March 9, 2024 6 hours in ER

Published by Victor Barr on

When a person gets into their fifties it’s time to start worrying about your health. Time to start taking better care of yourself so you can last another thirty or more years.

Time: It’s ticking away.

When the doctor gave me a form to get a stool test, I ignored it at first. I thought, “Hey I feel fine, I don’t need to get tested”. Until I talked to a few people and was told that, yes it’s important to get screened for possible colon cancer. After procrastinating a while longer I finally got the test and did it. 

Then I got a call.

They wanted me to get a colonoscopy. 

My stomach sank. My heart jumped. I’m healthy, wasn’t I?

Or am I?

For those of you who haven’t had a colonoscopy, the test is nothing; they knock you out for it so that part is easy. It’s the prep and the aftermath that’s the rough part. When I came too I barely remember what the doctor told me. All I knew was they couldn’t do a complete test, they wanted me to come back for a CT scan. 

A CT scan?

But I felt okay. 

A few weeks went by and it was time for my CT scan. Like a dumbass, I didn’t read the instructions before we went to Big White. I planned to come down on Tuesday night do the test Wednesday morning and go back up to the hill. Simple right? Except I missed the part where I was supposed to get some stuff from the hospital to prepare for my CT scan.

And it was snowing outside – hard. The powder was awesome. The skiing was the best of the year. And we had the condo for the week. The only time we would have it for the rest of the ski season. I did not want to go down to the hospital to get whatever it was I needed to prepare for the test.

And I felt fine. Mostly, except my bodily functions hadn’t worked properly since the colonoscopy. 

And the snow kept falling.

Powder dreams danced in my eyes. How could I leave the hill when the skiing was so great?

I made my choice. I would rebook my test. I felt fine, what was the rush, the skiing was too good to leave.

Yes, I’m that much of a dumbass.

I called and left a message. I wanted to rebook my CT Scan on Wednesday, I called on Sunday so I was giving enough notice. Right? I made the call and left a message. Could I come the next week? I was going to Mexico from March 16 to 23 so that week didn’t work. Hmm yes, a dumbass.

But the skiing was awesome and we had a fantastic week. Deep powder danced around my thighs and it was the best turns of the year. Even if we couldn’t see any of them because the cloud was so thick – so was the snow. I felt great, except things were not working very well anymore.

The next week came and my body was rebelling some more. Did I make a big mistake, rebooking my scan? I got the letter from Interior Health. My CT scan was now scheduled for March 28 – after the trip. I would be fine until then – wouldn’t I?

Then the next week things stopped working almost completely. I will spare the details, but when it becomes harder and harder to do what used to come regularly, a person tends to grow concerned. My stomach ached and my head spun. What the hell did I do? Why didn’t I just come down from the mountain and get the scan? 

I’m such a dumbass.

By Thursday night I was really worried. I’d done everything the doctor told me to, I’d taken Meta Musil. I was eating healthy, I’d quit drinking. Nothing helped, I was in pain and distress. Maybe I could see if they could squeeze me in for a test, maybe there was a cancelation. Maybe…

Friday morning arrived and I paced the floor. It was seven am and I hadn’t slept very well. I also hadn’t had any relief for three days. I picked up the phone and called the hospital. It wasn’t open until 8:00 am. I paced some more.

My wife came down the stairs and looked groggily at me, “What’s going on?”

“I’m such a dumbass. We are supposed to go to Mexico in eight days and I don’t know what’s going on but what if I can’t go because… well… I can’t go!” I stalked across the room and grabbed the letter I got when they checked me out of the hospital. “I didn’t see the drawing he made on the back. I was out of it when they checked me out. I can’t believe I didn’t just go get the test.” I stared at her.

“What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to the hospital and see if they can squeeze me in or something.”

“That probably won’t work, maybe you should go to emerg.” She looked at the paper and shook her head.

“Ya, I have to do something.” Off I went to the hospital. Was I wasting my time? I had stomach pain and felt pretty tight, but was it really an emergency? 

When I arrived at the hospital I went straight to the CT department and asked the girl at the desk if they had any last-minute cancelations, and if I could get in sooner than my appointment. I also admitted that I was a dumbass for skiing deep powder instead of looking after my health. She smiled and told me not to worry, I wasn’t the first person to make that type of choice. She couldn’t get me in though, the only thing I could do was go to the emergency department.

I strode out of the CT department, my head spinning. Emergency? Was it really an emergency? I decided to see how busy the Emergency Department was. I walked past the back room of the ER and saw it had only one person in it. It wasn’t too busy. 

I went to the front of the Emergency room and only three people were sitting there. I might as well get checked out. It was only twenty minutes and I was in the back waiting room. I felt like a bit of a schmuck for using the resources of the ER but I was there… 

It only took another thirty or forty minutes and I saw a nurse. She assured me I made the right move, that I shouldn’t be embarrassed. If it is serious I’m in the right place. If things aren’t functioning it could be bad. I still felt like a dumbass though.

Two and a half hours later I saw a Doctor. He also assured me I made the right move. If it was an acute situation I was in the right place. Sometimes we don’t know it’s acute until it’s too late. Better err on the side of caution. Besides, I’d tried while I was waiting and things still weren’t working

So he sent me for a CT scan. I felt relief that we would get to the bottom of what might be wrong. I sat in the waiting room and hoped for the best. And the room filled up with more and more people. I even saw an old acquaintance who I hadn’t seen in a while. His heart wasn’t working quite right. Like me, he had his doubts about whether he should be at the hospital. We both knew it would take a while. We agreed though – better err on the side of caution.

Another hour and a half passed. I got called up to see the doctor.

He let me know that I had an acute case of Diverticulitis. I had come to the right place. He assured me it was going to be fine. Just no solid food for three days and take some antibiotics. They would be done in seven days. Seven days? Just in time for Mexico. I should be fine, take it easy, and go see my family doctor next week. I’d already made an appointment for Monday so that worked out. 

Six hours after I arrived at the hospital I walked back to my truck. Relieved and clear about what was going on. I would be ok for Mexico – I hope. Next time I won’t skip the test, I will prioritize my health. I still have to go get another CT scan, I will take care of myself. I only have one body. It’s time to take better care of it. I want it to last another thirty years.

As we get older, we all need to make sure we take care of our health. It is the one thing that really matters as our days get shorter. After all, it’s one of the few things we can control.

Categories: Daily Journal


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