Friday, 20 June 2014

Fear

There is very little that fazes me.  I've seen the worst of the worst - gunshot wounds to the head with brain oozing onto the gurney, blood spurting to the ceiling (literally), stabbings to the abdomen with loops of bleeding bowel sitting outside the abdomen, dead ruptured colons with bellies full of stool . . .

So now that I have you all thoroughly disgusted, you're probably wondering what the hell my point is.  No, it isn't to see how many keyboards/iPads/tablets/phones I can ruin by getting as many readers as possible to vomit on them.

I've been asked several times what scares me.  If all of those vile things I mentioned before don't bother me (I'll defer from describing the really disgusting stuff I've dealt with), what does?  What really gets my blood pressure up?  If a necrotic scrotum doesn't make me feel nervous (sorry, that just slipped out), what does make my anal sphincter tighten?  What does scare the hell out of me?

Well I found out the answer to that question tonight: my wife in the hospital.

Mrs. Bastard has been sick with a cold for over a week.  Coughing, body aches, congestion, the usual viral stuff.  Nothing to do, just rest and hydrate.  Well Mrs. Bastard doesn't believe in rest.  She believes in powering through whatever is ailing her, and she's continued working through this plague.  Even when her temperature was approaching 39 degrees Celcius (that's around 102 degrees Fahrenheit in case you still cling to that antiquated scale), she went to work, made dinner, did laundry, and took care of our kids while I was out on call.  She persevered, refusing to give in to whatever was trying to take her down.

But this afternoon it got acutely worse.  She started having difficulty breathing, her chest felt tight, and she was having difficulty moving air.  When I heard her say "I think I need to go to the hospital", I knew something was seriously wrong.  This woman doesn't believe in seeing doctors.  She practically needs to have a limb missing to request medical treatment, and even then she'd probably finish cooking just because she doesn't have time for missing legs.

When we got to the hospital, her heart rate was elevated, her oxygen levels were low, and she was sweating profusely even though it wasn't warm.  Blood tests showed her white blood cell count was elevated (a sign of infection), and her chest X-ray scared the bejeezus out of me.  It was so obvious that it could have been read by the woman mopping the floor - pneumonia.  Not just in one lung, but in both.  The radiologist actually said to me, "She's been walking around with this big pneumonia?  She must be really tough!  This should have knocked her sideways!"

That's right - my wife has been walking and driving around, going to work, and taking care of her family with bilateral pneumonia for the past 3 days.

I'm used to being the captain of my ship - I'm supposed to be the one in control.  I tell people what to do, and they do it.  But seeing my wife in a hospital gown, being on the opposite side of the patient-doctor relationship, having to sit idly by while some other doctor examines my wife . . . it's a feeling of utter helplessness that is difficult to explain.  I see patients with pneumonia all the time - most make it, some don't.  But when it's your own partner, the person you swore to love and cherish and take care of for the rest of her life . . . it's a completely different story.

That is what scares me.

Mrs. Bastard, if you're reading this (and there's a good change you are), please get well soon.  Please come back to me.  Please come back home.

25 comments:

  1. Damn, that sucks. I hope your wife gets well soon!

    I, too, am a person who goes about busines as usual when I have cold and slightly elevated temperature. But once it raises higher than 38.5ºC I give in and stay in bed. I've had pneumonia three times in ms life and only one had my temperature raise past 39ºC. And none of them was in both lungs. Your wife is a tough woman!

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  2. Get better soon Mrs. Wonderful!!! (Sorry doc, I can't imagine your wife being a bastard :P) I've been through pneumonia and it's no picnic. Side note: mothers are stubborn as all hell. Mine ignored kidney stones (yes plural) earlier this year and powered through what she thought was a UTI until it finally knocked her over and she relented to go to the hospital. Doctors found? The kidney stones had ruptures her ureter and caused an infection- that had become septic! She's lucky she isn't dead! Women. (I know, I know, we're impossible beasts...sorry guys that have to deal with us

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  3. Rest up and get well Mrs. Wonderful Bastard!

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  4. Aww :( I hope she gets- and feels- better soon!

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  5. "I see patients with pneumonia all the time - most make it, some don't."
    Why do you see patients with pneumonia if you're a trauma surgeon?

