Brian Casey: Hospitals, Bacteria & #SerbiaFloods

Brian Casey is the HC/import player for Sremska Mitrovica Legionaries. Recently, during the floods in Serbia, Casey didn't have such a wonderful experience.

It’s funny, as I write this blog on my recent medical stay in Serbia; I am having recurring stomach pains! I feel this medical misfortune will never end. It is not serious right now, as it was before, but the symptoms are all starting again. I can’t catch a break in this country to save my soul!

It all started Thursday the 13th of May. I had just ate at our local restaurant and had chicken and sausages for dinner, along with mash potatoes. The other imports and I grabbed a couple beers at a bar after dinner, and then proceeded home where we had a gathering of our close friends. The next morning I woke to not feeling normal and feeling a little off around my stomach region. I did not have severe stomach pains yet, but was not hungry and felt bloated. I just had crackers and water throughout the day and tried not to do much. The next day, Saturday, my stomach started to feel worse and I started going to the bathroom often. A teammate’s sister came over to bring bread and soup to calm my stomach, but nothing seemed to work. Towards the night the pains intensified and I could not get comfortable in any position. All night I did not sleep and felt I was in the bathroom hogging the toilette every ten minutes. I managed to catch an hour or more of sleep, and when Sunday morning came, I had severe stomach pains and new this was something more than just the common stomachache. 

My team President rushed me to our local hospital where they determined it was food poisoning, and I was given a shot and sent on my way. I started to feel better in an hour, but as soon the hour was over I was right back to even worse stomach pains and looking to the sky for help. I could not believe nothing worked and could not sit or lay down because no position was comfortable. Sunday night my roommates came home from helping with the flood disaster, and noticed how bad I looked. Without hesitation, the other import Pat rushed on his bike to our team Doctor’s house and grabbed him to come take a look at me. Our Doc noticed how severe the pain was and threw me in his car and rushed me to the Sremska Mitrovica Emergency Center. The doctors in the emergency room checked me out and decided I needed to go to Novi Sad for better treatment.

So here I am, rolling in pain in the back of this ambulance, that is hitting every bump I may add, being rushed to Novi Sad’s Emergency Center. My boy Pat is in the front of the ambulance going with me to make sure I’m ok, and I’m in the back shitting blood. Life really felt it could not get any worse. Once I arrived to Novi Sad’s Emergency room, I was stuck with every needle and felt up by so many different doctors. I was confused, worried, and in pain all at once. I was taken for many tests that night before they decided to admit me to Urgent Care where I spent that night drugged up and incapacitated. 

Monday morning rolls around and my pains in my stomach are still there, but not as severe. I was taken good care of in Urgent Care, and did not have that bad of a view of the nurses either. I was still going to the bathroom a lot, but I felt I was getting better with the IV and medicine. Pat and a couple of my Serbian teammates, Zoran Loncarevic and Marko Kostic, visited me. I felt comfortable in Urgent Care, and felt it was not that far off from American hospitals. I was visited several times by the staff and doctors, and was told later that day I did not need surgery and it was not appendicitis as expected. 

The situation drastically changed the next morning, when some guy nurse, who was trying to make small talk while he was waking me up and getting me into a wheelchair, waked me. With out any notice or information, I was transferred to the Gastro part of the hospital due to my symptoms not being urgent and I did not need surgery. I was taken to what seemed to be the run down part of the hospital where all the rejects were put out to pasture. I was thrown into a room with seven other older men, in their late 60’s or 70’s, and shoved into the corner bed of the room. Nurses and doctors quickly started examine me, but unlike Urgent Care, these staff members spoke no English and everything seemed to be spoken in jibber jabber. I was so confused and lost and was about to rip the next person’s head off.

I was calmed down by one of my teammates, Nemanja Lukic, that day that came to visit me in the hospital. Eventually procedures were explained to me, and each shift a certain nurse who understood and spoke English, attended to my needs. The nurses and doctors were slowly getting better, but that did not mean the place I was stuck in did. The Gastro part of the hospital smelt like straight baby vomit, and every corner of the hospital had a different surprise for me. The man that was in the bed next to me would not stop messing with his IV and blood catheter, and eventually one night busted his catheter wide open and blood got everywhere, especially on my sheets. The worst part had to be the bathrooms, if that’s what you want to call them. First the toilets had no seat cover to them, and if one somehow did, it was basically covered in shit or piss. The grounds in the bathroom were filled with bloodstains, and everywhere you looked there were pots filled with old man shit. I mean this was Hell on earth!!

Here it is Wednesday and I see no end in sight to my torture, my stomach has slowly come to a clam, and all I have now is soreness in my abdominal from throwing up so much. I am bored as fuck from staring at the ceilings all day, and by this time actually enjoyed making trips to the bathroom because it gave me something to do. The worst part of my trip had yet to come though…the COLONOSCOPY!! That deadly word struck fear all the way into my bones. Unlike American colonoscopies where they put you to sleep, good ole Serbia has you awake the whole time during the torture! I felt as if my insides were being pulled at and shaken round. After the procedure was over, it was the biggest and longest fart I had ever had, I mean this sucker went on for days. The colonoscopy took a lot out of me and I tried to sleep the rest of Wednesday off. The only good part of the day was seeing my pal Zoran and Mia Bajin (Touchdown Europe) visit me, along with the American import for the Dukes, Terry Washington. Thanks guys, that really cheered me up.

Thursday comes, and I am told the colonoscopy results went well and I will be able to go home Friday. This was the greatest news I had heard in awhile, I was finally breaking out of prison. No more listening to old guys snore and fart all night, or watching half-naked men argue with their nurses over what pills they should take, or dealing with the hot conditions because the old patients were too cold with the window open. I guess things could have been better or more exciting if the language everyone was speaking was English, but nope, had to hear Serbian jibber jabber all week long. My teammate Marko Kostic was nice enough to lend me his lab top for the rest of the time so I could at least watch movies to pass the time. The rest of Thursday could not go any faster; I was ready to leave at a moments notice. 

Friday finally arrives, and I am up early and ready to go like a kid waiting for Christmas morning to start. I get the final word from the doctors on what to do, and received my final documents so I could check out. The rest of Friday morning was spent conversing with the lovely student nurse, Teodora Rancic, who actually spoke English and showed interest in my condition. My teammates Nemanja Kokar and Vladimir Jesretic were kind enough to pick me up and take me away from that evil place. I was a prisoner no more and was finally able to see the light of day! I was so excited to step outside that I let out a big “I’m Free” to the world and kissed the ground. That ride back to Sremska Mitrovica was filled with a lot of thought on my past week’s torture. I was so filled with life that I felt blessed to be where I was at in life and ready to not take life for granted. My hospital stay opened my eyes to another country’s medical treatment, and showed me how fortunate I was to be where I was from. I appreciate life more now and feel I truly went to Hell in back. I have bacteria in my colon no more and am ready for life’s next adventure!

Brian Casey