Please help me save someone from dehydration...
August 3, 2008 6:57 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend cannot stop vomiting. I know you are not a doctor, but I am desperate. Please advise if you have ever had this happen, I'm very worried.

He started feeling poorly on Friday, and stayed confined mostly to bed Friday evening, all day Saturday and Saturday night, and beginning around 2 a.m. the vomiting began. He's vomiting about once every 10-15 minutes and has for 16-18 hours. I have tried all of the following:

- Dramamine
- Emetrol
- Anti-nausea chewables
- Gatorade
- Sparkling water
- Plain water
- Ice chips
- Ginger ale

I also drove to the pharmacy and begged the tech for help. She said "if stomach pain, try emetrol. If no stomach pain, try Dramamine."

Nothing has helped. He has no medical insurance. I have tried calling my doctor and he will not prescribe anything over the phone. There is no free clinic in Dallas. There is no Ask-a-Nurse number for Dallas. The last time I took him to the emergency room we waited a full 24 hours and watched a person have a seizure right in front of us and he spit blood and puke within a few inches of us. The bill was several thousand dollars. Neither of us has the strength to go through that again.

Symptoms: No fever, but body aches everywhere, extremely sore throat (totally from the vomiting), body aches, extended sneezing spells (he'll sneeze 6 times in a row, quickly, try to sip a little water, and spend the next five minutes violently vomiting).

I just... I don't know what to do. I don't know what this is. I have exhausted every friend, parent, and neighbor with requests for medication. All pharmacies have closed now and I'm exhausted, too.

Other factors: He has consumed no alcohol in several days, no new foods/medications/vitamins, no change in surroundings or usual daily activities, and the only things he has eaten are 100% fruit juice popsicles and a small bowl of pasta which I also ate and am fine.

He is not coughing, nothing is swollen, no stiffness in the neck, no fever... I just am at my wit's end. 1/2 a chunk of ice melting in his mouth triggers five minutes of vomiting. Any suggestions?

I have read that he needs to sleep for a few hours and let his digestive tract rest before trying fluids again, but he cannot fall asleep due to the overwhelming thirst. Ideas?

I have checked WebMD, ask-a-nurse medical services online and called my local hospital and they cryptically referred me to WebMD and then hung up on me.
posted by Unicorn on the cob to Health & Fitness (80 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Emergency Room. Now.
posted by Scoo at 7:06 PM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Another vote for the emergency room RIGHT NOW. Go.
posted by scody at 7:07 PM on August 3, 2008

He's extremely dehydrated, and his electrolytes are way out of balance. I don't know why he's vomiting, but if you can help him get some Emergen-C in his body it'll do him good. Even if he can't drink it, if he could just let the powder dissolve in his mouth that'll be better than nothing. Small, small, small sips might not upset his stomach.

Are you sure you can't handle the emergency room? Just because you had a really bad experience last time doesn't mean that it's always like that. Could you try a different hospital? Could you drive to Plano or Richardson or someting?

Good luck.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:08 PM on August 3, 2008

INsurance or no, go to the fucking hospital. NOW. Don't wait to read any more responses.

(I'm one of those, "I don't need no stinkin' medicine types" - I've had cars fall on my arms and legs and not even bothered with more than a couple aspirin - but something like that, go to the hospital.)
posted by notsnot at 7:08 PM on August 3, 2008

Go to one of the urgent care places. (You're in Dallas, right?) They should be able to see him quickly and they're not as expensive as an emergency room. I think there are some late-night ones around.
posted by youcancallmeal at 7:09 PM on August 3, 2008

if he hasn't been able to keep fluids down and can't keep fluids down now, than you must take him to the ER for an IV and treatment. i'm so sorry that you guys are going to be saddled with a huge bill, but not going is risking his life.
posted by buka at 7:11 PM on August 3, 2008

You've tried all the good OCT stuff I know of (other than pot which doesn't sound appropriate in this circumstance), so its hospital time. If he is that dehydrated and can't get fluid to stay down orally, he'll need an IV and you probably don't have one of those at home.

