Thursday, June 24, 2010

Best Laid Plans

As most of you know our plan was to drive to Billings yesterday to be able to do laundry, get the truck clutch adjusted and do some more genealogy research. But we ended up in the Beartooth Hospital Emergency Room in Red Lodge about 8am yesterday morning instead.

After a sleepless night Richard woke me up early to tell me we needed to get to a doctor. Since he only goes to the doctor for an annual check-up I immediately knew it was serious. His stomach was distended and his pain on a scale of 1-10 was a 10+. When he was having his back problems his pain level was never more than an 8 so, again, I knew it was pretty bad.

They ran tests and determined he had a lower bowel obstruction. His intestines had pockets of air as well as fluid putting a tremendous amount of pressure in his mid belly region. They put a tube down his nose into his stomach and proceeded to pump out junk hoping to relieve the pressure, plus they gave him IV fluids to try to get his bowels working again. His pain remained at a high level even after 6 mg of morphine.

If this procedure hadn't worked he'd have been sent to Billings where they would have done surgery to relieve the obstruction.

They admitted him so they could continue giving him fluids and pump out "stuff". His pain level was down to a 5 by early afternoon so he didn't ask for any more morphine. By about 4:30 he was writhing in pain again so they gave him some more morphine. It took a total of 6 mg again to get him comfortable enough to finally be able to go to sleep. That's when the pump was finally able to do its job and as he slept things began to improve. When he awoke he was pain free - and he's been pain free ever since! All I can say is, "Thank you, Jesus for answered prayers".

They took the tube first thing this morning and started him on a liquid diet. They brought him a liquid lunch but he complained enough that they checked with his doctor who approved a soft meal. He only got a bowl of chicken noodle soup but it was better than nothing. They told him they'd bring him some ice cream in awhile, which I know will be a nice treat for him.

So it looks like he will be discharged late this afternoon if his bowels continue to work like they have been the past few hours. We will go back to the same spot we were at, south of Red Lodge, for the night and then head out first thing in the morning again for Billings (and not in an ambulance, thank the Lord!).

When it rains it pours. I spent all morning dealing with our credit card company and the VA.

Someone attempted to fraudulently use it to purchase something on the internet using Paypal. We can't figure out how that would have been possible but, after several phone calls, the result is our cards have been canceled and we are having new ones overnighted to Billings. Now the hassle of redoing all our automatic monthly bill payments, etc., etc. No fun.

The VA is a regional system so when we told them he has VA insurance they assumed he is registered with the MT office. Since he isn't his claim would have been denied. After I brought this to their attention, the hospital business office contacted the TX VA to determine his eligibility and then the MT office to register him with them.

So, we've had all the excitement we can stand for awhile and pray the rest of our travels this summer & fall will be fun, but uneventful! Thank you everyone, for your prayers and good thoughts. And thank you, Daryl, for your extremely kind offer to help. That was above & beyond.

I had to walk a over a mile to a coffee house on Broadway (Red Lodge's Main St.) so I could get an internet connection. It's a beautiful 75 degrees out so it was a lovely walk. It was good to get out of the hospital and get some fresh air.


  1. We were so glad last night to get the update that Richard's pain was gone and it looked like he was on the mend. Even better to hear things are getting back to normal today. When I had my first colonoscopy, without anesthesia, the doctor told me the colon does not stretch, so when it gets excess gas (or food) trapped in there, it really has no where to go. That's why it's so painful. Knowing how awful that colonoscopy was, I can't imagine the agony Richard must have been going through for 12 or 14 hours.

    And the credit card fraud on top of that. Oh Dianna, what a mess! I know from the experience of having my purse stolen while on vacation in Alaska how inconvenient all that is to deal with.

    Hopefully, you have had your share of difficulties, and are immune from here on out. Enjoy the rest of your summer.

  2. We are extremely glad everything has turned out ok. We were all quite worried last night.

  3. Happy he is doing well.

  4. Do they know the cause, and what's the prognosis?

    Is this likely to happen again?

    Can he do anything to prevent or lower the probability of a recurrence?

  5. The doctor said the main cause is scar tissue. When he had his back surgery they went through his stomach so there would be a small amount of scar tissue. If that is, indeed, what caused it then there probably isn't anything that will prevent it in the future.

    Since your dad had this happen to him three times I suppose the possibility is there it will occur again. If it does, hopefully he'll remember how this pain was different from heartburn or gas and will get himself to the doctor before it gets as bad as it was two days ago.

  6. I'm glad you guys have the Datastorm -- otherwise I wouldn't have any idea where you are.

    Thanks for the updates.