Appendicitis: My Personal Experience

Two weeks ago on a Wednesday my stomach hurt. It was an odd pain, more annoying than concerning. I didn’t realize that I was holding my stomach, until a client asked me if I was ok. I told her my stomach hurt a little bit. By the time I got home, the pain had become more constant and bothersome. It kind of radiated around my belly button. As the evening progressed, the pain became stronger. I felt like if I could burp or pass gas I would find some relief. I could do neither. I went to bed, slept for an hour and woke up due to the pain. I took some ibuprofen and went back to bed. I was able to sleep the remainder of the night.

When I woke up the pain had completely changed. Instead of radiating around my belly button, the pain had moved to the right and in a curvature downward from my belly button. The pain from the night before didn’t hurt to touch my belly, but this pain did. My husband told me I needed to go to the doctor. I told him, that I was going to go to work, and if it got worse, I would go.

By the time I got to work, the pain was bad. I worked through it as best I could. I had decided that during my lunch break I would go to a walk-in clinic and have them check me out. I was hesitant to go, even with the severe pain. I feared they would tell me that there was nothing wrong other than I had gas. My husband, boss, and co-workers convinced me that I should have it looked at.

At the doctor’s office, they examined me and asked me questions about the pain. They then decided to do blood tests. The nurse who attempted to draw my blood wasn’t very gentle. My veins aren’t the best and he had a really hard time. He kept telling me I must be dehydrated and that my veins rolled. Finally after 3 sticks he was able to draw a vial of blood. When the doctor came into the examining room, she said that my white blood count was 15000. I don’t know what my white blood count is supposed to be, but 15000 seemed high to me. She told me there were two possibilities, either an ectopic pregnancy, or appendicitis. I’m sure not very many people have found themselves praying for appendicitis, but I sure was at that moment.

She said that she was sending me to the hospital for a CT Scan, which would confirm the problem. She asked if anyone was with me, I told her no, that I could go back to work, and call my husband. Before I could even finish the sentence, she said, “No, you call him and have him come here to get you.” I called my husband and told him what was going on. He left right away. I called work, and told them I wouldn’t be coming back that day, that they were sending me to the hospital and wouldn’t let me drive.

About a half hour later, my husband and I were on the way to the hospital. We arrived in the imaging department and signed in. They brought me four twenty-ounce Styrofoam cups filled with some type of dye and Crystal Light. I was instructed to drink one glass at least every twenty minutes. They explained that the dye would allow my intestines to contrast in the CT Scan and make it easier to see the problem. The drinks were bad. Not the worst thing I’ve ever drank, but certainly nothing I want to drink again anytime soon. I finished the drinks ahead of schedule. We sat there for quite some time before they finally came to get me for the scan. My husband waited in the waiting room while they ushered me through double doors into the imagining area.

Once I was taken into the CT Scan room, the technician explained that she would be injecting more dye to aide with the CT Scan contrast. This dye was to be administered by IV. I began to tell her that the nurse at the clinic had a hard time and what he had said about rolling veins. She stuck me once perfectly, and said my veins were fine. She instructed me to lie down on the narrow table in front of the CT machine. She gave me a sheet and told me to pull my pants down to my knees and my bra up over my breasts so that they did not interfere with the imaging. She explained when she injected the dye I would feel warm and that she would let me know when to expect the feeling. She began to inject the dye and about halfway through the process she said the feeling should begin any moment. It did, it felt as if someone were pouring hot water all over me starting at my neck and moving downward. It was really an odd feeling, not painful or scary, simply odd.

After the scan, she walked me out to the waiting room and told me that a radiologist would read the scan and we should hear something within thirty minutes. She also said she was leaving the IV in, just in case I needed it later. Within less than ten minutes, she came back and said that it was definitely my appendix and that I needed to go to the emergency room. She graciously walked my husband and me through back corridors usually reserved only for staff. We arrived at the emergency room, which was quite crowded. She said she was going to see what she could do to get me seen faster. They ushered us into a room they called the “quiet room”. Within minutes, I heard my name called. The head nurse said that she had told her what was going on and she was going to take me back.

