November 20, 2017

Revelations through recovery

Posted

Two weeks ago my appendix decided it was sick of me and sought emergency evacuation, despite having had free room and board for 23 years. At 17 I got chicken pox, at 19 I had my wisdom teeth removed and at 21 I had a tonsillectomy. It almost makes sense that at 23 I would need an appendectomy.

After feeling sick and having light stomach cramps throughout the day Thursday, June 16, I ate barely any of my cheeseburger and fries for dinner. The pain started to get much worse, and was mostly in the right side of my abdomen. It got to the point where I couldn’t stand up straight or talk without gasping a little.

My boyfriend, Tim, had his appendix removed as a kid, so fortunately he knew what the symptoms pointed to and insisted I get it checked out just in case. We argued for a few minutes, as I did not want to go if it wasn’t serious, until my sister, who is an RN, told me I needed to trust my gut feeling and go to the hospital.

Tim and I finally agreed and he hauled me up to the West Branch Regional Medical Center to make sure I was OK.

I was admitted to the ER around 9 p.m. After the nurse’s many failed attempts at placing an IV due to my dehydration, I was given fluids and pain medication, which quickly convinced me that I was perfectly fine and would be able to go home soon. Tim, the nurses and the technicians thought otherwise.

I was finally taken back to get a CAT scan and waited to hear what the doctor had to say. Tim and I took bets on whether it was appendicitis or a kidney infection, as I still was not convinced it was anything serious.

When the doctor came in around midnight, he told me the news: it was appendicitis. I was scheduled for emergency surgery the next morning and had to stay overnight, and it would be my first time staying overnight in a hospital as a patient.

I called my parents, who had just gone to bed after checking in to the cabin they rented for the weekend in celebration of their 28th wedding anniversary. They drove up to West Branch at the crack of dawn Friday morning to be there in time for my surgery. My sister, Caitlin, was able to drive up Friday night after finishing her shift at Allegiance Health.

Tim stayed with me every night in the hospital so I wouldn’t be alone. My parents hadn’t met Tim yet, and I was very nervous for that to happen in the near future, so the hospital setting was an interesting way for two worlds to collide without structure or planning.

The surgery went well and took approximately 45 minutes to complete. Fortunately, my appendix did not rupture, so it was a much easier procedure than it could have been, followed by a much easier recovery.

I spent the next six days sitting, watching Netflix, holding ice packs to my stomach and sleeping off my pain pills. I returned to work the following Friday, a week after my appendectomy. My coworkers let me know how much I was missed with the lack of my stories, photos and usual sass.

Through the haze of anesthesia, Dilaudid and Tramadol, I slowly pieced together the puzzle that was that weekend. The many phone calls, Snapchats, Facebook messages, texts and prayers reminded me how lucky I am to have a support group of amazing people in my life.

Though the surgery is not something I would like to revisit, I was glad for the experience because it helped me to see different sides of people and determine the ones who truly matter. I can only hope I don’t need surgery at 25.

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