After being discharged, Brock and I left for home with unease. There were still no real answers as to where all of that terrible pain was coming from, or if it was really gone for good. Also, there was the added trouble of being on bed rest, and not being able to work meant not being able to save up as much money for time off. I had a really hard time letting Brock do EVERYTHING for me. I found it very frustrating. I wasn’t afraid that I was going to deliver soon, and I wasn’t hurting, so why the bed rest? The doctors put me on Procardia, which is another tocolytic and I didn’t like taking it; it made me feel loopy and queazy. So I got permission to only take it when I felt like the contractions where getting troublesome. I was also on the anti-spasmodic, that seemed to be helping.
Until around 8pm. I had another attack. It hit me just like all the other ones, a sudden on-rush of overwhelming, mind-crushing pain. I couldn’t find a position to ease the hurting, and I was crying too hard to talk to Brock about what we should do. He took control and packed the car back up with all of our hospital stuff, brought me out to the car, and we headed back in to the hospital. This time, something changed. It was a whole different experience. It felt almost as though they didn’t believe anything was wrong. This time, no pain medication. This time, we spent over 4 hours in triage before they decided to admit me. This time, I didn’t hear from a doctor until the next day.
Once I was finally admitted, I was told they wanted to do a CT scan. I don’t know which doctor ordered it, or what their indication was. I was in so much pain, I didn’t care. To my logic, if they ended up delivering the baby at 27 weeks, he would have so many chest x-rays, it would probably be equal to a CT scan, so I consented. (I found out much later that my assumption was incredibly, completely wrong.) I was brought down to radiology for an abdomen-pelvis CT. I sat in the hallway for about 20 minutes while I waited for the Tech. This, being my business, didn’t upset me. I know how things work, and what it’s like to do exams in the middle of the night. I tried to be as pleasant as I could be, despite my pain and lack of meds. Once my scan was completed, I waited another fifteen minutes for someone to come and get me. Finally, back in my room where Brock was waiting for me, I got to lay down. Most of the pain had started to pass, and I fell asleep.
The next morning, I was woken by Dr. Imseis again at 7 am. He came in to tell me that the CT was normal, and they had no idea what was wrong. “We want to do a GI consult,” he said, ” just in case it’s something like an ulcer. But if the GI doctor can’t find anything wrong, we only have two options left. Exploratory surgery, and delivering the baby. You can’t stay in this much pain for the rest of your pregnancy.”
Brock and I spent the rest of the day on edge, our minds spinning wheels of what could possibly be wrong. We imagined every single bad outcome. At one point, I broke down in tears again and said, “I wish it was just something stupid like constipation. I wish it was nothing at all.” We waited, and waited. Evidently, our GI consult wasn’t very high up on the priority list. We saw a Nurse Practitioner for the GI office that came and asked a bunch of questions, and said the doctor would be in to see us that day. He didn’t show up until 7pm, after we’d waited 12 hours to find out what the next scary step would be on this terrible journey.
The GI doctor was a thin, dark haired man with glasses that dominated his face. His Dr’s coat looked well worn, and he walked into the room with a smirk. He introduced himself, shook my hand, then Brock’s, and began a little speech.
“I took a look at your CT from last night, just to be safe. I know they told you it was negative. The funny thing is, I’m a poop doctor. And poop doctors look at different things than Radiologists do. So even though the radiologist didn’t notice anything wrong with your CT, I found something very interesting.” He paused, smirked again. “I noticed that it looked like you probably haven’t” … pause… “had a bowel movement” … pause… “in at least a month. Maybe longer.”
And then I smiled.
And then I laughed.
And then I threw my head back with a sigh of relief, and asked, “You’re serious? That’s what this is? Constipation??”
The doctor nodded, laughed, and came over to sit down and talk to me about the situation. He told me that all of the tocolytics and anti-spasmodics I was put on stopped the pain because they stopped the bowels from trying to move. He said that they were, in effect, making the problem worse. He also said that even though I felt like I was having normal bowel movements, I was probably not fully emptying my colon each time, causing a slow but inevitable back-up. He told me that at that point, my entire large bowel was full and had become impacted, as well as most of the small bowel. He also said that it wouldn’t have been much longer before I had gotten toxically sick from the over-load.
Before the doctor left, I thanked him… and then asked him why he couldn’t have asked my husband to leave the room before giving me the news. I knew I’d never live this down.
I was so thankful that the problem was something so simple. I was incredibly grateful that the solution was so easy, and (though embarrassing,) relatively quick. I spent another full day in the hospital being “de-pooped” and ended up having lost a full 10 pounds by the end. I swore my husband and family to secrecy, but really, we all know how this ends.
Every time I say something remotely unbelievable, the inevitable response is, “Oh come on, Mandy. We all know you’re full of shit.”
And just in case you don’t believe me, here is a picture of my belly at 27 weeks, and then a week later (post de-poop!) at 28 weeks.
Yes, that really is a before and after picture.