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The Fragility of Life

The Fragility of Life

It only takes a day or two to demonstrate how vulnerable we all are to cashing in our chips at any time. No I’m not referring to the Casino, I’m talking about when our number is up. A brief brush with mortality leaves you a little more nervous about the time we have left and whether or not we’ll ever be ready to check out gracefully.

I knew immediately that I was not OK and had my roommate take me to the hospital

A few weeks ago I had just such an experience. After doing a follow up with a Gastroenterologist who during an endoscopy took some biopsies to rule out anything problematic, I very nearly bled to death. No he didn’t nick an artery or in any way that I personally could determine do anything “wrong”. I was simply one of the unlucky people who was a little outside the bell curve of reactions and bled later on in a much more copious amount then should have been possible. No I wasn’t popping Aspirin like chicklets, or running a 2-mile marathon afterward in case you were wondering if I brought it on by stupidity. Technically I probably should have avoided alcohol entirely for the night and gone home and kept relatively immobile, but they assured me I could go eat and drink right after and didn’t foresee any problems. The sign out sheet that my friend was to put his John Hancock on was a little more cautious…note to self…follow written instructions over oral assurances. But in any event, the actual scope looked fine according to the specialist.

But alas I did notice something odd the next day when I for the first time in my life felt more like a squid then a human being. When the colour of your excretions start changing from a normal brown to a black ink you start to wonder…

I put two and two together & chalked it up to normal bleeding and assumed I’d be fine as time went on. Not quite! That night I could barely stand up and got dizzy and sweaty. I knew immediately that I was not OK and had my roommate take me to the hospital. This was on a Friday and while they assumed (rightly) that I was bleeding internally, I was not so far gone that regular IV and Pantaloc (a proton pump inhibitor) couldn’t reverse the problem. Four hours later I was released. The next afternoon, though, the same problem was apparent—along with noticeable red blood when I threw up. Sunday morning, I went first thing to the hospital again. This time my hemoglobin dropped to 60, (120 is normal starting point for a male), and I was given 4 bags of blood in the space of 5 hours. I ended up being in there for a couple more days until I was released with Meds to take at home to keep the stomach acid down and facilitate healing.

The follow-up endoscopy performed the second time while in the hospital looked normal and I’ve been slowly recuperating since, but it’s interesting to feel your energy sap so dangerously low that you can’t stand up for 30 seconds to pee in a bottle without your heart rate jumping from 100 to 147. Extreme Tachycardia was the very medical sounding warning that flashed on my EKG machine.

What have I learned? Well sometimes doctors cause more trouble then they are worth…I lost a 3 day weekend of singing work and a good week of being myself. What did the doctor lose? If I’m lucky maybe a few hours of sleep on whether or not I was planning to sue him. Fortunately for him I’m not the vengeful kind and I doubt I would have won the case. Even though he did break one of the major rules of the Hippocratic Oath all physicians swear on…First, do no harm…it was of course unintentional. I guess I should be thankful that our health care system covered all costs that were necessary to put my poor tummy back in order. If I had one regret it would be that our system does nothing to make up for loss of income. Maybe that’s the beginning of my next entry…

Kendall P

photo credit: aly_cat


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