You can try to make him an appt for tomorrow morning just in case that comes sooner than when the ER doctor can get to him, but I think you should go now and start the waiting.
posted by rmless at 7:12 PM on August 3, 2008

Nthing the ER - this could be something very serious. If the last hospital you visited was bad, try a different ER in a different part of the city or in a nearby suburb.
posted by Miko at 7:12 PM on August 3, 2008

IANYD or anyones for that matter but if he's not keeping anything down and he's been throwing up for almost 2 days, he'll be pretty dehydrated. You can't get anything into him so (and I'm not a doctor) I would imagine you're pretty close to IV drip time. Nothing anyone tells you to take will help, he can't keep anything down. Your options are few as I see it.

Please don't mess around with this and put it off any longer, get him to a doctor. I understand you don't have the strength to go through this again but the consequences of just not doing anything else because he can't keep things down could be much worse. Get off the internet and go now. Best of luck, let us know how it goes.
posted by Jubey at 7:13 PM on August 3, 2008

Dehydration is no joke. The "overwhelming thirst" that prevents him from sleeping may be a signal of moderate dehydration, as are muscle cramps and body aches. When was the last time he urinated and what was that like (scant & dark or voluminous & clear)?

I would be at the emergency room if this was someone I cared about. Money be damned. In three years you won't care about $3000 spent if it keeps his vital organs functioning.
posted by cocoagirl at 7:14 PM on August 3, 2008

My biggest concern at this point would be dehydration. If he absolutely can't keep anything down, then I don't know what you can do. He'll probably need to be on an IV drip. The longer you wait the more serious (and costly) it will get.

Which hospital did you go to last time? A Google search turns up a half dozen or so in the Dallas area. Try another one. Some of the religious ones might be more flexible about the billing (just a guess)

My guess would be food poisoning, but he would have had to eaten something different from you. Possibly even Wednesday or Thursday night, although that seems a little long of an incubation period for a common case.

Food poisoning can be several days of sickness followed by a week of recovery. Are you up for that? I think you need some serious medical help.
posted by sbutler at 7:16 PM on August 3, 2008

I had severe stomach problems about 10 years ago. Over several months, my stomach became increasingly sensitive, to the point where I could only eat plain rice, pasta, crackers, etc. Over Christmas vacation, for whatever reason, it got much worse, so that I literally could not eat anything without developing severe nausea, and vomiting everything up. Horrible experience, the stomach pains from doing so much vomiting were excruciating, and I was so weak from hunger/thirst that I couldn't do much but lay there.

Anyway, I had medical insurance and eventually went to the hospital. The told me that at some point, my stomach was starting to reject everything, and I needed to leave it alone for awhile. That was only possible because they gave me an IV with some anti-nausea meds to rehydrate me. Within a day or so, I was eating very small meals of cream of rice. Within a couple weeks, I was eating semi-normally.

So, that's not to say your boyfriend has anything like what I had, but basically nothing I did was much help until I got serious medical attention. If that's still not an option yet, I'd recommend very small amounts of water at room temperature, not ice.
posted by bluejayk at 7:17 PM on August 3, 2008

Please go to the ER. I took my husband after ONE day of vomiting and he was severly dehydrated.

If you're worried about the bill, theoretically you could give them a fake name and say you don't have ID. (THIS IS PROBABLY ILLEGAL).
posted by sondrialiac at 7:18 PM on August 3, 2008

Try one of those urgent care clinics... it may make a good stopgap solution and would keep the bill down.

If you go to an ER, avoid the one you went to last time. The few times I've had to go to ERs or bring someone to them there's never been more than a 30 minute wait, and I think that's because I was dealing with one on the city periphery rather than right in the city. Maybe it's luck, I don't know.

