Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014

Squeamish but generally OK after hospital stay

Published:

When it hurt to take deep breaths last Wednesday night, I knew something was wrong. I'd had cramps for two days but thought it was only a bad upset stomach. After speaking with two of my uncles-one a GI doctor in Atlanta and one an ER physician in Miami-I knew I had appendicitis.

I went to the hospital with my mom and dad and, one CT scan and sleepless night later, I was passed out on the operating table. I've never had surgery or any serious illness for that matter so the past week has been quite an experience!

Upon arrival at the emergency room, I told the physician my symptoms and he agreed that I most likely had appendicitis. He ordered a CT scan to make sure that was the case and sent the nurse to get some contrast dye for me. I had to mix iodine based dye with two bottles of flavored water and drink it as quick as I could without throwing up. The dye spreads out through my body and helps create more defined images in the CT scan. Even with the flavored water, the dye tasted disgusting. Drinking those two bottles was a surprisingly hard task and I was extremely sweaty before I finished.

The scan confirmed my prognosis. I had appendicitis and needed an appendectomy. Surgery was scheduled for the next morning. Meanwhile, I was put in the pediatric ward. Since I'm only 17, I'm not an adult yet. My full beard didn't quite match the Noah's Ark wallpaper that adorned the room.

I was taken for surgery prep at eight in the morning and, even though I got hardly any sleep, I was wide awake. I wasn't exactly nervous; I just wanted to get everything over with. The nurses cleaned my abdomen while the doctors briefed me about anesthesia. My bed was wheeled into the operating room and I took a deep breath.

"Don't worry, you'll be asleep soon," the anesthesiologist said as he connected a line to my IV. I felt a metallic taste in my mouth, a burning sensation throughout my whole body, and then I woke up in another room.

My surgery lasted only thirty minutes, though I felt like I had just blinked. I could only stay awake long enough to be taken back to my pediatric room then I fell asleep again. I woke up around noon and spent about ten minutes stretching my legs, feeling my scars, and reassuring my mom that I didn't have any pain. The surgery was done laparoscopically and three small incisions were made. A camera was inserted through my belly button while tools were inserted and used through small incisions left of my belly button and under my belly button. Each was stitched and glued up. Besides pain to the touch on my stitches and overall soreness in my abdomen, I felt no pain at all. I went home Friday afternoon.

As a person with a generally weak stomach, the entire experience was a little uncomfortable. All the talk of the internal issues and blood cultures wasn't too bad but I had to close my eyes when they inserted my IV. In fact, I was just getting used to it when they pulled it out Friday afternoon. Throughout my time in the hospital though, the doctors and nurses were extremely helpful and comforting. They were friendly and informative and really cared about my well-being.

I was greeted at home by my Aunt Kathi's delicious egg custard and a made bed. I've never slept so good in my life.

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