Friday, October 19, 2012

Hospital Stay

Ok, I have had a rough past couple of weeks. In the beginning, I had some pretty bad abdominal pains and I visited the emergency room of the Shiekh Khalifa Medical City Hospital.

I was treated with pain medication, scheduled for an ultrasound in the morning, and sent home. The pain seemed to lessen, and I was able to function again. After the ultrasound, I was diagnosed with gallstones. The attending physician said that there were numerous stones, many of which were small enough to block the bile duct. This blockage is probably the cause of my pain.

I was given a referral for a surgeon and I was told they would contact be for an appointment. However, I wasn't able to wait. At 1:00 am I was awoken by extreme pain. I tried to take the pain medication, but I began to vomit. It continued all night, and when I couldn't take it any more I awoke my husband and told him we needed to go back to the hospital.

Since my husband has not gotten his driver's licence yet, we called an ambulance. That was a fiasco!  It took 45 minutes for the ambulance to arrive. This was because they could not find my 20 story building. If you are unaware, in the U.A.E. there are no house numbers on the buildings. When they arrived, I had to climb up into the ambulance through the side door. This was probably three feet off the ground. Once I was inside I thought, "ok, now things will get better". Wrong!  The driver took off going pretty fast. Although I do appreciate his urgency, hitting the many speed bumps at highway speed definitely did not feel good. Eventually we arrived at the emergency room.

An I.V. was put in with much difficulty as I was dehydrated. Fluids, pain meds, and anti-emetic medication was given and finally I found some relief. The doctor realized that this was going to be a continued problem, so I was admitted and a surgeon was contacted.

Now before this moment, I was thinking coming to the U.A.E. was a big mistake. The medical care here is going to kill me. Truth be told, I knew that even if I wanted to I could not fly home for medical care as I was too sick and weak to make it for the 18 hour flight.

Upon admission, my view on the medical care here in Abu Dhabi changed. I was totally impressed with the nursing staff, cleanliness of the room, and just an overall caring environment. In the U.S., I have never really felt like the majority of nurses loved their job and cared deeply for their patients. Believe me, this does exist here in the U.A.E. After meeting with the surgeon, an Italian physician, I was scheduled for gallbladder surgery the next morning.

The surgery went well and I no longer was vomiting. I stayed overnight, and then went home. Complications arose when I was awakened at 1:30 am with extreme pain and vomiting--again!

Back to the hospital I went. This time, I called my teacher friend who lives in the building. She was gracious enough to drive us to the hospital. The E.R. staff remembered me and I was quickly seen by the previous surgeon. I was sent down for a CT scan and this is where the "stuff" hit the fan!

My surgeon, Dr. Cristaldi
I now had bowel obstructions. These were caused by multiple internal hernias. One area of my small intestine was twisted and was totally deflated. The doctor said that this was probably exacerbated by the previous gallbladder surgery's use of gas to conduct the laproscopic procedure.

Dr. Cristaldi set up surgery as quickly as possible. He told me he would try to fix the defects using the laproscope, but he could not promise it could be done. I went to sleep and after six hours of surgery, I came to in the recovery room.

As it turns out, the amount of work needed to be done could not be done using the laproscope. My inscision begins just below my sternum and ends just above my pubic bone. Needless to say, this stuff hurts!  Dr.Cristaldi told me that my abdominal wall had numerous holes, "like Swiss cheese" and it took longer than expected to correct the defects. He also inserted a biological mesh to hold everything in place. Thank goodness I have health insurance!  That mesh costs almost as much as a brand new Toyota Yaris! 

Now I am on the mend. I am hurting yes, but getting better. The nursing care I received while in the hospital was the best care I have ever had. If I pressed the button, someone came quickly and with a happy attitude!  In addition, the hospital has all the new gadgetry and they are not afraid to use it. Everything here is top of the line.

To those of you out there that feel that you or your loved ones will be suffering with minimal health care when they begin their adventure out here in the desert, I want you to know there is excellent medical care here!  Of course, just like anywhere else, you may have to search a little. I have found that the Shiekh Khalifa Medical City has reached way higher than my expectations!

I will be home another two weeks before returning back to work. My principal has ensured me that my position will be held. I miss my students and my fellow teachers, but I will soon be back.

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