Monday, August 17, 2009

Medical update

It turns out I was wrong about my Friday night adventure; it wasn't food poisoning after all. It was the acute onset of appendicitis!

All day Saturday, I was hoping the pain in my lower right abdomen would go away, and it did diminish, mostly when I remained upright. But that night, I woke up just after midnight with the same severe pain I'd experienced the night before. I hovered about for a while, worrying about what to do, and then at 1:30 AM I told Dean I was going to Emergency.

I was suspecting appendicitis, although I didn't have all the symptoms; it was just that the websites all said that if the pain persisted over many hours, you should seek medical treatment. The fact that I couldn't explain what was causing the pain worried me, so I finally felt I had no choice.

Going to Emergency is something I am VERY reluctant to do, because all the horror stories you've heard are true. I've waited over 4 hours in Emergency with pneumonia, so this time I filled a tote bag with books and headed off, expecting the worst, as it was a Saturday night and the first really hot weekend we've had all summer. As I'd feared, the place was crowded. It was also being renovated, so we were all stuffed into a windowless waiting place with bare white drywall walls, chairs and little else. I'm glad I took a taxi, because if I'd driven, I might not have been able to find the entrance, it looked so different.

To my great surprise, I was taken in as a patient after only 1 1/2 hours in the waiting room, before many other people who'd arrived before me. I guess suspicion of appendicitis rates higher on the triage list than many other ailments. I noted with amusement that the very full waiting room was almost entirely composed of locally-grown inhabitants; in other words, very few foreigners. I suspect the weekend and the heat resulted in a LOT of excessive drinking, with the accompanying fights and falling off of porches.

The first doctor who saw me was a little unsure about what was ailing me, because I had no fever, and my blood work showed a normal white-cell count, so she called in the senior doctor, and they speculated that it could be some problem with the liver or pancreas. The end result was that they decided I should have a CT scan. This finally happened about about 9:00 am, and then about half an hour later they told me the result: I had appendicitis. (Ha! I knew I was right!)

Well, then it was a matter of waiting for a room upstairs, which finally came available at around 2:00 in the afternoon (until then I dozed in my Emergency bed), then into surgery at 6:30. It turned out to be more inflamed than they had been able to tell from the CT scan, so the surgery took about 2.5 hours, instead of the typical 1 hour. But it all went well, and I recovered pretty quickly.

The only problem was that I hadn't eaten since 6:00 PM Saturday night, so by Monday morning, what with the anaesthetic and the surgery, I was a bit shaky. And abdominal surgery often has an unfortunate side-effect: bloating and gas. The only way to dispel this is to walk around, but I didn't feel I could safely walk around until I had something to eat. However, I wouldn't be given anything solid to eat until my bloating stopped! So to get out of this Catch-22, I decided to go out and weakly shuffle up and down the hall, holding onto the railing along the wall, until a little relief ensued, and then I was able to eat a VERY light breakfast of Jello and tea. That lemon Jello was the tastiest thing I'd ever had, and the bit of sugar it provided gave me energy to move around a bit more, so eventually I was able to eat a muffin and then felt much better.

They would have released me this morning, but I'd eaten so little, they figured it was better to wait until after lunch, so I got home just a few hours ago.


Blogger Priscilla said...

oh, my goodness, you poor thing. I'm so glad you are all right. Who is watching your children? Is your daughter still off visiting?
Sorry, you probably don't feel like answering a lot of dumb questions. I just feel like I know you through your blog, here. Hope you continue to recuperate quickly and are feeling yourself soon. I don't know your name, but I'm sure God knows who I mean when I ask him to bless and heal Dr. M.

6:02 pm  
Blogger Labwriter said...

