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What Happened?

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So…have you ever had “one of those days?”

It all began last month when I “pulled a muscle” in my back (from just getting out of bed that morning, no less). At first I thought I had just pulled a muscle, but the pain got worse through the day, then I started getting “tingling” and numbness down my legs…that’s not from a pulled muscle. I called my primary care Physician who saw me the next day. She determined it was probably a slipped disc and ordered an MRI, which I took that same day. By the next day I had the results: mostly minor arthritis and related things, but there was “degenerative disc disease” at L4/L5 (low back). However, while it was an issue, it was something that could be managed (though not reversed) with physical therapy. The physician referred me to an orthopedic back surgeon and (PAY ATTENTION HERE) prescribed Ibuprofen, 2400 mg/day for two weeks, to reduce the inflammation for physical therapy. That’s a lot of Ibuprofen. I’d been on the receiving end of a duodenal ulcer (caused by the H. Pylori bacterium) that almost did me in a few years ago so I raised an eyebrow and asked “What about my PUD (Peptic Ulcer Disease)?” The doc said “eh, don’t worry about it.” I saw the ortho surgeon a couple days later who concurred with the diagnosis and prescribed six weeks of physical therapy, three times per week. My wife and I also mentioned the high Ibuprofen intake but I don’t think it really “sank in” with him. By the way, I never took the Ibuprofen on an empty stomach.

So off to PT I go. The first session was an evaluation and the therapist thought I probably had a “faset” problem at L3/L4 too: she manipulated my back much the same way a chiropractor might and *CRACK!* Much of the pain moderated significantly. I thereafter dutifully reported for therapy, got some very mild exercises to start doing, and began to feel a little better every day (at least I could quit using the cane I had for most of the day).

Fast-forward to Monday, May 11 (remember that date). Early PT (8am…ugh) scheduled so I got up early, showered, shaved, and had breakfast. While munching on breakfast…*crack*…broke a crown, dammit. So while I went off to PT my wife made an appointment with my dentist…10am that same day, cool. I saw the dentist then came home for lunch, thinking I’d go back to work in the afternoon. Just before eating I used the potty and it looked…weird. Very much like the stools I had before my ulcer a few years ago. Uh-oh, I’ll have to watch that. Finished lunch and I was getting ready to go to the office when I suddenly had to use the potty again.

Blood. Lots of it. And the hear-my-heart-in-my-ears pounding that I remembered all too well.

OK, I’m officially scared (one of the things I found out many months after my first ulcer experience was that if I hadn’t gone to the hospital when I did, I wouldn’t have survived the day) so I call my wife, tell her what’s going on, and ask her to come home from her work. I call my primary doctor’s office, explaining that I needed to be seen right away. “I’m sorry, we’re completely booked today.” Uh…ok. Thinking frantically I remembered the GI (gastric) doctor who took care of me a few years ago. I called his office, explained the situation, and they said sure, come on in.

A few minutes later my wife arrived and we head off to the GI’s office. I’m scared and I’m feeling worse by the minute. I’m a “work in” so we’re sitting in an exam room, waiting. And just as the doctor walks through the doorway…

…I start vomiting blood.

Now the GI doctor is one of the most mild-mannered, easy-going fellows I’ve ever met. But when he saw that he suddenly turned into a drill sergeant, barking orders to his staff, questioning my wife, and telling everyone within ear-shot what was going on and what to do. Luckily the doctor’s office is literally across the street from a hospital so he says he’ll call my primary physician and get me pre-admitted into the hospital’s Emergency Department. They put me in a wheel chair and take me to our car, since it would be faster for my wife to drive me to the Emergency entrance than it would be to call for an ambulance and wait. (Later I found out that the GI doctor ended up doing the actual admission, since my primary doctor told him the same thing they told me: “We’re too busy here right now.” Uh, ok….)

The Emergency Department receptionist had already been alerted I was coming and I was taken directly to a treatment room when I arrived (probably much to the chagrin of the other people in the waiting room. Sorry, folks). I’m only semi-conscious by this point so I’m not exactly sure what all they did, though I remember they started oxygen, IV fluids, drugs to shut down my stomach, plus a bunch of tests. Once I started to stabilize they began talking about doing an EGD (that’s a “esophagogastroduodenoscopy”). I had a similar procedure with my duodenal ulcer: they sedate you and run a tube down your throat and into your stomach. The tube has a camera and a little gizmo that squirts epinephrine onto the ulcer, cauterizing it.

