Well, the short answer is I have spent a lot of that time either in the Emergency Department (ED) at Austin Hospital or in the spinal unit there.
It started with several visits to ED where I was diagnosed with dehydration. Each time I was sent home without being admitted to hospital. When I started to vomit up blood, though, the alarm bells went off.
I had a duodenal ulcer. The doctor laid out the choices for me. I could have surgery which would mend the substantial hole in my duodenum. However, this surgery would be highly risky because major organs would have to be removed to get to the duodenum.
Option 2 was fast for 2 weeks and allow the duodenum to repair itself. This was the option that I chose. There was one insidious complication. I take a drug to reduce my spasms. The recommendation is that you never increase or decrease the dosage of that drug quickly. Whatever you do don’t go “cold turkey”
This drug only comes in tablet form. Since there was no time to gradually decrease the dosage I did come straight off it. The result was 2 weeks of hallucinations. When the duodenum was repaired I was brought back onto the drug too quickly. This resulted in another 2 weeks of hallucinations.
Meanwhile I had lost my ability to use my diaphragmatic pacer properly. I had another couple of weeks in hospital before it was discovered that I had Pleural effusion.
Pleural effusion occurs when too much fluid collects in the pleural space (the space between the two layers of the pleura. It is commonly known as “water on the lungs.” It is characterized by shortness of breath, chest pain, gastric discomfort.
The remedy is quite simple. A surgeon puts a needle into this pleural space and draws out the fluid. If it sounds to you like it’s a dangerous operation, then you would be right. There is every chance of puncturing the lungs. In my case, no operation was successful. The surgeon took out 2 ½ L of what looked like high quality Scotch!
I came back to Clarendon Street after 7 weeks in hospital. The image at the top of this post is a Japanese expression, roughly translated as “7 down, 8 up”. You can be knocked down 7 times, but the secret is to get up 8 times. And I did!
But wait. There’s more! What happened when I returned to Clarendon Street? Next post: “Gerard you’re full of it”