God Bless You, I'm glad that everything has apparently worked out fine for you. I love your blog, by the way. I can't tell you how hard I laughed at your recent photo of the knives stuffed into your wall. I'm here in the USA, going to every town hall protest that I can get to, trying to keep the nutroots in the Obama administration from dismantling our health care system. It was interesting to me to read how your appendicitis was handled. I'm also a disaffected Anglican (which is how I found your blog in the first place--at Stand Firm). I've left the Church forever--good riddance. I figure God understands.

All the best to you.

6:13 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

Thanks very much for the prayers, Priscilla! I'm sure God can see through my many disguises and will direct them to the right place ;)

Fortunately, this happened on the weekend, so Dean was home to watch the kids, and we got one of our respite workers to take Thomas and James off swimming on Monday, to give HIM a break! Taking care of them single-handed when they're not in school is a big job.

Good luck with the townhall meetings, Labwriter! It sounds as if they're having an effect, and have at least put the Obama admin on the defensive. I don't know just how this medical episode of mine would read to an American. From MY point of view, I'd say I was well taken care of - I wasn't stranded on a gurney in a hallway for 18 hours, I got lots of tests and the doctors took care of the problem quickly and effectively. As a Canadian, I'd call this a success story - I'd feared a lot worse when I headed over to Emergency. But maybe an American would think, "OMG, she arrived at the hospital at 01:30, and didn't go into surgery until 18:30! That's a terribly long wait!" I don't know what would be considered a normal experience for someone going through the same situation in the U.S.

9:46 am  
Anonymous Medical Assistant Job Search said...

Family is one of the most important things. It doesn't matter what happens to you in life, family will always be there. Whether you do something good or bad, most of the time you can count on your family to be there for you right by your side. In any case scenario, whether your fault or not, sticking by one another is the most important thing because hey, after all we are all still human.

9:48 am  
Blogger Aggie said...

Glad to hear God pulled you through - both with the medical condition AND the family situation. His timing is exquisite! Even if I don't always appreciate it! hehe

God Bless Ya'll!

Aggie, Class of '70
An Anglican Firearms "Enthusiast" (ie: Gun Nut)

10:21 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My prayers are with you for a swift and complete recovery. And for some good solid help with your garden while you are limited to light lifting during that recovery.

Bill in Ottawa

12:35 pm  
Blogger Tina said...

Thank goodness you had the presence of mind to go to the ER. Prayers for your speedy healing and recovery!


7:45 am  
Blogger Christopher Johnson said...

Doc! Don't be worrying me like that. We need you. Take it REAL easy and take good care.

11:39 pm  
Anonymous Sibyl said...

Dr. M,

Even with 5 Star US private pay insurance, your emergency room wait would probably have been no different. I waited with my mother (COPD) many an hour or whole day and night without food, etc. before she finally was treated or admitted.

Also, I diagnosed your ailment right away, with the first 'Arghh'. Osmosis. Nothing like having had seven doctors and a nurse in the family.

So glad you are home and safe. Take it easy and don't try to be a heroine. Be patient in recovery.

Thoughts and prayers will be with you.

God's peace and all blessings.

6:39 am  
Anonymous Sibyl said...

PS - Though you had to endure a Saturday Nighter in the ER, at least you weren't in Los Angelos or even Atlanta and thank the Lord, your appendicitis didn't occur during the holidays.

In a small Southern city where I lived, a patient had a similar surgery and by mistake, was taken to a hall that had closed down for Christmas and New Years. The next time the patient was seen was 36 hours later, staggering down the hall clinging to an IV pole, with an empty IV bag swinging on it, looking for anyone to help him and give him food and water. This was a nursing home patient too. No one looked in on him from the 'home' and no notice was taken on the computer system that this patient had no reporting for that number of hours post-surgery.

With the staph situation in hospitals, you can go home in a lot worse shape than before you went in.

My advice for anyone who anticipates hospital care or surgery or is enduring any illness - swallow pride and call your church to let them know and to ask for help - a prayer and care team to pray for you, watch over you and follow you through the ordeal.

Then, when you have recovered, give back as you can.

6:49 am  

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