And fire your doctor and get a different one. Doctors like that are why I have such a cynical view of American medical practice. I would not hesitate to leave a bad review of a doctor on the "rate my doctor" websites for failing me at a time like this.
posted by crapmatic at 7:19 PM on August 3, 2008

You really need to go to the hospital. If worse comes to worse, you can just not pay the hospital bills. Your boyfriend, however, cannot come back from the dead. And if his condition's as serious as you say, you won't be waiting as long as you did last time.
posted by calistasm at 7:20 PM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

the reason his body is aching is because he is dehydrating. there is information on dehydration here including a description of how bad things need to be before you need an iv (intervaenous drip).

there is a recipe for a rehydration solution here. you can try this, but if he's vomiting continuously it may not help.

however, vomiting that often, for that long, is pretty damn extreme. apart from the dehydration there's something else wrong and it doesn't sound like food poisoning to me. i also think you should get to a hospital as soon as possible, even if the dehydration is not yet life-threatening.
posted by not sure this is a good idea at 7:25 PM on August 3, 2008

I am not a doctor, but I know that extended, incessant vomiting can be caused by gall bladder failure.

But gall bladder or no, medical degree or no, get him to the HOSPITAL. NOW.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:27 PM on August 3, 2008

Urgent Care or ER. As others have said - he's dehydrated, electrolyte levels that are out of whack can cause worse issues.

Sometimes smaller level 2 ER's are a lot less busy then Level 1 county hospitals. If there's a smaller community hospital with an ER try them before you go to the big county one with everyone else who's uninsured. You'll wait a long time at any level 1 trauma center. Level 2 is much quicker and can handle abd pain. All ER will see you - regardless of insurance. All hospitals will work out payment plans with you.
posted by dog food sugar at 7:27 PM on August 3, 2008

I can't give any overly specific advice, other than to say that I spent almost an hour vomiting every couple minutes, and it was literally the most miserable I've been my whole life. Every time I threw up, I felt even more awful, and was even more thirsty, but even small sips of water made it much worse. Mine ended up being some sort of "stomach bug," which sounds harmless, but it left me bedridden for a couple days (over Christmas no less) to recover.

However, 18 hours of vomiting is extremely disturbing, and I'd be growing more and more concerned by the minute. Not just for the vomiting itself, but because I suspect he's gone from "thirsty" to "dangerously dehydrated." I assure you the medical bill won't hurt half as much as your boyfriend is hurting right now, and, to be blunt, the bill will probably be cheaper than the cost of a funeral. Please don't take a risk on something like this.
posted by fogster at 7:32 PM on August 3, 2008

Best answer: If he can't keep down oral anti-nausea medication, then the next step is to move on to suppositories (I know. kind of awkward, but they work). If you can't find a pharmacy or some other place that sells them, then the only thing left to do is to get him to the ER so he can get IV meds.
posted by thisjax at 7:33 PM on August 3, 2008

Call urgent care clinic NOW. Here is a list of urgent care clinics.
posted by zia at 7:37 PM on August 3, 2008

I've had this happen to me a couple of times (I have stomach issues). The first time the doctor gave me an anti-emetic injection and the vomiting stopped. The second time the injection didn't work so I had IV pain relief (this may not be appropriate in your case). The vomiting stopped five minutes after they said 'ten more minutes and we're admitting you'. Both times I was given an emergency doctors appointment after only about eight hours of vomiting, and the second time it was only 12 hours of vomiting when they were going to admit me. You're way past time to get medical attention.

Both times they didn't give me anything orally because, duh, it doesn't stay down so is pointless. This is where you're at. There's nothing you can give him to fix this any more. Oral won't work (and will probably make it worse) and you're not qualified to inject him, even if you could get hold of prescription level anti-emetics, which you can't. You need to take him to someone who can help, i.e. an actual doctor.

Note that both of my vomiting fits had understandable, fairly minor, causes and the background to the event was not an ongoing medical problem. But the doctors took it really seriously because severe dehydration really can kill you, and in your case you don't even know that the underlying condition is something benign.

