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Perforated Duodenal Ulcer

I had a duodenal ulcer and didn't know it...not until it ruptured and I experienced the worst pain of my life. And I've had several surgeries and given birth! I had been seeing a doctor for stomach pain who diagnosed acid reflux without doing any tests. I also suffer from terrible headaches and, with my doctor’s knowledge; I was eating Excedrin like crazy. I was in the process of finding another doctor for a second opinion when the ulcer decided to make itself really known. While at work I started having severe pains in my left side that radiated to my back. I was dumb enough to think that if I just went home to lie down I would be fine...and drove myself home with this mind numbing pain. I got home, changed into comfy clothes and lay down. Before I knew what hit me I was drenched in sweat, freezing (it was 112 outside that day) and convulsing so bad I couldn't even dial 911. My daughter came home and found me, she called the ambulance.

I coded in the ambulance. Once I got to the hospital I had to wait for awhile and coded again. I was finally taken for an ultrasound and then a CT scan. The CT scan showed the perforation and I was operated on immediately. I remember very little about the experience before the surgery, my family has filled in some of the blanks. Including the fact that my surgeon thought it would be a good idea to yell at me about taking Excedrin when I had an ulcer, even though I was seeing a doctor and didn't know I had the ulcer. He was none too happy with me when I responded by saying \"Could you save the lecture until after you fix the pain\".

Recovery was brutal. Tube in my nose, catheter somewhere else...and the surgery pain was unbelievable. I was in the hospital for 5 days on a clear liquid diet, and then my idiot surgeon decided I could go home (against the advice of the admitting doctor). I was barely moving around on day five. The hospital wouldn't release me until I'd had solid food...the solid food lunch for that day? Steak and potatoes, I kid you not. I refused to eat the steak, ate a bit of the potato and some jello and was on my merry way home with prescriptions for pain meds and Protonix. My family took me home, stopping at the pharmacy on the way to get the meds. My idiot surgeon had forgotten to write the dosage for the pain medication and was unreachable...until the NEXT MORNING at 11 a.m. Needless to say my first night home was horrendous. I almost went back to the hospital about three times. The pharmacy was wonderful, calling the surgeon every hour until they finally reached him, then calling to let me know the medicine was ready.

My surgeon said I could go back to work in a week...the admitting doctor (who wanted me in the hospital for at least three more days) said two. When I went to get my staples out (nine) 5 days after getting out of the hospital I told the surgeon I had no idea how I was going to go back to work the following Monday. I am an Administrative Assistant at a huge law firm. He had the impression that I just sat at a computer all day (which really didn't matter, because of the location of the incision sitting for any length of time was impossible). I had to explain in detail that I was extremely active at work and that my job was a very demanding one. If the attorneys and staff saw me at work they would think I was 100 percent and expect me to do all that I had before and I was just not ready. He finally agreed to let me off for another week.

At the next check up, the Friday before the Monday that I was again to return to work, I was in unbelievable pain. I had an extreme burning sensation in my abdomen. I explained this to the surgeon, who said it just takes time to heal and let me off work for another week.

The next visit, again the Friday before I the Monday I was to return to work, same thing. I was in such unbelievable pain, the burning was so intense. After basically breaking down in the office, telling the doctor that I just thought something was really wrong, I'd had surgeries before and had never experienced this type of pain. Plus I was SO weak and tired. He finally said \"well I guess it's possible that you have a yeast infection. I can give you some antibiotics and see if that helps\". Three days after beginning the antibiotics I was 75% better. The burning was nothing compared to what it had been and I was finally starting to sleep through the night.

I haven't been back to the surgeon since. I am still having issues with diet...what I can eat, what I can't. I lost 27 pounds (and I was pretty thin to start). I can no longer eat tomato based products, anything rich or too sweet, anything that is too spicy (Mexican is my favorite food - no more of that), etc. Red meat is not my friend; it causes stomach pain, as does the tomato based foods like spaghetti or pizza (my favorite food prior to surgery) or rich foods such as fettuccine alfredo. I was also a chocoholic before the surgery - now it makes me sick.

Of course there is no sympathy from my overweight boss who said things like \"it must be nice\" when she saw how much weight I had lost. (Of course she also said \"it must be nice\" when I was lying in the hospital bitching because I couldn't DO anything). She is constantly trying to get me to eat the cake, cookies and other sweets she is so fond of (and that I loved before the surgery), or the rich lunches she enjoys, and gets upset when I tell her I can't eat them because they make me sick. She then goes to my friends at work and tells them how worried she is about me because I don't eat. I DO eat; I just eat healthier than I ever have. I just eat plain, boring foods. Chicken or fish that is not seasoned too much, yogurt, cottage cheese, baked potatoes, etc. I also drink SlimFast with my meals; it tastes better than Ensure, has 250 calories, and has vitamins & minerals it in.

