A Day in the ER

Last week I spent time in the ER.

It sucked.

For the past several weeks, my belly and back have hurt. Each day was worse than the day before. It was an increasing ache that left me crumpled crying on my hotel bed after my sister’s wedding reception and I had called it a night. I had grown a beer belly in a mater of days. My panties didn’t fit due to my new figure. Because of this, I couldn’t get up out of a chair or bed. I felt super beautiful.

My oncologist thought I was constipated. Separate issue. I feel I’m sharing too much.

So, I showed up to my office visit and let the tears flow as I shared I wasn’t feeling well. She finally believed I was filling up with fluid. She pulled my treatment because she thought the cancer was spreading. I disagree and don’t have enough information to make an informed decision.

She would try to schedule a PET followed by a paracentesis as soon as possible. The next morning, I checked and was shocked to see the PET was nine days away. I couldn’t wait that long. The pain was intense now! I called the triage line to see if I could someone get things moving. Was it feasible to go to the ER and get it done there? Yes, it was.

Off I went.

I was quickly roomed thanks to a childhood friend who still lived in the area and recognized my name. That was the only thing that happened quickly. The ER is slow. It is loud with undecipherable noise. Two black men lay unconscious on gurneys outside the individual rooms. I spied one patient in a room bandaged from head to toe. Kind of seemed like I was well off compared to these patients.

My ER doctor came in and scolded me with the reminder that the ER is used for emergent needs and not therapeutic needs. She’s right. I wasn’t getting my therapeutic needs met in a timely manner. I was even told by triage to go there. In my mind, my therapeutic needs had turned emergent. In the future, I will try to go through proper channels of radiology to meet my needs.

About two hours later my paracentesis was underway. A quick ultrasound was done to find the pocket that was most open to drain liquid. A needle headed with lidocaine was inserted into my lower left side abdomen. Then a larger needle with a tube was attached and the sucking started to remove the ascites build-up.

I told you it sucked. Cancer always does.

3.65 L of a yellow fluid later I was done. My stomach was flatter. I felt better. I went home after another two hour wait. Plenty tired, I rested. By evening, I was feeling glum. Why do I need to be served everything on the cancer smorgasbord? When will this happen again? What does it mean from a cancer perspective?

I wish I could find an easier way.

Author: Kristie Konsoer

I've been living well with metastatic breast cancer since 2012. This blog is a place where I can share thoughts and ideas on cancer, how I feel perceptions of cancer must change, and how I am finding a way to live with strength, hope, meaning, resiliency, humor, and hopefully a little wisdom.

19 thoughts on “A Day in the ER”

  1. Kristie as you know I have had my full share of drains of ascites as well as lymph fluid from destroyed delicate nodes from radiation. The fact of course is never scold the patient for having been too patient to the point of agony. If we are listened to this kind of problem doesn’t become acute forcing us into the ER. What do they think we WANT to spend more time taking away from the snooze button of this disease and living it rather than really not enjoying our time in the ER. The constipation should ease up with some colasce. I was always sensitive to any mirilax because the bulk can actually clump inside the intestines causing more trouble and distress but if it does work for you drink up.

    I hope you’re doing better. Me well a bit but may be taking my own ride to the ER tomorrow to get some IV nutrition and move my pet scan and iv chemo up from
    A month from now as well as change oncologists. If we can’t know what’s going on in our bodies everything breaks down – including emotional pain. Keep standing up for your health and take no shit off ER personnel or physicians who aren’t living in your body. If you feel you need another get your oncologist to schedule you an appointment with interventional radiology asap. It can always be canceled but you can’t always get one when you need one.

    And I love your humor – still it’s up to us to keep on smiling through the pain…laughing in the pain. You gotta keep on smiling. I love you. Never forget I’m a grilled cheese and a phone call away when I get this crap straight here on the west coast my dear friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. No one should be scolded for getting the treatment they need when they need it. When an ER doc did the same to me about going to the ER for what I thought was a UTI, I asked her if she’d ever lived with terminal cancer eating up her bones and insides. Until others have felt what we feel, they should keep their mouths shut. So very sorry for your awful experience but glad you are more comfortable.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey, I’m pretty sure you were my 3rd grade teacher. Not sure why you popped up on my Twitter (I mostly just follow Wisconsin sports stuff) but when I saw what you’re going through I wanted to say hello and tell you a little about the effect you have on people.

    I remember reading Racso and the Rats of Nimh and learning that there was value in being smart but weird. I remember how unfailingly kind you were and I’ve tried to emulate that and pass it to my son. Most of all I remember how invested you seemed in us.

    There was one time when you asked us about how we behaved one day when we had had a substitute teacher. The understanding was that perfect behavior would have resulted in a party for the class. We told you we weren’t perfect – pretty good – but not quite party worthy. You teared up in pride at our honesty and gave us the party. It might not sound like a big deal but I still think about it a lot of years later. I don’t remember the party at all, I remember how much you cared.

    I hope you find strength in your trial, because the world needs you healthy. You change it for the better; you changed me for the better.

    I wish you weren’t going through this. Let me know if there’s any way I can help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am touched by your sincerity and comments. What you’ve written is a great gift and I take your words to heart. Those Endeavor years were wonderful. I’m glad Racso had such an effect on you. Books are excellent teachers. Kindness has always been important to me. Our world needs more of that. Right now, my only request is to know who you are. Harrison? You can message me privately if needed. Thank you for lifting my spirits on a day I needed them lifted.


  4. Hi Kristie,

    It’s completely unacceptable to be scolded for seeking treatment and relief when you are suffering. Good grief. That should be reported. If you feel up to doing that, of course.

    I hope you’re feeling lots better and have a much better week. Thank you for sharing about all this. So sorry you had to go through all that. And yes, cancer sucks. Totally.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Kristie, Tom & I are so sorry to hear of your pain and unacceptable treatment in the ER. That should never happen!
    We are glad to hear you are better and have a plan to meet with an interventional radiologist. We have never heard of a doctor with that title. BUT if that keeps you out of the ER and a quicker procedure it will all be worth it. WE wish you the very best. You are an amazing writer and an amazing person!! Sandi & Tom


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