Monday, 20 January 2014

Hopefully, last words on my hospitalisation

Just for the record, I was asking my wife what exactly happened on that fateful evening of 28 Dec 2013 when I was stricken at home. The time was around 11.30p.m. I had already gone to the toilet three times to pass out watery stools laden with a lot of blood. The whole toilet bowl had been bloodied each time and I was feeling very faint and giddy.

My wife had called me out to the computer to seek my input on answering an email. I just sat there next to her and slowly, my head started leaning forwards. She asked me what was wrong and I told her that I felt faint and needed to lie down. So I slowly moved to the bed. She noticed that my face and lips were very pale.

A few minutes later, she came into the room and asked me to go wash up. I told her that I couldn't move properly as I had lost a lot of blood. She tried propping me up and I slid down onto the floor. My rectal muscles started relaxing and some bloodied stools passed out again. I think that I did black out momentarily and the next moment, my wife was bending over me and calling out to me to wake up. According to her, my eyes opened and I was looking blankly into her. That much, I remember. She was looking into my face and tapping me on the cheeks, asking me to wake up.

Of course, I couldn't get up. I told her that I needed to lie on the floor to clear my head and in the meantime, she had rushed downstairs and called my neighbour, Henrizohn Cheok, for assistance. He came running over, saw me on the floor and told my wife to call for an ambulance immediately.

So that was what had happened during that critical night. Strangely enough, when I was supposed to have blacked out momentarily, I seemed to go into a dream-like state. I felt very calm and I clearly recollect that some long dream sequences were going through my head. I was moving in and moving out of several scenes. Unfortunately, I cannot remember now what I was dreaming about but there was nothing fearsome about my dream. I felt so ordinarily calm during those few seconds.

Diagnosed as diverticulosis and what happened next: click here.

I was discharged from the Lohguanlye Specialists Hospital on New Year's Day. The surgeon had given me the "all clear" sign. My wife and son came, and we even went to nearby Rangoon Road for lunch. But definitely, I still felt very weak. My haemoglobin level on being discharged from the hospital was still hovering above the 10-plus mark.

At home, I was moving about gingerly and even had time to water the plants and receive some visitors. A very uneventful evening had come and gone.

The next morning (on 2 Jan 2014) at about 5a.m., I felt the urge to pass motion again, twice. Unsurprisingly to me, there was still a lot of fresh blood among my stools. I called out to my wife and decided that I wanted to be readmitted to the hospital. Luckily, my son had stayed back for the night and he could move me immediately to the hospital at about six o'clock.

Immediately on arrival, I was wheeled into the emergency ward and the medical officer and the nurses swung into action. I remember no pain as they extracted blood from my arm or when they attached the peripheral cannulae into my veins on both arms. Soon afterwards, I was wheeled into the High Dependency Unit (HDU) of the hospital. As the HDU shares the same ward as other patients who were in Critical Care (CCU) and Intensive Care (ICU), this is an indication of how serious my condition had become.

Sodium lactate compound was dripped constantly into the right arm from a bag hanging above my head. An oxygen tube led into my nostrils and an oxymeter was attached to one of my fingers in order to measure the amount of oxygen in my blood. All sorts of suckers were attached to my chest as my heartbeat was also being monitored constantly with an ECG machine. A blood pressure cuff was placed on my upper left arm to take readings automatically every 30 minutes, even through the night. I don't know how many bags of nutrients were fed into me through the intravenous drip but I remember that there were two bags of blood as well.

By nightfall, I was considered alert enough for the oxygen tubes to be removed and I could breathe freely. In the morning, I was well enough for the nurses to allow me to walk to the sink and freshen myself. By the afternoon, I was wheeled out from the HDU and into my own private room on Level 3A of the hospital's old wing. A third bag of blood followed as my haemoglobin level was still considered low. And that was where I remained until my discharge on 13 Jan 2014.

For some of my thoughts during the first few days after my re-admission to the hospital, click here.

And here is what I wrote about being poked, probed and pricked. It was at this time too, on 7 Jan 2014, when I decided that I should perhaps seek a second opinion about my condition as amidst going to the toilet, I had noticed that there were still some blood among the little amount of stools I was passing out. 

The new surgeon decided that there was no necessity for me to undergo any surgery. Instead, he ordered that I be given some fresh frozen plasma and cryoprecipitate on the next day in order to help stem the blood leaks. These were administered to me through the intravenous drip in the afternoon. Let me say that there was some tense moments during the process. First of all, during the hour or so, my body temperature and blood pressure were being monitored every 10 minutes. While my blood pressure remained quite normal, my body temperature rose slightly above 37 Celcius. All in, two small bags of cryoprecipitates and another two small bags of fresh plasma were given to me.

And the day finally came, on 9 Jan 2014, when I was taken off the drip. I was allowed a soft diet but more importantly, I valued the freedom to move about without thinking about the drip again. Nevertheless, I was still feeling rather guarded about my stools every time I had to go to the toilet. It didn't improve my pride much when the surgeon came every morning to poke his finger into my you-know-where. But finally on 11 Jan 2014, he gave the welcomed prognostication that there was no more blood in my rectum. I could have been discharged on the next day itself but instead, I asked to remain until Monday just to ensure that my condition was really well enough.

All in, except for that brief time on 1 Jan 2014 that I was at home, I had spent 14 days at the hospital, and I sincerely hope that this will be the first and last time I do so.  My two in-patient bills added up to slightly more than RM17,000 and this amount still does not include the post-hospitalisation reviews as an out-patient. There will still be a few hundred ringgit to pay. I went for a first review on the 16th of this month and will have a second and final review on the 27th.

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