Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hakuna Matata

I've gone back and forth about whether or not I really want to hash out the gory details of our travel.  I'm still undecided.  It may just have to wait for another day as I'm still suffering from international travel PTSD.  Needless to say, the kidney stone thing was just the beginning of a long, arduous 48 trip.  Coming home wasn't fun either.  However the actual VACATION was incredible!!  I want to go back with Steven some day SO BAD. 

Our first day there us ladies went to the spa.  Initially I thought this was a little strange to do that on our first day, but it could not have been more strategically placed!  All I wanted to do after getting there was sleep, so the spa day was perfect!

The next day, Thursday, we went to Aldo Elephant National Park.  It was amazing.  I was so upset because the battery in my camera died that day, so I didn't get to snap the photos of the HUGE heard we ran into while we were there.  There were over 30 elephants in this group!  There is just something so gentle and wonderful about those animals.  They were by far my favorite during the whole trip!

This is some of what I was able to get pictures of:

  Seriously!? It does not get any cuter than that!
On Friday we traveled to Plattenburg bay so the following morning we could travel to Mosel Bay to do our great white shark dive.  On our way to Platt, we stopped by a big cat rescue center and we were able to play with young servals and pet a full grown cheetah!  She was beautiful!  We were also able to look at mercats, leopards and lions.  It was definitely a unique and a once in a lifetime experience.

 My favorite picture of the whole trip!


Once we got to Platt, we visited Monkey Land!

On Saturday my dad, Adam, I went on our shark dive!  It was amazing.  I want to go again, only preferable in December or January during their summer months.  It was pretty dang cold.  And by pretty cold, I mean brain freeze cold.  We bought the DVD that the dive shop made, but my parents have it and I don't have a copy...:(  Here are two little clips that kind of give you an idea:

On Sunday we went shopping and visited a reptile farm.  We got to see lots of cool snakes, and Adam was brave enough to hold them. 

On Monday we went on a Safari.  While we were out we saw Giraffes, Rhino (without horns, they had been poached two weeks earlier...SO SAD) and the king of the forest!  It was SO COOL.

On Tuesday we went on a "Cheetah Walk" where you get to walk alongside cheetahs and watch them hunt their prey.  It was crazy awesome!  This place is the only place in the world that has them trained to do that alongside humans. 

Wednesday was our last day and we spent the day shopping in Port Elizabeth.  The trip was a dream, and I can't wait to make it back someday!  



Saturday, June 1, 2013

13 Hours

I'm going to skip the part where I say that I haven't written on my blog in a millions years, blah, blah, blah, and just cut to the chase.  My experience this weekend was note worthy in the "Life of Amber" and I feel compelled to write it out in detail so I never forget (not that I think this is something forgettable).  Brace yourself for detail, a bit of swearing, and some humor.

Friday, May 31st

12:30 AM

I groggily woke up to pain in my upper right abdomen.  I don't know about you, but when I first wake up I'm pretty out of it.  I remember thinking to myself that this pain was unlike any indigestion I've ever had, but thought that it probably wasn't a big deal.  I remember getting up and going to the bathroom and returning to bed.

12:45 AM

After I had gone to the bathroom the pain I was feeling escalated rather quickly.  Bad enough that there was no way I was going to be able to fall asleep again; I was wide awake now and very alert.  At this point, I decided to call Steven rather than wake up my parents and bother them about it.  In Texas, it was 2:45, so it took a couple of calls before he answered the phone.  I told Steven what I was feeling and he said that it sounded like gall stones or something with my gall bladder because the pain was high up just under my ribs.  He told me to take some aspirin and wait a couple hours. Feeling a bit guilty that I was bothering him in the middle of the night with my probable "no big deal" pains, I quickly got off the phone with him.  I remember looking at my phone and telling myself that if the pain was still bad at 1:15, then I would take some pain killers.

1:00 AM

By now I was panicking at how quickly the pain was increasing.  I decided to say a little prayer and asked Heavenly Father to let me know if this was something serious and to give me the wisdom to know what I should do.  You see, my family and I were set to leave and go to the airport in 4 short hours on a big trip to South Africa, so you can imagine my apprehension about going to the hospital.  Realizing that this constant, stabbing pain was not going away, I kinda laughed at Steven's advice and decided that I definitely needed to wake up my parents.  When I got to their room, my mom was already awake.  As I was explaining that I had severe pain in my upper right abdomen I crashed on the floor next to her bed.  I was so dizzy, so nauseous.  I told her I was going to pass out.  This got my dad's attention, and they proceeded to help me move to the couch.  

1:15 AM

It is extremely hard to describe how fast and how hard this pain escalated.  Once I was to the couch, my dad gave me a blessing.  I can't remember what he said.  I was in SO MUCH PAIN.  I remember looking at my mom and saying "I need to go to the hospital".  She jumped up and started to change and gather her stuff.  I remember looking at my dad's pale face and he immediately got on the phone to change our flights.  We all knew that there was no way my mom and I were making our flight at 7am.  

***I think it's important to add a little embarrassing side note here.  To say that I am the biggest grouch when I am in pain is an understatement.  I was NOT fun to be around at this point.  I think it may have only taken my mom 10 minutes to get ready and out the door, but those 10 minutes felt like eternity.  I remember yelling out, "Mom!  What the hell is taking so long!?"  Yes.  I know.  Shame on me.  But seriously you guys.  You don't even know.  Don't.  Even.  Know.  Unless you have also passed a kidney stone, then I suppose you do know.

