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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Part 2 Adventures: Who Needs an Appendix Anyway?

So where was I?  Oh yes, my abdomen was hurting on the lower right side, I had a fever and chills and the pain finally got intense enough that I asked Ryan to drive me to the emergency room.  I changed into my oldest, most comfortable sweatshirt and sweatpants, topped off with a pink Snuggy, and we were off.  (If you know me, that's a sign that I'm really sick, I rarely ever wear sweatpants!)

When we had almost arrived at UCLA, I started feeling better, probably from the Tylenol kicking in.  I almost decided to go back home and see if it would go away.  What if it was nothing serious after all?  I could be wasting everyone's time.  Luckily I did go in.  The admit nurse told me that I probably had appendicitis and that she'd had hers out the month before and "it really wasn't so bad.  I was expecting it to be so much worse."

When I got back to the hospital bed and they did my vitals, my fever was up to 100.5.  They offered me morphine, which I declined.  The first doctor came and immediately prodded my ovaries.  They did not hurt (which could have been a sign of ectopic pregnancy, the other malady that presents with similar symptoms).  She told me that they would send me off for a CT scan to be sure of diagnosis, but it was likely appendicitis.  Then an older male doctor came and poked and prodded me some more and informed me "that is not your appendix" but that they would do an ultrasound.

My cell phone was not working and Ryan was out in the waiting room looking after the kids, but for some reason texts went through, so I texted my brother (see this old post about why I don't text) which was my only form of entertainment while waiting.  I had him call my parents to tell them what was going on.

Meanwhile, they did do the CT scan, but the last-minute surprise was that they had to inject me with radioactive dye, so I would not be able to breastfeed for 48 hours.  This ordinarily would have concerned me but I just looked at them with glassy eyes and said "you do what you have to do" and decided to just pump and dump later.

I pumped and dumped in the ER, which was awkward and painful.  But getting the dye-contrast CT was the right decision because the scans came back showing that I did indeed have appendicitis and needed immediate surgery.  I never saw the male doctor again, who had told me it was not my appendix, and they did not need to do the ultrasound.  Good thing for modern technology!

Next, they wheeled me upstairs to the surgery room where at the last minute everyone was in a tizzy because I was wearing contact lenses and still had my underwear on.  Once everything was off, they had me wear an oxygen mask and explained that when I woke up my throat would be sore because while I would be unconscious, they were going to put a tube down my throat to help me breath.  Then I had a last minute panic thinking that the anesthesia was not taking effect, and worrying that I would remain awake for the procedure.

Then, I woke up about 2 hours later in a private room, with a vague memory of having been in a recovery room and even having spoken with a nurse.  My throat hurt but other than that, I felt a lot better.  My ribs did feel like I'd been bear-hugged.  There were 3 incisions, covered with bandages.  2 along my bikini line and one coming out of my belly-button.  I was strapped to all kinds of heart monitors, IV machines and each leg was hooked up to a machine which would "massage" it by lifting it up and raising it while squeezing like a blood pressure cuff.

Whenever I had to get up to go to the bathroom, I had to get the nurse to unhook all of the apparati first.  I did not sleep very well because of the leg "massagers".  The nurse told me that "some people actually like them".  I can't imagine who would.  I did manage to get her to surreptitiously agree to turn them off for 1 hour so that I could catch a nap.

No one had been very clear on when I was going home because "it is up to the doctor" but I did not see any doctors again until about 10:00 a.m. the next day.  There was also some confusion as to my breakfast diet.  Originally they brought me jello and beef broth "for your liquid diet" but since I'm a vegetarian, I didn't want that.  And I wasn't told of any planned liquid diet so I think they had me mixed up with another room.  I ordered and ate oatmeal and toast.

When it came, I hadn't realized they were going to bring just oatmeal.  No cinnamon, raisins and brown sugar.  They were nice and went back to the kitchen for the other things, but told me next time I ordered, to think of anything I might like with the meal besides the word it said-i.e. dressing with a salad, mustard, mayo, salt, milk for coffee, etc. and to make sure to say all of the other words on the phone.  Weird.

Around 10:00 a team of doctors marched in and said that everything looked fine, and I could go home at noon.  One of them told me that the rib pain was because they had to inflate my abdomen with air, stretching my ribcage.  So, Ryan and William came (William's separation anxiety could be a whole other post!) and waited around with me, and around 1:00, the wheelchair escort finally arrived and we went home.  On the way out, they gave me discharge papers with prescriptions for pain medicine and a note telling me not to lift anything over 10 pounds for 4 weeks.

So that is the surgery story.  Moral is, if you are having lower right abdominal pain with fever (also supposed to present with nausea, I didn't have any so that threw them off initially) then go to the emergency room immediately.  Don't wait because it's very serious and life-threatening if it bursts but if you catch it early, it's not a huge deal, as you can see from the above.  Oh, I will never be a bikini model now but we can pretty much agree that was not going to happen before! ;)


1 comment:

steve said...

Woo! Glad it all turned out OK. Stupid appendix - next thing, your table of contents will go all wonky.