Wow… It has been ages since I posted. My sincere apologies for dropping off the face of the earth like that. Unfortunately I have been rather ill and have been unable to summon the energy to do any writing.
If you are interested in a sad ill health story, read on. If not, please accept my apologies and skip onto the next article (I promise there will be one soon, if it is not already there).
For a number of days I had been feeling a little unwell. I had put it down to having increased the dosage on my chronic medications and decided to try reducing them. Then I stopped the one medicine entirely. I got a bit of a boost and started feeling better. Then on Friday 5 August, in the office, I started feeling very unwell. I had severe pain in my upper abdomen and some rather unpleasant and embarrassing additional symptoms. I was convinced that I had an ulcer. I called my doctor. He was not in and his associate could only see me after lunch. I decided to get my hair done in an effort to take my mind off things. My hairdresser was mid cut when he decided I was so unwell that he could not complete the task. He sent me off with a great deal of concern. Back at the office my staff were growing increasingly worried about me. Eventually one of them got up the courage and bundled me into my car and drove me to the doctor.
On arrival the doctor examined me and promptly dispatched me to the closest emergency room. I was given pain killers, blood tests and sent for x-rays. It was ascertained that there was no abdominal bleeding and that I was not carrying an infection but that there was definitely something amiss. I was sent home for the weekend but instructed to return on Monday for a spectroscopy so that they could see if I did indeed have an ulcer.
I was still a little uncomfortable the next day but we had been planning a trip to the mall so we went anyway. (You really cannot miss a chance to shop can you?) After an enjoyable day out shopping I was feeling much better and put the slight abdominal pain down to a slightly too tight mini skirt.
I woke up on Sunday feeling a little unwell but ate breakfast with the family. Then it struck! I spent the next 14 hours stumbling from bed to toilet and back again. I had the runs! I hardly ate anything and eventually that meant that my stomach calmed down a little and I got some sleep. The next day I arrived at hospital for my scope. The doctor saw me and was concerned that I was so unwell. She ordered additional blood tests.
When it came to do the scope she told me that my liver function was abnormal and that I needed to watch it. I had the anesthetic and woke up a few minutes later to be told that there was some ulceration (to be expected after 5 years of anti-inflammatory use) but that it was nowhere near severe enough to explain my pain. She therefore took some tissue for a biopsy. I went home after eating my hospital provided meal.
I ate a good meal with the family and was feeling much better about life. After watching a movie with the family we went to bed. Then all hell broke loose (and I do mean loose)… again! I spent the next 24 hours on repeat: bed, toilet, bed… You get the idea.
On Wednesday morning I called the doctor. She ordered me into hospital upon arrival I was ushered into isolation and told not to touch anybody (including family). I was placed on a drip, a hepatologist was brought in and I was subjected to a battery of scans, tests and procedures.
In the meantime I had turned yellow and the whites of my eyes were a lovely shade of mustard: I had hepatitis and they needed to know what had caused it. The smart money was on Hepatitis A but then that was disproved so the doctor got very excited. He believed he had a case of Hepatitis E on his hands and he was excited (it is rather rare in our part of the world). Finally after nearly a week all the viral studies came back negative they had tested for numerous viral diseases and I had none of them. I felt bad for the doctor. It was almost as if I had let him down some how…
Not having a viral infection was good but I was still ill. The doctors consulted and decided I must have drug induced hepatitis. This was better than the alternatives which would ultimately have meant a liver transplant. I was a little annoyed as I had suspected some kind of medicine side effect type issue all along. The fact that all my infection markers (CRP, white blood cell count etc) were all well within ‘normal’ ranges and that I had none of the risk factors associated with any of the viral hepatitis diseases suggested to me (by deductive reasoning) that a drug induced hepatitis was the most plausible explanation. Anyway, who am I to deny the medical profession their fun?
But I digress… The point is that after a week in isolation I was sent to recover at home with strict instructions to take no medication other than the vitamins I had been prescribed and to rest. It seems if you stress the liver it is likely to relapse and start making you feel horrible again. So that is what I have been doing. Mostly because I have simply lacked the energy for anything other than the odd Facebook status update, but I am now feeling a lot better. Hence this post…
As an aside I was less than happy with the nursing the last time I was admitted to that hospital. I must say things improved greatly over the last few months. I happened to be in the same section of the hospital and the same nurse was in charge but she seems to have improved things and the standard of care was improved.
Finally for those interested, here is a check list of symptoms for hepatitis:
- loss of appetite
- jaundice (ie turning yellow, and yes it is as alarming as it sounds)
- dark orange urine
- clay coloured/light faeces
- abdominal discomfort (it can be anything from mild to severe)
These symptoms can arise all at once or separately and they can emerge weeks after the cause of the problem. So be aware of what your body is telling you!
I promise, future posts will be ‘happier’ and a lot less gross.