Twas the night after holloween and off to the hospital

The 31st of October, holloween, I was putting the final touches in preparation for my first commercial spec spot co-directing.  I had a great time with my boy walking around the block showing off his costume but thinking about the next day and if everything had been taken care of.  We really went for it on this one using the red camera, getting the most beautiful glass for it, electric car with jib arm….the whole nine yards.  Just as I was finally closing everything up at around 11 pm and getting into bed, I had this sharp pain in my chest.  Didn’t think anything of it, I hadn’t eaten much that day and was pretty stressed in anticipation of the shoot.
Was woken up at 2 am by an extreme pain in my abdomen.  Damn, I thought, I couldn’t be that hungry.  So I got up and went to the kitchen to get a quick snack of apple slices and juice.  Sat down to eat and immediately became dizzy with hot flashes, sweat, feelings of vomiting and intestinal pain.  So as to not wake up my family, I went downstairs to use the bathroom.  I almost slipped and fell but made it down.  Could not go or throw up, walked out of the bathroom and immediately passed out the floor.  Just before I could do that I called out for my wife.  She heard the crash and came down to help.  I quickly regained consciousness and made it back upstairs into bed.  For about 45 minutes, I tried to calm myself down.  I thought that I was having an anxiety attack and that the stress of the upcoming shoot had gotten to me.  I’ve never had an anxiety attack, I thought that maybe this is what one would be.  When I couldn’t take the pain anymore, about 4 am (2 hours before I was due to leave for the shoot), my wife called 911 and off in the ambulance I went to the er at the local hospital.
The pain was so bad, it was beyond a 10.  I arrived at the hospital and immediately through up about 16 oz of bile.  It just kept on coming out.  Nothing I could to stop it.  I finally settled down and got into the bed with the gown on, people asking me 101 question and writhing in pain on the bed everyone looking like figures through a frosted window.  All I could do was to say that it hurt and point to my stomach.  Then they started touching it.  Oh the pain.  Got the iv in and started giving me morphine.  I was finally able to straighten my body after the 3rd injection into the iv.  At that point the pain level was a 7.  It was about 5:30 and my wife showed up with our boy to check on things.  She took over and I just passed out and don’t remember much except that I was checking the clock to call Pablo (my co-director) to tell him the news.  We had to leave to location from his place at 6:30 am.  About 5:45, my wife called him and told him the news.  He’s a great guy and rolled with it.  I found out shortly after that by the er people that it was not an anxiety attack or stress related.  They had taken blood and suspected something in my abdomen.  An ultrasound tech came and took a bunch of images about an hour later.  She couldn’t tell me anything because she was not authorized to divulge any information but immediately stuck her finger into my gut right where my pancreas was located and asked me if it hurt.  I let our a scream and said, yes.  Soon the blood work came back with elevated white blood cell count and pancreas enzymes.
I was finally admitted about 5 hours after arrival into the gastro-intestinal ward.  More blood was taken.  More drugs were administered.  I went for xrays, ct scans and mris.  They knew that it was pancreatitis but did not know the cause.  The general causes are alcohol abuse ( I mean extreme abuse) or passing a stone from the gall bladder.  They didn’t see any stones and I do not really drink.  They were puzzled and took a bunch of blood and gave me a bunch of meds.  Kept on taking meds.  My stomach became completely bloated and hard as a rock.  All the time, I was thinking of the shoot.  That night, I called Pablo and it had been stormy, raining and snowing at the shoot location.  Pretty miserable weather.  That was the one call I had energy for.
So, I’m in the hospital for 3 days taking the next up from morphine and waiting for my enzymes to get back to normal.  I was treated by an internal medicine doctor.  This is key for the rest of the story.
At 10 pm on Monday night, the doctor discharged me.  I was feeling great, just had the latest dose on my pain meds and glad to be sleeping at home surprising my boy in the morning.  The logic for going home was this:  1.  The enzymes were normal and 2. No abdominal blockage.  I had about 8 meds to take including vicadin which is a more mellow version of pain killer compared to what I had taken the past 3 days.
By the morning the adrenaline had worn off and the pain returned in full force.  For about 10 hours, I tried to cope but couldn’t.  My wife drove me back to the er to see if I could be re-admitted.  For about 10 hours, I waited in the er (on a very uncomfortable bed) and finally was admitted.
Something very different happened this time, I was referred to a gastro-intestinal specialist.  They took one more mri but with contrast and some more blood work.  Determined that the pancreas was not healed and that my pain was a combination of pressure in my intestines not relieved and the inflammation of my pancreas.  Perfect, finally figured that out.  So the course was set and on we went.  There was no signs of bowl movements in 2 parts of my abdomen.  Meds were delivered to address that issue.
Last night, Wednesday at approximately 5 pm, I began to fart.  Little ones at first.  They hurt as each time I farted my whole abdomen literal shook.  Well, that’s what it felt like.  Over the next 3 hours or so, the farts became longer and the pain decreased.  I was waiting for the pain to come back.  It did not.  As the time grew near for my next injection, I did not have the same need for that meds.  I was relieved and felt that I could live with what pain I did have.  Ohh, during this whole process, I’ve been running a fever between 100 and 101.  I was afraid that I would become addicted to the meds so I did not want more for such little pain.  But nurse insisted on vicadin (a lessor narcotic) and I was ok with that.  I attacked the fever and relieve the discomfort.  I was able to at, one point sleep for  4 hours straight last night.  Woke up shivering in a bed that was soaked from head to foot.
This morning, I watched the sun come up.  First, it was a little glow in the corner of the window.  Then becoming brighter and brighter as it rose higher in the sky.  It then raked across the hills of Northern Glendale (Las Padres forest).  It was a beautiful sight.  I was able to sit in a chair without pain and watch it.  For a brief moment, a sliver of the sun washed over the area that I was sitting.  It felt good to feel the sun on my face.  It was an emotional moment for me to finally be at a turning point.  My wife brought my computer to me with some clothes.  I took a shower and got dressed in some clothes, bedding changed and ice cubes to chew on.  Life is good.  As I am typing this, the nurse came in to bring me some stool softener and laxatives to get me to have a bm.  Can’t wait for that to happen.  I also had 4 juice cups on apple juice and cranberry juice.  One cup of jello.  She told me that if I had no problem eating these items, I could have a liquid lunch.  If I do ok with that, I get a soft dinner and then hopefully released tomorrow night.
I am excited at this prospect.
It’s amazing how, in one, week my life could change so much.  I am a healthy 40 years old.  I’m not fat or even overweight.  I swim 3 days a week and take care of myself.  What I didn’t realize was that although I have been taking these measures, my body has been continuously working without stopping for 40 years.  I’ve always looked young for my age and most people are surprised to find out my age.  I think I keep a young attitude about myself.  But I also think some niavite has been washed away with this experience.  It’s like being a teenager, know some things but also knowing that change in occurring but not knowing what it is.  I think I understand now that my body is changing.  I’m not just an adult, I’m an older adult and that I need to be careful without loosing my youth.  That taking care of myself is one of the most important things I can do for the rest of my life.  I want to be forever young but in reality it, youth is relative and age is inevitable.
So here is the next chapter of my life.


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