Day 52 of 56: Appendectomy

Okay, the day has come! The anniversary of my first ever hospital visit that ended up with me being stabbed repeatedly.

I apparently waited almost an entire month before telling my sister I was in the hospital. I sent her a very long text message regaling my experience, so for today’s post I copied it here to the Interwebs and did some editing and expanding. I’ll leave the original in the comments because it was GOLD.

Anyway, ENJOY! It’s a long one, but I think it’s funny as hell.

And happy Mother’s Day to my mom and my aunt! Thank you for taking care of me!!!

The Day Before

Thursday, 5/9/19.

I get home from work and my stomach hurts all along the bottom. I thought it was because I didn’t eat very much that day. I wasn’t very hungry for dinner so I just said meh and went to bed.

In the morning, the pain had moved to my lower right. Thought it was still since I hadn’t eaten. Didn’t have my morning poop. Still not concerned, I didn’t have dinner so no poop. Made sense.

Workday

At some point in the morning I had mentioned to the controller that I was having some pain. She joked back and was like “maybe you have appendicitis!” We laughed about that because what’re the odds?! Fun fact she found, the median age for appendicitis in males is 28. I turned 28 three days earlier. There’s no way.

I go through my normal day, and had pizza for lunch. Payday Pizza Friday! I had a project that involved me going to the network closets by the hotel rooms and discovered that jumping off the decks hurt my tummy. I tried to keep it low key and just used the stairs like a real adult. I just turned 28! That’s almost 30! Act like an adult, Joe!

Movies and margs!

Get off work, change into shorts and flip-flops and meet the crew at Red Robin for dinner before we go see Detective Pikachu. A group of us at work would meet up at the Mexican-Peruvian restaurant by the movie theater for dinner and margaritas. For my birthday I wanted to see Detective Pikachu, and since it was my birthday I wanted to go to Red Robin to shake things up.

Had a marg and some fried pickles, everything was good. My entree came, I ate like two fries and immediately felt like I had to puke. Went to the bathroom, still couldn’t poop, but the nausea went away. Drank some water, nausea came right back.

I remembered my chat with the controller so I Googled the symptoms.
*clap* *snap* *finger guns*
Hey guys, I have all of these symptoms and I have to leave right now.

But wherefore do I go for help?

We were in Old Mill, and there’s an Urgent Care down there. Cool, they can tell me what’s wrong. I drive over but I missed them by literally two minutes.

Started feeling better-ish so I was like, “I’ll go to the one by Walmart.”
They closed at 6.
So I’m sitting there in their parking lot trying to find another urgent care open after 7 on a Friday, thinking, “Maybe it’s not appendicitis and I just need to take a nap,” and I started getting dizzy and losing focus.

Fuck it. I’m going to the ER. Something is very wrong.

Drive across town to the hospital, still in a brain fog. I’m honestly amazed I didn’t crash. I had pretty good luck with the traffic lights, which was awesome. I walk in the main entrance and was like, “Hey is there an urgent care or do I need to go to the ER?” The guard was like, “ER, and you have to walk through the hospital to get there because you’re stupid and came in the main entrance.” I’m paraphrasing, of course. I really didn’t want to go to the ER because I knew it would be expensive. But that’s all that was open.

At the hospital

They checked me in and had me sit in the waiting room. I sat towards the back, there were maybe like five other people, because a couple people were coughing, but mostly because of my social anxiety.

The triage nurse calls me over, asks what I was feeling, had me pee in a cup. Since I had just peed at the restaurant I had nothing, but she had me keep the cup until I had to go. I got moved to another waiting area (with couches!) I think I was here for a while, little fuzzy on time while I was there. Eventually I had to pee so I did that. I couldn’t find anyone so I remember just holding on to the cup full of urine, trying to not put it on surfaces.

A cute nurse came by a little later and took a couple blood samples. She also inserted an IV just in case. Better to have the thing in my arm now and not need it than not having it later if it was needed.

