January 23, 2009

The Curious Case Of The Spontaneously Ruptured Spleen

Oh this is just great.

Yesterday I awoke feeling extra bloated, with severe pain in all of my lower abdomen, back, sides, you name it. I go to work, get sick (dry heave!) and then leave work to go home. I call my doctor, but he's booked and can't see me.

To give you an idea of what it felt like: imagine walking around with a giant poisonous bowling ball rolling around inside your belly, knocking up against your ribs, your kidneys, and your bladder. I could barely walk. So, I went to the ER at Hoag! Hoag Hospital is one of the best in the country, and I knew I was in good hands.

Long story short (I can barely write/think right now), I had a spontaneously ruptured spleen. Blood was leaking into my abdomen, which was causing the discomfort. Loose blood flowing around in your belly is not a good thing. They admitted me over night (Thursday) to monitor me because, luckily, the rupture in the spleen was a small one, and it appeared that the leaking had stopped. They did blood draws every few hours (my arm is a pin cushion) to verify that I was not losing blood from the spleen, and each successive sample they took showed I was increasingly stable.

To be sure, I was freaking out. You hear the term "internal bleeding" and you get a little nervous. Luckily, I had Ativan. Lots of Ativan. And then morphine. And then an Ambien. All the while, I was not allowed to eat, or drink, anything. No water. Not even ice. This was in case I needed surgery and would have needed an empty vessel to anesthetize. I am still not allowed to eat real food until tomorrow morning (Saturday) to give my intestines extra time to handle absorbing all the coagulated blood. I am allowed jello, broth, popsicles, and water.

The remaining question is, of course, why did my spleen rupture? I didn't fall down or get hit by anything, which is the most common cause. So they are still running tests to see if a virus attacked it, or if I have Epstein Barr. The surgeon and the internist both have a theory though, and that's this whole thing was in fact spontaneous. It happens all the time, they said.

I'll know more tomorrow. But I am finally home after spending a gross night in a weird room with no food and tubes coming in and out of me. And I can't really write anything else because I just popped another Ativan. I'm safe. Stable. Good night.

UPDATE:

It's Sat. morning, and I still haven't eaten. Kind of afraid, but kind of just not hungry. Maybe my stomach shrunk.

I see Althouse as a post up referencing this post, and her thoughtful words got me thinking about why I whipped out my camera phone in the ER.

Well, I really did think I was going to die. The doctor told me I had a ruptured spleen and was bleeding internally, but then he walked away and said he'd "back in a few." The hell?! How can you say that and just walk away?

Anyway, as freaked out as I was, the one thing that made me happy (I laughed out loud as I was doing it, actually) was to take out my phone and start taking pictures of myself, knowing that this was bloggable material. And if I told myself that I would have something interesting to blog about, that I had something to look forward to, and that I still had something to write, then there was absolutely no reason to die.

Call this a good way of distracting myself, or call it silly self-indulgence, but it worked. I calmed down. The doctor came back half an hour later to tell me that I wasn't going to die, but they wanted to keep me overnight for observation.

UPDATE 2: Turns out I did not have a ruptured spleen after all. Read the details, here.

UPDATE 3: It was a cyst, and I had it removed. The most recent post is here. For now...it looks like this whole thing is over.

73 comments:

chuck b. said...

Wow...fuck. Rest and get well.

And get a thorough physical exam in 4-6 months if not sooner.


Do you have any extra pills?

Palladian said...

Even though we hate each other, do get well, dear boy. I miss having you around to hate.

Palladian said...

Dude, I didn't know you had an Abe Lincoln beard.

Palladian said...

Is your hospital room really painted mustard yellow?

Ralph said...

Wow. Don't fuck. That's really bad medical advice from chuck.
Get well is a better idea.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

It's a bad cell phone pic, but the room was pretty yellow. I'm going in for all kinds of tests tomorrow...including...a colonoscopy! Fun.

Thanks you guys, I am on pure rest for the next several days. Definitely.

Palladian said...

