Saturday, September 29, 2012

Denial, aka How I Lost my Appendix

Denial (noun):  refusal of belief in, dissent

So, I have already informed you all of the sickness that overtook me for a few days.  This is the story of how that sickness resulted in surgery and the removal of my appendix.

Denial 1:  I am not sick; I'm fine.
After 86 hours of sickness, I woke up around 7 AM with stabbing pain on the ride side of my lower stomach/abdomen area.  I honestly decided not to tell Doug until after his class (which ran from 9 until 10:30 AM) since I assumed that it was some kind of muscle cramp from being sick.  Well, he figured out pretty quickly on his own that I was in pain and told me that it was time to go to the doctor's office.  After some crying and complaining, I convinced Doug to call my parents first and get their opinion.  I was arguing to give me 6 hours to feel better before going.  My parents took Doug's side, and we were out the door by 8:15 AM.

Denial 2:  It's just a virus; there's nothing that can be done.
We entered an empty ER (which never happens, so this was definitely God clearing the way), and I was taken back to a small room fairly quickly.  Several samples were taken for testing, and the nurses assured me that it was probably a virus that just needed to work through my system, although no one would let me drink or eat anything "in case you need surgery." (That should have been hint #1.)  Around 9:30 AM I saw the doctor (who was very nice) who talked with me and sent me for a CT scan "just in case" this wasn't a virus.  By 10 AM, I was taking my CT scan, and by 10:30 I was back in my room after being told by several nurses that my samples looked okay.  Doug had been keeping my parents in the loop; at this point they even thought I should be able to go home soon.

Denial 3:  This is not an emergency; this surgery can wait.
Around noon, my doctor came back and looked pretty surprised; "Your appendix is lit up like a Christmas tree, and your white blood cell count is high.  You are going to talk to the surgeon about how soon you need your appendix removed."  By 1 PM, I was being admitted to the hospital and waiting to meet with the surgeon.  My parents and Doug's mom were on their way.  My surgeon was really great; I described him to my parents as Cosby-like -- really good-natured and good-humored, but definitely still a good doctor.  He had looked over my CT scan and came to check out my stomach.  He noticed how much my muscles clenched when he pressed on sore spots; he informed me that I needed to go into surgery within the next 2 hours.  the conversation went something like this:
"Is there any way we can do it in the morning?"  "No, it needs to come out today."
"Can we wait for my parents to go here?" "Where are they coming from?" "PA." "No way."
"If I keep my stomach from clenching when you press on it, can we talk about waiting?" "No."
"Are you sure it won't heal on its own?"  "I'm sure it won't.  See you in surgery."

So immediately after this, they decide to send someone in to ask me lots of fun questions, like if I have a living will (apparently I said, "You can resuscitate the crap out of me") and if I'm an organ donor.  Nice, happy things like that.  By 3 PM, they wheeled me off to the OR to prep me for surgery.

Denial 4:  I'm going to be stuck in bed for days.
First, after talking to the anesthesiologist for about 90 seconds, he gave me some great anxiety medicine.  They let me go to the bathroom, and then wheeled me into the operating room.  Apparently I said something about it begin a spaceship because some people laughed at me and all of a sudden I was trying to open my eyes in a different room.  I kept asking about where Doug was and saying that my stomach hurt.  After about an hour in recovery, they moved me into my room.  I felt like I couldn't move for a few hours; my parents got there and were able to help Doug take care of me for awhile.

The good news is that after a few hours I was able to get up for short periods of time; by morning I was able to go back to a normal diet ("but take it easy") and was able to get up and walk around.  Twenty hours after my surgery, I was released from the hospital and on my way home!  I have been able to eat and get around for the most part on my own, and I was able to sleep normally through the night!

So, now I'm home, I'm resting, and I'm much better than I thought I would be!

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