Fun With Emergency Surgery

The Appendix

Originally uploaded by Thomas Roche

At midnight Tuesday morning, I had an emergency appendectomy. The pain started Sunday at 6pm, at which time I figured I had drunk too much coffee. I got up at 5:30 Monday morning and wrote for a couple of hours, which I’ve been doing lately. I started commuting to work and by the time I got there it was obvious I was not going to be able to stay. I did 3 or so hours worth of work, went home, got in bed and tried to get comfortable. I was unable. The pain got worse.

I have had horrible stomach pains my entire life, with diagnoses ranging from gluten intolerance to IBS to a shrug. I’m pretty used to it. I don’t take it that seriously, because if I did I would never get out of bed. So I figured all this needed was a sleepoff, and no more coffee for a couple of days. But the pain kept increasing, and it was on a level I had never, ever experienced. I could say it was like having a knife shoved into my belly, but it was more like a chainsaw, a belt sander and a power-sprayer filled with hydrochloric acid, while ghomes in hazmat suits ran around gibbering and hitting my abdominal walls with hammers and pickaxes, looking for gold.

At 3:15pm I twittered, rather amusingly, ‘What is the threshhold at which stomach pains indicate I should go to the hospital?’

I got my answer like 1 minute later. I drove the few miles to the hospital, picked up Little Tart, who works a block away from the closest ER. She shepherded me into the ER and helped me get the paperwork filled out.

I sat unhappily in the waiting room for a couple of hours, embarrassing her and everyone around me with my evident gestures of agony and rather, er, colorful language on the matter.

Once I saw the triage nurse, I ended up on a gurney on a morphine drip while they drew blood and poked and prodded me. The bloodwork came back indicating appendicitis, and I was scheduled for surgery at midnight. I asked them if I should dictate a will. The nurse just looked confused and annoyed, and the doctor actually laughed.

The appendix had not burst. My mother had a burst appendix when I was 2, and it was hugely dangerous and she almost died. So I’m kind of stoked that it hadn’t burst.

I awakened around 1 or 1:30, was put in a hospital bed, went back to sleep. I am apparently alive, which is almost always good news.


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