So, I awoke a few mornings ago at 2am. Why? Because someone had shoved a hot poker into my upper abdomen. Or so I thought. I have rarely been in so much constant pain. After 2 hours of unrelenting fire, I elected to go to the Emergency Department. Yes. I did.
[aside: I have a few cousins with aortic tears recently, and the pain I felt was not incompatable with that syndrome. I have a bicuspid aorta and may be at higher risk for aortic tears, so I didn't want to bleed out in my living room. Without that history, I doubt I would've gone in for a belly ache.]
It was interesting being a patient. I wondered why, at 4am with only 5 other people in the waiting room, did it take an hour to register me? I wondered why, with only a handful of people in the ED, did it take me an hour to be seen by a physician? Were the nurses raiding the candy drawer like they did every night about this time?
In the end, it was very educational. I had my first CT scan. I drank liquid lidocaine (which worked wonders). I got a not-helpful diagnosis of "epigastric pain" (no kidding, Sherlock). I then diagnosed myself with a stomach ulcer brought on by too many ibuprofens for the tendonitis I just got over. Seems I should follow my own advice of taking those little pills with food.
So, I'm slowly recovering, thanks to my bottle of Mylanta and omeprazole.
Physician, heal thyself. Or at least, don't kill thyself on over-the-counter pain medications.
But, another lesson learned. I'll try to be better at explaining to my patients what is going on and apologizing for the wait. Because while we may be running around behind the scenes, they are just one person waiting in a room, scared, wondering if they are going to be ok.