Sunday 22 December 2013

#51 The differential of Mr. G

So I know a guy who, a couple of months ago, goes to the doctor with a recurring stomach ache. They diagnose IBS and send him on his way, even though he has practically none of the usual symptoms. A few weeks later, the ache is still there, intensified and accompanied by nausea. The doctors run more tests and suggest appendicitis, followed by kidney stones. Not on most people's Christmas lists but these predictions were still relatively common and treatable. They were also dead wrong. 

In a deteriorating condition, the guy is kept in hospital and learns that he has a congenital birth defect, which affects a tiny percentage of the population and is further corrected after birth or during infancy in a very high percentage of those cases. He is rushed to surgery, where his appendix and four inches of his bowel are removed. He spends the following twelve hours in intense pain. It then transpires that the surgery went wrong and he suffers massive internal bleeding, requiring six units of blood and a couple more of plasma. 

Hospitalised for thirteen days, my buddy can't eat, drink or breathe by conventional means. He's hooked up to regular catheter and an epidural one, as well as a breathing machine. After a hazy week of morphine and recovery, during which he lost a stone in weight, he is released. He reports urinating blood and is told this is normal. I think even after the past couple of weeks, it probably doesn't seem normal to him. 

I sat uneasily in my seat, wondering if the table next to us were enjoying their main course, as my friend reeled off what he'd been through recently in his usual cheeky, casual style, as though he was talking about the weather, which remains remarkably mild for the time of year.

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