This Can’t be Normal

So it happens to everyone. . . but can this be normal? I was worrying on my side of the globe, but the little information I had didn’t paint the entire picture.

In mid-May I had a very anxious night. I was unsettled and could not put my finger on the reason. That night I began tearing up the dining room carpet to see what was underneath. People who know me know that when I am anxious I tackle big projects that may or may not have any purpose. Did I want to tear up the carpet? Eventually, maybe to refinish a wood floor or put down new carpet. Did I really want to tear out my carpet right now? Probably not, but something inside me kept tearing at the edges and pulling it back a little more. After discovering an acceptable wood floor, I stopped and folded laundry before going to bed. The carpet did come up in the summer of 2007 and we laid a laminate floor instead of refinishing the existing one.

Day 1
Early the next morning I checked my email. I learned that my husband had been admitted to the theater hospital for stomach pain. He was given fluids, antibiotics, and pain medication. The doctors suspected a bacterial infection, but scheduled a colonoscopy to check things out. WHAT?? My husband was in the hospital and I couldn’t be there? That about drove me nuts!

Day 2
The next day test results were positive for salmonella in his system, most likely due to improperly cooked food. He was given a GI cocktail to flush out his system, 1000 mg Tylenol, and a mixture of high-powered antibiotics to kill the salmonella bacteria.

Day 3
Sean was struggling with pain and nausea, so he was sedated for most of 24 hours. The nurse said since his infection was severe it would likely take a while for him to start feeling better. Diarrhea, pain, cramping, and dizziness continued.

Day 5
On the fifth day in the hospital the doctor suspected that Sean’s gall bladder was infected from the salmonella poisoning. He ordered a CT scan to see if it should be removed.

Day 6
Sean was taking medication for nausea every four hours until it was under control. The Tylenol was taking care of the pain, so the doctor decided to send him back to his quarters and back to work the following day. He was told if he had pain or symptoms got worse during the next five days he was to return to the hospital. In five days he dropped from 200 to 175 pounds.

It was frustrating for Sean to go back and forth with no clear-cut decisions. 1st there will be a colonoscopy. 2nd there will not be a colonoscopy. 3rd there will be a colonoscopy and an endoscopy. 4th no scopes. 5th you will have a CT scan. 6th no scan is necessary. You are fit for normal duty, come back if you have any more problems.

Two days after his release from the hospital Sean was doing his PT on the track (couldn’t run or jog, only walk) when he encountered the surgeon from the hospital. Sean described his continuing pain, nausea, and diarrhea. He told Sean to come in to the hospital the next morning for a CT scan and a consult with an infectious disease doctor.

Sean returned to the hospital and met with the trauma surgeon. He ordered lab work and a CT scan. Blood work and CT scan were normal, his organs were all healthy. Sean met with the surgeon, infectious disease doctor, and gastroenterologist. They changed some of his medications which helped with the nausea and vomiting some, though the pain persisted. Of course, he was ordered back to normal shifts right out of the hospital with no time to recover or sleep.

For the next month Sean went to sick call, and worked normal shifts in between bouts of diarrhea and vomiting. He grew weaker and weaker, unable to sleep due to abdominal pain. Finally, in mid-June his commander took him to the doctor and insisted that something be done. The doctor said they could do nothing more for him at Anaconda, so they would send him to Germany for an evaluation and then home to the states.

Sean was tired, sick, and broken, but still he asked his commander, “Can’t I come back to finish my duty after I’m treated?” That’s dedication to duty.

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