After experiencing the worst two weeks of my life, I will now always remember August 2013 as the scariest month ever. On August 4 (a Sunday), I woke up with sharp pains across my abdomen. I thought maybe it was food poisoning or just a bad stomach ache. So I just chugged Pepto Bismol all day and hoped it would go away. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it was anything serious or life-threatening. I decided to just wait to see my doctor the next day.
So on Monday I saw a physician’s assistant in my doctor’s office because my doctor wasn’t in that day. She checked my blood and urine and took an abdominal x-ray. She wasn’t sure what was wrong, so she wanted to schedule me for a CT scan that afternoon, but my stupid insurance company wouldn’t cover that without an ultrasound first. And I couldn’t get an ultrasound until the next day. So I suffered through another day of pain.
On Tuesday I went and got the ultrasound and waited in the waiting room until they said I could leave. After awhile, someone said there was a doctor from my doctor’s office who wanted to speak to me. He told me that the radiologist who read my ultrasound results sent him the results and it was clear that my appendix needed to be removed. I was supposed to rush to the emergency room immediately. Surgeons would be there to meet me. I was so scared. I had never been to the ER before. So I drove over there and called Dave and told him to meet me there.
Once I got to the ER, all I did was wait. They didn’t have a room available right away. Then, once they did have a room to put me in, the surgical residents weren’t convinced that my appendix was the problem. A parade of different residents came in to examine me and ask me the same questions. I guess I wasn’t exhibiting the classic symptoms of appendicitis and my pain wasn’t just on my right side. And the fact that I was a woman compounded their confusion. It could be my uterus or ovaries or something like that. I get that they really wanted to be sure that my appendix needed to be removed before they went into surgery, but what about the ultrasound results? And what did doctors do back in the olden days?
Me, sitting in the ER for six hours, waiting to get my appendix removed
So after six hours of waiting in the ER, they finally decided to remove my appendix. The surgery went ok but the surgeon told me that my appendix had ruptured. I’m guessing it probably happened on Tuesday sometime. If only my insurance company had let me get the CT scan. Or I should have just gone to the ER on the first day when I first felt the pain.
The day after the surgery I felt better and was released from the hospital. I really thought I was going to be able to go back to work in a couple days. But the next day I felt worse and was throwing up. The next few days I was throwing up and was constipated from the pain pills they prescribed. So then I was taking a cocktail of pain pills, antibiotics and laxatives and having trouble keeping all of it down. A couple of days I managed to keep some food down, but then I was back to throwing up again.
I went back to my doctor’s office and they ran tests. They said I was severely dehydrated and my electrolytes were way out of whack. Plus, I had lost a lot of weight. I had to go back to the ER. Again I waited and waited. Various surgical residents came and questioned me again. Then, they finally admitted me to the hospital. After a CT scan, they surmised that I had a small bowel obstruction. They guessed it was most likely from scar tissue from my appendectomy.
They stuck a tube up my nose and down my throat. It sucked up bile from my stomach and transferred into a container. This was to relieve pressure on my stomach. I had to keep this tube in for three days and I couldn’t eat or drink anything during this time. It was so uncomfortable. Every time I swallowed, I could feel the tube in my throat. The plan was to rest my bowels and let things calm down below. I didn’t have any appetite anyway, so that was fine with me.
If you’ve never been in a hospital, count yourself lucky. I didn’t get a good night’s sleep during the seven days I was there. Nurses were constantly coming in my room and taking my vitals. Surgical residents would come in my room every morning at 5:30 a.m. and ask me how I was feeling. Then 15 minutes later, someone would come and draw some blood. I never got used to all of this. I was also waking up several times a night to go to the bathroom. I had diarrhea almost every day. Let me tell you, it was not pleasant.
Being in the hospital was really hard mentally, too. I felt like I was never going to get out of there. I never knew when I was going to be able to leave. Waiting for my bowel obstruction to heal was hard. I just had to take things slowly, day by day. I couldn’t eat for so long. Then one day I could only eat broth. The next day, I could eat soups. Then, finally, I was able to eat solid food. Hallelujah! I received great care from all the nurses while I was there, but I definitely don’t want to go back there ever again. There’s a chance I could get another bowel obstruction again or it may never happen again. I’m hoping for the latter.
I just want to say thanks to all of my family and friends who prayed for me or came to my aid during my time of need. I really appreciate it. I’m still healing and it will probably be awhile before I’m back to my old self again. I’ll never take my health for granted again. I hope you never have to go through this.