The Appendectomy Experience

Life is so full of surprises, isn't it?  Someday I will actually learn that planning our days and weeks is only effective if we actually don't live our life at all.  As soon as fall was upon us, our calendar became stacked with playdates, parties, soccer, date nights, girls' nights, BSF, family days, service activities, preschool, and church.  Finding time for errands and the grocery store even grew thin, but I just kept planning away.  This weekend has been marked on the calendar for over six months.  Adam and I were heading to Lake Granbury to attend the wedding of a very good friend of mine from high school.  He and I were not only extremely close friends, but we were also neighbors!  We spent a lot of time together running around in the same circle and with each other's families.  The last time I saw him was our high school reunion five years ago, and I was BEYOND stoked to see him tie the knot! My parents were set and ready to have the girls over the weekend and Adam and I were ready to have a little time to each other and throwback in celebration with my old friends. 

Fast forward about two weeks.  Blakely came down with what I thought was allergies but quickly discovered it was a little more.  While she never ran a fever and was in pretty decent spirits, she had the thickest, green discharge that I think either of children have ever produced before.  And there was  ALOT of it.  Had she had a fever, I would have strongly suspected RSV.  Although she didn't have a fever, that snot would scare anyone away, so we were quarantined to the home be default.  Strike all plans.  Shortly after this began, we got news that a child that Blakely played in very close contact with had been diagnosed with a positive Pertussis test.  Understandably, the mother felt awful.  She had actually taken him to the doctor where he was diagnosed with a cold and that was that.  Not long later, a close contact of the little boys was diagnosed with Pertussis which sent the wheels turning that he may not have a cold after all, and had Pertussis.  He did.  Both children were in vaccinated homes, neither had the classic whoop, and both children were clearly mild cases.  Very thankful that they were inoculated.  Anyways, being that Pertussis begins with simple cold symptoms and B already had a vicious cold, the pediatrician decided to start her on preventative antibiotics that would cover her for most of Pertussis's incubation period.  While at the doctor, we discovered she had an ear infection which considering that drainage, it was no surprise.  

For approximately seven days, we were quarantined.  Plans stopped.  A couple of stir-crazy kids and a mama who had lots of errands pushed to the side.  Tuesday came around and I was really looking forward to P getting out of the house and spending time at school where she could burn some energy and enjoy her friends.  She was elated to be going.  At 9:26am, thirty minutes after I dropped her off, I received a phone call from school that she was complaining of a severe tummy ache.  "She has no fever, no vomiting or diarrhea and she is very talkative...she just keeps holding her belly and curling up on the floor, so we think it's better safe than sorry......" and with that, I was out the door to pick her up.  Hyper. Crazy.  Begging to stay at school, as the teachers looked at me and repeated, "she was really not feeling good and it's probably better safe...." as I cut them off again and just left.  TO say I was irritated is an understatement.  The girl was fine. Come to find out, the director was out that day and there was a bad stomach bug going around and they were just taking extreme caution.  I appreciate that, but this was not the week I needed her home for no good reason. 

Again.  I had planned so many days, and they just kept being busted. 

Finally Wednesday rolls around and Blakely's nasal fluids were looking better, she had been on antibiotics for two days, and I simply couldn't stay in the house another day.  BSF wouldn't allow that snot with or without fever, so I decided to pack my gym bag and attempt the gym.  I knew she wasn't contagious.  While working out, I told Paige that I just wasn't feeling it.  For the past ten days, I hadn't felt that great.  My stomach had been queasy, I had been having terribly sharp pains, a bit of nausea, and altogether blah. We were under A LOT of stress the week prior aside from just the aforementioned.  I assumed it was just a lot of stress as it just came and went in waves, not a constant issue. I carried on my workout and we headed home around noon.  I made the girls lunch, they played a little, then I put them each down.  While putting Preslie down, I was sucker punched with an out of this world pain right below my sternum.  Since I was 12 years old, I have experienced intense abdominal pain when under stress.  I have written about it several times and has always been a mystery in my life.  Twenty-two years of undiagnosed, doubled over pain only treated by codeine.  And sometimes, even narcotics couldn't rid the pain.   