In short: you can't help, this really really needs treatment, please stop looking for other solutions and just go see a doctor now.
posted by shelleycat at 7:37 PM on August 3, 2008

Sometimes you just have to puke. Sometimes taking anti-nausea (or anti-diarrheal) meds isn't the best way to go unless your doctor advises. Sometimes a person may have a gut full of E-coli from food poisoning and must get it out. I'm not saying this is what is happening to your husband. He very may well have a nasty stomach virus. It sounds like it but we can't know for sure.

If he can't keep down sips of Gatorade after 24 hours I would take him to the ER. Keep drinking small sips of water and Gatorade even if he is still vomiting.
posted by LoriFLA at 7:38 PM on August 3, 2008

Nthing the ER recommendations. Dehydration can lead to serious complications. In addition to treating the dehydration, they probably can give him IV anti-nausea drugs.
posted by chez shoes at 7:48 PM on August 3, 2008

N-thing the suggestion to go to a small suburban ER. After having an 8-10 wait once for my SO at one big downtown emergency room in the city we used to live in (we eventually walked out because the situation was resolving itself), and something like 4 on another occasion (he'd had a car wreck), when it came up again I took him to a little suburban place. They got him in under an hour, and it was nothing like as urgent as what you're describing.
posted by dilettante at 7:59 PM on August 3, 2008

The thought of a hospital bill can be daunting, but most will be willing to work out payment plan with you.

Urgent Cares tend not to have the long waits of emergency rooms and also tend to be a little cheaper, so you might want to visit one of them with your boyfriend. ASAP.
posted by drezdn at 8:03 PM on August 3, 2008

It could be a side effect of something being wrong that isn't even originally stomach related. Yes, you've got to take him to an emergency room. Better now than if he becomes unconscious and can't get himself into the car. Plus, that's super scary (and rightly so). Just do what needs to be done -- yes, again, although I know it's hard -- and deal with the consequences later. Good luck. There's really nothing else you can do.
posted by amtho at 8:04 PM on August 3, 2008

You've done everything within you power and his situation has still not improved. This is a situation that needs to be assessed by medical professionals. This is what they exist for. Yes, there will be a bill, however this can be thought of after your boyfriend's situation is stabilized.
posted by Asherah at 8:05 PM on August 3, 2008

I think most health insurance companies have a 24hr nurse line, like this one for BCBS of TX. Maybe try that with your insurance company? I know you said you tried ask-a-nurse services, but maybe an insurance company version would work out better. I assume you have insurance since you mentioned your doctor.
posted by sentient at 8:08 PM on August 3, 2008

Funerals are also expensive. Emergency room NOW, please.
posted by w0mbat at 8:10 PM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE go to the emergency room! FIgure out the bill later. His health is what's important. The ER will make him stop vomiting. Believe me -- they have good anti-vomiting/antinauseal drugs like Zofran, which is AWESOME. Please. For his sake!

I'm sorry for this but:


He needs an IV drip and Zofran ASAP
posted by majikstreet at 8:20 PM on August 3, 2008

If you don't want to wait a long time in the emergency room, you can take him to a hospital in a rich suburb.
posted by delmoi at 8:23 PM on August 3, 2008

Jesus Christ. If you haven't by now (I really hope you have), please take him to urgent care or the emergency room. It might suck sitting there, but it's better to be there than to be at home if his condition really takes a turn for the worse. (And really, it sounds like it already has. Vomiting with that frequency for that amount of time is not normal.)
posted by limeonaire at 8:23 PM on August 3, 2008

I hope you aren't answering because you're already on the way to an emergency room. I've been looking through the urgent care clinics zia found but I can't locate any that would be open this late on a Sunday night-- and searching for "24-hour urgent care Dallas" gets me nothing-- so I think the emergency room's your only solution right now unless you're willing to wait on getting him medical care for another 10 or 12 hours until the urgent cares open in the morning.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 8:32 PM on August 3, 2008

Get thee to a hospital! Someone who's vomited 75+ times, is by any definition, an emergency case.

