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.