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Years ago, I took a residential wilderness first responder course. We had to learn a whole bunch of stuff, including a little bit of differential diagnosis.

Some time before that, R. went sailing, and felt every single move the boat made, without feeling nauseous, precisely. And he didn't want to eat at all. The next day, he went to the ER and had his appendix out. He would show you the three hole scar from the laparoscopic procedure if you wanted to see it. Also he told a bunch of stories about people who let the abdominal pain go longer than a day and a half, and had a much bigger scar because they had to pick all the bits out after the appendix ruptured. I don't think he knew anyone who developed peritonitis but I had a pretty good sense of the path to that unpleasantness (see above WFR).

Fast forward to yesterday. I woke up feeling like I had horrible, horrible gas pain. I've had horrible gas pain before. I've had horrible gas pain that made me worry I had appendicitis. I had NOT thought I had appendicitis since taking the WFR class. I did all the things I usually do: spend time in the bathroom, drink clear fluids, eat some crackers and other boring food. I tried some ginger ale; boy was that a mistake.

After pooping 4 times (a lot, even for me) and not feeling nauseous, not vomiting, not having loose much less diarrhea, and feeling totally uninterested in food, or, really, anything but not moving very fast and, ideally, lying down, I started making phone calls. B. called in sick the second of three days in a row. Minute Women wasn't able to get anyone. R. was going to have to come home to pick T. up, but a little after 12:30, it was clear I wasn't going to make it that long. The pain had quit being diffuse through my abdomen, and was now quite persistently in the lower right quadrant. Which set off every one of my I-have-appendicitis alarms.

R. agreed to come home right away. I called my doctor's office to get a same-day. My doctor wasn't available, so I got whoever was available in urgent care. We chatted. He tapped. He asked some questions and told me that I wasn't going to have my appendix much longer and told me to go directly to Emerson's ER. He called ahead.

Emerson's ER was, I kid you not, completely empty. Not one single person in the waiting room, and not much going on in the exam rooms, either. I got a single bed exam room. Because I had tried to eat lunch, I wasn't going to be operated on before 6 p.m. They asked lots of questions, did a pregnancy test, drew blood (elevated white blood cells, so I wasn't getting sent home any time soon), did an ultrasound (inconclusive) and a CT scan (positive for appendicitis).

The 6 p.m. operation got delayed because an emergency c-section provided a tiny amount of excitement for the ER, but I think I was wheeled in a little after 7 p.m. It turns out I had retrocecal appendicitis, which raised a whole lot of questions of its own: my symptoms were in every way classic symptoms. There was some referred/radiating pain, but nothing completely confusing. But out it came without having to revert to the larger incision (yay!). No obvious adhesions from the c-section; perhaps some from the tubal I had with the second one. Ovary not twisted; uterus healthy. Nothing else weird encountered. Having removed the appendix, it was extremely clear that was the problem.

I got stuck in a double room with someone who had a CPAP machine that she didn't have on when she was napping, and didn't seem to be staying in place the whole time she was sleeping. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind before heading out to the first appointment to pack a bag of entertainment that included an iPod (so I could at least have music to drown out the ambient noise of a hospital, and the closer noises of the CPAP and the really loud snoring) and a kindle (with a light in the cover -- that works really, really well, I might add).

The staff was nice. The food was unexciting but unobjectionable and they handled the food allergies without any problems. It took a little convincing to get some apple juice out of them the first night, but once the first round went down, they had no problem with delivering more. They gave me more rounds of IV antibiotics than I think was, strictly speaking, necessary, but they did not make me take any after coming home, which is something. It was tricky getting them to unhook the ringer's; they wanted to know what the doctor ordered and he hadn't put anything about it in since he's new and doesn't know the local drill yet, so they were making me push the damn pole around instead.

R.'s mother came down to help out, and the kids co-operated by going to bed early and then sleeping through the night. T. didn't want to go to school in the morning. I asked R. to give him the phone and I talked at him for a minute saying hi and I love you. T. has never said anything on the phone to anyone (not once they said something first, in any event), IIRC, but when prompted to say hi, Mama, he _said_, "Hi, Mama". Wow. I guess that's something, all by itself. He'll be coming home from school in about a half hour and I expect he'll be pleased to see me. R., C. and A. came to pick me up from the hospital at a little before 1:30 (less than 24 hours from first diagnosis in AMA's Urgent Care to discharge from Emerson). A. was really happy to see me, but somewhat pissed that she couldn't join me in the front seat. I had planned to drive myself home, but no one at the hospital approved of that idea. R. drove the Fit home and C. drove the Odyssey home.

It was a little too painful to qualify as a mini-vacation; also, while I didn't have to prepare my own food, I also didn't get very many meals out of the deal. But it's definitely better than Crohn's disease, or an ectopic pregnancy, or any of a host of other unlikely but awful possible causes of abdominal pain.

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jinasphinx
Oct. 1st, 2010 08:07 pm (UTC)
Wishing you a smooth recovery! Glad you avoided appendix rupture and the big incision!
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