Thursday, November 7, 2013

Appendicitis--When Stomach Pain Isn't Benign

Dr. Joy says "Mommy, you're sick."

You know how sometimes your stomach hurts really bad and you think for sure you have appendicitis and need to rush to the ER?  But then a few hours pass, and you pass a whole lot of gas, and the pain goes away?  So you know it wasn't actually your appendix.

Wednesday I felt fine.  No pain at all outside of sinus pain.  Hubby left to go to my brother's house around 7:00 pm.  I still felt fine.  A few minutes later uncontrollable chills set in.  Bone rattling, cannot get warm despite a sweatshirt, sweatpants, and laying in bed under all the blankets, still shivering.  My temperature went from 98.2 to 100.7 in an hour.

I laid there thinking, oh no.  I have the real flu!  And we just had my kids' friends over today.  I hope they don't get sick.  Then my stomach started hurting.  Active labor hurting.  Moaning and groaning, shivering and quivering, wanting to die hurting.

Webmd and Mayo Clinic, my two favorite sites for researching symptoms, gave me three top contenders for my condition:  Appendicitis, diverticulitis, or gastroenteritis.  Of course I figured I had the stomach flu.  Or food poisoning--sorry Qdoba, it really wasn't your fault that I felt so sick.  I shouldn't have blamed you in the first place.  You are still my favorite fast food restaurant.

And then all the pain localized to my right side.  All within a 2 hour time frame.  I was still home alone with the kids.  My parents had already spent the day at a hospital an hour away with my Grandpa.  My Hubby was at my brother's house.  I called my mom who was at the grocery store at 9:00 pm.  I told her what was going on and she said she would check out immediately and come over so I could go to the hospital.  I called Hubby and told him he needed to come home and take me to the ER.

In the back of my mind I am thinking that it's going to turn out that I am just really constipated or something stupid like that.  Because what are the chances that it's really my appendix?  Not likely.  But I still felt horrible enough to go in.  Which is saying a lot because the only time I have ever gone into the hospital for something other than child birth was when I was 5 and broke my arm.

I thought I was going to die in the car driving to the hospital.  Every bump in the road, every time Hubby pressed on the brakes, crazy pain shot through my stomach.  Getting out of the car and walking to the ER hurt.  Just standing there made me feel queasy.  The poor lady trying to check me in handed me a barf bag when I turned green standing there talking to her.  Which turned out to be a good thing because five minutes later when I was in the triage room I lost my dinner.  Nothing more embarrassing than losing it in front of other people.  Despite being sick, the pain did not diminish.

I then spent the next four hours in an ER bed, getting blood drawn, getting morphine, and eventually a CT Scan.  Eventually the resident came in and asked me if I had a preferred surgeon.  I looked at him like he was crazy--does anyone have a preferred surgeon???  It's not like I go around having surgery all the time.  But it confirmed that I wasn't crazy and that really did have appendicitis.

Hubby went home around 3:00 am after the resident assured us I wouldn't be operated on until the morning.  I tried to get some sleep despite being hooked up to an IV, a blood pressure cuff, and an oxygen level sensor while having horrible stomach pain.  Needless to say, I got about 2 hours of sleep and was anxious to have the surgery just so I could finally get some sleep.  At 7:30 am the surgeon came into my room, asked a bunch of questions and then told me I was going to go have surgery right then.  Huh?!  I hadn't even called my Hubby yet to tell him to come to the hospital.  I managed to get a quick call in before they wheeled me away just to let him know.

Hanging out in the ER

Post op, I apparently called Hubby to tell him I was worried because no one was there with me and that they were going to make me leave right away.  I have zero recollection of this conversation.  I saw this awesome video on youtube of a guy coming out of anesthesia who doesn't recognize his wife.  In the back of my mind I wondered if he was just faking.  Now I know he wasn't.

The second time I woke up I was much more lucid.  I called Hubby a second time.  He was sorting out childcare so he could come be with me.  My wonderful sister in law came over and watched our kids for the day.

My nurse kept asking me how I was doing pain wise.  I thought that was kind of funny.  My pain post surgery was nothing compared to my pain pre surgery.  The residual gas pain is much worse than the surgical pain.  I love the after affects of having my stomach filled with air--yeah shoulder and stomach pain!  After a few hours recuperating, I was deemed ready to go home.

So, here is the moral of the story.  Usually when I feel sick, it is not the worst possible diagnosis.  But sometimes it is.  And it's important to not ignore that 0.0001% time.  Now, going forward, I will know that any horrible stomach pain is not appendicitis since you can only get that once.  It will have to be some other mystery diagnosis only made unmysterious by the wonders of Webmd and Mayo Clinic.

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