Needlessly-long and personal narrative whittled down to the bare essentials for your consumption:
Saturday, Jan. 31st while attending the Great Scale Train Show at Timonium, I received an acute case of "indigestion". The pain was basically that of a sucker punch up under the front of the rib cage/sternum. (For the history-minded, think the punch that ultimately killed Harry Houdini.) I chalked it up to either acid indigestion or just "something I ate" and left for home, where I laid around for most of the weekend, suffering a bit more and not having much of an appetite.
On Wednesday the 4th, I woke up somewhat lethargic and ill-at-ease. I chalked that up to inadequate sleep, called work to tell them I was coming in late if at all, and went back to bed. Around 11 a.m. I got up to do more normal Wednesday routines--eat the breakfast my now-unemployed wife made for me, get the Washington Post and Baltimore City Paper, read e-mails--and then go down to the Baltimore Streetcar Museum to see if they had the CD for Microsoft Front Page so I could work on their website.
While I was at the BSM in the Md. Rail Heritage Library, the "indigestion" came back like Refrigerator Perry trampling for a touchdown. I managed to stagger home and crawl up the stairs to my flat, where I promptly made an altogether vain effort to get comfortable.
By 7:00 or so I was having my wife call for suggestions. My sister and brother-in-law were a bit taken aback by my asking for any good gastro-enterologists that might be available.
Around 9 p.m. my wife pulled up to the emergency department of Maryland General Hospital ("because I know where it is!") and I was admitted, to spend hours more in a waiting room with no possible place to lie out or get comfy.
The verdict, after x-rays and an ultrasound scan: Pancreatitis and gallstones. A massive gallstone was thought to be blocking the duct from the pancreas to the digestive tract, and several more were clustered in the gall bladder. I was transferred to U. of Md. Medical Center the next evening by ambulance, although I joked that they could have just put me and the stretcher on a southbound Light Rail train!
More details will follow as I get the chance, but suffice it to say that the short-term goal is reducing the inflammation from the pancreatitis to the point where the gall bladder can be removed via a simple (possibly outpatient basis) laproscopy. I just hope that for all the pain these buggers are causing, I get to take them home in a glass jar!
Alcohol consumption? THAT topic made for lively discussion and debate--starting with how no doctor ever seems to believe anyone who straightforwardly states they drink in moderation (specifying exact amounts from a journal, no less). First, no way I can expect to partake of any booze until well after the gall bladder is removed and the pancreas and incisions heal. (And goddammit, let me tell y'all how much I've lusted for certain beers of late, such as Uinta Wildfire, Coniston Bluebird Bitter, and Fraoch Heather Ale....) Even then, there appears to be a faction of doctors that are of the belief that alcohol is what instigates the pancreatitis, and that alcohol should thus be verboten forevermore. I'm not buying that, but if they ultimately win, I may be holding a nice "charity fundraiser" beer sale whereas all my valuable stashes go to settle outstanding hospital bills.
UPDATE midday 11 Feb.: Not yet on solid foods, but still alive and kicking. The pain level is down substantially, and there's a chance in Hell I actually might make it to Max's this weekend, albeit with the condition that I have NO beer or even food there.