Mysterious stomach pain

Namine was experiencing severe stomach pain, so we spent two days in the hospital.

technology hospital medicine indoors

Namine woke Jessica and me up early this morning because her stomach hurt. When she turned on the light to our bedroom, neither of us knew what was going on. We woke up pretty quickly when we realized that not only was she up, but she was crying. With her pain tolerance, we knew it had to be bad.

A new old hernia

We headed to the Children’s Hospital emergency room. We called the Complex Care department on the way, so they could let the ER know we were coming. We got checked in pretty quickly, and then put into a room. It was one of the smaller ones, requiring a little more “musical chairs” than usual with the bed and Namine’s wheelchair.

The doctors suspected one of two things as the culprit for Namine’s pain: constipation or appendicitis. Obviously, the latter would be far worse than the former. There was some back and forth with the doctors about whether to start with an ultrasound or CT scan. The ultrasound would be safer, but would reveal less. The CT, on the other hand, involved more radiation but would enable the doctors to see more of what was going on in Namine’s body. They decided on the CT first.

The CT scan revealed that Namine does not have appendicitis — deep sigh of relief — but also that she has a hernia on her right side. That was something no one predicted, and it added a new problem: the doctors thought it was possible that some of Namine’s organs were being caught and twisted in the hernia, causing her extreme pain.

In order to further investigate whether Namine would require emergency surgery to either fix the hernia outright or at least put her organs back where they ought to be, an ultrasound was ordered. It would monitor her blood flow and tell them if anything was being constricted.

The ultrasound’s results were promising: all blood flow was normal, and no organs were caught or constricted in the hernia. In the meantime, doctors had gone back to previous imaging and found that Namine has had this hernia since at least 2020, maybe even longer. They concluded that this hernia had not been, nor is it now causing any problems. We still had no idea what was causing Namine pain.

Pain management

It was still in our recent memory that after Namine tipped in her wheelchair, we came home that evening. But then when Namine experienced pain that no one could explain, we came back to the hospital to try to keep that pain under control. With that in mind, we decided to have her admitted primarily for pain control. The surgery team was no longer concerned that Namine would need an emergency hernia repair.

Namine wanted to stay at the hospital in case the pain got out of control — as it had been that morning — but over the course of the day it decreased slightly. She decided, therefore, to not take any medicine for the pain unless it suddenly flared back up. Over the course of the night, her pain did not flare back up. Quite the opposite: by the next morning, she had no pain at all when she was sitting still. Moving was still painful, however.

The day prior, Namine crawling or transferring in or out of her wheelchair was out of the question. Even leaning slightly forward was painful enough to make her cry. Now, however, she was able to transfer. It still hurt significantly, but she was able to get back some of her independence.

Going home

With Namine’s pain becoming more manageable, hospital staff gave us the option of being discharged. Since the primary reason we stayed was for pain control, and the pain was diminishing on its own, we opted for going home. Even so, it took several hours before we finally got Namine’s discharge papers and we could actually leave. We passed the time by playing card games.

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