I am a generally healthy person. I love kale in everything, from smoothies, eggs and salads, I try to keep sweets to a minimum, I constantly kick my Dr. Pepper habit to the curb, and I try to stay active. But sometimes life throws curve balls and it doesn’t matter how well we care for ourselves physically or mentally. Unfortunately, my curve ball consisted of intense abdominal pain that turned out to be appendicitis.
It was late Monday afternoon and I was planning a nice dinner but the pain that started from nowhere was debilitating. Quick sandwiches became the updated menu and I went to “rest” while everyone ate and enjoyed their evening. I got up to get the younger one to bed and thought for sure that the pain would go away soon.
I decided several hours into the pain to finally tell my husband, never wanting to overreact or bother him with something that is passing. It must be food poisoning from the protein shake…was that even possible? After an evening of nausea and my body shaking all over I had to keep reminding myself it would pass – I would survive this pain.
Then came the following day and I wasn’t any better and it only continued. As the pain worsened my husband was sure it was appendicitis. No! It couldn’t be that because the pain was ALL OVER MY STOMACH! Then our oldest daughter felt sick and started in with nausea too.
Now in retrospect I can see he was obviously right and we should have gone to the ER that night but I was sure that it couldn’t be. We just had a family member go through appendicitis and a family friend months before that had appendicitis. What are the odds that I would have the same issue?
I let it go until Thursday morning, day four, when I talked to my mother-in-law about all the symptoms and how I wasn’t getting any better. She came to take me to the Urgent Care, but we decided that under the circumstances the ER would be our better option.
Hours later after the pregnancy test finally came back from the lab (negative – which I tried to tell them) and I was good to go to x-ray. The doctor came in to inform us that my white blood cell count was 33,000. That was meaningless to me but he explained that meant a bad infection was present. We assumed at this point it must be gallbladder. The pain was all over my stomach area.
I had a lovely bumpy ride to x-ray and then another lovely bumpy ride to a CT scan where they inject you something that burns your veins. I’m sure it was gasoline or some other toxic chemical that has shortened my life span.
But not as shortened if I wasn’t already in the hospital getting the CT scan because it showed a grotesquely enlarged gangrenous appendix that would soon kill me if it wasn’t removed asap. The ER doctor told me it was the largest one he had seen (although I am not sure how many others he has seen).
I do have appendicitis? What?
This was the reason that the pain was ALL OVER my midsection and not just the lower right abdomen. This is also the reason that I immediately began crying and wished I could be home and be with my husband and my children. I didn’t want to have to have surgery. I wanted to be normal again.
I, at that moment, began to realize that I had not prepped a single thing for Easter and there would be no way to do it now. Normally I start getting items ready weeks in advance but I hadn’t even considered the thought of Easter morning and I knew that my girl’s heart would be broken if she woke to find nothing and thought the Easter Bunny had forgotten about her. Nurses told me not to worry, that kids wouldn’t worry about that. But I knew my daughter and I knew how much she loved looking forward to the Bunny’s visit and finding a basket of fun and searching for all those eggs.
As if I had a choice. The hospital wasted no time wheeling me to pre-op and prepping me with more medications and having me sign releases and explaining stuff I no longer remember. The surgeon was nice, the anesthesiologist was sweet, the staff was kind, I would be fine. I hoped.
Surgery is no laughing matter, it’s intense and takes a lot of medical stuff to prepare and perform, not to mention the recovery process and all the kind people that make sure you’re on track. I had wonderful teams every step of the way. My laparoscopy was successful.
I had a three-day hospital stay after my surgery. You might think this would give someone ample rest but no, not with the myriad of tests and staff that come in starting at five am to poke and prod at you like a circus elephant. I was ecstatic when Easter Sunday arrived and I was allowed to go home.
Unfortunately, when I came home my son, who was almost 18 months at the time, didn’t seem to recognize me. He took no notice of my entrance or my coos. He just looked at me with empty eyes and my heart sank deeper than I ever knew it could. My daughter was upset because the Easter Bunny didn’t do his usual routine of hiding eggs full of candy and leaving a trail of sparkly grass and chocolate coins from her room to her basket. If only she knew the trouble her great grandparents went through to get her the stuff she did receive. I went to bed exhausted and full of sadness as I tried not to think about the four incisions that lead directly to my insides. Four incisions that still remain red and will take many more months to fade.
Fear not though, by the next morning all was well again. Although I couldn’t pick up my son, he sat in my lap for long periods. I finally got to be with my children and husband in between resting and trying to remember the various times to take the antibiotics and pain killer. I survived the gangrene infection.
The entire situation reminds me how lucky I am to be here with my children each day and to have a happy home.