So after a good five or more years of mysterious pain, my problem has apparently been found and I went into surgery to get it fixed.
So yeah, Monday week ago (27 August) I bit the bullet and went in for surgery. What I had is apparently called Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome (Google for it, it’s fun!)
Diagram of sagittal view of abdominal aorta shows celiac artery compression by the median arcuate ligament (solid and dashed line). At expiration (Exp), the aorta and its major branches, including the celiac artery (C), move cephalad (arrow). This typically causes worsening of compression by the median arcuate ligament. (Image courtesy of Martha Helmers, BS, New York University Medical Center, New York, NY)
Basically this means that there was an arcuate (bow shaped) ligament laying over the top of a fairly major artery called the Celiac Axis, and it was blocking blood flow to my stomach whenever I ate.
The median arcuate ligament had to be snipped and cleared away. The procedure was called something like, “Laparoscopic division of adhesions,” which is a tad weird because medically, an adhesion is scar tissue. I honestly don’t the implications of it being snipped. All that I know is that I was pretty much completely incapacitated for just under a week. I must ask the surgeon just exactly what the fucking thing even does.
Thank fuck it was done laparoscopically though… that shit is so fascinating. Another name for it is keyhole surgery, and apart from the obvious use of microscoping cameras and shit to peek inside and do the cuts, they do some other crazy shit too:
- Use of fibre optics as a “cold” light source (awesome, I’ve had a SONET OC-48 inside me!)
- Insufflation is used — they pump your abdomen with carbon dioxide (CO2) in order to blow it up like a balloon, so that they can see shit
I did notice that the next day, my shoulders were quite sore, and made a point of it to Robyn. She said that she was told it was to be expected, due to the CO2 stuff. A bit more research yielded the following from Wikipedia:
Not all of the CO2 introduced into the abdominal cavity is removed through the incisions during surgery. Gas tends to rise, and when a pocket of CO2 rises in the abdomen, it pushes against the diaphragm (the muscle that separates the abdominal from the thoracic cavities and facilitates breathing), and can exert pressure on the phrenic nerve. This produces a sensation of pain that may extend to the patient’s shoulders. For an appendectomy, the right shoulder can be particularly painful. In some cases this can also cause considerable pain when breathing. In all cases, however, the pain is transient, as the body tissues will absorb the CO2 and eliminate it through respiration.Wikipedia
I had both… particularly the breathing… didn’t like that sensation one little bit at all.Anyhow, I left the hospital the next day (could hardly walk & breathe, but I’m fully not compatible with hospitals), and spent the rest of the week getting waited on by my wonderful nurse, Robyn.
A week and a bit later, I went for a checkup with the surgeon, and finally got the annoying little bandages taken off and got to finally see my miniature scars 🙂 As the surgeon said, “They won’t be anything that impressive — you’ll look more like you’ve been tango’ing with Chopper.” Still, I think it looks half cool.
Here’s to a complete recovery, and no more pain in my gut whenever I eat, or am basically awake!