I knew this pain all too well.  It was another stomach ache.  But this was the third one this month?  I mean, we had a few stressors, but not worthy of THREE of these horrendous stomach ache's in a six week period.  Usually, these ache's come on slowly.  I feel them coming in waves, and over time (sometimes it's a couple of hours, sometimes it is a few days later), a big one will emerge and I will be doubled over in pain for 12 hours or so.  For the days following, I am usually quite sore, then eventually all of the pain subsides and life goes on as normal. This one, though, it hit me like a ton of bricks and I had to lay down immediately.  I knew it was going to be horrible if it came on that quickly.  In the past, my doctor had recently suggested getting a CT scan the next time this happens while the pain is active to rule out ulcers.  The last two this month, Adam was traveling and I couldn't go, but this one...I told Adam...I needed to go get checked out.   I laid flat on my stomach and oddly, I began to feel better.  I thought that maybe it wasn't that bad after and I shouldn't go in for a CT, which confused me considering the intensity that I felt when it came on.  Preslie woke from her nap and I felt okay so I headed up to get her, within a few steps, the pain came on strong again.  Weird? Instead of being active, Preslie and I laid on the floor and played together while I tried to figure out if this was amounting to anything or not.  Around 4:30, I began prepping for dinner nearly resolving that I would not head into the ER.  Again, though, as I moved around, the pain increased.  Then it hit a point where it was lingering even when still.  I told Adam I was going to lay down and give it ten minutes then make a decision.  

At 5:30, I had him drop me off of the Baylor ER literally minutes from our house.  I knew that they would administer pain medications so I knew someone would have to pick me up.  I was supposed to go to Paige's house for a little pajama date after the kids were down, and she had offered to pick me up and take me either back to her house to hang out with a few other friends and her, or back home if the pain medications weren't working well.  I got checked in and was surprised to find that I had a 100.5 temperature. My normal body temperature is 97.3, so that was definitely a bit high for me.  I didn't feel like I had a fever at all and told the nursing staff and doctor that I knew exactly what this pain was, I just needed to rule out causes per a CT.

My journey began with these two full-to-the-brim cups of raspberry lemonade contrast to drink before I could have my scan.  It didn't taste as bad as I had expected, but it wasn't exactly easy.  In the meantime, I was given morphine for the pain. 

While waiting, I spent some time taking selfies and sending them to my friends.  Because who doesn't do that when they are sitting in the ER instead of being at girls night?

This was the "I'm so pissed I am not at girls night" face. 


"32 ounces of contrast!!!  EW!" 
When I returned from the CT Scan, my sweet mom had showed up unexpectedly a short time later.  We had been chatting for just a few minutes when the ER doctor, whose bedside manner was less than thrilling, stormed in to my room and charged my abdomen.  He began asking where exactly I felt the pain as he jammed his hands into my tender mid-section, questioning where exactly the pain was, where it radiated to and from, and how long exactly had it been occurring.  Before I could even answer the questions, he said, "You have appendicitis.  We need to get you to surgery.  I have already called for an ambulance to pick you up and transfer you to Baylor Grapevine."

And with that, he closed the door and left, giving me no time for a single question.  Not a word.

My mother and I stared at each other in disbelief.  There was no way.  I had had this pain a million times.  The morphine had pretty much zapped it.  Wasn't I supposed to be literally dying of pain?  We wanted a second opinion before rushing into emergency surgery.  After letting Adam know, I contacted a friend who instantly called a radiologist.  He immediately put me at ease says that the appendix is not something that may or may not need to be removed.  If you're in pain and it is enlarged AT ALL, it needs to go.  About that time, the doctor came back in.  I insisted I did not have appendicitis.  He insisted that I did. And that I had to ride in an ambulance for liability purposes.  About an hour later, the paper work was filed and a surgeon had been found.  Paige went to relieve Adam, who relieved my mom, who went to stay the night with my kids (and apparently pick up where Paige left off doing dishes and cleaning my house).

It's all a blur from here.  Aside from the morphine and my nerves making me EXTREMELY chatty, the ambulance ride was nothing special.  I made sure they hadn't picked up any Ebola patients and went on my merry way.

When we arrived at my staycation spot, I was turned over to the care of Baylor Grapevine where I am pretty sure I was labeled as "flight-risk."  I had clear mental pictures of ripping out my IV's and heading down a back stairwell and out to the parking lot where I would hitch-hike a ride home from 114.  I was busy SWEARING to the staff that I ABSOLUTELY did NOT have appendicitis.  I had a weekend getaway planned with my husband.  I needed to be able to dance.  The CT Scan had it alllll wrong.  All of this was in between my desperate pleas for crackers.  Saltines, for God's sakes.  Just give me two.  That's all I needed.  It was now nearly midnight and I hadn't eaten in nearly 12 hours.  They had just informed me that my surgery wouldn't be until morning and there was just no way.  No way I would live to see that OR without saltines.  The thing is, they just weren't having any of my talk.  Apparently, I really did have appendicitis.