"I'm going in for all kinds of tests tomorrow...including...a colonoscopy!'

The first time you'll ever have to pay to get one of those, eh?

Jeff Levine said...

OMG!!!

Please take care of yourself.

The longer I live, the more weird medical things I hear.

I won't talk about the Brazilian beauty queen right now...

Seriously - do what the Doc says and get well.

rcocean said...

Get well. Upside: This is a chance to lose those unwanted pounds.

Ann Althouse said...

Poor Zachary! Take care of yourself. It's sweet that you did the bloggerly thing and took those pictures.

Feel better.

Eric said...

Damn, that sucks. How does a spleen just spontaneously rupture? Like, does it say to itself "Hey, I've been taken for granted for long enough. Time to get some attention!"

Anarchus said...

About 10 years ago I started having a severe, irregular pain in my side that felt like the mother of all side stitches. Turns out I had a splenic hematoma (think large, blood-filled bruise), possibly from a hard fall I'd had snow skiing a month beforehand.

With regular monitoring (and NO exercise for SIX MONTHS) via ultrasound I was lucky and everything resolved on its own.

Strangely enough, the wife of a good friend had almost the same thing happen to her a year later and had her spleen removed.

The only question that comes to mind is, "were you taking aspirin or NSAIDS regularly that would have altered the coagulation properties of your blood?" I'd also jammed my thumb on the same ski fall and kept taking aspirin for the pain, and unknowingly contributing to my spleen problem.

Anyway, good luck and godspeed. Sounds like with luck you may not need to have your spleen removed, which would be a good thing - you don't really have to have a spleen (without it you'll need hemaglobin shots once a year for life), but taking it out is a bitch!

Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

A colonoscopy is easy. You may be able to watch it on the TV. You're gonna be a star!

Hope all is well very soon.

Asante Samuel said...

There is never a good reason for spleenic rupture. Make those lazy fuckers get to the bottom of it.

Pogo said...

Get well soon, Zachary.

And no touch football for 6 months for you.

bearbee said...

Oy! Get a new doc who will make time to see you when you are in pain, heaving and can barely walk because of bowel bowling balls.

Okay, he gets a pass if he told you to go straight to emergency.

Additional Blond Agent said...

Make sure you pursue the immune system side of things. Some diseases (admittedly quite rare) like chronic granulomatus disease and others lead to swelling of the lymph nodes and spleen. If none of the more obvious causes like an inadvertant mechanical injury, hidden tumor, etc. pan out, an immunologist should be on your list of specialists to consult.

Good luck tracking it down and here's hoping for a smooth recovery.

UWS guy said...

Good luck.

sonicfrog said...

Jeez, so all you have to do is split a spleen and almost die to get instalanched???? Man, Glenn is really letting his standarnd slide!

Seriously, please take care, get well, and stop rupturing yourself.

Trooper York said...

What's the matter with you. Get well now. We need more posts.

I told you this would happen if you kept venting your spleen.

Feel better dude.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Thanks for coming over and letting me share. Isn't it weird, how I am attached to blog friends (and frienemies) and comments pals almost as much as "real life" family/friends...

AJ Lynch said...

Hey Zach:

Sorry to hear this. Hope they get you well soon.

"Spontaneous rupture...happens all the time"? WTF

Are doctors and auto mechanics trained at the same school of "Make Something Up As A Cause Of Their Dilemma But Do It With A Very Confident Manner"?

mcg said...

I'm glad you're OK! I need people like you around so I can continue to feel superior. ;)

reader_iam said...

Spleen quotes. Wasn't sure which you might find funniest (if in a twisted way) under the circumstances, so pick your own. Frankly, I think they all have their merits, depending on how you (want to) look at it. The Bierce, Green and Addison ones probably made me smile most ... but then, I'm currently in possession of a health spleen (I think).

Feel better soon!

vbspurs said...

Dear Mother in heaven...Zach, words fail me and you know that's gotta be a first.

My prayers to you, boyo. My most earnest prayers of recovery and better health...

