I had planned to get so much accomplished this past week. One client in particular, my partner Ed Cunningham, had also expected a lot from me in his roles as Executive Director of the Portland law firm Samuels Yoelin Kantor and President of Oregon Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators. I'm in the process of rebranding the law firm (I designed their current identity back in 1996-97) as they prepare to move downtown to the 38th floor of the U.S. Bancorp Tower and, having already created a new identity for the professional organization, ongoing branding projects were on my calendar.
However, life sometimes takes us in another direction.
Family, friends and many design industry pals are aware I just returned from a four-day hospital stay. Many have asked for additional information about how a seemingly healthy guy ended up having an emergency surgery. I figure that if Martha Stewart can blog about her lip surgery after getting head-butted by dog - complete with a slide-show of photo documentation - I can write about my experience (and spare readers any operating room images).
Last Thursday morning I felt three sharp, stabbing pains in my abdomen. They didn't stop me in my tracks, but they certainly got my attention and I was fine the rest of the day. Friday I just felt a bit "off" and thought I might have a slight fever. On Saturday, I had a stomach ache and wondered if I was coming down with the flu. Ed and I had planned on going to see "The King's Speech" that afternoon. I really didn't want to miss the film, so I took a short nap and felt much better afterwards. I didn't feel ill at all that afternoon or evening.
At about 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning I woke with sudden onset Tourette's. My stomach hurt like hell and I was swearing like a sailor. Holding my midsection, I made my way to the living room couch and tried to get myself comfortable. Again, I thought this was beginning a bad case of the flu. Drifting in and out of sleep, I'd occasionally be jolted awake by a sharp pain. I sent Ed off on and errand to get me some 7-Up at a nearby store.
By 10:00 a.m. I was rushing to the bathroom to repeatedly worship the porcelain God. I finally just positioned myself on the bathroom floor, resting my head on the rug and wrapping my arms around my gut. It was much easier than making trips in and out of the room.
With mid-day came the most excruciating pain I'd ever felt. I was on the verge of crying or hallucinating - or both. I told Ed that we had to do something and he said he'd take me to the nearby Kaiser Urgent Care facility. A room packed with hundreds of people needing medical care immediately came to mind.
Only about five people were in the waiting room when we got to the Interstate Urgent Care facility. It was probably a fairly short wait before seeing a doctor, but it seemed like an eternity to me. The pain was now steady and intense. They took my vitals, drew blood and tried to make me comfortable. The blood test results showed that I was fighting a serious infection and I was told I was to be transported by ambulance to the Sunnyside Medical Center for a CAT scan to see if I did in fact have appendicitis.
The ambulance ride was only about 15 miles across town. Every bump in the road seemed to cause pain to shoot through my body. After the attendants got me out of the vehicle, and we were nearing the hospital doors, I made a very proper entrance to the emergency room by leaning over the side of the gurney and presenting a projectile vomiting performance.
The next few hours are a bit of a blur - due to a lot of morphine. I remember I was soon getting a CAT scan, having a catheter inserted, and that our friends Lisa Francolini and Bev Wells arrived at the hospital. It was only fair they had joined Ed and I, as we spent one Thanksgiving at another hospital with them when Bev had a gall bladder removed. It wasn't until much later that I saw Ed's Droid photo (above) of the two of them next to me in a hospital bed.
Everyone always claims they will have all their legal documentation in place in case such an emergency occurs. Ed and I are no different. This being our first Kaiser experience, we did not have current advance directives in place. This morning I asked Ed when we ended up signing them on Sunday. He explained that it was done in the transition room between the emergency room and surgery, adding that he "now has complete control over everything I do."
My advice to everyone: Make sure you have your wills, advance directives and all other necessary legal documentation in place - now!
I've been told I went into surgery for a laparoscopic appendectomy about 9:00 p.m. after a very long day. I do remember being very cold, being covered with a heated blanket and the mask coming towards my face. The next thing I remember is being in my room. I'm not truly aware of the fact, but understand that Ed, Lisa and Bev were having lots of fun messing with the drugged up Jeff.
The next morning I was visited by my surgeon, who told me that my appendix was a real "bear" to deal with during the surgery. She shared that gangrene was evident in the organ and it had been dripping into my body. The surgical resident came in later to check on me and mentioned that a piece of the appendix had actually broken off during removal and had to be retrieved during the "lappy appy." Both said they were very surprised I had not been seriously ill until the day of the surgical procedure.
As mentioned previously, this was my first experience with Kaiser Hospital and I have nothing but praise for everyone with whom I came in contact - surgeons, residents, nurses, nursing students and staff. My nurses Joseph, Jan and Carrie were exceptional. Since coming home Wednesday afternoon, dealings with the advice line, and my surgeon's nurse, via phone have also been very positive experiences. Everyone helped make a very unpleasant and serious situation very bearable.
One odd thing did happen during this process. The morning after my surgery , one of the nurses asked me to confirm any drug allergies. I told her I was not to be given the antibiotic Cipro. She mentioned that my chart also showed an allergy to Levonorgestrel-ethinyl Estrad. I said I'd never heard of it. Another nurse came into the conversation and said "that's a birth control pill." As far as I know, I've never taken a birth control pill of any kind - with or without an allergic reaction. Sure enough, the allergy is listed on the red hospital wristband (above) I removed when I got home.
It's great to be home. Ed has gone above and beyond the call of duty playing nursemaid - while keeping a bit of distance as I am such a horrible sick person. I am a very impatient patient. Five days out from the surgery, and home for two days, my doctors want me to really limit activities for another five to eight days. I smiled at my surgeon when she originally told me of her imposed restrictions. She asked, "How's that going to work for you?" I told her I'd do my best.
I'm still running a slight fever, have four more days of antibiotics and take the "crazy dream"-inducing Vicodin as needed. However, last night I slept through the night and then took a three-hour nap this morning. I still don't have much of an appetite - but this has been a great "jump start" to my new year weight loss plans. Ed has everything set up for me on main level of our home - no running up and down stairs any time soon. The best thing of all - I'm just glad to be home.
Sincere thanks to family, friends and design peers literally from around the world for expressing your concerns and "get well" wishes via Twitter, Facebook, emails, direct messages, phone calls and cards. It means a great deal to me.
© 2011 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives