Taylor's Intestinal Malrotation Story
Growing up I always had chronic stomach aches, but it was usually written off as stress or anxiety. I was 31 years old and it was my first wedding anniversary, when I began experiencing extreme abdominal pain and vomiting. My initial thought was that I was just fighting a stomach flu.
My husband and I are both active duty military. We were stationed apart at the time, and I was visiting him in Mobile Alabama. I was set to return home to Louisiana that evening, but knew I wouldn’t be able to make the three hour drive in my condition. In order to call out sick from work, I needed a doctor’s note, so my husband contacted our insurance company for a referral to urgent care. As he made the call, I was alternating between laying in bed and running to the bathroom, unable to keep anything down.
We arrived at urgent care where they suspected I was experiencing issues with my gallbladder rather than a stomach flu. They referred us to the emergency room for more thorough testing.
Upon arrival at the ER they did a blood test, and I threw up immediately after they drew blood. Earlier in the day I had been vomiting food I had previously eaten, but this time it was mostly bile. I was put on an IV, given anti-nausea medication and put in a wheelchair in the waiting room. Eventually I was taken back for an ultrasound, which showed my gallbladder was working just fine. The attending physician decided to order a CT scan. He was worried about the severity of my pain, and was not comfortable writing it off as the stomach flu.
While I was waiting for the results of my CT scan, a nurse came in and gave me morphine, which helped with pain relief. Shortly after that, the attending physician came back in with the on call surgeon. The surgeon told me my CT scan showed I had a midgut volvulus caused by intestinal malrotation. I had never heard of intestinal malrotation or midgut volvulus before, but he was confident in the diagnosis. He said that while it was rare to be diagnosed at my age, he had done the Ladd’s procedure on adults before, and he was sure he could help me.
Maybe it was the morphine I was on, but I wasn’t overly concerned about surgery. I just wanted them to fix whatever was wrong. I had no time to research midgut volvulus or malrotation, and no time to be nervous. I was whisked back to surgery within an hour of talking to the surgeon, as he had made it clear that he needed to operate before my bowels began to die. Two hours later I was in recovery.
The next day my father-in-law drove three hours to sit with me in the hospital, so my husband could go take take care of our dog and put in for leave at work. My surgeon wanted me to get out of bed and walk on the second day, so my mother in law, who is a nurse, came down to help. She was able to help me to the bathroom, as well as assist me in doing laps around the nurses station.
I was able to start eating and drinking on my own two days after surgery, and by day three I was moving to soft food. On day four, which happened to be my husband’s birthday, I was able to be discharged home. I was on convalescent leave from work for 30 days. During that time I ate a lot of fruit and had no desire for cheese which was rare for me. Each day I continued to be able to walk further and do more on my own. Within 60 days of surgery I was able to ride my horse again.
Since my Ladd’s procedure, my health has been fairly good. The only problem I’ve had so far has been dealing with a sensitive stomach and occasional bouts of nausea. It seems as though fatty foods, too much dairy, and onions can all set me off. I’m still working through what I can and can’t eat, and have recently begun seeing a gastroenterologist. Sometimes it’s frustrating having this condition and trying to work through my diet restrictions. However, on the positive side, I do have a pretty neat looking scar that people like to ask me about.
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