(sniff)

Cheers,
Victoria

reader_iam said...

Heh. Some people send flowers; me, I send quotes. What can I say?

reader_iam said...

Hey, did you know there's a band out there called Spleen Poetry? The guys look sorta cute, to me anyway, and I assume they must be around your age, Zach.

dbp said...

Get well soon Zach. Make sure your doc figures this out. Where is House when you need him?

reader_iam said...

Spleen Poetry on YouTube.

I stumbled across them, by the way, Googling for the text of Charles Baudelaire's "Spleen," though I decided that's too depressing to link.

Oh, well, enough. Sincerely, ZPS, I hope this is an isolated thing and that you are restored to full health soon.

Freeman Hunt said...

Sheesh! Ow! Never heard of that before. Sorry it happened to you. Hope you feel better soon, Zach.

Meade said...

Get well soon, Zach

The Crack Emcee said...

Get well, man.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Going to see a hemotologist (sp?) this afternoon for one more round of tests. I feel pretty good now, but am obviously interested in finding out why this happened. My friends think I just got really drunk and ruptured it myself when I fell down a flight of stairs or something. HAHA...didn't happen.

I love you all! I'm getting choked up seeing all your comments.

sonicfrog said...

Remember, there are others who are worse off than you.

(Careful, laughing too hard may slit you spleen again)

sonicfrog said...

"slit"????

Beth said...

Oh gosh, Zach! How very stiff upper lip of you to blog the whole thing. (Are you taking the camera phone into the colonoscopy?)

Get well, soon! I'll try to balance the rightward tilt during your absence.

Joan said...

Zach, excellent post. I wish you a speedy and complete recovery, and a diagnosis that makes sense.

I love hospital blogging. I've used the same technique to get myself through grueling and distressing procedures many times. Pre-composing a post is a great way to distract yourself from whatever it is that's happening that you don't want to deal with. I'm in awe of the photos, too -- it's the first time I realized that a camera phone may actually be useful as opposed to totally frivolous. My hospital blog posts are monolithic tracts of text -- so much better stylistically to include those self-portraits! You rock.

Rest & be assured your blog-friends are wishing you well.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Thank so much, Joan. I have pics of my IV, and the needle in my arm, but that was a bit too graphic, even for my taste.

Kev said...

Wow, that's crazy. Do let us know what they find out. (And as Beth said, it's amazing that you've blogged the whole thing, but look what it yields: 39 online "get well cards" as soon as I hit Publish.)

Get well soon!

Freddy Hill said...

"The surgeon and the internist both have a theory though, and that's this whole thing was in fact spontaneous. It happens all the time, they said."

LOL! That's an "theory"? It's like seeing the Sun go supernova and saying, "Einstein had a theory, though, and that's this whole thing was spontaneous. It happens all the time."

Where is the science?

Get well, my unknown friend.

Bill Peschel said...

Good post. You also taught us a new worry; that our spleens will spontaneously rise up against their meatbag masters and overwhelm us.

Of course, they didn't think about what would happen if they killed their host. Dumb spleens.

sonicfrog said...

BTW, what kind of phone do you have? Did you text this post from a blackberry?

Donald Douglas said...

Visiting via Althouse.

Glad you're okay and here's wishing you a speedy recovery. I'm actually not from where you are.

Donald Douglas said...

Actually, not "far" from where you are, Sire!

Have a good day!

Anonymous said...

Well wishes from an anon Althouse reader who always enjoys your take on things. Best of luck with what will hopefully be a speedy recovery!

Maxine Weiss said...

http://twitter.com/maxinesplace

mcg said...

For some reason, when I was a young teenager I purposefully mangled the Kermit the Frog tune:

"It's not easy being green.
It makes me gag and split my spleen."

I shared that with my mom, and to this day she cannot make it through the full two lines without cracking up.

Donna B. said...

Ohhhh, I love your outfit and accessories.

Get well soon!

Christy said...

