5 days after returning home from hospital, the pains returned, but this time they were much more intense, and lasted longer. I ended up in accident and emergency, and within five minutes of arriving I was being treated because of my breathing difficulties. 10 ml of intravenous morphine later I was feeling a lot better; it’s difficult to tell whether this was because of the pain relief, or the fact that I was as high as a kite. It was difficult for Jarred to tell too, because apparently my speech was an incomprehensible slurring murmur.
I was transferred back to the care of the surgeons who had removed my gall bladder, who this time were far less welcoming, and seemed to consider me a waste of time. However, having had more than enough pain and vomiting for one year crammed into a matter of days, I refused to go home without some form of medical help, and Jarred thankfully backed me up on this because it gave him a few days where he could leave the toilet seat up without being nagged.
First of all, I had a chest x-ray. Being a somewhat busty woman, this was actually quite difficult, because when I was told to press my chest against the flat surface of the x-ray machine, my stomach couldn’t touch the surface, and perhaps this is why the x-ray showed nothing.
Next, they tried a CT scan, which is like being passed through the hole in the centre of a large polo mint. I was quite happy to watch the cameras spinning around me; it was strangely hypnotic. They took one scan without any dye injected, and then another with the dye which would highlight my blood vessels to spot any problems occurring in the cardiovascular system. The only thing wrong with this dye is, because of its ability to produce a sensation of warmth in the thighs, it quite honestly felt like I had wet myself. Apparently this sensation is perfectly normal, I was assured by the radiographer, and I was relieved to find that I hadn’t wet myself at all.
The CT scan showed nothing, so then I had to have an MRI scan. Of all the tests I had had, this was the one that made me feel deeply uncomfortable. My face was less than a foot away from the white roof of the tunnel, and I imagine that for anyone with full-blown claustrophobia it is a daunting experience. I managed to keep calm, although I couldn’t help being annoyed that the grey stripe painted along the roof of the tunnel was off-centre and wonky.
The night after having the MRI scan, a registrar came to visit me while my parents and Jarred were there. He told us that he had seen nothing on the scan, despite him not having the special training on interpreting MRI scan results, and when I pointed out where the pains were the most intense, he told me that it wasn’t the liver that was hurting, despite the fact that the liver spans the abdomen just below the diaphragm, which was where I was pointing. My mum, who is a nutritionist herself, looked like she wanted to rugby tackle the registrar to the ground, and both my dad and Jarred who have no medical background at all knew where the liver was. The registrar tried to discharge me, but I refused until the pains had been dealt with properly. Little did I realise at the time that my stubbornness would prove to be such a wise decision.