With my heartbeat restored to normal rhythm by those wonderful people at the Austin Emergency Department, life was sweet again.
Then on the evening of my third day back on BigD, about an hour into the run: crippling stomach pains. What the hell is this? Over the last few weeks, I’d had a niggling stomach ache, which I had attributed to a series of hotter than usual curries from my lunch shop. As you do.
I’ve been losing weight lately, so I’ve taken to having a hot meal at lunchtime to try and beef up a little. I go to the same place most days, called ThreeAteThreee (‘cos it’s at 383 Camberwell Road, of course). It’s owned by a Chinese couple called Rick and Too-Shy-to-Say. Rick is a great cook. He makes a main meal every day: one day chicken, the next day beef. Usually, it is a curry from somewhere in Asia (soo many curries!). Occasionally he lets his head go and makes European dishes. It’s always a surprise, and good value: Around $10 for the meal, plus coffee. Each lunchtime I walk there, have my meal, read my book, drink my flat white and walk back to work.
Sweet. I may even be gaining weight.
But as I say, recently I’ve had stomach niggles. Being an expert at self-diagnosis, I blamed Rick’s curries. I made a mental note to test my theory with something bland, like meatloaf focaccia for lunch. Then when the time came, the aroma of the main meal in the bain-marie would start my mouth watering and I’d put off bland until tomorrow.
So I felt I had only myself to blame when the serious cramps arrived later that day on BigD.
They were so bad that, unbelievably, I decided I needed to go back to the ED for another opinion. I rang Julie and told her my news. Being the wonderful, unflappable person she is, she dropped everything, picked me up and back to the ED we went.
It was another busy night at ED. People were lined up to get to the line-up. No empty chairs, just a roomful of sore and sorry people with varying degrees of pain and pestilence. As usual, Hearts go first. Pains in the stomach can wait. Fair enough. I’ve been in the fast queue before and don’t want to be in it again. So we waited.
So I sat there with Julie and my wild imaginings. As the waves of pain washed through my stomach, I saw a masked doctor with a scalpel slicing through my bloated belly, a squirt of blood, a burst of foetid air, and me smiling in relief. Thanks Doc, strong pain needs a strong remedy…
About four hours later, the door opened and someone called my name. We were led to a cubicle and I laid on a trolley bed. The team went into action. Questions, measurements, a little poking and prodding. The general consensus was: most likely diverticulitis (sadly a very common condition for people over 50, where abnormal pouches form in the bowel wall and become inflamed or infected). To be certain, they ordered a Cat scan (a fast, painless and very accurate x-ray scan).
By now it was 3am and I convinced Julie that a Cat scan would take hours and she should go home. Of course, no sooner had she left than I was wheeled to the scanner. Five minutes later I was wheeled back to my cubicle.
Then the ED doctor arrived and confirmed that it was early stage diverticulitis with no complications. So what’s the cure? Should I be fasting? Will I need a full body shave? No, no, it’s not severe and should clear up in a few days with antibiotics.
Wow. Such relief. I still had the pain and misery, but knowing my enemy quashed my fear and wild imaginings. All would be well.
I called Julie, waking her five minutes after she got to sleep and she came to collect me. Again. And I mean again. Over the years, there have been collections beyond count. (Warm Glow.)
Half an hour later, pleased and relieved, we heading home. I was still unwell with stomach pains and was very tired for a couple of days until the antibiotics kicked in. But the pains gradually faded and my energy levels rose.
It took two weeks to clear, but now, I write this blog a hale and healthy BigD-er looking forward to my next curry lunch.