The ER nurse was just about to run a nasal-gastric (N/G) tube down me to flush out any remaining blood in my stomach when the GI doctor called up (he must’ve gotten the test results): “Forget the N/G tube, I want to go in right now. We’ll do the EGD under general anesthesia.” I’m taken from Emergency to Pre-Op where I answer a bunch of questions, sign some release forms, and get some sedation prep. I remember being wheeled into the endoscopic room and the head of my bed being lowered…

…then waking up in PACU (Post-Op). I feel groggy and my throat hurts (I assume from the intubation) but seem to be OK otherwise. I must have fallen back asleep at some point because I woke up again in a regular hospital room with my wife, a friend of hers, and a few nurses. My wife tells me that the GI doctor told her I had two stomach ulcers, one of which perforated an artery. Well, that explains the blood everywhere.

Oh, and did I mention May 11 is our wedding anniversary? Helluva way to spend it….

From there it was recovery. I slowly lost all the tubes and machines I was hooked up to and was eventually allowed to start eating things besides ice chips. The low point was definitely the wee hours of Wednesday morning when all the anethstetics must’ve worn off because I felt like I was hit by a train. But the nurses were great and the GI doctor popped in once in a while to check on me. My primary physician never showed her face.

I’m back home now, tired from the blood loss and medicines but feeling better. I’ll probably be allowed to go back to work in a week or so. I’ll eventually pick up PT again but that’s going to have to wait until I’m more fully recovered. Shaving videos? Honestly, they’re the last thing on my mind right now. At the moment my first priority is getting healthy again…and finding a new primary care physician.


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

41 thoughts on “What Happened?”

  1. Hi Mark,
    I’ve been a vegetarian for most of the last 11 years. I still eat regular food, as opposed to the raw fooders. I think that eating anything but fruit or vegetables in their raw state is poison and that the body fights that with hydrochloric acid. So, if you want to eat nasty things, then it can be good to give your body a rest through fasting or eating only fruit for a while.
    When you eat fruit, your stomach doesn’t go to war. The fruit will just pass through the stomach where it is digested by the small intestine. But, certain combinations of food cause more stomach acid. Anthony Robbins dedicates a chapter to it in Unlimited Power and some Natural hygiene people have made a study of it, called food combining. Except avocadoes. Those seem to give me some indigestion.
    I’ve been getting a lot of acid indigestion, though. I feel it at night and since I can only sleep on my stomach, it gets bad enough that I can’t sleep until about 6 or more hours after the meal. So, I don’t get to bed for a long time. I’ve heard that acid buildup can be so bad that you can die from it. I hadn’t really taken my friend’s comments to heart.
    Thanks for making your website and youtube videos for people. That is way cool. Have you read ‘Diet for a new America by John Robbins?’ It is the best book I have ever read. I think being a vegetarian is cool for many reasons, but one reason that comes to mind is not having to trust doctors for disease. I still need doctors in the case of injury, but for disease, I feel that I know much more than them. I would hate to have to respect the medical profession.
    For me, eggs give me massive indigestion. I don’t believe anything about their being some emotional component to ulcers. Have you heard that? That if you get angry a lot, it is supposed to cause ulcers. Do you have any health strategy?

  2. Sorry to hear about your ordeal, but its great that you are feeling better. Wish you a speedy recovery and see you soon on the shaving forums!

  3. Oy, that sounds terrible Mantic! I'm glad to hear that you're alright. You deserve some time off to take it slow and recuperate. I'm sure you'll be back to your full self soon. Take 'er easy, friend.

  4. As another ANOTHER one of the people you've guided and taught through your kind-hearted and guiding videos I, too, am glad to hear you're on the recovery track. I'm also disturbed by what you knew to ask about (the effect of THAT much Ibuprofen), but no doc seemed to take a minute to question. Nonetheless, let me say "Thank You" and wish you God speed in your recovery (recoveries? – how is that disk?!).

  5. Hope your recovery is nearing completion. New primary care physician NOW! Love the shaving videos, BTW, they have helped me a bunch.

  6. another_DE_convert

    As one of your growing legion of grateful fans and followers, I am saddened by your illness, but happy that you've emerged from it. If you get tired of shaving videos, try writing news or sports stories, you are pretty good with the narrative.

  7. Mantic:

    I wish you a speedy recovery. Using ibuprofen in your setting was not a good idea! Glad you are mending, though. You have a lot of admirers throughout the wetshaving community!

    Take good care!!

  8. Very glad to hear you are back home and on the mend! And good for you for finding a new PCF…how they treated you was inexcusable!

    Godspeed, Joey

    PS-because of your detailed description im just wondering if you or your wife are in the medical field?