If it's anything serious (beyond dehydration and a nasty bug) the longer you leave it, the more it's going to cost. Get it seen to now, or you might regret it for a very long time.

And please, post a followup-- I hope he recovers quickly.
posted by Static Vagabond at 8:38 PM on August 3, 2008

If you're still reading this thread, STOP!!! Go to a clinic/hospital NOW. Read no more!!!
posted by zardoz at 8:50 PM on August 3, 2008

I hope you're at the ER right now. Something similar to this happened to a number of people at my work a couple of months ago. It turned out they had a Norovirus. A few of them had to be hospitalized for dehydration.
posted by crios at 9:11 PM on August 3, 2008

Go to the ER. Don't take your wallets; no identification at all. Your name is Elaine Jones; he's Scott Davis.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:16 PM on August 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

ER, Urgent Care, one of the federally-funded health centers you can find at, take your pick of places that have people who are or can be your doctor.
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:26 PM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh, I really hope you're at the ER. This could be so many things--my boyfriend's brother was vomiting for 4 days once, insisted it was nothing. Turns out it was a kidney stone big enough that it had to be surgically removed. Good luck!!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:30 PM on August 3, 2008

I don't know anything about your boyfriend's condition, but it does sound like the ER is your best option. And DO bring your IDs, for crying out loud or least give them some legitimate info at the hospital when he's admitted.

This will cost some money, yes, but it may not be unbearable. I was once rushed to the ER by ambulance when I couldn't move without falling down and couldn't focus my eyes. Turned out to be nothing but vertigo brought on by sleeping in a car with the air conditioner blowing on one ear, causing some ear issues. I was told to buy Bonine over the counter and rest up for a few days. Now, I didn't have insurance at the time, and I was a broke freelancer. I can't remember what the total of the ambulance + ER visit came to, but I was able to make payments over a period of time, and I don't recall it taking all that long to pay off.

So, just do it. Worry about the expense later. Even if it turns out you could've taken care of this with something at the drug store, you'll be glad you knew.
posted by katillathehun at 9:30 PM on August 3, 2008

Best answer: As I understand it (and I'm sure someone will jump in and correct me if I'm wrong), in the US medical debt cannot be reported to credit bureaus as long as the debtor makes an effort to pay. So fuck all the forthcoming bills, just send 'em five bucks every month and keep a record of it. Voila -- we've solved the no-insurance problem.

posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:11 PM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Guys, quick followup, I just did a 3-hour drive and got some phenergan for him and some pedialyte from my stepmother who's a nurse and lives near Tyler... so far, so good, doctor appointment made for in the morning, nearby ER located with no waiting time and quickest driving route secured (should take 4 minutes, tops), we have given the meds and are on standby...

No vomiting in a half-hour. He made a few passes today of a half-hour to an hour where he seemed okay, and then it started again. One more incident after the phenergan, and off we go to the ER.

I'll report back tomorrow that god willing everything will be okay. I believe it's gastroenteritis but the DR will tell us tomorrow. Thanks for all the concern, I remembered phenergan was the right thing, just had a hell of a time finding any on a Sunday... thanks all.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:27 PM on August 3, 2008

Please keep us updated; my thoughts are with you and your boyfriend.
posted by divabat at 11:21 PM on August 3, 2008

I'm sorry to sound harsh, but I'm really worried about your boyfriend's health.

You had 42 people tell you to go straight to the ER, and you listen to the one person who said to try sticking drugs up the wazoo? Your friend is in critical condition and you wasted 3 hours scoring allergy pills? You are on standby thinking you can act once it's too late?

Phernergan is NOT the right thing. There is no right treatment because the diagnosis is open. The underlying cause, which we don't know yet, can be life-threatening or have severe irreversible consequences.

Even if it's just transient gastroenteritis, severe dehydration has many serious effects on the body, including kidney damage.

Think ahead 3 months - do you want to be responsible for his irreversible health damage or even worse, his death? Are you both so young as to think you're invincible?

