My latest little “life adventure” got started on Wednesday last week… Brian and I had just grabbed coffees and I was back at my desk working through my list of bugs when I started to get a wicked ache in my gut. It was bad enough that I was having trouble concentrating so I headed home early and ended up there by four in the afternoon. Well, I felt pretty silly about it, having to come home early with a “tummy-ache”, but it just kept getting worse and I had to ask my family to make-do without me for a few hours while I tried to take it easy until this pain went away. Everyone was very understanding and I tried to take a nap or do just about anything to make myself feel better, including taking some Rolaids, drinking water, eating bland foods and even tried to force myself to throw up… but nothing was working and the pain was just bad enough that I couldn’t seem to sit still or lie down. The pain was bothering me but I was pretty convinced it was indigestion or some other temporary issue, so for the most part I was just annoyed that it was affecting me so much.
After a total of 5 hours of this discomfort, I decided that it might possibly be something more serious and that I should head into the emergency room, even though I fully expected to be told that I was being silly and sent home with directions to take some more Rolaids and stop wasting the hospital’s time. I drove myself to the ER, so that we didn’t have to wake up our two kids and take everyone down to the hospital with me, and walked into a room full of people who all appeared to have much more valid reasons to be there. After about 20 minutes, which was amazingly fast I thought, I was assessed by a nurse who started out with all the questions I was expecting;
- Did you eat anything spicy today? (yes)
- Is it a sharp pain? (no)
- Is it localized in any particular spot? (no)
With each question I was more and more convinced that I was wasting their time and mine and that in another hour or so this pain would completely fade away…. but without anyway to be sure of what my problem was they sent me into another area to see a doctor. At this point, another hour passed, my blood pressure and pulse rate were checked a few times… and the pain seemed a little less severe, which only served to reinforce my belief that I didn’t need to see a doctor at all, but I was in the queue now so I waited until a doctor was available. Once I was able to talk with him, we started at the beginning again… how long after lunch did this start, did I eat a spicy meal, etc…. but this time he did a physical exam and noticed that he could really make me wince by pushing into certain spots right along my waistline, which appeared to suggest a hernia or perhaps appendicitis. After another hour, and 3 large cups of crystal light + a tracer compound, I was given a CT scan and my appendix was determined to be the problem.
Finally knowing that I wasn’t going to be sent home right away, I agreed to get some pain medication (I had said no up until that point, because once I had started on something like that I wouldn’t have been able to drive myself home) and everything started to seem a lot better. Jump forward about 10 more hours, which was mostly full of sleep and lots of infomercials on my hospital room TV, and my appendix was removed using a fancy camera and remote surgery system, leaving me back in my room with three little incisions and lots of hair shaved off of places where I don’t normally shave. Another 10 hours later, now Thursday evening, I was almost completely ready to go home… but it was pretty late by the time I started feeling up to moving around, so I stayed in until noon on Friday.
All in all, it seemed pretty surreal. As I walked out of the hospital on Friday afternoon, got into my car and drove home… it was like I had just driven down to the ‘surgery store’, had an organ removed, and headed back home… I even went through a Starbucks drive-thru on the way back to my house. With all the sleeping (drug-induced and otherwise) and waiting, it seemed like one continuous event to me, and although I have some pain now and some activity restrictions (no lifting anything over 20lbs… which would exclude both my kids, although not my laptop), it hardly seems to have affected me at all. I guess I was lucky that I went with my instincts and headed into the hospital when I did, as the risk of my appendix rupturing would have increased over time, but it is still such a routine procedure that my first experience with surgery was not at all how I would have imagined it.