My advice to anyone who is experiencing stomach pain? Keep hounding your doctor. Find a new doctor if yours won't listen to you, and do it quickly. And the best advice I can give you - avoid NSAID's. Excedrin, Motrin, Aleve, they're all really hard on your stomach. The only thing that is \"safe\" is Tylenol. It may not work as well as the others, but taking it in place of NSAID's might save your life.

I am really hoping to find more appetizing things to eat and any suggestions would be appreciated.

18 Replies

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  • tina44481 tina44481

    I too had a similar experience. I was at work and all of a sudden had horrible pain, and dizziness. I thought I was having a heart attack, because I felt the pain upward into my chest. I went to the first aid room and tried to rest. I than went home and tried to lie down for a bit. I ended up in the emergency room where I lay in pain for 10 hours arguing with them because they wanted to send me home. A doctor finally stopped into my room because he "heard" about me from other doctors and ordered an X-ray. I was rushed into emergency surgery. I too woke up with tubes coming from everywhere. The recovery process was horrible!!! I was so weak and so sick. Liquid diet, weight loss, pain. I was sent back to work too soon as well, and I worked in a warehouse environment. Within just a few weeks I had a hernia.

    I just wanted to tell people that You know your own body! The emergency room wanted to send me home, and had I gone home I wouldn't be alive today. I stood my ground with them insisting that there was something terribly wrong. ISAIDS and Stress caused mine.

  • woodbon woodbon

    I have had the same problem, a burst duodenal ulcer that I did not know I had. My pain was in my shoulder and I was taking various ISAIDS, prescribed by my GP. I know the exact time mine burst. We had just finished supper with my brother and I was laughing, then suddenly I

    had a sudden and intense pain, I could'nt stand up straight and so we went home immediatly

    and I went to bed.

    During the night my husband called our GP, who came out and sent me to a large, local hospital. I was put into a sort of holding ward, give pain relief and sent for tests, after a few hours the doctors (who were all young) told me I had constipation, gave me laxatives and sent me home. The next day I was in terrible pain, and like you, had never experienced anything so bad. After this the treatment was fantastic. I was rushed back into hospital with blue lights and siren, operated on that evening and spent a month in hospital, due to complications. Drips, drains nil by mouth at first. CT's every other day. Altogether for a month, then home. for another 2 months or so.

    I still have to take acid inhibitors, but I can eat as I used to. No more ISIDS at all! Oh and a long scar! I felt stupid for not knowing I had an ulcer!

  • woodbon woodbon

    I have had the same problem, a burst duodenal ulcer that I did not know I had. My pain was in my shoulder and I was taking various ISAIDS, prescribed by my GP. I know the exact time mine burst. We had just finished supper with my brother and I was laughing, then suddenly had a sudden and intense pain, I could'nt stand up straight and so we went home immediatly and I went to bed.

    During the night my husband called our GP, who came out and sent me to a large, local hospital. I was put into a sort of holding ward, give pain relief and sent for tests, after a few hours the doctors (who were all young) told me I had constipation, gave me laxatives and sent me home. The next day I was in terrible pain, and like you, had never experienced anything so bad. After this the treatment was fantastic. I was rushed back into hospital with blue lights and siren, operated on that evening and spent a month in hospital, due to complications. Drips, drains nil by mouth at first. CT's every other day. Altogether for a month, then home. for another 2 months or so.

    I still have to take acid inhibitors, but I can eat as I used to. No more ISIDS at all! Oh and a long scar! I felt stupid for not knowing I had an ulcer!

    • HateMedProbs HateMedProbs woodbon

      I had reflux so bad i started regurgitating in my sleeep which can obviously kill you. Had the Nissen Fundiplacation is similar to a lap band i guess but I'm skinny. They wrap the stretches hernia around eaophogus and you never have reflux again. Downfall is b you cannot physically throw up ever again so if you get the flu etc you're screwed but losing reflux was so worth it!!! Again just a thought to mention to your doc. Not sure your location. Dr Carlos Pelligrini did mine at Univ of Washington in state of Washington. He is the one that came up with the operation. Highly recommend.

      Jen

    • carolineDBC carolineDBC woodbon

      Hi, I can see you experienced this some time ago and I wondered how you're going now. I recently had this surgery. Like you were in on anti acids and no more ISIDS ever.