You seem smart and educated - what is the hang-up with seeking medical help? Enough with the phone calls and web searches. GO TO THE ER NOW!
posted by ebellicosa at 11:25 PM on August 3, 2008 [19 favorites]

You spent three hours driving around instead of taking him to the ER?

Jesus Christ. I know first-hand how awful health care is in this country without insurance, but I promise you there are infinitely worse things than a whopping bill from the ER. Speaking as someone who just went to a young family member's funeral this week after he died unexpectedly over the course of about 12 hours, I really hope you and your boyfriend and your families don't find this out first-hand.

I'm sorry, and maybe it's just the grief talking, but please don't be stupid.
posted by scody at 11:40 PM on August 3, 2008

This happened to me once. Phenergan solved my problem and life was a-ok.
posted by mmdei at 11:42 PM on August 3, 2008

This is how people die.

I hope you don't read this because you are on your way to the ER.
posted by paperzach at 11:56 PM on August 3, 2008

ebellicosa, scody - I can understand it being a tough call, aside from the money issues. If you were really really sick, bed would be a far more restful place to be than sitting in an emergency room, and it sounds like their last experience was truly nightmarish. It sounds like they have a plan, at least.

If if were me, I guess I'd hope that my fiance would have taken me to some kind of ER yesterday, but at this point, with a DR's appointment tomorrow morning, I guess I'd want him to know enough to know from my behavior when my dehydration was getting dangerous.
posted by amtho at 12:10 AM on August 4, 2008

If you were really really sick, bed would be a far more restful place to be than sitting in an emergency room

I've been really, really sick; my medical history is so crazy that I've had multiple doctors tell me that I'm a walking JAMA article. That means I've also gone to the ER on more than one occasion, even when it would have felt far more restful to stay in bed.

No one enjoys going to the ER. Nevertheless, they are sometimes the correct place to be.
posted by scody at 12:35 AM on August 4, 2008

Oh, and the most recent time that I should've gone to the ER and didn't, precisely on the basis that I didn't want to get out of bed (and plus, it was Thanksgiving, and I didn't want to ruin the holiday)... turned out to be a collapsed lung. My not going was absolutely foolhardy, and it could have turned out a hell of a lot worse.
posted by scody at 12:38 AM on August 4, 2008

Whoa, hey, UotC has spoken with a relative who is a nurse, and she has a plan in place in case things get worse. Don't forget that her boyfriend also has a say in where he goes. She can't physically force him into the car. I have a sneaking suspicion that many of us are screaming about the ER in all caps because everyone else is screaming about the ER in all caps.

Unicorn - I hope everything's okay. Keep us updated.
posted by katillathehun at 12:55 AM on August 4, 2008

Yeah, I wanna know what happens too. The last time I read about someone having severe dehydration, they ended up dying with massive organ failure. Of course, one the one hand, it was very hot and they'd decided to go running. On the other hand, they were the top ranked runner in their high school.

I see a lot of people posting, saying they don't have insurance. I know it's expensive, but get insurance. You can get cheap, cheap major medical insurance that covers literally nothing until something catastrophic comes along, but it's the difference between being covered and being bankrupt. Many of them come with inexpensive riders to cover emergency room visits. If it's a money thing, then see if there are programs in Texas that help people who can't afford it normally. This resources page from the "Health Care for All Texas" advocacy group might have links that are useful...
posted by Deathalicious at 2:02 AM on August 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

Phenergan's awesome, awesome stuff and it's what they've given everyone I know who's had severe vomitting issues (self included). Glad you were able to get some.