When I was on the couch I experienced pain in a way that I never have before.  When you get to a certain point, your body does some pretty weird things and I had some very strange (to me) physiological responses.  I was hyperventilating.  My skin was cold to touch.  I was sweating BUCKETS.  My entire body was shaking and I remember my limbs going very numb and tingly like when your foot falls asleep.  I also remember looking at my hands and my fingers were stuck straight out in all kinds of directions.  With this, I was feeling extremely dizzy, nauseous and constantly on the verge of blacking out.  It was truly the most excruciating pain I have ever felt in my life.  Wow.  Wow, wow, wow!

1:45 AM

While on our way to the hospital my pain subsided a teensy bit.  I was still hyperventilating, sweating and feeling tingly all over, but I felt more consciously aware of what was going on around me.  However, I also started to feel pain in my right kidney which alarmed me and made me think that it wasn't gall stones.  For what ever reason, it still hadn't occurred to me that I may have a kidney stone, even though my kidney was now very obviously throbbing with a dull pain.  

2:03 AM

I was admitted to the hospital.  Thanks to close family friends I was in my own room in a short time.  I remember signing the admittance paper and not recognizing my signature.  I couldn't write.  I could hardly walk.  I remember feeling proud of myself that I was still conscious, and yet at the same time wishing I could just fall unconscious.

After this, time is kind of a blur to me.  I was quickly given a double dose of morphine and two IV fluids.  This however, was done after my mom badgered the poor nurses about getting the doctor in my room.  There was one part of my that was thinking, "Mom, shut up, those poor nurses are just doing their job", and there was another part of me that was thinking "You tell those nurses that unless they'd rather switch spots and have their abdomen explode into a million pieces, that they'd better get that damn doctor in here NOW!!"  Ahhhh the monster that erupts from me when I'm in pain.  My poor mother.  My poor nurse.  I will say this though, the doctor did come within 5 minutes, and that morphine was the most beautiful drug I've ever been given.  Ah, the sweet relief!

3:30-4:00ish AM

I believe that it was around this time that I went and had my CT done.  I was feeling much more comfortable now that I was on the drugs, and now I was just worried about whether or not they would actually find out what's wrong with me.  My poor dad went to the hospital multiple times before he had his gall bladder removed.  Every time the CTs kept coming back clear whenever he went to the hospital in immense pain.  My fingers were crossed.

I also had a pelvic exam done because they thought that there might be slight chance that I had an ovarian cyst.  So ya.  That's always fun (by the way, there was no cyst).

***Another important side note:  My mom "went to bed" at 11:30 but never actually fell asleep.  When I came to her room at 1:00 she was still awake.  She literally pulled an all-nighter with me at the hospital.  I love that lady.  Thank you mom.  Thank you.

5:15 AM

The doctor came to visit and said he had the results of my CT.  It showed that I had a 3mm kidney stone in my ureter, but that it was near the bladder so that it was very possible that I would pass it within the next 24 hours.  I was so relieved that they had found something wrong (which sounds weird, I know).  I was just so worried that they would say, "Nope! Everything's fine! Time to go home!", because I was NOT about to leave when I was in that kind of pain.  He also said that my blood work showed that my potassium levels were threateningly low, so he prescribed me to take to oral supplements along with this powdered potassium drink.  That drink was NAS-TY!  Yuck!

7:30 AM

My potassium levels were back up to normal so I was discharged with pain killers, zofran for nausea, and lovely "pee strainers" to catch my stone whenever my body decided to pass it.  Ya, my brothers sure got a kick outta that one.

When I got home I slept, a lot.  The morphine started to wear off so I took some pain killers which made me even more drowsy.  Sleep was a welcome relief after the pain and sudden travel changes.

1:00 PM

I drug myself out of bed to eat lunch.  My sweet older brother brought my mom and I lunch from Subway and he stayed to chat for a while.  We all talked about what would happen if I didn't pass the stone before Sunday.  We decided that my mom would catch up with my dad and brother in South Africa, and that I would stay, wait for the stone to eventually pass, and then return home to Texas.  This was a very depressing conversation, as I have been looking forward to this trip for over a year now.

While we were talking I had a sudden urge to use the restroom (I had been downing fluids all night and day).  It was during this trip to the bathroom that the magical moment happened-I passed my stone!  I called out to my mom and brother downstairs and they ran up and we all started cheering, jumping up and down and taking pictures.  It was quite the celebration and also quite funny.  Then my mom ran to go and retrieve my dad's kidney stone that he's saved for years (creepy, I know) and we compared the two.  I just want to get it out there and say that my stone was WAY bigger then my dad's and my dad actually passed out with his.  Clearly, I am awesome.


And that is pretty much my story!  13 hours of excitement right there.  Aside from soreness, and the terrible drug hangover headache that I have right now, I am doing LOADS better.  Hopefully I'll get back on here to do a nice post about Africa.  SO excited!  I am also feeling incredibly blessed that this happened when it did and not on our 17 hour flight.  I can't even imagine what I would've done.  Surely I would've passed out.  No normal human would be able to deal with that kind of pain for 13 hours and be conscious the whole time.  At any rate, God is good!  I'm grateful for His watchful care and know that He loves me (even when I get grouchy and say and think bad words).  My heart is full.