Thursday, March 10, 2011

Appendix. A useless organ.

I was lucky enough to be the ER's "mystery patient" - or at least my 3 ER Drs. Friday I woke with a little pain but went to work. My commute is over an hour. Got there and realized I probably should head home while I could still drive - clearly my insides weren't happy. Only had to stop once (conveniently placed mall) on the way home. Huddled in a ball all afternoon but participated in a couple of conference calls. Didn't sleep much all night for the pain. Decided it was Urgent Care for sure but changed my mind to ER. Drove myself there at 9:30 as P & A had last basketball game of the season. At 10:30 I was still writhing in the waiting room but by around 11 I had a room and pain meds were soon forthcoming along with anti-nasea (which I didn't have too much of) and a Cat Scan. Scan was inconclusive but pain meds allowed me to walk upright for first time in 24 hours. Onto an Ultrasound. Still inconclusive. Clearly inflammation down around the old fallopian tubes but not sure what was going on. Had to hang out in the hall on a gurney for a couple of hours - worse part of that was no call button for more meds. 7 p.m. I was just about to be wheeled upstairs when the boys arrived so they went up to my room with me. I was started on some good antibiotics and told we'd talk again in the a.m.

Sunday a.m. the surgeon gave me 2 choices. 1) take anti-biotics and wait and see or 2) schedule a laparscopic exploratory surgery and take out my appendix while at it. I heard that I could probably go home the day after the surgery. I opted for surgery. 3 more people ahead of me in line so that meant sometime late afternoon or evening. Around 5 p.m. I was prepped and ready to go.

Report at 7:30 or so when I woke up was that the tip of my appendix had ruptured way down by the fallopian tubes where it had no business hanging out. Phew. Glad I opted for the surgery.

Monday I was promoted to liquid diet. Unbelievable how great that is after no liquid since Saturday morning. I had been moved from my tranquil window view solo room while in surgery to the bathroom side of a double - and no view due to roommate's curtain. I wasn't convinced about that trade. The eventual upside was that my roommate turned out to be a sad plight that made me feel positively bursting with good health. She was 22, on holiday from UK with her boyfriend, and her appendix had ruptured on Wednesday. They took her into surgery pretty promptly after she was admitted on Saturday and she had travel insurance at least. So she had her surgery a day and a half before mine but hers was not laparoscopic. She was still not on liquid by Tuesday mid-day. She was clearly in so much more pain than me. My IV meds were pretty good. The Sat/Sun one - dilaudid I thought pretty great. Worked within 5 or 10 min. Very relaxing and great pain relief. Made me drowsy which I appreciated in the hospital waiting around. After surgery I was moved onto morphine. Sunday night wasn't much fun as they had my legs in massaging things and that and morphine make you quite hot. I went from 2 blankets the previous night to 1/2 a sheet and the sweats. Morphine however did not at all cloud the faculties. I conducted quite a bit of work on Monday via email and phone without breaking my stride except for the periodic strolls around the floor (fortunately a relatively small floor!). A friend came to visit for a long while in the morning which was much appreciated.

Monday night I was weened from IV pain med (though not the IV) to vicodin. Best thing about that was a fair amount of sleep. No way did I want that as a day time drug when I wasn't really in too much pain at all. Hospitals aren't great for sleep. They want your "vitals" every couple of hours and of course all the hydration results in plenty of bathroom time. Also need to change the IV drugs or fluid. And then your roommate is getting all of the above as well. They also like to introduce themselves and give you a quick examine during shift change in the middle of the night.

I didn't love my IVs. Not at all. Some of them were quite painful. First one was installed in the crook of my right arm. Dumb place. Eventually started leaking. Next one on back of lower arm on left side. Eventually that one went bad and leaked a whole bunch of (painful) fluid all into my arm instead of vein. Then 2 aborted tries. Finally last one on right arm close to wrist. My arms were getting very painful. Not sure what I would have done if I had to stay a few more days.

Tuesday a.m. Dr came and told me I could go. Go forth and eat anything I wanted (although I might want to start slow). I thought I was in great shape. Until I made mistake of refusing the wheelchair and walked all the way to the car. And bounced in the passenger seat all the way home. Stopped off at store for a little popcorn and soup. 2 things I thought I might like. Was exhausted when I got home to my surprise and not feeling very well. I did manage some work in the hospital and a little late in the day. Tuesday night just having P roll around in bed didn't feel good. I finally resorted to the last pain med they gave me - Norco. Not a bad drug. Did make me drowsy.

Having my intestines try to get up to speed again has been quite unpleasant. Much worse that I would have expected - or longer. I'm now here Thursday still having waves of cramping from my bowels that make it seem at times like having a stomach bug. But I am getting better. I just don't have the really sad girl to compare myself to any more to make myself feel great in comparison. She still has an international flight home. I have a comfy home and family. Glad it is over and I'm on the mend. Glad it wasn't worse.

I do think about fact that in a different era I would have just died. 44 and that's all. Happy to be here.


Daniel Welborn said...

That didn't sound like fun, and yet seemed surprisingly routine. Hope you have a speedy recovery. Popcorn sounds like a bad idea... kernels and bits can make their way down into intestines and cause problem.
Sounds like you're deep into your new job, or maybe it's not so new anymore. Congrats on that.

Barb Kellogg said...

This sounded like an incredibly miserable experience. Hope everything is flowing and functioning normally now. :)