As loyal readers know, I was hospitalized last week and needed an emergency appendectomy. This is the story of that adventure. Read on, if you dare…
What started with a few days of pain ended up with my wife finally convincing me to go to the doctor, so after work on Saturday evening, she and I headed off to urgent care to get checked out, just to make sure it was nothing serious. After some waiting, and some questioning, the doctors weren’t sure what the cause of my discomfort was. So I had to give up some blood and urine. The results didn’t help any, so a second doctor was brought in to probe around my stomach. It was decided that a CT scan was needed to rule out appendicitis.
And so I was sent to the hospital in downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota for the CT test. When I got there, I was required to drink some oddly-flavored stuff that apparently lights up your insides so that the CT scan-machine can read your insides better. Strange. I had to drink on glass of it, wait 30 minutes, and drink another. Then after another 30-minute wait, I was ready for the scan. During all this waiting, I wandered around with my iPhone, and snapped some shots.
Once inside the scanner, I had to pull down my shorts (and cover up with a towel–at this point I retained a shred of my dignity) while the technician gave me an IV of more light-up liquids to assist the machine. Rather than succeeding at first attempt, the technician administered the needle twice, leaving one arm very sore and bruised :(
Still, the scan continued, and was without further event. I waited in the waiting area for the “all clear” so I could finally get home and get some rest! Instead, I got a phone call from the doctor who sent me downtown (who had been, in the meantime, called by the hospital to inform her of the results of my scan) to tell me that it was indeed my appendix. It needed to come out, and I was sent to the ER to check in and prepare for the inevitable. I was given a hospital gown, another IV, and a bed.
Once the IV was in, and I was dressed (or undressed, as it were) for success, the nurse asked me if had a preference for a particular surgeon, to which I answered the rather obvious:
“I’ve only got one appendix…if I had a preference from a previous visit, we’d have a problem, no?”
And then she left, and called the surgeon. When she returned, I was informed that I would have surgery in about 2 hours. So I called my work, and let them know I wouldn’t be in the next day; I called my mom, and gave her the news; and I called my son, just to let him know what’s up.
The nurse returned rather quickly, saying my surgery had been moved ahead, and I was leaving now. And so, I was wheeled off to surgery.
I was wheeled up to surgery, and prepared myself for the inevitable.
Once inside the very cold surgery wing, I was given a blanket. I was also told that the actual room for surgery was even colder; they compared it to a large meat freezer. It is at times like this, I thought to myself, that it’s really great to have doctors with a sense of humor. A meat freezer. That mental image would accompany me until I was put to sleep, and then cut open.
As they wheeled me in, and I bid adieu to my wife, I wasn’t really nervous. The part I hate the most–the needles for shots and IVs–was already over. Or so I thought. Not to worry, there would be many more needles in my future. Then I was finally relieved of my blanket, moved to a smaller bed, had my arms and legs strapped down with leather buckles, and then had my hospital gown opened up. I had not felt this way since birth, when I entered the world in a hospital, wearing pretty much exactly what I was at that moment.
I was given the mask to breathe into, and made my final plea as they lifted my gown and I drifted off:
“Guys–it’s really cold in here. Don’t judge me.”
And with that, I was off.
I came to in my new room, after what was about 2 hours. I had a lovely view, complete with a whiteboard to keep track of the names of the nurses who rotated in and out of my life. I also had a television, and a small window.
I was only in the hospital for almost 48 hours total, and was able to get up and move within about 12 hours of surgery. Luckily the bathroom was only a few steps away, because with the steady drip of the IV in my arm, I had to go regularly.
The doctors also told me that I would be well served by getting out of the room and walking a bit. As they do this kind of thing regularly, there is a sort of loop around the wing of the hospital I was stationed in that was labeled as 4 laps = 0.5 miles. So I walked once I was able, a few times a day. By Monday, I was walking 2-3 laps each time (albeit very slowly), while I wheeled my IV along with me.
Naturally, I took my phone with me. Such a momentous occasion deserves to be documented!
This was my first stay in a hospital since I stayed here with my mom almost 29.5 years ago to the day. Recommending such a stay would be hard to do, but most of the people I met there were first-rate, I have to say. It was a positive experience, made better by the knowledge that I can’t do it again; one appendix means appendicitis is a one-and-done kind of thing :)
By the time I took my last lap around the hospital wing, I was ready to leave. As nice as the people, amenities, food, and cable TV are…I wanted to get out. I took one last lap around the place, then got dressed and prepared to be discharged.
That was the saga of my infected appendix, the diagnosis, and its eventual removal and my recovery. I hope you enjoyed reading about it more than I enjoyed actually having to do it, which was kind of crummy. Surgery sucks, and recovery takes a while. I’m still recovering now but the doctors tell me I won’t be 100% and doing all the things I was before (lifting, working out, swimming, etc) for a full 4-6 weeks after surgery.
So I will be in Florida next week–where it will be unbearably hot–unable to get in the water.