In the future, if someone can't keep water down after 8 hours of vomitting, run, don't walk, to an ER to get them rehydrated. I've been without insurance myself and it sucks, but medical debt doesn't accrue interest and as mentioned, can't be reported to any credit bureaus. It's taken me months, and sometimes years, to pay off times when I've had to go to urgent care, but a lot of places have sliding scales for the uninsured (which helps a lot) and eventually, it all works out. I hate the insurance system in the US and I hate how much health care costs, but I'm willing to put up with it in dire situations because being alive and healthy is more important to me than money.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:19 AM on August 4, 2008

Contrarian thought. There is a balance here and the op is attempting to find it. I know death is permanent but a $10,000+ debt on a tight budget can fuck up your life for years. I would probably do the same, not go to ER until I exhausted all the resources I have. Remember she is living in USA 2008 and 60%+ of bankruptcies are due to medical bills. I might take this risk when faced with the thought of 20 calls a day from bill collectors.
posted by Xurando at 5:17 AM on August 4, 2008

Response by poster: OP here. He is on an IV now after a brief fight to get him to the ER. They still are baffled. It was a struggle but now we wait.

I hope he doesn't kill me when he comes around and sees this post... And believe me, to all the people saying pay it off... Yeah. I know. My mother has over 60 grand in medical bills right now and is in the process of eviction from her home because of it. She finally had to give in after her electricity was cut off last week. It is always a difficult decision. I am still very worried. I will post again once I know he is okay.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 5:48 AM on August 4, 2008

Thanks, Unicorn. All good thoughts and wishes for both of you; I'm sorry you had to go through this, and I hope you (and we!) hear good news soon.
posted by taz at 6:43 AM on August 4, 2008

Coming to this really late, but I had a similar bout of random, uncontrollable vomiting a few years ago -- every 10 minutes or so, couldn't keep a thing down, etc. I was visiting my mom at the time, and she took me to an Urgent Care clinic, where they gave me a shot of muscle relaxant to get my diaphragm to stop spasming. It worked, and after a long, long sleep and a lot of Gatorade, I was fine. I hope your boyfriend recovers soon!
posted by sarcasticah at 7:14 AM on August 4, 2008

Unicorn, this is good to hear. Good luck to you both.
posted by LoriFLA at 7:17 AM on August 4, 2008

I saw a girl on tv once who had the same symptoms. She had some rare problem with her bile duct getting clogged or something? It was on Medical Incredible. They first tested her for gall bladder problems with no avail.
posted by nougat at 7:38 AM on August 4, 2008

Glad to hear he's on an IV drip getting rehydrated... fingers crossed that the docs find out what's going on very soon.

And as for the costs: as others have said (and as you said you know yourself, but it's worth keeping in mind in order not to panic), when the bill comes in, negotiate a reasonable, realistic monthly payment with the hospital (after seeing if you can negotiate down any of the charges in the first place -- try it, you'd be surprised) and simply keep at it. Even if it's $15/month for years and years and years. (This is how a friend of mine dealt with a six-figure hospital bill following a broken neck back in the '90s. I'm pretty sure he's still paying it off, but it's been enough that he didn't have to file bankruptcy or put the rest of his life on hold. So hang in there, tell yourself that you and your boyfriend will figure out a plan to take of the bill later, and let us know when he's feeling better.)
posted by scody at 9:00 AM on August 4, 2008

Response by poster: Update: I am home, showering and changing, about to get his things and go back. Looks like they are admitting him; tests have been done, and I guess it's good news that nothing obvious has been found. Doctors are baffled, third bag of fluid started, he is still very ill.

As people mentioned upthread, sometimes it's not about knowing you're sick enough to go to the emergency room... some people just fight going as hard as they can until they are really and truly sure they don't have a choice.

Thank god we went when we did. Those of you that know him here, keep him in your thoughts. He is aware of this thread and if my blackberry had not died in the ER he would have posted his thanks.

