A few of you have been asking me where I am these days, so I'm going to keep you posted with a blog. I'll start with the first Philippines trip of 2010, and I'll be updating regularly. Life on the road is usually pretty boring - 12 hours of work plus dinner - so don't worry...you won't be reading an hourly journal.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Dreaded Stones - The Conclusion

So, a brief synopsis of the adventure since my last post.

Thursday 9AM appointment with a doctor, who gave me two choices. Have myself admitted, and get it all done quickly (like all testing complete same day), or be an outpatient and let it unfold over several days. I joined the ranks of the admitted.

Got to admitting, but…no beds. The admitting clerk subtly suggested I go to the emergency room complaining of pain and ask to be admitted there. Magic. I had my Stone Scan (CT scan) and x-rays by 2PM, the doctor reviewed them with me by 3PM and scheduled the surgery for 7AM next morning, and I was in my room by 5PM. While some of the facilities were a little old, all of the scanning equipment and procedures were first rate. My dearest friend and personal physician Fred followed the progress with me round-the-clock, and the care truly was in accordance with the most current US medical standards.

For those of you who care, there are two procedures for stones, other than waiting for them to pass. The non-invasive one has the unnecessarily long name of extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). If the stone sits high in the body, above the pelvic bone, ESWL is pretty effective in smashing it up. No such luck for me...Mine was deeply inside the bones, so they had to get it with what is euphemistically called a “basket.” Just like bringing home a quart of milk on the front of your bike, right? Not exactly. The only good news, as the surgeon advised me, is that they don’t have to make any new holes in your body (enough said).

Friday 6:30AM I was in a modern operating room and at 7AM, the doc put me to sleep to the accompaniment of “Whiter Shade of Pale.” Quiz: who sang it…no searching allowed. Woke up with my lower body completely numb from an epidural, and slept most of Friday away. 

I’ll spare you all the rest of the details (those who want to know already do or are welcome to it), but suffice it to say the Saturday and Sunday morning SUCKED. But by late morning Sunday, I was off all pain killers, and just confined to bed. Monday morning, I was detached from all medical devices, and by 3PM, I was in a cab back to the hotel.

I have to say that the care was pretty top-notch all the way. My only complaint was the amount of time it took to get assistance from the nursing staff…but they’re busy. So maybe the best decision I made this weekend was to hire a private duty nurse. It’s bloody lonely in a hospital with no friends and family nearby. My good friend and colleague Kat Flores did what she could, but I needed a lot of help and some company. Kat found a great RN named Neil (a friend of her family), and he was a godsend. I paid more than his standard rate, and by U.S. standards, it’s still almost embarrassing to tell you what I paid. Neil was with me all weekend, and made a huge difference in my life for those 3 days.

It’s now Monday afternoon. I’m back in the hotel room, and about to make arrangements to fly home tomorrow. Quite a trip...

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