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    1. It's common for patients with chest injuries to get a secondary pneumonia on top. Plus it's common for patients on the ventilator to get pneumonia.

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  6. I love how much you love your wife... It gives me hope that I'll find the same... :)

    Feel better soon Mrs. Bastard.

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  7. You are the epitome of a true husband! Sending some positive vibes to you and the wife and hoping for her speedy recovery!

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  8. Mrs. Bastard, please feel better soon.

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  9. Mrs. Bastard - Kick pneumonia's ass. You know you want to kick its ass and slap it upside its head; go for it, and feel better soon. And Doc, you better let us know when there's good news.

    Dibs on "Necrotic Scrotum" for a band name if I ever learn to sing or play an instrument.

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  10. I teared up at that last part.
    It was so touching doc.
    You may call yourself DocBastard but you are far from a bastard.

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    1. Agreed! Mrs. Bastard Get better! Doc's orders! Hope you feel better soon!

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  11. Mrs Wonderful Bastard, take your meds, blow in that tube for all you're worth, and come home soon to your lonely husband, he needs you! Feel better soon.

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  12. I am an NP. I work for a pulmonologist. I've been hacking away with a cough for a month. Yesterday he forced a z-pack script on me and I still haven't taken it. Thankfully no fever or respiratory distress. Yikes! I better stop and take care of myself.

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  14. I know that feel. - from both ends. I'm the one who won't seek medical care unless I am completely destroyed- but I've also helped load my wife for out-of-town transport.

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  15. Get well soon Mrs. Bastard! Keep us updated Doc!

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  16. My mum worked for 4 days with a slipped disc and was forced to see the doctor and then hospital. It's a scary thing seeing someone you love being ill. My mum has had a questionable blood test so there is a lot of worry in our household at the moment. This post hit me.

    To Mrs. Bastard feel better soon and make sure you look after yourself!

    To Doc keep up the good work. It is clear how much you love your family and that says a LOT about who you are!

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  17. Is Mrs. Doc Bastard an RN/former RN? Because we certainly know everything, and know when we are sick and when we are in denial.

    Get better soon, Mrs. B, and next time, listen to your body!

    (I think I have never been dx with pneumonia because I refuse chest x-rays. Why? Because being a former RN, I certainly am smarter than my board-certified internal medicine doc, and I have asthma, so nothing's normal anyway! yeah!)

    :)

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  18. Yup, I had it last week. Lost a whopping 2 1/2 days of work over a 10 day period of battling with it. Mine conveniently confined itself to my right lung.
    Yes, I'm a wife and a mom. I know how she feels; "this house won't clean itself! The food shopping won't do itself!"
    Feel better soon Mrs....Doctor. With the right antibiotic and steroids on board, I was definitely feeling better in 12 hours.

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  19. Wow, what timing. It's MY first time being admitted to the hospital this weekend, and while my husband has become used to the endless litany of doctor's appointments an emergency room visit, (that only at the urging of my GP followed by a rapid and severe worsening of symptoms), and subsequent admission is something that will jar you out of complacency quite fast!

    He's not the type to "show fear". When he is afraid, he gets angry, irritable, snappy, very quiet… Everything opposite of the "loving, supportive, encouraging" bedside manner that I would desire because I'M scared too! I realize, though, that he's freaked out that he cannot fix what is going on, and normally he is such an in control guy both in and out of his profession. This here paragraph just got me right in the tender bits as I've been contemplating what it's like for HIM during this new little adventure…

    "I'm used to being the captain of my ship - I'm supposed to be the one in control. I tell people what to do, and they do it. But seeing my wife in a hospital gown, being on the opposite side of the patient-doctor relationship, having to sit idly by while some other doctor examines my wife . . . it's a feeling of utter helplessness that is difficult to explain. I see patients with pneumonia all the time - most make it, some don't. But when it's your own partner, the person you swore to love and cherish and take care of for the rest of her life . . . it's a completely different story.

    That is what scares me."

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  20. You know Doc', I read the first couple of paragraphs and I just knew you were going to say that something was up with one of your family. I can just imagine that being the one thing that would scare you.

    Wishing your good lady the speediest of recoveries. Hopefully this will be a very short scare for all of you.

    Ugi

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  21. Hope you get better real soon.

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