When I went to bed last night, I had so many ideas about what I would do today before the conference started this afternoon. I had picked out the cutest cafe for brunch, was going to do a bit of wandering around the trendy area of downtown for some sightseeing and shopping, and had planned on stopping at a cafe to write my slice while sipping on a chai tea latte. What I wasn’t planning on was a trip to the emergency room.
After a rough night’s sleep, I awoke to severe pain in my back and right side near my ribs. Anything other than remaining completely still and breathing shallowly would trigger a sharp pain. Having a cold which requires sniffling and nose blowing made it so much worse. I tried a few things to make it better, such as stretching, taking Tylenol (twice the recommended dose), and wearing my back brace, but it only got worse. When I asked my friend Wayne, who lives here in Adelaide, about where I could see a doctor on a Saturday morning, he suggested I try a telehealth doctor appointment.
The doctor, after listening to my symptoms, urged me to go to the emergency room, as she started listing all the things it could be, many of which led to death. Needless to say, I panicked. Here I am in a foreign country by myself and I have to go to the hospital. After getting off the phone with her, I called Frances. Once she answered, I was hysterically crying, unable to catch my breath or speak. I managed to tell her what was happening, and she helped me figure out what to do.
Having been in hospitals in many different countries, I appreciated that I was in an English-speaking country this time. It made it so much easier to tell them what was going on with me and for me to understand them. I’m very grateful to have had some very caring nurses and doctors who listened and showed empathy. My favorite nurse called me “sweet,” short for sweetheart.
After my traumatizing ordeal of getting my blood drawn (four attempts and many painful pricks resulting in a needle in my wrist), I endured many tests. The worst one was the angiogram, where they injected me with dye through the needle in my wrist. I felt the pressure of the dye as it flowed through my body, producing a warm sensation everywhere. The machine whirled around me as I had to hold my breath. The second test was an ECG (or EKG in the states). Those, in addition to the doctor exam and blood and urine sample tests, completed my analysis.
As I waited for the results, shivering from the cold and trying to stay as still as possible so that I wouldn’t cause any more pain in my back or wrist, I updated my mom and friends via WhatsApp. As much as I hated going through this alone, I know they hated it too. I didn’t want to worry them too much.
The doctor finally came in with the results. Everything was normal. They ruled out fractured ribs, lung issues like blood clots or pneumonia, and a heart condition. All my internal organs are healthy and in good shape. My blood work and urine analysis were both all good too. He gave me a prescription for pain medication, recommended that I use a heating pad and get some rest, and said I could leave. I’m glad they didn’t find anything major but super frustrated that they can’t find out what it is.
The rest of the day’s been exhausting. On top of the constant, acute pain, I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster, crying off and on. I ate my first meal of the day in the hotel restaurant around 5:00pm and took the pain killers, but they made me extremely loopy and I felt like I was drunk or on drugs. I was very dizzy and lightheaded, so I asked the hotel staff to help me to my room, where I am now. I keep dozing off as I write this slice, so I’m gonna go to bed now. I sure do hope I wake up as a very different person tomorrow.
This is a hard post to read! While I’m glad none of the results came back with anything serious, I feel your frustration and also your fear. Please keep us updated that you’re okay. Sending healing vibes across continents!
Thanks Melanie! I’m not 100% yet, but I’m much better today. I appreciate the message.
I am so sorry you have to go through this – a seriously scary experience all on your own. I am glad you are in an English-speaking country. Something similar happened to me in Italy once but I was with my husband. It sounds as though you aren’t back to normal. I really hope the pain subsides. You wrote about the experience to make me feel I was there – great writing in spite of all this pain an uncertainty.
Thanks Andrea. I’m not yet back to normal but I’m not as bad today. While I was waiting for the dr, I made a few notes of details so I could write about it later.
oh my gosh … I’m sorry that you went through all that. I hope today is a better day, and that things get better for you.