This is what we writers call “Foreshadowing”

Not taken at the time, but this is what it looked like sans tubes. It really was pink, that’s not blood.

In the ER

Once the cute nurse was done with me she told me to wait by the ER doors for a little bit until they can get me a bed in the ER. A bed opens up, they give me a gown and tell me to change. I get my shirt off and gown on and am trying to get my shorts off when the nurses and techs come in so I’m like “fuck it, I’m probably fine so I’ll just leave ’em on.” This is about an hour after the restaurant so I feel totally fine.

Guy comes to get some more information from me. I also signed something, I think it was the standard “I promise to pay you” thing, but I don’t remember. Around this time I texted my aunt to let her know I put her as an emergency contact since she lives here. I also texted my mom because that’s what you do while you’re in the hospital. You let your family know.

Now that I’m going through my texts to get the timeline, the guy most likely came for that signature and also emergency contacts.

The doctor comes in and is like “hey, we’re gonna want to get a CT scan to confirm, but it sounds like appendicitis.” Cool. Cool cool cool.

An orderly (??? Is that the right name for the guy who wheels you around?) comes and takes me to Imaging. I’m just having a blast at this point. So much technology to look at (their patient system looked super interesting, I wanted to ask how it worked but figured that would be frowned upon. I’m not a hacker, I’m just super into computers!!!), I’d never had an IV before, some guy is pushing me in a wheelchair, this is GREAT!!!

We get to Imaging and the imaging tech is like “hey, this dye is going to make you feel very warm and flushed and it’s going to go from your head to your toes.” Fuck me up! C’mon! Let’s stick me in this machine, homie! Let’s go!!!

He injects the dye and I start feeling flushed and then MY BUTTHOLE GOT REALLY HOT AND LIKE BURNY AND I FEEL THAT SHOULD BE A WARNING THEY GIVE LIKE HEY YO YOUR BUTTHOLE IS GOING TO GET REALLY HOT THATS TOTALLY FINE AND NORMAL.

Quick side-note, the previous two paragraphs I couldn’t bring myself to edit. Added some punctuation in the first one, clarified he injected dye in the second, but these were just too beautiful to change.

Another side note, the CT machine was super cool. Since it was a pelvic image I didn’t have to go all the way in. I wish I could just shadow these people and watch them work. So cool.

My guy wheels me back to my bed, I hang out for like an hour, post some jokes on Facebook and a picture of the IV. Not much to do since various doctors have to check the results. That’s fine, I have Internet on my phone. Except by now it’s almost 9 and my phone is dying. Texted the best frand to see if she could swing by and get my charger from the car.

After waiting for a while (results took longer to get back than expected), the doc says I have mild appendicitis. She says it’s treatable with antibiotics, but there’s a high risk of it occurring again in the next few years.

The Surgery

I didn’t really want to have a surgery, but I’m like, “I have no idea where I’ll be in the next few years. I could be camping or it could be a worse attack next time. Let’s just take it out.” She says okay, starts me on a saline drip, and gets the trauma surgeon.

Mustn’t get dehydrated. No, no we mustn’t.

Surgeon comes in and is like I’m gonna cut you, bitch.

Then I met the anesthesiologist and he was like I’m gonna drug you so you pass out.

Not really. They were both extremely professional. They each explained what was going to happen and made sure I understood. Just two more lines that were too beautiful to change from the original.

Laparoscopic appendectomy is the full name of the procedure. Lap appy for short. What they do is make three small incisions: one in your bellybutton, one 6ish inches below that, and one on your left side. They inflate your abdomen, stick a camera in one of the holes, and cut out the appendix. Super simple.

Once I was done meeting with the team, I texted my aunt and mom to let them know I was going to have the surgery. My aunt offered to come by, which I declined. She lost my uncle less than two weeks earlier in that same hospital. No way was I going to ask her to come back after that deep loss. Please feed my cats, though. I didn’t feed them before I left for the movies.

Mom also offered to come. At this point it was almost 10, she lives about 4 hours away. I’ll be fine, Mom. They’re going to have me on the table before you’d be able to get here, just come in the morning. Safer.