I certainly appreciate all the good advice here and we are working on a plan to square away insurance for him as soon as possible.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:01 AM on August 4, 2008

You might need to advocate for him if you can. Have him request, or ask them, to do a full GI workup. My dad had a similar-ish epidsode several years back which nearly killed him - it turned out to be a hernia which had begin to strangulate his stomach. They didn't catch it the fist time.
posted by Miko at 9:10 AM on August 4, 2008

I'm glad you got to the ER. You most likely have saved his life by getting him to the ER when you did. Keep us updated! I hope your boyfriend feels better soon and I hope they figure out what is/was wrong with him. I know what it's like to have no one know what's wrong, and to know exactly what's wrong and have no one believe you.
posted by majikstreet at 9:43 AM on August 4, 2008

Best wishes to item!
posted by katillathehun at 10:07 AM on August 4, 2008

Been following this thread all night. I'm very relieved to hear that he's in the hospital. Thanks for the updates!
posted by sbutler at 10:27 AM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Wait, this is item, the mefite who just posted he was going to start eating meat again? Who ate his first cheeseburger in 13 years on the 28th? I know everyone says vegetarians don't really get sick when they go back to being carnivores, but... what the heck?
posted by Scram at 10:56 AM on August 4, 2008

Get well soon dude, best wishes.
posted by nola at 11:19 AM on August 4, 2008

I have a good friend who is vegetarian (practically vegan) and has been for about 8 years. She claims she does indeed get very ill if she accidentally eats meat, and had a real problem after accidentally eating soup that contained chicken broth awhile back. Maybe it has nothing to do with your boyfriend's illness, but if the doctor's are not yet aware of the recent switch they probably should be. Best wishes to you both. I'll be following the thread.
posted by theantikitty at 11:51 AM on August 4, 2008

I hope everything turns out ok - good on you for getting him to the doctor.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:16 PM on August 4, 2008

Response by poster: Scram, I know, I wondered that too.... but he ate a cheeseburger last Monday, and didn't start feeling ill/throwing up until 2 a.m. Saturday night. That'd be a helluva long cheeseburger to make it through his digestive tract.

Item has been released from hospital and the only diagnosis they could give us was... acute gastritis. Ah the wonders of science (and four bags of intravenous fluid with various non-emetic injections!).

FYI, I ate the same hamburger. Which makes me SUPERGIRL.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:10 PM on August 4, 2008

Many hospitals are also non-profits and have social workers and financial assistance departments that will, in many cases, take care of the entire bill for qualifying individuals. So, that route might be worth investigating and it might also be something to keep in the back of your mind for future emergencies. Get better soon!
posted by Skwirl at 1:15 PM on August 4, 2008

Response by poster: Oh, and FYI, the doctors said that there were a lot of stomach bugs going around because of the Crypto virus and the heat... people are getting food poisoning a lot, and when we left the emergency room was PACKED. Item just verified to me that he felt no illness at all from the cheeseburger he ate, in fact, it didn't even give him indigestion, although he ate a TUMS first just in case (I urged him to because hey, TUMS spelled backwards is smut and... well... anyway). However he had no infections, blockages, no detectable virus of any kind, not even a scrape anywhere on his skin. We worked out a down payment and the rest should be okay, thanks to all who suggested the payment plan.

(flourishes the RESOLVED tag and hits send)
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:29 PM on August 4, 2008

Glad to hear it. I hope you're feeling your old self soon item! Best wishes to you both.
posted by dog food sugar at 2:39 PM on August 4, 2008

I find it alarming that I feel so relieved now. You people... ::sniff::
posted by SeizeTheDay at 4:50 PM on August 4, 2008

Was following this tho I didn't comment earlier. I'm glad this did indeed wendell. Take care.
posted by NikitaNikita at 7:47 PM on August 4, 2008

Very glad to hear he's recovering, thanks for posting the updates.
posted by Static Vagabond at 7:51 PM on August 4, 2008

Get some sleep item. Happy to hear you are well.
posted by arse_hat at 9:02 PM on August 4, 2008

item, so glad you're doing OK.
posted by LoriFLA at 10:32 PM on August 4, 2008

I'm always a bit shocked and heavy hearted when I think about people in the states who would actually decide AGAINST going to a hospital because of a lack of insurance. I'm really lucky to be in canada-- that is never an issue for me, and i don't have to make silly decisions like that. I wish you all better health care in the future.
posted by smartless at 11:54 AM on August 27, 2008

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