Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How to Have Your Appendix Removed

Check it out!

Isn't it beautiful?

So, last week I got my appendix taken out by Dr. Hackford at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center near my house. Sunday night I went to bed around midnight with some pain in my stomach. It wasn't like a stomach ache, but actual pain. That never happens. So I decided to sleep it off. At 2:30am I woke up and it still hurt, but a lot of the pain had moved down right above my belt on the right side.

I got up to get a drink of water and the thought popped into my head Maybe I have appendicitis. So I got on WebMD.com (never fails) and looked up the symptoms. I had all of them except a fever, and I don't really get fevers, so I decided to call Melanie, since she lives the closest and is a nurse. While I was waiting for her, I got bored. So I made my bed, tidied up my apartment, and paid my rent downstairs. Then I got in Mel's car and we drove up Beacon Street and then down Washington Street to St. Elizabeth's.

The guy at the emergency room door looked bored and kinda bummed when I walked under my own power. I told the lady at the front desk that I thought I had appendicitis and gave her my insurance stuff. A few minutes later a large, scary nurse came out and took me in to question me and take my temperature, etc. Our conversation went like this (she talks first, then we switch off):

Do you smoke?
No.
Drink?
No.
Never?
Never.
Ok.

Little did I know that I would have that conversation 800,000 times before they ripped out a part of my body and let me go. So they gave me a bed and Melanie came in and sat with me till  7am when she knew when my surgery would be (she's a trooper). The next lady came in and we had this conversation (same format as before, with her talking first):

Do you smoke?
No.
Drink?
No.
Never?
Never.
Recreational drugs?
Haha, nope.
What do you do?
I play basketball.
Oh.

She was my favorite. Later a girl doctor came in and poked me a bunch and then set me up to go get a CT scan. One of the sweetest movies ever, The Patriot, was on TV, but I didn't get to watch hardly any of it because the doctors and nurses would all come in right as it started up and ask questions and poke and prod and then they would leave right as the commercials started. Then the next one would come in right as the commercials ended and stay till the next commercial break. So I saw Mel Gibson be sad a few times and wave a flag. Still good, but not what you want from The Patriot.

Next I went in for my CT scan. I like that they call it a "cat scan". My radiologist's name was Jaime and she was a few years older than me and had some cool piercings in her right ear. She told me that I would need to fill my bowels with dye so the cat scan could see my innards. There were two options. Option 1, I could drink the dye, wait for two hours and let my appendix throb, and then get the cat scan. Option 2, she could "fill me up in reverse."

Being the adventurous type, I went for Option 2. Now Jaime is the woman that knows me better than any woman on Earth. She filled me up backwards and we talked about her 5-month-old and how funny it was that there's a balloon at the end of the tube she was using to keep it in place. I didn't feel much (I'm good at relaxing) so it wasn't as horrendous as I thought it would be (given, I don't ever want to do it again, but you know what I mean). The cat scan made lots of cool noises and I watched the green lights spinning around and around.

Then we were all done, she drained me (forward?), and then I got a new hospital robe, which was shorter. Sexy. Jaime wheeled me back to my room in the ER and I asked her if I could see the pictures. She told me that they'd show me later, but we were buds, so she said she'd see what she could somewhat-illegally do. A few minutes later she came in with a CD and told me that it had the software I needed to see my guts and to hide it with my stuff so they didn't take it away or charge me for it. So I gave it to Mel and she put it in her purse for safe keeping.

Then a new doctor came in. He was a few years older than I was, too, and didn't like to make eye contact. He showed me my guts and saw that my appendix was blocked halfway down instead of at the opening where it hits my intestine. He said that was different but that if he had been told that I was young he would have treated the symptoms and set me up for surgery without having ordered the CT scan (toss up...I never would have met Jaime, but I never would have been filled up backward either). So he set up my surgery for noon and left Mel and I to the closing credits of The Patriot.

Mel left and a few hours later I was wheeled up into the recovery area. They took my glasses and my iPod, so I was bored and blind so I asked Carol (my nurse) for a urinal and something to read. She gave me the urinal first. It looked like a wide-mouth water bottle and I filled it up almost to the brim (but didn't drink any). Then she could tell that I was bored and brought me one of those stupid celebrity magazine. I gave her my best I'm-not-an-idiot-,-are-you-? look and she laughed at me and went to find something. She came back with an outdated Time Magazine. I read it cover to cover and right as I was finishing one of my doctors came to meet me. He looked and sounded exactly like Jeff Bridges. Unfortunately, I was not in a movie, but it was still awesome.