How frightening! Hope they find the exact cause and an easy cure soon.

daniel said...

hey zach, get better! that is terrible! but you still went to work and now blogging for us. you're a true writer.

vbspurs said...

I come bearing good news. :)

Check out Memeorandum, Zach. Your blog is listed under Ann's in her Obama book shrine post!

P.S.: I have this Memeorandum colour Firefox extension which lists blogs according to the predominant political slant. Actually, it's based on the slant of the sites they link to. It runs the gamut from RED like Malkin, to Pink like Althouse, to light blue like Ben Smith, to heavy blue like Firedoglake.

Your blog didn't have a colour.

So quick, link to me, so you can be pink! ;)

Cheers,
Victoria

Palladian said...

In case you didn't notice, your spleen got you an Instapundit post!

Way to go, spleen!

Zachary Paul Sire said...

My spleen is on Instapundit...that is crazy, and humbling.

Dude, I didn't know you had an Abe Lincoln beard.

Yes, I grew it in honor of Obama.

Palladian said...

"Yes, I grew it in honor of Obama."

No you didn't! Reviewing my extensive file of Zachary Paul Sire pictures, I can see that you had it before anyone ever heard of Barack Obama... last year.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Oops...I "Hoped" you wouldn't notice that it hasn't "Changed."

peter hoh said...

Glad to hear that you are on the mend. Get well!

John Althouse Cohen said...

Good to hear you didn't die! Please get well...

I blogged your blogging about blogging. Meta!

sonicfrog said...

In case you didn't notice, your spleen got you an Instapundit post!

HEY! I cry foul!. I pointed that out first!!!!

Anyway, I dedicated a post to you at Sonicfrog. Enjoy.

Simon said...

Wow!!... Hope you feel better. And hopefully you don't have a coagulation factor problem...Mmm interesting. Well have fun with colonoscopy procedure... Take care!

Anonymous said...

Hopped over from Althouse's blog. I had a kidney stone/infection on Tuesday, so I sympathize with freaky medical things and overwhelming pain (although it sounds like you have it WAY worse). Even after I got permission to eat it was two days before I could handle more than half a sandwich at a time, my stomach definitely shrank, so good luck with that. Hope you feel better!

ElcubanitoKC said...

Holy cr@p, man! I hope you are recovering ok! I just read this on Althouse (I don't frequent any blogs as much lately as I used to do) and I was shocked. Again, I hope you are recovering OK

Anonymous said...

Put a piece of duct tape on that son of a bitch and get back to work.
george

Anonymous said...

My spleen ruptured for no reason also. They did not remove it because it clotted itself. Its been four years and I still have cramps in that are. Worst pain I ever felt.

Anna said...

Hey ya

Wow, someone else who's experienced painful ruptured spleen stuff

A year ago I came off my bike and ruptured my spleen, did a grade 3 laceration to it, and ended up in critical condition in hospital for a week. In there I gt a bit of pneumonia, my lungs began to collapse from my rib cage, and yeah.... all pretty horrible

I know that feeling of being a pin cushion, I can only remember... not cool

I didn't end up getting mine removed, but they left me in hdu (high dependency unit) lying flat for 6 days before I was able to go to the ward. In lying flat the spleen clotted up, and fixed itself.

Random, I haven't found many people with ruptured spleens.
If u feel like having a spleen catch up and your on facebook feel free to add me 'anna petchell'

Hope your all good now :)

Take care

Anonymous said...

Also, the anonymous person who msg'd before me, you should contact me too. I wanna find out about you and your spleen. Very few people are like us and have ruptured their spleens and still have them!

Anna said...

Also, the anonymous person who msg'd before me, you should contact me too. I wanna find out about you and your spleen. Very few people are like us and have ruptured their spleens and still have them!

jenn said...

u are very lucky. my sister died at the age of 20 on Jan. 19 2006 from her spleen spontaneously rupturing. the worst part is she went to the emergency room that morning and they sent her home

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; )

Humor and perspective are wonderful thing, after all, yes?.

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