Unadulterated Addict

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This post was written by Marybeth Ramey.

Actually I should add an "s" to the title since I think more than a few of you, yes you dear readers, are guilty of being my kind of addict. Read on for a cautionary tale but of course while sipping your favourite brew of java.

Let me begin my sordid tale by thanking those of you who noticed I didn’t write a column in the February issue. It’s nice to be missed I must say. Believe me, I certainly was not frolicking in the San Trope sun or partying hardy with glam people.

I’d been feeling very ill since early December yet not getting a firm diagnosis on the cause. Finally a Haemoglobin test showed I was operating with over
a third of my blood supply missing. This was why I felt so ill, including a wildly racing heartbeat, dizziness, pregnant nausea, stomach cramps and swollen feet. But why was my blood level so low? All those new vampire movies?

I’m talking low low. So low the doctors were all calling one another to discuss it in hushed, amazed tones. “How did she possibly function with a 4.1 Haemoglobin count?” ahhh, I can confess to you, not very well at all. I had to call in 12 different days to tell the boss I just couldn’t make it in that day. But Andy, being Andy, was as usual just very concerned and awesomely kind urging me to go to the hospital. Even though I walk somewhat bent over and give the illusion of poor health, in actuality I am a fiercely healthy specimen, albeit an aging one.

Hoo boy, and the only way the doctors could determine the cause was for me to admit to hospital and undergo very unpleasant, invasive tests. All through a recent Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday I was probed, prodded, measured, scanned, scoped and ultrasounded. They also transfused several packs of blood which improved how I felt immediately.

I found that the CT scan and imaging was a much bigger deal than I thought with various dyes being injected in various private orifi ces of my blood deficient old body, by an army of very busy although I must say pleasant unfamiliar men and women. All of these tests were to find the cause so I could avoid the granddaddy test of them all…the upper and lower GI scope or the Colonoscopy. I wasn’t disappointed that all the tests were coming out showing excellent results just getting more anxious about the big mystery and knowing those scopes were coming.

Dr Ganesh, the best Gastroenterologist in Malaysia and on staff at Pantai Medical Centre, was really such a dear. He explained the entire procedure to me several times including the necessity of making sure my intestines were thoroughly cleaned out first so he could get the best views. And I must applaud myself for being a real trooper and drinking 6 entire litres of yucky tasting salty water the Sunday night before the big day. Believe me when I tell you that for six hours having to drink that nasty stuff without throwing it up, waiting five minutes for internal explosion time then shakily making my way the ten metres from my bed to the bathroom whilst summoning up all my 4.1 blood supply to get me there, went very well. It was not painful just annoying and jarring and exhausting.

The topic of this column is about the worst part of my entire ordeal. It was the five hours right before the Scopes on Monday. This is the pain I will always remember. I had had to fast since midnight of course which sounded quite easy to me as food was not a high priority at that point, but that also included no coffee, a 40 year habit. When I woke that morning and as the hours crept ever so slowly towards Scope time, the pain of my caffeine withdrawal headache overcame all other pain on the planet and even known to mankind. I begged nice Dr Ganesh to give me a caffeine injection even. He wasn’t so nice about accommodating that request, however.

Soon I was rabidly anticipating my Scope only because I knew I’d get a potent painkiller which indeed about noontime, the lovely anaesthetist injected my IV with a generous amount of three potent drugs that succeeded in putting me out. The next thing I knew, I was awake in the recovery room. As I regained consciousness all I could think was not whether he had found cancer, a tumour or heart disease but whether that damn headache would come back. Yes, it was still there I achingly discovered within seconds.


It was another excruciatingly long hour before I was wheeled back to my room and was able to inhale my precious drug of choice. I had three marvellously satisfying cuppas whilst Dr Ganesh explained he had found a stomach ulcer and then highly recommended I cut down the caffeine intake.

Yes, I welcome your sympathy. I’ve cut it down to two cups a day and the ulcer is almost healed now as I smartly complied with the good doctor’s admonition to eat lots more meat and fish and increase my quantity of meals. My advice is if you know you will be going in the hospital for something similar, to allow yourself to taper off for a few weeks first because a caffeine withdrawal headache is really something you should take pains to avoid never mind being careful about getting a stomach ulcer.

This article was written by Marybeth Ramey ([email protected] )
Source The Expat March 2011 

This article has been edited for
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