Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Widow Wednesday--The story from the beginning

Ray was the football player in high school, his Dad described him as "rough and rugged". He was a middle school math teacher in Detroit, doing what he loved...helping kids. He felt connected to this population, he felt they were a lot like him. A lot of the kids needed extra help or some tough love and he was a perfect teacher. When he wasn't teaching he was maintaining his Dad's properties. Between the two jobs he was always working and planning for the future. Lazy was not a word in his vocabulary. He was dedicated to work never missing time. 

In the summer of 2009, we decided to take a trip to Vegas. It was our first time leaving the girls and doing something for us. I had a really tough time deciding to book this trip. We had talked about doing something multiple times and before I would click "book" I would stop and cancel it. We did everything with them. While on the trip he kept complaining of his stomach hurting and going in the bathroom and coming out without going. This was the first symptoms that I can remember. 

That fall he went with my Dad to all the Michigan football home games. They would tailgate all day and then go to the game. Ray would bring a bottle of Pepto Bismol to every game and down the whole thing. At this point even my parents were noticing something wasn't right. 

He started to miss a few days of work here and there, which was completely unheard of for him. He was starting to have the stomachaches all the time with no relief. He was eating less and less. As a teacher, he was required a check up every year and to maintain his shots. He was always good about going to the doctors and wasn't someone to shy away. He decided to make an appt to see the doctor and talk about how he always had a stomachache. 

Our primary care physician gave him a referral to the GI doctor because she agreed his symptoms warranted a visit to a specialist. The GI doctor ordered a colonoscopy and told us he thought he just had IBS. So away he went with a script for the colonoscopy and meds for IBS. 

After the colonoscopy was preformed, the doctor came out and told us everything went well and he didn't see anything abnormal and to follow-up with GI doctor as needed. I was so relieved by the news, until he couldn't even get out of the bed because he was in so much pain. I watched as 80 yr old people around him got up and walked out. My tough, never complaining husband had tears in his eyes. They kept reassuring us it was the gas they pumped into him and he just needed to relieve the gas it was causing pressure. After waiting a while they wheeled him to the car even though he was still in just as much pain. After we returned home he was white as a ghost and now running a fever. We knew something wasn't right. He called the number back to the clinic and they told us the same thing they did when we were there...relieve gas. This just didn't seem right, so we called our primary care physician and she agreed, this wasn't right. He shouldn't be running a fever and needed to go to the ER. 

This was the first of many ER visits over the next month or so. They kept him overnight for observation and sent him home to follow-up with the GI doctor. We made another appt. to see the GI doctor and were seen by his assistant again that just upped the meds. 

At this point he was losing weight, but his midsection was getting bigger. He was actually measuring it with a measuring tape. He had no energy, and was barely eating. I was eating more than he was. He was also running fevers on and off almost daily. One night he was changing a light in our foyer and became so weak and pale he had to sit down. 

Thanksgiving came and he barely ate. Anyone that knew Ray knew this wasn't normal. A few days later his pain again was so bad he asked me to take him to the urgent care. The urgent care doctor did a few tests and determined it was his appendix. They prepped him for surgery and sent him to the nearest hospital for the surgery. When he arrived at that hospital we were told the doctor read the reports and it wasn't appendix. They were going to keep him for observation. The next morning he was discharged again with a follow-up with the primary care doctor. 

We were frustrated and without answers. It was now a few days before Christmas. Again we were at our primary care physician's office and she was as frustrated as we were. She told us because of it so close to the holiday the specialists were all on vacation so her only option was again to have him admitted to the hospital and to write to not leave without a diagnosis. This was the only way to be seen by a specialist. She called the hospital to let them know we were on the way. 


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