Surgery was supposed to be at like 3 in the morning so I had some time to kill. I think I dozed off once or twice? I do remember needing to pee, which was an ordeal with the IV stand and a gown. Remember my shorts from earlier? Yeah, still on. In retrospect I could have used the time in the bathroom to take them off, but I didn’t.

My best frand and her then-fiance (now hoosband!) came by just as they were wheeling me out to go to the operating room. That was very nice of them. Especially since I got bumped up somehow and was headed in at midnight.

They get me moved into the OR, and the last thing I remember before going under was the anesthesiologist saying to think about my favorite vacation spot. I think it was a beach.

The next thing I know I’m in Recovery, my shorts are off, my underwear is half rolled down, my throat hurts (intubation), but my hair was still on point. Anesthesia is the fucking bomb.

I don’t think I made the joke at the time, but when I would tell it later I would say, “My shorts were gone, my underwear was half-off, my throat hurt, and I didn’t remember anything. I either had surgery or missed out on a real good time.”

Recovery

So yeah, I woke up from the anesthesia in Recovery, and then I think I passed out again because next thing I knew I was in a regular room.

I don’t know why, but the second thing I did when I woke up in the room was message the spa director at work. Something about how the hospital has good food. At two in the morning. (The first thing I did was tell my mom what room I was in.) I blame painkillers and anesthesia.

The nurse that took care of me overnight was absolutely amazing. Nurse Carla, you worked a double shift and put up with me. The real MVP.

I woke up and was deemed a fall risk. Fair.
Can I get one to wear every day, though?

I’ve always tried to be as low-maintenance as possible. If I can do something myself, I’m just going to do it. I don’t ask for help because I don’t want to bother anyone. So you can imagine how I felt when I looked down and noticed blood coming from my bellybutton. Oh no. I have to call for the nurse. I press the button, and in a drugged-out voice that was still raw from being intubated, say “my bellybutton is bleeding.” She came in, changed the bandage and said it wasn’t torn just some left over. So that was good.

I fell asleep again. When I woke up I had to pee. Well, I’m tied into this bed with wires and tubes, I have to bother her again. Press the button, “I have to pee” in my still-raw voice. She comes in and helps me up, I do my business and get back in bed.

Drugged-2am-me was right. Hospital food is pretty bomb. And not just because the only things I had eaten in the last 24 hours was half an individual pizza, a margarita, and a few slices of a pickle.

A PT tech came by later. We walked around the floor of the hospital to make sure I wasn’t feeling any more pain. Ass cheeks flapping in the wind. Not really, I still had my underwear on.

Aftercare

Mom got in around noon, came and sat with me while I got discharged, then brought me home. I wanted to drive, since I drove myself there, but turns out you can’t drive for 24 hours because of the painkillers. Wish they’d have given me something to take home, recovery sucked. I was told to take Advil and Tylenol for the pain.

Swung by my aunt’s house to say hi and my cousins were also there! So that was also nice! I lasted a little bit before I had to leave; I couldn’t find a comfortable position.

And then yeah that was pretty much my Mother’s Day weekend. Mom took care of me for a few days. On Mother’s Day, though, we got Olive Garden to go. Needed to pick up my car so we were headed that way anyway. Would have been nicer to go in, but I didn’t have pants that wouldn’t press on the incisions and no way was I going in shorts that were tattered (the only ones that would fit).

Reflections

This is already an ungodly lengthy post so I’m not going to do my daily reflections today.

I just want to say, though, that even though I got screwed with bills, my entire experience at St. Charles was awesome. Everybody was friendly and professional.

A few more things I want to say about my experience, but it’s best to just put them in another post 😀

Thanks for reading!

BONUS PICTURES!!!

My friends think they’re funny. Lookin’ at you, Marc.

Screenshot from my Facebook post last year.
Another funny guy on my post.
Even drugged I could spell “fuckered” but not the correct title of the movie.
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