I’ll try my best to provide a timeline through several posts to document our experiences to date (as our own recollections are now getting cloudy) and to bring any readers up to speed on our what brought us to today. I’ll begin here with the events that led to Francis’ initial hospitalization.
Saturday, March 24, began as any normal Saturday in the Gibbs household… We woke up, got ourselves and Couper ready to face the day and took off for our routine Target trip before lunch at The Egg. I was just two months from my estimated due date for our second child, and doing my best to summon the energy to face the Target shoppers with a husband and toddler in tow. I should note that I love going shopping by myself, and feel much more efficient when I can do so. We stopped at Chick-fil-a for a couple of plain biscuits and some iced tea. Francis ate his biscuit, but noticed that his sweet tea really didn’t taste good to him. If you know Francis at all, you know this is very out of character.
After finishing up at Target, Francis told me he wasn’t feeling well and that we should probably go home rather than to lunch. Pregnant LeAnne, famished and tired, reluctantly agreed. When we arrived home, Francis had some diarrhea (that continued that day and the next), and parked on the couch for the Univ. of Florida- Univ. of Louisville Elite Eight basketball matchup. He wasn’t able to eat the rest of that day.
Francis felt better the next day, as well as one can feel after a stomach bug, and we went about our normal routine. However, Francis mentioned several times that week that he just didn’t feel 100% better.
The following weekend, Francis mentioned again that he wasn’t feeling well and had another bout of diarrhea, he also was experiencing some uncomfortable bloating. We discussed it and decided that the best course of action was to go to the Patients First urgent care center for a check-up.
On Tuesday, April 3, Francis called work to tell them he wouldn’t be going on a scheduled trip to Tampa and went to Patients First to see a doctor. They drew some blood and did an X-ray of his abdomen. After looking at the X-ray, the assessment was that there may be a blockage in his intestines that was causing the discomfort and diarrhea. They immediately referred him to the Digestive Disease Clinic (DDC) for further assessment.
On April 4, Francis and I (and Couper) all traveled to the GI specialist’s office for the appointment. The doctor did a general exam, and didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. Strangely enough, Francis was able to poop and pass some gas that alleviated the bloating before the appointment. She diagnosed the problem as a virus in his intestines that could take a number of weeks to improve. She wrote a prescription for Nexium suggested taking Gas-X and sent us on our way.
Francis went back to work and coped as best he could with the ongoing symptoms, which included stomach pain, occasional diarrhea, extremely loud stomach grumbles (sounded like a draining bathtub and could be heard across the room), a feeling of needing to throw up when lying on his right side, and difficulty passing gas. Francis’ job requires considerable travel, so I’m sure you can imagine that these symptoms along with plane or car travel, not to mention numerous meetings, can be uncomfortable and even embarrassing.
A little over a week later , the pain became more acute and the grumbling noises louder. Although I wasn’t sleeping well already due to pregnancy, the sounds would often wake me up at night. Paired with the grumbling, Francis described what felt like a very hard bubble passing through his intestines that was so painful he would often have to stop speaking mid-sentense and would grimace until the pain passed. I teased him that he was experiencing a sympathy pregnancy, and could now understand labor pains a bit better. Frankly, I was getting worried that we’d now been dealing with this for a couple weeks and things had not only failed to improve, but were now deteriorating. Francis had noticed weight loss of 5-10 pounds, he was exhausted and had started going to bed immediately after dinner rather than his usual 11 pm bedtime, and the pain was becoming unmanagable.
At that point, Francis called the DDC for another appointment, they scheduled him to see a nurse practitioner on the following week on April 18. Unfortunately, after suffering through another week of symptoms, the nurse wasn’t able to provide any further clarity and suggested that Francis continue with the Nexium and Gas-X as prescribed because this type of virus that they had seen could take as many as six weeks to improve. On Friday of that same week, Francis called back after a particularly bad night of being unable to sleep due to pain and bloating and asked to be seen again. The nurse called him back and told him that he should just wait through the weekend to see if things improved. I was furious, and Francis was feeling devastated and dismissed.
On Monday, April 23, Francis called the DDC back and was able to get an appointment with the doctor again the next day. This time, the doctor seemed to be a bit more responsive to Francis’ concerns, but the office certainly was not in a hurry to get things moving along. They scheduled Francis for an upper endoscopy the following week. Once again, it was a very rough week.
The end of that week, Francis was visibly bloated. Honestly, he looked like he was about 5 months pregnant, which was deeply disturbing to both of us. The symptoms that had been our constant companions continued to worsen, and by the weekend he was throwing up for the first time since this ordeal began in March. He would make himself throw up to get relief from the fullness he was now feeling in his throat, and was hardly able to eat anything at all. Again if you know Francis, you know that he hadn’t thrown up since he was about twelve, let alone make himself throw up.
The upper endoscopy was scheduled for Tuesday, May 1. Francis wasn’t able to eat or drink for 12 hours before the procedure, which was difficult because he had thrown up through the night and was therefore incredibly thirsty and probably dehydrated. His bloating also seemed to worsen. They gave him a strong sedative for the procedure, so he was able to sleep through it. I was called back when they finished and he kept telling me that they hadn’t taken him back for the procedure yet.
Thankfully, the doctor was finally concerned about his symptoms as she could now see the bloating. Although nothing presented itself on the upper endoscopy we felt like we were getting somewhere. The doctor suggested that we call that afternoon, once the sedative had worn off, to schedule a colonoscopy. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it that far.
We arrived home from the DDC and Francis was thankful to be able to drink some water and eat something. He ate a few bites of applesauce and immediately threw up. He and I decided that this was the last straw. I called the DDC doctor’s nurse this time, and she suggested that we go straight to the emergency room. I called our babysitter, who packed an overnight bag and headed back to our house to watch Couper. When she arrived, we were off.