27 November 2005

Appendix A

So last week, my appendix decided that it didn't like me anymore. Sunday night, my stomach wasn't feeling very good. My wife had run to the store to pick up some things that we needed; I put the kids to bed. But, my stomach was starting to bother me.

I figured it was just gas. I was burping a lot; it would surely pass. No pun intended. I was reading a book on the couch, waiting for my wife to come home. My stomach was hurting more and more. It got so bad that I had to stop reading. I couldn't concentrate on the book. By the time my wife got home, it was still getting worse. She got me some Phazyme. It didn't help.

My wife went to bed. I couldn't sleep. About 1:30, my stomach got suddenly worse. I just made it into the bathroom before I lost my dinner. It was a huge mess. My wife woke up from the sound, and checked on me, but she couldn't stomach the smell, which was very bad. I sent her back to bed and told her I would clean it up. I sat on the floor for a few mintues and then started trying to clean. I could only clean for a minute before I had to stop for the pain. It took almost an hour and a half of cleaning and stopping and resting for the pain.

After I finished cleaning, I realized the pain wasn't any better. It was time to take action. I got online. I checked out WebMD. It turns out that I had symptoms that suggested an emergency room visit. I took a quick shower and woke up my wife. She wanted to stay home with the kids to explain that I am okay.

My dad got up and took me to the hospital. Within a minute of seeing me and hearing my symptoms, he proclaimed his diagnosis: appendicitis. We got to the local hospital a little before 4 am and checked in. Around 5:30 or 6, they took us back from the waiting room into the examining room. Around 7 am we saw the doctor for the first time. After doing a basic examination, and then poking and prodding in more places than I care to recall, the doctor proclaimed what my dad knew several hours earlier: appendicitis. He ordered blood work and a CT scan.

An hour and a half later the surgeon came in and did a quick exam. She canceled the CT scan and arranged for a prompt surgery. Within twenty minutes I was being prepped for surgery, then rolled off with Vic to anesthesia.

I came to around 11. They quickly rolled me into my own room, where my wife and aunt were waiting for me. My dad had finally gone home after being with me for many hours. My aunt didn't stay long. My wife stayed with me for a while, then went to let me rest.

Within minutes, my friend Tom showed up on his lunch break. He had heard that the "bears" had gotten to me. He brought me an electronic game and checked in for a while before slipping out. I fell asleep.

A while later, my wife and kids came back. The kids were happy to see me. My 5 year old climbed into hospital bed and snuggled with me for a while. It was nice to be loved by everyone. After a while, they all left, so that the kids could be dropped off with my mom. I read for a long time. Wow, it is really nice to be able to read for an extended time without interruption. I haven't had that luxury since whe had kids.

Later, my wife came back. While she was there we had visits from two friends from church, plus a phone call from one other church friend. After they all left, I turned on my cell phone to find a phone message from another church friend. Then, I got another visit from a church friend. Ken told me about his much worse bout with appendicitis while in the Army. He also told me how friends had smuggled him a quarter pounder with cheese after his surgery. Then, he unveiled the coup de gras. He had brought me a bag of Skittles.

That night, my last visit was from the surgeon who was still in the hospital on call. She checked on me and told me that she would let me eat real food the next day, instead of the clear liquid diet I had been on thus far.

The next morning, I got a real breakfast, and then a visit from the surgeon. She checked the surgery site and how I was handling the food, then cleared me to go home. A short while later, I was in the wheelchair, on the way to the car. It was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

The morals of the story:

1. This Thanksgiving I had much to be thankful for. I survived appendicitis with relative ease, and was alive to enjoy time with my wife and kids.

2. Wow, how great it is to be loved by the members of my church. So many calls and visits were wonderfully affirming.

3. The opportunity to read and have some peace and quiet, as well as to sleep in some, during the first few days home were very refreshing.

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