Monday, September 21, 2015

Good riddance!

Well, I said goodbye to my appendix on Sept. 10, and I don't miss it at all!

I told my boss when I got to work on Sept. 9 that I just didn't feel good. And she, of course, said, "Go home."

I decided to stick it out, but as the day wore on, I was having some pretty bad pain in my lower belly. By the time I got Biscuit and got home, the pain was bad. By that point, it was centered in my lower right side.

I laid down on the couch and asked Biscuit to read me a book (part of his homework). I was trying to listen to him, but I was really counting down the seconds until Jeff got home.

As soon as Jeff walked through the door, I said, "I need to go somewhere."

"Get you shoes!" Jeff said to Biscuit quite frantically.

I asked him later why he was so abrupt with the boy, and he said, "Because I know you don't cry wolf."

What he didn't know was that I had already looked up the symptoms for appendicitis, and I felt like I was a pretty classic case. Even so, and I hate to have to admit this, it's $100 just to walk into an ER. So I told Jeff to take me to an after-hours clinic that our primary care group runs.

I signed in and waited a while. I finally went back and tried to explain all my symptoms. By that point, the pain was pretty bad. I had been trying to use some meditation-type breathing to help. I was picturing ocean waves coming in and out and trying to match my breathing to that. And believe it or not, it helped a lot.

This tiny little doctor came in and did an exam. She pushed down on my side, and when she let go, I almost came off the table. Apparently, pain when she let go was a pretty good sign. I was also running a fever and had extreme nausea.

The doctor was a native Spanish-speaker, and when she let go of my side and saw my reaction, she said, "Ah, Dios!"

I don't know a ton of Spanish, but I definitely know that she had just exclaimed, "Oh God!"

All of this started Wednesday evening and lasted until Thursday morning. They did surgery about 6 a.m. I won't recount the whole evening, although I will say that it was quite a roller coaster ride.

The surgeon explained to Jeff and me about how simple appendectomies are these days and said there was about a 5 percent chance of anything weird happening.

Well, leave it to me. I joined right into that 5 percent! My appendix was actually perforated. There was only about half of it left. The rest had basically dissolved into my belly. So the surgery was more complicated than usual. They were still able to do it laparoscopically, which meant four small puncture wounds. But because of the complications, they had to leave a drain in. It was quite icky, and quite uncomfortable. But between that and the heavy-duty antibiotics they pumped in me, everything came out just fine.

I still can't believe what good care I got at the hospital. Everybody was just so nice. I know hospitals and other health care outlets have had job cutbacks just like most other businesses, but you couldn't tell it. I encountered a bunch of friendly people who seemed to enjoy their jobs.

Honestly, the only negative experience I had was, ironically enough, the phlebotomists from the lab. And since I spent several years in that very job, I can say that they were not careful and seemed completely rushed. I ended up with an awful bruise about the length of my pinkie finger and about an inch wide. I hadn't ever had a bruise that color before.

Right before I got to check out, one of the hospital bigwigs came around and asked how my stay was. She also asked if she could send a survey, and I asked her if I could recognize people individually on the survey. When she said yes, I started writing down the names of everybody. I'm not sure how I even remembered all of them. I have about 15 names, but when people make a difference, I remember them.

The main thing that helped me feel comfortable was that they were taking care of me, but also taking care of my people. In the ER, they got a pillow and blanket for Biscuit and set him up to sleep on a couch. The woman who processes the insurance sat with Biscuit so Jeff could come back and see me. After my surgery, they made sure my Mama had coffee when she wanted it. They might seem like little things, but they all meant a lot to me.

There's a ton more stuff I could share. Some of my friends from work visited and brought fun gifts. Other friends have brought food to the house. My boss and two others at work took care of doing my section of the paper while I was out. I can't explain to them how much it meant to me not to have to worry about that. I went into the hospital on Sept. 10, and I didn't go back to work until today, so there was a lot for them to pick up on top of their own work.

And I do have to share what one of my friends did for us.

That first night, after I found out that I would need surgery, I told Jeff to take Biscuit home so they could get some sleep. I really wanted Jeff to be there, but it was more important to get Biscuit home for some real rest. I had already emailed his teacher to let her know he wouldn't be at school Thursday.

Hindsight being 20/20, Jeff and I both realized that there were several people who would've gladly taken Biscuit for the night. But he was pretty freaked out by the whole thing, and I couldn't imagine him resting well at someone's house when he didn't know what going on with me.

I explained everything to him in full detail. You know how Biscuit needs to process things, so I figured it would be most beneficial to tell him everything. I stressed that they would give me medicine to help me sleep and that I wouldn't be in any pain, and that seemed to put him at ease.

One of my friends who works the night shift at the paper had texted me that afternoon to see if I wanted to have lunch Friday. I texted her back saying, "Well, it depends on whether I'm in the hospital or not." I told her what was going on, but then I got some pain drugs and couldn't communicate anymore.

A few hours later, she called Jeff.

"You need to be there with Kim when she goes to surgery," she told Jeff. "If you bring Griffin to your house, I'll meet you there and stay with him until the surgery is over."

And she did. Biscuit actually woke up before she ever went to sleep. The only saving grace was that she has Thursday and Friday off as her weekends, so she'd be able to catch up on her sleep for the next couple of days.

I told her that she would never understand how much that meant to Jeff and me, but she sort of brushed it off. She had surgery a month or so ago, and we took her some food and visited and ran a few errands for her. But that stuff didn't feel like as big a deal as what she did for us. I guess the stuff someone does for you always seems more special than what you've done for someone else.

And one funny Biscuit note ...

Thursday evening, Jeff said, "Hey Biscuit, let's go visit Mama at the hospital."

"Um, I don't really want to," Biscuit said.

"Why not?" Jeff asked him.

"Well, I just don't want to see that," Biscuit said.

"What do you think you might see?" Jeff asked.

"Her surgery," Biscuit said.

Biscuit thought that I was going to be in surgery from the time I went into the hospital until the time I left. I can't blame him, though, I wouldn't want to see that, either!

Biscuit has been so good and so helpful. He would help me push my IV pole around during my walks at the hospital. He has been really good, and he has helped me a lot. He will fetch and hand as needed with no complaints. And he picked up on the terminology.

Jeff had an assignment this evening, so I was helping Biscuit get his bath and get ready for bed. But Biscuit was about two steps ahead of me on everything.

"Mom, I'm just trying to help you as much as I can," Biscuit said. "I know that it's hard to recover from an appendectomy, so I just want to do good things for you."

If I could snatch him up and squeeze him, I definitely would!

No comments: