Monday, April 23, 2012

Hospital Visit

The kids had started the countdown till we fly to Idaho.  5 days to go and I woke up with a little pain in my back, and a little pain when I pee.  I told David—I think I have a kidney infection.  I thumped on my back, like they do at the Dr’s office and it was quite sore.  I got up to dress and all of a sudden the soreness went to flaming, blinding pain.  I started to feel dizzy and nauseous.  After a blessing, laying down for a half hour, Tylenol, and ice packing my back, I started to feel manageable.  I had brought some macrobid antibiotic from my DR, in case I got a UTI, as they are common in pregnancy, so I started the macrobid and tried to call my OB to see if I needed to do anything else. 
A few hours later I was feeling really tired, sore and achy where my kidneys are on my back, but the intense blinding pain was mostly gone.  I had reached my DR via her nurse and was told I should drink A LOT of water, which I was already doing, take the macrobid, and if I really thought it was a kidney infection then they  thought I should go to a DR.  Hmmm…  not really sure how to do that.  We are in a fairly rural area.  So David asked around.  David had made a friend with Captain John.  He owns a few boat businesses here and the gals who have been cleaning for us work for him.  We have enjoyed getting to know him.  He was kind enough to call his DR in Guatemala city, who said—they can either send a helicopter ($1000US) or I can take the 5 hour ambulance ride ($250US) to Guatemala city and see him at the hospital.  We have been told that the medical services in Guatemala city are first rate, DR’s highly trained in the US, nice facilities, and so forth.  But I didn’t want to go all the way to Guatemala City, we are leaving in 5 days, I have A LOT to do.  We asked if there was someone closer to see.  John was able to get a referral from his DR, for a DR in a city only 1 hour away, in Puerto Barrios.  We called the DR-we had been given his personal cell phone number (that never happens in the US) and he spoke English fairly well. He knew we would be calling and said to come and see him today.  We arranged for a driver to take us to Puerto Barrios and we were on our way.  David was excited for a first hand experience of the Medical system here in Guatemala.  I was not too excited to be pregnant and sick anywhere. 
We arrived at the hospital which was more like a good sized clinic.  It was a nice facility.  We were able to meet with Dr. Aldana after only waiting a few minutes.  We went over my symptoms and then straight to the ultrasound machine.  Baby looks healthy, but my kidneys-- not so much.  What he found was 2 dilated kidneys.  My left worse than my right.  He said he didn’t know if there was infection, but something was definitely obstructing my left kidney.  He sent me to the lab to get a urine sample to find out more.  About 20 mins later we were called back in to see him.  Lab work confirmed the obstruction with a large presence of blood in my urine, along with signs of infection.  So he diagnosed me with both a kidney infection and kidney stones causing the dilated kidneys.  He said if I wasn’t pregnant they would recommend Xray’s to see the obstruction better, and most likely surgery to clear it.  But I am pregnant. So, now his recommendation was a stronger antibiotic and pain meds to help till I can fly home on Tues.  He suggested we call a urologist for a consult as he is a gastroenterologist.  We called our friends DR in Guatemala City, the urologist that had recommended us to see Dr. Aldana, and his recommendation was to admit to the hospital for IV antibiotics with the pain meds and anti inflammatory to try and get the kidney stones to pass and clear up the infection, and then recheck everything tomorrow.  Well the question now was – stay there in Puerto Barrios or go to Guatemala City.  David was up for going to Guatemala City.  We have been told they are wonderful there at the private hospital, with excellent care.  Dr. Aldana said he would take good care of me here in Puerto Barrios if I stayed, he would have an OB come see me, and that he felt confident they would provide me good care.  I wanted to stay closer to the kids, 5 hours by car was just to far being in a foreign country, so after further consideration we opted to stay in Puerto Barrios.  David’s only concern was IF this turned worse we would probably be better off in Guatemala City.  I felt good about staying put, that everything would be okay,so that is finally what we decided.  By 6:30pm I was checked in to the Hospital Del Carmen.  Before sending the driver back to Rio Dulce, David had him run him over to the cell phone store to get another cell phone.  We had left the other one we had on the boat, so for $20US we picked up a second one so we could call the kids and Suzie and let them know what was going on.
They brought both of us dinner and then started my IV.  I was given antibiotics, a shot of a non steroid anti inflammatory to decrease the swelling and allow the stones to pass easier.  And a pain tablet.  Our room had a TV with cable and surprisingly we found a few shows in English with Spanish subtitles.  We hadn’t watched real television, beyond movies we had or were able to stream, in many months.  It was a good distraction.  My hospital room was nice, reminding me of the maternity rooms where they try to make them less “hospital” like.  It had nice homey curtains and a few porch chairs.  For an extra $30US we could request the room to be private so they would not bring in another patient to the room.  The room and bathroom was very clean and had AC, so that made me happy to stay. 
Around 9:30pm the OB came to see me, he had been at a nearby town seeing patients late.  We went over my diagnosis and then he asked to do an ultrasound to check on the baby.  We went out to the clinic, which is in the front of the building, to his office.  Ultrasound #2 showed the baby doing well.  He checked the heart rate, measured bones, amniotic fluid, and checked the placenta.  All looked well.  He even reconfirmed it’s a boy.  Measurements showed the baby weighs nearly 4lbs, and that my due date should be 5 days sooner, but close enough.  While visiting with the OB he noticed I had a contraction—very normal for me, I have them all the time, but in light of my current situation he was concerned that it was more than Braxton Hicks and wanted to prescribe a muscle relaxant, phenolbarbitol to calm my uterine muscles.  I was more concerned about the effect of the muscle relaxant on the baby than the contractions.  I know my body, and it was most definitely not in labor—and if I were in labor, I would be more afraid of the muscle relaxant moving it further along, than the contractions, just knowing my body works a little backwards.  So, no Phenolbarbitol for me. 
In the morning the nurses were in bright and early to start more antibiotics and pain meds.  Soon Dr. Aldana was in to see how I was doing.  He sent the nurses for blood and urine tests, and then had me brought back to his office for Ultrasound #3.  Baby still looks good, kidneys not any better.  Lab work was much better, although the blood work showed I have anemia—that explains how tired I am.  He said I should continue the meds and stay overnight again.  My pain was gone, only left with soreness on both sides where my kidneys are and in lower abdomen.  After breakfast David went for a walk down to the shopping area, they had a real shopping center here, he found a charger for my Iphone so we could use it longer on the internet. We hadn’t come prepared to stay overnight, but luckily I had put my phone in my purse in case I wanted to listen to some music on the drive or for David to play a game on while we were waiting.   
After Lunch the OB dropped in to see me again.  He brought a dopler to listen to the  baby’s heartbeat, and all sounded well.  He asked about how I was feeling and if I were having more contractions.  Everything seemed to be going well.  He said he’d come back later before heading home.  A few hours later I was still feeling so much better that we asked Dr. Aldana if I could head home to the boat, rather than stay another night.  He said he’d order the last round of IV antibiotics and give that to me about 5:30pm and then we could head back to the Rio Dulce.  He ordered some meds for me to take with me, antibiotics of course and pain meds. 
The billing lady came and dropped off our bill for review.  The grand total—24 hour hospital room and care, IV and medications, 2 DR’s fees, 3 ultrasounds—it all totaled about 4000.00 Quetzals.  In US dollars, less than $600.  WOW!  I wish I could get that price in the US.  I am pretty sure we could have taken the helicopter to Guatemala City and back, plus the hospital and care there and it still would have been less than just the hospital care in the US. 
Our driver arrived to pick us up and an hour later we were back on the boat.  The kids were excited to see us, we hadn’t told them we were coming early, they thought we would stay another night.  Exhausted, I hugged them all and headed off to bed. The next morning, with little pain, sure enough—a kidney stone.  4.6mm in size.  I am told that is large.  It wasn’t jagged at all so maybe that is why there wasn’t really any pain with it.  There should be more, but they are yet to be seen.  I am still exhausted, but able to get work done in shifts with rest.  The kids and Suzie have been a huge help in getting things ready to head home.
I feel very blessed.  I felt so overwhelmed with being sick and the pain when it first started and after first seeing the DR and finding out it was more than a kidney infection.  The timing was just terrible, but I feel so blessed.  It could have been soooo much worse.  The pain could have been much much worse, it could have lasted longer, I could have not found a DR, or received great medical care nearby.   I am so grateful for the priesthood blessing I received that I would be well, and… I was.

1 comment:

  1. Wow Jen. I don't read blogs these days, but Rob had told me you were having this problem down there and I've been thinking about you ever since. It sounds like things worked out SO much better than I would have dreamed! I was imagining you in this gross rundown hospital down in Guatemala. Probably cause I had to go to the hospital once on my mission in Venezuela and that's all I have to go by in South America when it comes to hospitals. Anyhow, hope you are doing well! I would love to talk to you about oils sometime if you're interested! They do a great job at resovling (and helping to prevent) kindey problems and stones. Good luck with that baby!