In the midst of my endless banter, the nurses made me write my goals for my stay on the board that I got to stare out for the next 48 hours.  As you can tell, I had lofty goals.

Just like with labor, I had to answer my life away with questions upon checking in.  My favorite was whether I had any implants.  I begged.  BEGGED for the nurse to ask the doctor if he would do some implants while I was under the knife, but she said no.  And of course, they asked me if I had any contact with Ebola.  Naturally, I could very well have it from all the exposure I have had....
(my sister was at the hospital)

When that was over, it was time to get some shut eye.  I couldn't get comfortable.  I was nervous as all get out. The pain was okay, unless I was laying on my left side with my appendix facing up.   It was okay until around 4am...that's when I began to feel really sick, similar to how I had been feeling on and off for the past ten days.  Adam had already pointed out to me that since the Monday prior, I had had almost all of the symptoms.  I thought I had just had a really nervous tummy and was a bit bloated.  Nope--as it turns out it was probably my appendix the entire time.  So as I laid there writhing in nausea, fever and chills while running to bathroom and back attached to my trusty sidekick named IV pole, I knew that I had appendicitis and that it was only going to get worse from here.

By the time my morning nurses came, I was begging for surgery.  Begging for it to all end.  After their rotation, I was told they were trying to get a room for me.  They administered phenergan and the next thing I remember, they are prepping me for surgery.

When I came to, I was dreaming of Preslie eating popsicles and I felt awesome.  I felt no pain.  I was incredibly tired and starving.  But I felt no pain.  It was over.

 My daytime nurse was definitely not my my favorite.  She was new and loved to play by the rules, which meant she did not want me eating at all.  She said I could get nauseas, and I was like..yeah....that's why you're here.  To shoot me up with some phenegren if that happens.  Let me eat.  I wasn't too happy, but I complied.  I spent the day falling asleep, taking long walks around the hospital, and not eating.  My favorite part was when they offered me ambien.  I jumped on that like a kid in a candy store.  My recovery immediately after surgery was actually pretty easy....

Unfortunately, I had fallen under the spell of general anesthesia and the pain didn't stay at bay for long.  During one of my vital checks early Friday morning (2am-ish), the pain hit.  I hadn't taken many meds because I felt relatively good.  Dumbest. Decision. Ever.  I woke in throbbing pain, hardly able to walk to at all.  Everything hurt.  Even using the restroom.  I missed the kids.  Heck, I missed my own mom.  I wanted decent food and I wanted the pain gone.  The surgeon came in and delivered the news that I could not lift or hold the girls for six weeks, and definitely not any type of lifting or caring for until at least my two week post-op appointment.  Walking up the stairs would take about a week and I would need 100% coverage for the kids for at least 7-14 days.  The tears just began uncontrollably.  I could not stop crying.

Picking up the kids was the worst part about it all.  The pain to my heart was overwhelmingly worst than my abdomen.

From here, it's all been recovery.  I was released from the hospital later on Friday to the comfort of my own bed.  Although I can't hold or cuddle these two girls very well, I wad filled to the brim with joy being reunited with them.

Later that evening, when the kids were finally down, I got up to take my medicine and eat a couple of crackers when I discovered my sweet, beyond stressed trying to work, manage the house, take care of the girls and care for his wife, passed out snoring mid-text.  By the time I grabbed by phone, the screen had turned to black, but it was the PERFECT way to sum up the last four days.  Exhausting and overwhelming. 

Today, day four, the pain has finally slowed down, but I am utterly exhausted.  I have so many to thank but that's just going to have to be another post for another day.  

(just for making it all the way to the bottom of this post, you should be you may have noticed Fran in the pictures at the top of the post.  She's the zit on my chin that earned her own birth certificate.  Anyways, she was brutal.  I joked that I wondered if the antibiotics that I was on for my hospital stay would kill her.  Come to find out, ten IV bags of antibiotics WILL kill a vicious zit--see final picture on this post.  You should try it sometime; I guess it was my appendicitis consolation reward along with my flu shot!) 

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