How Does It Feel In There?
Just infinite sadness and nothingness. After a while in intensive care, my life came back to me. Aaron: Several years ago, I flatlined at the emergency room. My senses left me one by one. First thing I noticed gone was my sense of touch. Followed by hearing. I couldn't believe how fast I went from feeling absolutely fine to writhing in agonizing pain and crying. I was worried that I was overreacting and being a baby about it. I thought, What if my pain threshold was just low, and this was nothing more than a bad stomachache? I was seen within 10 minutes of arriving. Sure enough, they told me I had appendicitis and needed surgery.
I had a laparoscopic appendectomy the next morning that took less than an hour to complete. I was released the same day, a few hours later. The whole ordeal took less than 24 hours. I was 23 at the time.
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I was never prone to digestive problems, or any health problems at that point, so I figured it would go away. As the day progressed, it got worse. I went to the theater to see a show in the evening with some friends. I was in a lot of pain and mused about going to the hospital until someone suggested it could be gas. By intermission, I simply couldn't sit in a chair anymore with the pain so I went home and straight to bed. I still thought it would pass. Finally, by about 2 A. I didn't want to wake my roommate to take me or call an ambulance, and I couldn't bear to wait any longer than necessary.
They did an ultrasound and ran some other tests and informed me that I was going in for emergency surgery to remove my appendix.
I had just started dating someone new who I really liked at that time. I have a date tomorrow.
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I had never experienced pain like that. Up until that point, I thought I was in relative control of my body. It was a shock to discover that sometimes, when I least expect it, my body has other plans. I had never been intubated or under general anesthesia, and the pain coming out of major abdominal surgery took my breath away. Even now, 20 years later, I haven't forgotten the experience of becoming a total passenger to my body's limits, and also to modern medicine. It prepared me well for when I gave birth by c-sections though years later. While visiting one of the schools, I came down with a [high] fever and started to feel lightheaded.
Later in the night, I started to feel a sharp pain coming from what seemed like my lower stomach. At first it would come in waves, then at some point the pain intensified and didn't leave. At one point during the night the pain became so intense that I couldn't move. My uncle then inspected my lower stomach and put pressure on different parts of it.
We called my other uncle, who was a doctor, and he confirmed that the symptoms sounded like those of appendicitis. We rushed to the hospital where they took me straight to the emergency room for surgery. It's a sharp pain that doesn't go away, and it especially hurts when you apply pressure to the appendix area. Yep, four times. The first time was when I was 26 years old.
The back story as to why I've had appendicitis four times is because the first time, my appendix wasn't completely removed. Only a portion was removed, unbeknownst to me until two years later. I had an appendectomy in in New York City, where my appendix was thought to be completely removed. I had a second appendectomy in Boston in the spring of Between and , I was admitted into the hospital two other times too.
I tried to do some Downward Dogs to relieve the pressure, but that didn't work. Then, I thought maybe it was just an upset stomach from dinner the night before. I proceeded with my morning, went to work, tried to eat breakfast, but the pain got worse. It became excruciating and was isolated to the lower right side of my abdomen. There's truly nothing like it. The pain is stabbing, aching, sharp and constant all at the same time. It feels like someone is stabbing you, twisting the knife and going deeper and deeper into your stomach, for days.
I thought they were just cramps. So for the next two weeks, I continued to feel debilitating pain without thinking anything of it. This just goes to show you what women go through every month.
But the pain was so bad that I began to cry as I waited for a red light to turn green. When my mom saw me crying through the rear view mirror, she knew something was wrong, as I rarely cry. So when we arrived on campus, she ordered that I go to the emergency room. Common triggers include exercising too intensely or doing too much physical work around the house. Cold weather, illness or infection, lack of sleep, and stress can also trigger flare-ups. At other times, RA symptoms are unpredictable. They can come on without warning, even when a person is feeling well overall. People may feel as though their joints are "on fire" or have the sensation that they are under "attack from within the body.
Sometimes, people describe the pain as being so intense that they feel as though they want to die, according to research in the journal Rheumatology. Anyone feeling this way should seek emergency medical attention. RA can take its toll on a person's mental well-being. People may experience the following symptoms relating to their emotions:. Doctors do not have a standard definition of an RA flare-up, and the symptoms can vary.
Over time, people may learn how to recognize the early signs and symptoms of a flare-up, which can allow them to take preventive steps to ease the symptoms. One of the biggest challenges with RA is the difference between how a person feels and how they appear to others.
On the inside, a person may be experiencing severe pain and fatigue that is hard for others to recognize and understand. This lack of visible symptoms can lead to frustration among family, friends, and coworkers. Sometimes, preparing some information about how RA affects people can help others understand the condition. When a flare-up subsides, this will often restore some or all of an individual's mobility and energy. They might say that they feel "normal" or as they did before developing RA.
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However, each flare-up can have a mental and physical impact on a person. They may feel anxious or scared about the next flare-up. It is vital to remember that the symptoms will go away again after each flare-up. Advanced RA can take many forms. About 25 percent of people with RA will experience rheumatoid nodules. These nodules may feel like solid lumps underneath the skin. They usually form at the base of joints and in particular parts of the body that can rub against hard surfaces, such as the elbows and heels. The nodules may feel like clusters of several small lumps, or they can be single, larger nodules.
The nodules can be painful and tender during an RA flare-up, but this is not always the case. When RA is in remission, the nodules are usually painless. RA progresses differently in everyone. Some people have milder forms of the disease, while others may be at risk of severe complications, such as:. RA can also cause joints, including the fingers and toes, to become deformed if a person does not receive effective treatment. This deformation can have a significant adverse effect on their range of movement and quality of life.
If a person has been experiencing a flare-up for several days with little relief, they should see their doctor. It is essential to manage flare-ups as early on as possible to help prevent long-term damage and reduce painful symptoms. A doctor may prescribe medications to try to reduce inflammation symptoms. These medications include some types of steroid. A person should also see a doctor if they seem to be experiencing a higher frequency of flare-ups, the symptoms have become more severe, or both.
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They may require adjustments to their medication dosage to help reduce their symptoms and enhance their quality of life. People living with RA do not have to deal with their symptoms alone. There are many helpful resources available. Living with RA can be challenging, but many people and organizations can help support those with the condition.