper smuggling :)

    1. Thanks, I'm on the mend.
      Maybe next time I'll bring a bigger purse :D