The Appendicitis Story

For once, I have become extremely grateful that I’m horribly addicted to ER, because otherwise, my appendix probably would have burst before it occurred to me that there might be a problem.

Let me back up a little bit.

Wednesday night, I was sitting around, being my normal lazy self and watching television all night, and when I got up, my right side was sore. I figured I had just been laying on it weird, and gave it no more thought and went to bed.

Except when I woke up, it hurt more, and the pain was just in one area of my right side. So I thought hm, I seem to remember from eight bajillion episodes of ER that lower right quadrant pain is a symptom of possible appendicitis.

I checked the list of symptoms online to make sure I wasn’t making this up, and I noticed I had a couple of the other symptoms, including serious loss of appetite. The last time I ignored something, it became really painful and led to my last surgery, so I figured I should get this checked out.

I had a job interview, so I made an appointment with the doctor at Student Health Services for later on in the afternoon. My pain kept getting a little bit worse and a little bit worse as time went on, and I knew that this was not a good sign.

When I got to the doctor, she informed me that I probably didn’t have appendicitis, since I didn’t have a fever and wasn’t nauseous and/or vomiting. Except I haven’t puked since I was 11 and got food poisoning, so I have to be REALLY sick before I get the latter.

She took some x-rays and had them draw some blood and told me to come back Friday morning to get checked on, since they’d have to analyze the blood samples and x-rays overnight, and she wanted to see how the pain was progressing.

I decided not to notify certain parental units about this possibility at the time because the doctor said it probaby wasn’t appendicitis, and certain parental units practically have a heart attack every time I sneeze.

Well, I walked back up there Friday morning, and while she thought my x-rays might indicate my pain was from (don’t laugh) severe constipation, I had an elevated white blood cell count and something that was supposed to be between 0-20 was 21, things that might indicate appendicitis.

She then poked at my stomach again, at which point it became pretty obvious that the pain was much worse than it was Thursday, so she said I needed to go to the Emergency Room, where they could perform a CAT scan to officially rule out appendicitis.

So they sent me over to the hospital in a cab, and when I got there, I made the mistake of mentioning the Student Health Services doctor’s possible other explanation, which led to an extremely annoying sidetrack that took about four hours before they decided to finally give me a CAT scan.

After feeding me a bunch of liquid iodine so that the CAT scan could…well, scan, they finally determined that I did have appendicitis after all, and that my appendix was officially coming out. This would be my second operation in thirty days.

You can imagine how pleased I was to hear this.

So I got to call my parents to tell them the wonderous news, even though the doctors still hadn’t particularly told me what time they were going to yank the offending organ out, so my folks were somewhat surprised.

I had to call my roommates to tell them I wasn’t going to be home that evening, and I called a couple other people because I felt like bitching. I was eventually interrupted by a very nice young surgeon who explained the procedure to me.

Best line of his explanation: “The appendix basically exists to do nothing until it gets inflamed, and then it exists to put surgeons’ kids through school.”

It turned out that the surgeon who would actually be performing this operation was the same surgeon who removed my pain in the ass last month. This guy and I have officially decided we know each other way too well.

I sat around the ER for a couple hours while they cleared out a room for me, and they eventually dragged me up to surgery, where I discovered the third-year med student who was going to be assisting was…well, only three years older than me, which was slighty disturbing.

Brief tangent: Riding in an elevator while lying down is one of the most incredibly disorienting experiences I’ve ever had. I’ve never done it before, and it felt so, so weird. It was like trying to drive upside down or something.

I actually remember much more about what happened just before the surgery than I did before the last one, since I think they knocked me out a lot earlier in the process for the last one. This time I actually remember them bringing me into the operating room.

I think the surgery was around 8 (I lost track of time after about 6pm, when I had to surrender my watch), and it supposedly took about an hour. They kept me in recovery for a while, until about midnight.

I found out later that a bunch of my friends stopped by around 10 and were initially told that I had been discharged (the clerk just read the computer wrong: I had been discharged from the ER, but discharged into surgery).

When they heard this, they decided to do the only logical thing: Go drink and come back later.

About ten minutes after I was finally wheeled into my hospital room, and after asking the nurse to tell my folks that I was out of surgery, the nurse came back with some sweet, sweet morphine, and said I had five people (six, actually) who wanted to see me, but that she’d tell them I was asleep.

I was like, hell no, bring ’em in! I was still fairly disoriented from the anesthesia, but it was really nice to see some friendly faces, and I remember trying to crack jokes, but I honestly don’t remember a damn thing I said.

I must have looked like hell, because I do remember everyone looking fairly concerned. But then again, this was only about 3 or 4 hours post-surgery, so I guess you’re supposed to look like shit at that point. Everybody left and I tried to get some sleep.

One of the various times I woke up from the pain, the nurse told me as she was giving me more morphine that they had called both my parents and that my dad was going to come up on Saturday morning. I sort of already knew that.

When I talked to him, he sounded really concerned, and I told him, you know, I could tell you not to come, but I know you’re not going to listen, so do whatever you want. So, obviously, he came. Mom, fortunately, realized that one parent would be more than enough and agreed to be updated by phone.

Fun highlights of my hospital stay:

– The first time I had to get up to use the bathroom, the combination of the morphine and the still-not-worn-off anesthesia made me really lightheaded, and I stood up too fast and almost cracked my head when I passed out, except a nice nurse caught me, who I spent the rest of the evening apologizing profusely to.

– Taking an unbelievably slow walk around the hospital with Mark and Nate when they came to visit. I seriously moved about six inches every time I lifted my foot. It was pretty ridiculous, but they were really good sports about it.

– The IV nurse pronouncing my IV unsatisfactory and assuring me that since she did this all the time, hers would be better, then proceeding to poke me four or five times before she actually got another line going.

– Attempting to explain the appeal of “The Osbournes” to one of the night nurses, who looked about my dad’s age (66).

– Having the nurse who told me I was about to be discharged almost forget to take the IV out of my arm before they let me out.

– My dad having to tie my shoes for the first time in about fifteen years (he guessed 20, but I said, “Dad, I don’t think I was tying my own shoes at age 2.” I was a smart kid, but not that smart) when I couldn’t bend over to get them on when I was leaving.

I got home yesterday around noon, and I really want to thank everyone who’s been helping me out with this, which is pretty much everyone I know. As much shit as we give each other, my group of friends really cares about each other, and they’ve all been incredible.

I must say, there’s no better way to feel loved than to have a small, useless organ removed.

I was supposed to start working today (Monday) but since I can still only move at a moderate shuffle, that’s not gonna happen. CPK said they don’t know when the next training session’s gonna be, and I’m restricted from lifting anything over 20lbs for the next two weeks anyway.

So I guess I’ll be resting for another few days, hopefully getting these damnable staples out of my stomach soon and feeling much better soon. Dad’s gotten off of PANIC PANIC PANIC! mode since he sees that I’m doing okay, and is headed home tomorrow.

All I know is, I’m going to start slapping people who ask me, “What else could possibly go wrong?”, because after this, I really, really, really don’t want to know what else is going to go wrong. Knock wood, it won’t be anything.

Only time will tell. And maybe more CAT scans.

Leave a Reply