So a couple years ago, I adopted a 24-hour food-poisoning stomach infection (I’m not sure if he was Mexican or Chinese). He was so cute, with his impressively powerful vomits, his spontaneous bursts of diarrhea, and his never-ending stomach-rumblings! We got off to a rocky start, as we each tried to establish dominance of the other, but eventually I just submitted to his demands and spent the evening curled up around and/or on the toilet. By the following evening, the little fella had left.
So, now you’re wondering, where does the “ER visit" come in? Well, you know how they (they = “doctors, including myself”) say, “After a stomach virus, make a slow transition from liquids to a bland diet over 24 hours before resuming normal diet”? Yeah. There’s a reason for that.
I was starving. It was now 8pm, about 28 hours since the last time I had eaten anything without later seeing the Gastric Instant Replay. I finally felt like putting something into my stomach, so I raided the fridge and found some terrific “bland diet” items to gently ease my stomach back up to full productivity: potato salad, corn-on-the-cob, and veggie burgers - YUM!
I was awakened 5 hours later with the worst right-upper-quadrant abdominal pain and retching in my life. I was pretty sure of my diagnosis: either I had a gallstone, or an alien was trying to burst out through my liver. After stoically and patiently enduring the agony for 10 minutes, I decided that some IV fluids (and IV pain meds!) just might hit the spot. The loving Mrs. Cranquis bundled me into the car and drove me through a snowfall to the nearby ER, where I received IV fluids along with a dose of Zofran (for vomiting) and a shot of Dilaudid (for suffering), followed by lab work (which showed that my liver enzymes were elevated) and an ultrasound (which showed a healthy-looking gallbladder and liver - no gallstones!). Within a few hours, I felt fine and was able to keep liquids down. A repeat lab evaluation a few days later showed that my liver labs were trending back to normal.
Never did figure out what happened — possibly a spasm in the bile duct due to eating greasy food so soon after a prolonged fast? Oh well, lesson learned: next time I resume oral intake after a day of vomiting, I’m sticking with lighter food… (oooh, french fries!)
From the Archives: Even doctors make dumb dietary choices sometimes.