Jeff Bridges-Kinda and I had the smoke/drink conversation. Carol and I had it. Then some new guy that was really cool but didn't stay long asked me all the same questions. Then I met Dr. Hackford who looked very extinguished. He asked me all the questions and then poked me harder than anybody else had poked me. Then he drew a line on me with his pen and said "Ok. Let's go." So they wheeled me into the operating room and gave me some gas and told me to breathe.

Next thing I remember is Carol's voice asking me if I can wake up. It took a long time, and I was really mad that she kept asking me if I could roll left when I just wanted to sleep. Eventually I came out of it. It was 4pm. I stayed there for a while until I wasn't quite so groggy and then they sent me to my room. I got the window side.

My roommate's name was Carl. He was 32 and had been in the hospital for a long time. He had something wrong with his large intestine that nobody under 50 ever has and instead of following protocol and removing the entire whatever-it-was they only took out half. But he was still sick and knew a few doctors here in Boston who told him to come here and work with a specialist. So he did. He hadn't eaten in like 9 days and was set to get a pick, which is, as far as I gathered, a giant IV that fills him with milkshakes or something.

Then I had visitors. First Kelly Welch, Katie Thornton, and Austin Walters came to visit me. They had just come from FHE and had missed me. It was sweet to see them and I learned how much visiting someone in the hospital really does help their spirits. Then I called Mom. She was on her way to take care of me. I told her not to, but I'm really glad she did. Then I watched the Bruins game. There were lots of fights, which made me feel better. I did my best to not get riled up and I resisted the urge to throw off my IV and start punching Carl. Resisting that urge was the hardest thing about surgery.

Then I texted Allison Mitton and asked her to come get my keys and then go to my house and get my iPod charger so I could continue playing Solitaire for hours. So she stole a car from one of her roommates and did just that, but it was late so the nurse gave her a hint that it wasn't a good idea to stay long. How rude. I am thankful for good friends. Huge, huge, HUGE blessing. I got calls, texts, and emails from worried people and Chelsea Ashton had some chocolate covered pirate-themed brownie suckers sent to my house from Sheri's Berries. Hooray for good people.

Then I kinda slept. Every two hours Carl's machine would start beeping so he could get more medicine. It would wake me up and I had to pee every time, and getting out of bed was a process (the urinal was fun, but not that fun). It felt good to get up, though, and my calves were really sore from the little air-filled braces they put on me during surgery and recovery that squeezed my legs every few seconds so I didn't get a blood clot (not worth it).

Then it got light. I asked the nurse for breakfast. When it came we had to convince the lady that I was Calvin and Carl was Carl. Nobody really wrote down that I was at the window, so they just assumed the food was for him since they had seen him for a while. I kinda felt bad when one of the nurses came in and handed him a menu and told him that he was allowed to eat and I had to tell her that I was Calvin. Then the brunette doctor I didn't remember very well came in and told me that I was free to go whenever I wanted. Mel was picking up Mom at the airport so I decided to try and get dressed. When I was mostly done they showed up and I slowly made my way out of the hospital.

So now it's been a week. My cut (seen above) is healing nicely. I'm not allowed to lift anything heavier than 15 pounds for a 4-6 weeks and I have to take it really easy, but I can eat whatever I want. I'm officially out of Percocet so I am enjoying my Advil and this morning I finally put on my own socks. Mom is here for another week since she had limited flight options for medical emergencies. It's been nice to have her here and she's seen some of Boston, but our adventures can wait since this post is forever long.

So, yeah. I am now appendix-less and trying to get back into the swing of things.

The End.

3 comments:

Rylie said...

Wow what an adventure! Sure glad your surgery went well and that you are able to spend time with your Mom. Happy recovery!

{ c & p mcnulty } said...

Calvin! Oh my...well, I'm glad you're alive. Sounds like you had quite the adventure though!

A Mitton said...

The best part of that story is my appearance in it. :)

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