Thanks Kevin! Today was a much better day!
Oh, nooooooo! So sorry you are in pain. Three teachers from our school and a friend who used to work at the school are in town for the same conference. If you need anything I can email them and they would help. Hope you manage a good sleep tonight and feel much better in the morning.
Thanks Erika. I appreciate the offer. I’ve had lots of support from the hotel staff and my friends in Adelaide. I’ll definitely let you know if I need anything though. Today was a better day.
Oh, I hated reading this. I’m so sorry that you’re going through all of this, and while I’m glad the scary answers were ruled out, I wish you’d gotten some answers. I hope the pain has faded and that you’re feeling better. Sending warm. healing thoughts your way!
Thank you so much! I really appreciate your kindness. 💜
Oh wow! I’m so sorry you have to be going through all of this. I too wish that you wake up feeling better and that it’s a fresh new day.
Thanks so much Jessica! 💜
I’m so sorry this is happening to you. I hope that pain passes. I’m wondering: Have you had your gallbladder removed? The pain you described is like gallbladder pain I endured for a couple years. Like you, I went to the emergency room and had a bunch of tests the came back negative. If you have not had your gallbladder removed or checked, I urge you to do so. Good luck.
Thanks Glenda! When I saw your comment, I realized I forgot that detail. The dr said my gallbladder and kidneys were ok. In fact, all internal organs were good. I plan on getting more tests done when I go back home to Korea.
I’d still get an ultrasound on that gallbladder.
Thanks Glenda…I will back in Korea.
Sending healing your way.
A terrifying story-! I was so sure they were going to tell you it’s pneumonia or pleurisy. At any rate, prayers that the treatment works and that healing is on the way. I cannot even imagine enduring all this in a hospital in another country, and celebrate alongside you that at least the language is English!
Thanks Fran! I feel better today. I appreciate your prayers.
So glad to know you are feeling better!
Hope you did wake up feeling much more like yourself. What a harrowing night.
Thanks Susan…today was better than yesterday.
I’m so sorry to read this; I cannot imagine how scary this is in a foreign country. Keep following up with the doctors. I hope you get relief and answers soon.
Thank you! I plan on getting a check up in Korea. I need to get some answers.
I so hope your pain goes away. How challenging to be on your own, in another country dealing with this all. I am thinking of you and hoping for the very best. Take care.
I really appreciate your message. Thank you! 💜
It’s a testimony to your writing ability that you wrote this so well under all these horrible circumstances. Like all your readers, I sure hope tomorrow is so much better. I have to say, I think they first post I ever read of yours was about your motorcycle accident in Bangkok. That was a bad day as well. Wishing you healing.
Thanks Fran…glad it turned out. I wrote it on my phone while laying in bed and I kept falling asleep. I do feel better today. Hope I can get back to normal soon. I do remember that…I’m pretty sure that was a worse day!!
Sending you healing thoughts! I’m hoping that today will be a better day and you can make it to that café to write tomorrow’s slice.
Thanks so much! I haven’t made it there yet, but hopefully I will Tuesday before I leave.
Oh no, I hope you are feeling better by now. I hope that the problem gets sorted or diagnosed quickly.
Thanks Celia! Feeling better today. I hope I can figure out what’s going on soon.
Oh, how awful! I’m so happy they eliminated all the things that could end in death, but the constant acute pain is horrible all on its own. You spend altogether too much time visiting hospitals in foreign countries! I’m glad you at least were in an English speaking country this time. I’m catching up on your blog and reading backwards, so I know that you started improving. I hope that continues and you are able to have fun at your conference.
I definitely end up in too many hospitals…and why is it always in March?!? 🙈 They took really good care of me so I was very lucky!
It gives you something exciting to slice about? A few years ago, my dad ended up in intensive care in Ireland while traveling. He also got excellent care. No one wants to think about being sick or injured while away from home, but it is nice to know that there is good care and good doctors and nurses all around the world!
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