This page is purely for those who don’t really know the details on what has happened in my life in the last few months. For those that do, this will sound like a broken record, as it is for me telling it
In November 2008, 0ne week before my wife Hannah and I were due to fly overseas for 7 weeks of travel, and 8 weeks of hospital work in Zambia, I became ill with stomach cramps. After about 3 days of symptoms, in the absence of some bowel characteristics, and the addition of new characteristics, namely vomiting, it was pretty clear there was an obstructive picture beginning to emerge. So, we went to the hospital on a Tuesday evening/Wednesday morning and got to experience first hand the beautiful machine that is the public health system of NZ. Initial abdominal x-rays were inconclusive, showing fecal loading, but nothing to indicate an obstruction, so the running diagnosis was maybe an atypical appendicitis, and I got to experience ‘conservative management’. Two days later, still in hospital, and symptoms were yet to subside. In fact, due to the judgment of an ill informed Dr, I was given oral fleet. This stuff, if you don’t, know is the grand daddy lube of the gastrointestinal system. If there is something there, it will clear it out, and clear it out fast….. however, in the case of an obstruction…..
Needless to say, I had an abdomen like a beach ball from distention, and vomit, vomit, vomit it all back up, with some bile for good measure was pretty much the end result. At this point they were giving me IV fentanyl to control the pain. I was then re-x-rayed, which showed large dilated loops of small bowel on the supine, and air/fluid levels on the erect – classic bowel obstruction. The saying “Don’t let the sun go down on a bowel obstruction” was applied, and 2 hrs later I was in theatre, still under the premise that this must be a way atypical appendicitis.
Three hours later I woke to the news that half my colon had been removed – a right sided hemicolectomy, and that the obstruction was due to a tumour. The next few days involved a slow recovery in the hospital, and i got the histology results back the day before my birthday, day 6 post op, indicating that had an Adenocarcinoma T3, N2, M1. Almost as bad as it gets. Surgically, they couldn’t find any mets, but this obviously does not exclude microscopic mets.
So now, my final year of medicine is deferred, and I am beginning the process of 8 rounds of chemotherapy, 3 weeks per round, 24 weeks total.
Hopefully, in a years time, we get to repeat the plans we initially had, and get to Zambia, and return the favour of a hemicolectomy to someone else.