Well, I never thought I’d be writing a blog post about my appendix, but so many of you have send me prayers and cards and messages on Facebook that I feel obliged to relay my tale, so here we go. All in all my story is short and sweet. I simply woke up Monday morning at 4 am with my stomach hurting. Now, a lot of you know that I’ve had a hard time with my stomach and food this last year. Despite all these problems, I have managed to keep all my curves. Lucky me. But when I woke up, I thought it was just another bout of bad digestion brought on from the medications I had been taking. So I didn’t give it much thought. I got up at 6 and woke up my son, had some coffee, took antacids, and otherwise tried to go about my day. But my stomach continued to pain me to the point that I got sick, couldn’t eat breakfast, and had to lie down.
Luckily (for real this time) my husband was home on staycation and came in from doing yard work about 11 am. I decided then a trip to Urgent Care was in order. My stomach was still hurting but I was also having hot flashes like none other, sending sweat beads popping up all over me. He drove me to the clinic where they gave me a shot of Demerol and made me one happy girl. Of course by now I’ve cooled down and I’m freezing–I only wore a tank top and shorts to get care. Incidentally the same tank top and shorts I had slept in. Go me! So while my poor husband sat alone in the waiting room, I was asleep wrapped up in heated blankets. Yes, I feel a bit guilty.
After they took X-rays and blood and pee and any other fluid they could think of to test, I sent the hubs after our son who was getting out of summer school. We had to wait four hours to get the test results back. It’s about 1pm so he had quite a wait, but at least he had a partner now, right? Poor man!
So the tests came back at 5 pm that I had an elevated white blood cell count. My heart dropped. Dear Good, did I have cancer? I swear it was my very first thought. So when the doctor said she wanted a CAT scan to look for appendicitis, I was happy and relieved. Not at all the emotions she expected from me. They wheeled me down to imaging and gave me some nasty stuff to drink. If I had known that it would be the last liquid I would have for almost 12 hours, I would have savored every drop! 5:39 I drank the juice, 6:30-ish had the scan, and sometime after that the doctor came to tell me that it was indeed my appendix and I needed to head to the ER.
Now the understanding was that the Urgent Care would call the ER Trauma doctors and they would be waiting on my arrival. I imagined sweeping into the ER, being greeted with open arms, and rushed off to surgery. But now it’s 8pm and the nurses in the ER couldn’t have cared less that I was there. The one I talked to kept a sucker in her mouth the entire time and refused to give me a blanket until I was ‘triaged’. I tried to explain that I had been triaged across the street and I was freezing, but she sent me out to wait in the crowded waiting area, no blanket.
About 10pm I was finally taken back. They told us I would be right out and the man and son had to wait in the waiting area. I had a lot of the same tests that I’d had at Urgent Care. They weighed me, checked my blood pressure, took my temperature, etc, etc. Then they sat me in the hallway with a bunch of other sad souls including a drunk man who kept threatening to punch everyone in the face since it would be the best place to have it stitched up. Wow. I sat there for a while, then they moved me to a little partitioned curtain area/room. Not sure why they put me there for a few minutes later a man came to get me for a chest X-ray. I found out later that this is standard for surgery candidates. But for a while there, I wasn’t sure they even knew why I was at the hospital.
Chest X-ray complete, denied a cup of ice chips, but finally given a blanket, I was deposited back into the same hallway to await the surgeon. I met him at around midnight. Yes, I would have to have surgery. No, he couldn’t tell me how long it would be before I went in, but I could go out and see my husband and son. They were beside themselves with worry. For them I had just disappeared. They had no idea if I was still back there or already in surgery.
So sitting in the waiting area once again I come up with a plan. I’ll have surgery and they’ll put me in a room, right? So I decide to ask if I can get my room now. That way I could rest (the Demerol had worn off looooong ago) and the boys could watch TV and be a little more comfortable. But I was told there were no rooms. “Not in the ER,” I tell the nurse. It had already been explained to me that I was put in the hallway to wait because there were no rooms in the ER. “In the hospital,” I explain. “We don’t have any rooms in the hospital either.” Are you kidding me? “But I’m about to have surgery,” I tell the nurse. I don’t mean to sound like a diva, but cutting me open and removing a piece of my intestines sounds like a pretty big deal to me. “I’ll have to have a room then,” I patiently explain. “Give me that room.” She shook her head.”That room is not available, We hope that someone is discharged by then.” Huh? “What are you going to do with me if they aren’t?” I ask. “Leave me in the hallway?” She wasn’t amused.
Finally about 2 am they came to get me to “prep” me for surgery which included me signing papers so they could do the surgery and having me take out all of my earrings and placing them, along with my wedding rings and necklace, in a small “biohazard” bag. Oh, I almost forgot the beautiful gown they gave me to wear. They let my boys come back , just in time for a large black man named Leroy to come and wheel me to the OR. Let me take a little time here to add that they told me I would have to wait on a room for surgery as well. So imagine my surprise when we head down a dimly lit, deserted corridor. I felt like I was in one of those horror films where people wake up in a bathtub full of ice with a note pinned to their chest, “Thanks for the kidneys”. But I’m in a lot pain again and it’s nearing 3 am. I’m not sure I care anymore. So I said a prayer that I wouldn’t wake up to find people bidding for my organs on ebay and hoped for the best. With my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth and my nose about to bleed because it was so dry, they wheeled me into the room and helped me go to sleep.
Less than a hour later I was waking up, same dimly lit room, no one around but a couple of nurses who seemed friendly enough and didn;t at all seeem ike organ dealers. They give me a little bit to doze and finally wake up enough to take me to my room. Yay! I have a room: 8106. That’s me. My husband and son take my purse and leave me to go home and rest. And finally, FINALLY the nurses give me ice chips. After a mouthful, I fell asleep.
And the rest is pretty much uphill from here. Because of the lack of rooms they didn’t care that I hadn’t gone to the bathroom. They gave me water to drink and ordered me broth to eat and otherwise pushed me out of the nest like an impatient mama bird. I was given lunch, told to walk, and discharged at 5pm. (I tried to get them to let me stay a couple more nights. It was so peaceful there. I had the bed all to myself. It was comfortable and adjustable. They had put these devices on my legs that gently squeezed them every so often to stimulate blood flow. It was surprisingly relaxing. And I had a button near the bed that if I pushed it someone would come and get me things: more broth, juice, and water. It was almost as good as a vacation! But alas, they made me leave.)
Whew! Ordeal over. Well, almost. Here it is a week later and I’m still dealing with not being able to eat very much. Half a kid’s meal pushes against my incision. I’m still bruised from can to can’t from all the IVs, incisions, and blood draws. But the unexpected injuries came from a reaction to the bandaid adhesive that literally pulled layers of skin off my belly. Too bad it didn’t take some of the fat with it. :)
So that’s my story, probably not so different than anyone else’s, but mine all the same.
Thank you everyone for the kind words, prayers, and thoughts about me during this time. It all happened so fast that I didn’t have time for the reality to set in until after it was over. But it’s amazing the support of my family and friends and readers that I only know from the internet. All humor aside. your kindness warms my heart and puts a smile on my face. Thank you all again so much!