After finally getting a few hours of sleep, I showered and gathered my things, emerging from my room just in-time for checkout, and with a few hours to spare prior to heading for the airport to begin my journey home. I did my best to play it off, but I was worried.
The pain was excruciating - heartburn that radiated through my back, but was completely centered on my right side. A multitude of possible wrongs was hitting me, as my phone-based web searches were turning up everything from liver and kidney issues to appendicitis and gallbladder inflammation. Not long after returning home, it all happened again on a Friday night, and Saturday morning, I was indeed at the hospital getting checked out.
While I'm still overweight, my 2014 Fitness Challenge saw me drop 35lbs - the second major lifestyle change after quitting smoking nearly four years ago. Regular workouts at the gym focusing on both cardio and strength training had been good for me, and the result showed in my tests and vitals - everything showing good except for one liver enzyme that was really pointing toward gallstones - soon confirmed via ultrasound. Problem was, this was all revealed during Christmas week, and I needed to meet with a surgeon to get everything scheduled, barring any further attacks that would call for emergency surgery. My #1 concern was for my girls - making sure that I'd be here for them, and not disrupt our holiday plans and travels. The holiday season is stressful enough without a medical issue looming, but after the second major attack, the pain never went away - but festered with daily reminders that I needed to get things taken care of.
This week, slightly more than a month after that horrible attack in California, I had my gallbladder removed via Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy. Meeting with the surgeon on Tuesday... EKG on Thursday... surgery on Friday. It's 1:26am on Sunday morning, and I'm back at home typing this from my office after another dose of Norco.
The procedure is exceptionally common, something backed-up by the much-appreciated well-wishers on my facebook page, many of whom have experienced this for themselves. An astonishing testament to modern medicine, I can't believe that I was able to come home on Friday night - just 15 hours after the day had begun (some patients have even come home earlier). Still, it's major surgery, and I have four holes in my abdomen, and it hurts like hell. There's gas pain, constant soreness, and I need to "take it easy" for awhile, which is hard for me - again, because of my girls. As my surgeon told my wife, "it was nasty" (his exact words), so I'm glad that this is behind me.
The best part of all of this has been the love and support not only of my family, but from all the friends online and off (most of which I've never even met in-person) who have offered up kind words of encouragement and concern.
But the cutest part? Little Finley.
While Addie (5) is weirded out by the whole situation (and was acting out on Friday), 2½-year-old Finn accompanied me to the hospital for my EKG on Thursday morning. She was so unbelievably well-behaved and adorable as she sat and just sorta "took it all in." She watched as the tech wired me up and took the readings (a fast, five-minute process), and as the wires were removed and the tech said "we're done," Finley stood up and very clearly said: "Thank you for fixing my Daddy."
The tech was moved and said she'd never heard anything like it before, and didn't really want to explain that she wasn't really doing the "fixing," so I whispered to just say "you're welcome."
I'm always fascinated with watching our girls learn and grow, and always wonder about how they process things - especially in times of distress. In this case, I think Finn's perception of healthcare has been well-informed thanks to two people: DOC McSTUFFINS and BIG HERO 6's BAYMAX.
Now, how long until I can start hitting the gym again?