We went into an exam room in the emergency wing, I was instructed to don a hospital gown and nurses began taking my medical history and vital signs. Many of them praised the technician for leaving the IV in my arm, this made their job easier and resulted in one less stick for me. The attending doctor came in to see me and told me that the surgeon was on the way. I asked him how long I would have to stay in the hospital, he said at least a day.

I asked because I know someone who had an appendectomy only two weeks prior. They were able to do it laproscopically and he was discharged within 3 hours of them performing the surgery. Sadly, this is not the case in my situation. The believed that my appendix may have been perforated which required an open appendectomy. The surgeon arrived and everyone was busily bustling around prepping and working. People would press on my stomach and ask if it hurt. Others would come in and ask if I needed something for pain. The surgeon examined me and explained the risks and how the surgery would be performed.

My husband received a call that my mother and daughter had arrived and they asked him to come out front to escort them back. While he was gone, they came to take me to the surgical ward. I was a bit anxious, I didn’t want to be taken back without seeing my husband before I went in. I asked them to wait a few minutes for him to come back. They waited as long as they could, the then sent a nurse to find him. They came back and said the he and my mom were in the surgery waiting room. I was disappointed, but in no condition to protest. They wheeled me to the surgical area and parked my bed while they waited on the anesthesiologist.

The nurse who helped wheel me back told me she was going to find my family and bring them back since it was going to be a few more minutes. A few minutes later, I heard talking coming down the hallway, and there appeared my husband, mother, and daughter. The surgeon, who had been sitting behind a counter and talking to a surgical technician said my whole disposition changed and that was the first time he’d seen me smile. The technician said I looked so much better I probably didn’t need surgery, I laughed and tried to raise up more in the bed which gave me a strong pain, I told him I didn’t know about that.

After a few minutes of visiting with my family, they told me the anesthesiologist had arrived. I vaguely remember him standing on my right side and introducing himself, but I can’t remember his name. They then rolled me into the operating room. I remember thinking that it was really weird, I had never seen the inside of an operating room before. I have had a couple of other surgeries, and was always asleep before I arrived there.

The surgical technician helped me move from the bed I was in to the operating table. There was a large silver light above the bed, and someone was standing at my head rushing about moving cables and lines. I don’t remember anything after that until the nurse was wheeling me into my hospital room. My daughter, mother, and husband were all there waiting on me.

I had to stay overnight. I slept well, my poor husband wasn’t so lucky. The next morning, they gave me a menu and told me I could choose my breakfast. I was only allowed a liquid diet. I chose tea, chicken broth, and jello. Seems like a strange breakfast combination. I ate the jello and the tea, the chicken broth tasted horrible. Nurses were in and out of my room, they took my blood multiple times. I asked one of them why they kept taking it so often. Her answer, “We want to make sure your blood is not low.” I’m not sure exactly what that meant, but I thought if they kept taking it, I’d be more than a quart low. For lunch, they allowed me to eat solid food. I ordered a ham sandwich, which was quite tasty for hospital food.

Not long after lunch the surgeon came into the room with an intern. He asked if I was ready to go home, I told him I was. He checked my incision and gave me instructions for home. He said the nurse would get me discharged and to take it easy for at least a week. Within thirty more minutes, my discharge was complete and my husband and I were on our way home.

I spent a couple of days at my moms, who took care of me so well. She waited on me hand an foot. I felt like all I did for two days was sleep and eat. After two days, I went home and my sweet daughter took over the care giving. I went back to work on the fourth day, but only worked half days. On the fifth day, I woke up and my mouth was burning and I had a horrible taste in my mouth. I went to the doctor who said I had thrush, likely from the strong antibiotics given to me through the IV. He gave me a prescription to take for 2 weeks. By the 7th day I was at about 80%, and feeling better every day. On day 8 I worked the full day and I felt fine.

Today marks day fifteen. I had my follow up visit with the surgeon who said everything looked great and that I could resume normal activity. He said to refrain from heavy lifting for about two more weeks just as a precaution. My incision is healing well, they covered it with derma-bond glue to act as a protectant as well as additional bonding. The scar is ugly, but as it heals will fade into a think pink line.