      Whilst my body seems to be recovering I'm getting pretty depressed overt taste buds not working properly. Did this happen to you and if so, do you remember how long it took for them to come back? Its been hard to find anyone else who's experienced this so I'd be grateful for any advice. Thank you.

    • jennifer94261 jennifer94261 carolineDBC

      Hi CarolineDBC,

      I had a perforated ulcer about 3.5 months ago caused from blood thinners and motrin.  I'm doing a lot better now but I'm on Protronix 40mg twice a day for at least a couple of months.  I have resumed eating most foods again but they do bother me still.  Usually if I eat a lot or if I eat something like pizza.  It has gotten better but it still bothers me and feels like I have acid reflux.  How long did your take to heal and get back to normal eating with no acid refulx symptoms? 

      thanks

      Jen

  • krishna48802 krishna48802 Learned my Lesson

    hi i want to ask u something ,i know the pain u r talking about same thing happen to me i came from work and had sudden pain in stomach and the pain got worst even me i had this operation 4 weeks ago i am in home now i am recovering i feel i am getting better ok  suddenly like 3 days ago i feel pain in my left side of stomach i dont know what it is called but its under the left side rib the pain is when ever i take deep breath it hurts like sharp pain i went to doctor they jus told me its normal they told its acid reflux  and make me take my omeprazole twice a day but still its been 3 days it havent gone when ever i try to take deep breath it hurts and i am thinking it can be worst inside did u had this problem after surgery if u had plz let me knoe nythng will be helpfull

  • staci69625 staci69625 Learned my Lesson

    Watch out for pulmonary embolisms too. Some of your symptoms match and are not unusual at all

    After such an extensive surgery. 

    I had perforated ulcer (1 liter of pus in stomach) plus peritonitis then I

    Discharged from

    Hospital after 10 days and then one week later.   ...,then pain in ribs when breathing and extreme

    Short of breathe.  Another. 10 day stint in hospital with extensive painful pulmonary embolism

    Home one month now.   SOB to last five more months.   At least my vertical incistion from the peritonitis is healed (incision was breast bone to pubic bone-  nasty)

    Thank God for the best surgeons here in the USA. Saved my life.  

    I am only 44 with an 8 year old and wonderful hubby!

    Best of Luck. 

    Sorry for my typing/grammar... Stupid i phone

    • HateMedProbs HateMedProbs staci69625

      Sounds EXACTLY like mine was June 2013. But 2nd time around 😞. Im not sleeping now, not in excruciating pain but pretty bad. Onset yesterday afternoon. Omg i saw 9 staples in one post i wish!! I had 31 am sure you beat me. Anyway guess i wanted to see if anyone thought anything diff than a perf? I have lupus and take 40 prednisone daily plus methotrexate inj weekly which they think caused mine. Am sure its stress or compounded by that. Anyway just had to say exact everything to you. Im 44 but daughter is 16. Ive been septic 4 times since 1998. Crazy.

      Thx for listening.

      Jen

    • HateMedProbs HateMedProbs staci69625

      Is your verical like you're prego? I wear size 1-5 junior jeans am little 5'8 135 but have a belly and it sucks. Do you think as more years pass will get better or am i stuck?

      Still in pain but think i have pneumonia see doc tomorrow. Been on respirator 4 times. Every time pneumonia. Have pulmonary fibrosis so ive been told only a few years to live :-(. But the lupus doesnt give me a chance to fight stuff. Anyway, its nice to know im not alone. BTW i didn't rupture the perf. Surgeon said i had about an hour and would have. You are aware of the morbitity rate right? We are alll very lucky. Also, you mentioned headaches. With your light weight am.not sure but when i was heavier was diagnosed with pseudotumor cerebri (aka intracranial hypertension) you might wamna askva neurologist about that.....just a thought. I have that also.

      Have a great one.

      Jen

  • Layney82 Layney82 Learned my Lesson

    Hey... 4 weeks out of my perforated ulcer with no symptoms... pretty much exactly the same situation as yourself... except I wasn't rushed out of hospital. ... .same issue with anythin spicy or tomato based... which is boring.

    ... can I ask are you still having issues with types of food or does it get better?

    • jennifer94261 jennifer94261 Layney82

      Hi Layney82,

      I had a perforated ulcer about 3.5 months ago caused from blood thinners and motrin.  I'm doing a lot better now but I'm on Protronix 40mg twice a day for at least a couple of months.  I have resumed eating most foods again but they do bother me still.  Usually if I eat a lot or if I eat something like pizza.  It has gotten better but it still bothers me and feels like I have acid reflux.  How long did your take to heal and get back to normal eating with no acid refulx symptoms? 

      thanks

      ​Jen

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