  9. Hello Mantic,
    Sorry to hear that you had to go through that horrible experience. I would think the worst part about that was feeling that your PCP didn't really give a rat's a**.
    Glad to see that you're feeling better. Looking forward to more videos and information from you. Take care !

  10. Thank God you found out in time and got yourself a better physician. Love your videos and your blog.

    Get well soon!

    Best wishes from Germany!

  11. Firstly this experience was terrible but think about how lucky you are that you were able to cope with it and got medical help in time.

    Get well soon.

    Best wishes from Hungary

  12. Wow, heck of an ordeal. Glad to hear it was caught in time. Please take your time to make a full recovery. The videos can wait. Speaking of videos, thank you for such great videos and showing me how to really shave. I’ve never had a better shave in my life. Anyway, take care and kindest wishes!

  13. That was horrible to have happen near your anniversary. It’s good you bypassed your physician to go to the GI surgeon.

    Hope you get well soon and that you find a better doctor

  14. Mantic,

    I hope you get better. Don’t worry about shaving videos, my goodness! Your health is much more important.

    You should contact an attorney to discuss possible ramifications for your PCP (primary care physician) neglecting you care in an emergency. At the very least, the ignorant staff members that didn’t want to do their jobs should be let go. In this economy, I can guarantee there are tons more people that are qualified for the position.

  15. Glad you’re on the mend. I wish for a speedy recovery. As for you’re videos, I can do without them till you’re back in stride. Sounds like to me you should be shopping or a new internist.

  16. Health is Wealth mantic. Forget about shaving and videos. Get well soon. My prayers are with you.

    Have a lot of ice cream if you can. My uncle is a doctor and told me it is good to have lotta ice cream and ice water when suffering from ulcer. (Check with your doctor too, just in case)

    Take care man! Get well soon.

  17. That is one hell of an anniversary! Glad you were on the phone calling doctors about it though – I know some guys who might be inclined to just ‘shrug it off’. Blood in your stool and stomach pain are huge warning flags.

    Try to relax and take it easy for a bit and for God’s sake, stay away from the habanero enchilada!

  18. Jesus, Mark! I’m sorry to hear about it…wow. I’d be sooooo angry at that doctor. But then, anger is no good to anyone.

    Take care, and let the whiskers grow my friend.

    My thoughts are with you.

  19. michael jauernik

    shaving? what’s that?
    the only thing which is important is recovery now and hey, does it matter if it is may 11 or june 11 as long as you love eachother?

    best wishes from germany

  20. Sounds like you’ve been to Hell and back Mantic! I sympathize with you as I suffered for years with a bad stomach from H. Pylori from between the age of 15 – 21. Each time I went to see my GP I was told “Its just stress from exams, you play too many video games and drink too much coffee.” It actually took some lunatic to BURN DOWN the clinic before I saw a different doc who performed some tests (nice of her), diagnosed and promptly sorted it with the antibiotic cocktail. Sometimes it takes a doctor seeing you throwing up blood before they pay attention to what you’re telling them 🙁
    I hope you’re feeling a little bit better now and we all wish you a speedy recovery!

  21. Hi Mantic,

    I truly hope you’re feeling better soon. As a medical professional myself, I can say that it’s absolutely ludicrous that you’d be given such a high dose of a NSAID with a history of H. Pylori PUD. Even a third year medical student would know that. I’d definitely suggest a new internist and a detailed letter to your old one expressing your upset–hopefully she’ll never make such a mistake with another patient.

  22. You’ve got our permission to skip a few days of shaving Mark, no worries there! 😉

    A speedy recovery to you!

  23. Good thing you did the right thing and went for immediate care. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  24. Fredrik Karlsson

    What an ordeal! I hope that you will get a speedy recovery so you and your wife will get to celebrate your anniversiry in a more pleasant way.

    Best wishes from Sweden!

  25. Man, what an experience. Your GI doctor is a gem, and your primary care physician deserves a detailed complaint written to the state licensing board (and keep a copy).

    Clearly a VERY serious episode. I’m very glad to read that you’re on the road to recovery. Take care, and best wishes.

  26. Man. Sorry to hear of your troubles. My wife has stomach issues, too. I know they are a pain (in the gut). Treat yourself well. Peace be with you.

  27. Oy Vey!!! It’s a lesson for all of us to be our own medical advocate. I hope you find a better primary. Take care of yourself and work on getting better. (We’ll watch the re-runs.)

  28. What a story, It was like reading a novel.

    Hope you feel better soon!

    Best wishes from Sweden

  29. What an ordeal! Glad it was all caught in time, and that you are resting and healing up now. Take ‘er slow and easy.. Hope to hear more from you soon!

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