Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Appendicitis Sucks

About a month ago my life was super busy, as every springtime inevitably is, and I really didn't have time for surgery or sickness or anything else but on May 28th while I was watching Nash's baseball game I started feeling sick. Actually, I really started feeling sick about five days earlier while we were on vacation for Atley's birthday.  I just ignored it.  In fact, I tried to do the same thing during Nash's game, attributing the pains in my stomach to the McDonald's fries and Diet Coke I had just scarfed down.  (Truth be told that healthy diet could have contributed to my impending condition.)
When we got home that night I was undeniably feeling terrible. I took a few Tums, mumbled about how we needed to eat better and laid down.  Around midnight I woke up with pains in the center of my stomach. I got out of bed and felt nauseous.  The pain increased, I had a horrible case of the chills and I started vomiting.   Gradually, the pain became worse and it began centralizing on my right side.  I walked upstairs and told Scott that I thought I needed to go to the hospital.  He didn't respond so I started making lots of noise looking for my shoes and bra.  Yeah, I'm even passive aggressive when I'm deathly ill. He woke up dazed and confused and I told him again that I was going to the hospital.  I grabbed my keys and headed for the door. Of course, he tried to stop me and told me I was obviously not thinking clearly, driving one's self to the hospital was ridiculous.   So, just for everyone's information and for the sake of our posterity, Scott wanted to drive me to the hospital.  He did not want me to go alone, BUT we had three kids sleeping upstairs and I was in too much pain to deal with all that. I had to get there quickly, so I just left him bewildered, standing in the doorway. He was perhaps a little unsure whether he was awake or asleep.

 Luckily, there wasn't a lot of traffic at 2 AM and I made it to the Emergency Room Valet without inflicting further injury upon myself or anyone else.  I felt a little dizzy as I stood at the front desk, filling out the endless paper work and the next thing I remember I was slumped over in front of said desk with a nurse and an orderly trying to get me into a wheelchair.  The whole passing-out nonsense turned out to be a blessing in disguise. They realized quickly that I was pretty sick and rushed me back to triage. Nurses took my blood and urine samples and put me in a room next to a stab wound victim who had  lots of suspicious visitors and a few police officers milling around both our doors which was totally exciting. I kept pretending I wasn't really sick but undercover trying to find the victims would-be murderer. I have a very healthy imagination.
  I explained my symptoms to doctors and nurses and residents and was promptly hooked up to an IV and given something for nausea and pain.  I was carted down the hall for a CT scan with and without contrast and was feeling pretty fantastic with the cocktail of drugs coursing through my veins. The drugs were so wonderful I was pretty sure I must have just had gas and that I was miraculously cured of my flatulence and would be going home in a matter of minutes.  Much to my surprise, the doctor came in and stated that I had an appendicitis and would be requiring surgery soon.

"Oh, okay. Well, I'll be back in a few days then." I said this while attempting to stand up and grab my purse.  I believe this was that FIGHT or FLIGHT response I read about in Biology freshman year.

"No, actually, you will be going into surgery in about 20 minutes, or as soon as we can get that antibiotic drip bag into your veins."

"Wait, what?"

At this point I thought I might need to call Scott and explain to him what was going on. He certainly couldn't make it before my surgery began and I was feeling pretty scared and pretty alone.  I had about 15 minutes of conscious thought to say my prayers.  Truthfully, I am not afraid of being cut open.  In fact, this was going to be the 5th time my stomach would be sliced and diced. I even jokingly asked if they could just install a zipper while they were in there. What I am terrified of, is anesthesia and horrible doctors. I prayed more sincerely than I had for quite sometime.  I prayed for comfort, for a feeling of peace and calmness to accept whatever was going to happen.

Flash back almost 11 years to the day-Atley's birth was extremely difficult for both of us.  He still carries the scars of a traumatic birth in the form of a brain cyst.  After more than three days of trying to have him, we were both in distress and taken in for an emergency C-Section.  Of course, I was scared then too. As they wheeled me into the operating room Scott said,  "It's going to be fine.  I'll see you on the other side."  I remember not knowing whether to laugh or cry at his poor choice of words, "I'll see you on the other side."  It sounded like he thought I was about to meet my maker.   Since that time we have always laughed and joked about the incident and it has become a part of my vernacular. When the kids are facing something difficult, I will whisper to them, "It's going to be fine. I'll see you on the other side."

So, as I lay in that hospital bed, alone, early that morning, awaiting surgery, praying for comfort, I remember saying something like this, "Please help me to know that you are with me and that I am going to be okay."  Soon after I finished that prayer I was being wheeled down the hall to another operating room in a different state, eleven years later. My husband wasn't there to offer me any infuriating words of comfort. It was just me. Suddenly, a young nurse approached and tapped me on the shoulder.  He uttered a few words that were sent to me directly from heaven and were nothing short of miraculous. He said, "It's going to be fine. I'll see you on the other side." A feeling of peace warmed my entire body.

I will never forget that tender mercy from a most loving Heavenly Father. There were certainly others in that hospital on that early morning who were in more dire circumstances than I, but He took the time to comfort me in a very personal way and I am eternally grateful to Him for that reminder of His love for all of His children.  I am also grateful to the young nurse who showed compassion and was willing to be an instrument in our Father's hands.

When I woke up from surgery Scott and Harley were there.  Harley was happily taking pictures of me on my phone and I was so grateful to see both of them.
What I thought would take a week to recover has taken nearly a month. I have had a few complications, including an allergic reaction to the surgical glue, a re-opening of my incisions, an infection and countless disgusting things I won't share, BUT I think I am on the mend.  
Fingers crossed anyway! 
 My mother-in-law flew in for a few days and was such a tremendous help to our family. She organized kitchen cabinets and closets, kept us fed and did enough laundry to last a lifetime and most importantly kept the kids and animals at bay.
Harley's favorite part  of the whole ordeal was hanging out with me in the hospital.  Every time I would get up to use the bathroom or walk around she would jump at the chance to put on my leg compressors.  
Her smile is always a bright spot during hard times.  
Nash wrote me countless get-well cards and was as sweet and tender as possible. Here is one of my favorites.
(Translation:  I have the best mom ever. But isn't that obvious. Also get well soon. P.S. This paper looks like Utah.)
 Atley kept it real. One day he came up to my bedroom and explained how he had just read a study about kids with concussions.  Apparently, the quicker they got out of bed and resumed normal activity the faster they healed.  Perhaps I could take that same advice with my problems.  Hey, it's hard on everyone when momma is sick.
And if you will humor me for a moment-my sweet husband has been so good and kind to me this past month.  He has had to do much more than his fair share of the work while I got better and I am so thankful for his efforts. 
 I hope this post doesn't sound overly dramatic. I am fully aware that in the grand scheme of  the world's problems an appendectomy is not terribly serious, but it was certainly serious enough for me to realize that maybe all my busy-ness was misspent on insignificant things. I am reevaluating my priorities and gaining a whole new sense of gratitude for my good health. 


Casey and Allie said...

Awwww! I totally teared up. What an amazing tender mercy! You are amazing…I love all the fun activities you do with your kids and how you keep it real…because…life *is* real and there's no need to sugar coat anything. I'm glad you're finally on the mend!

Melinda said...

What an ordeal. Sounds like a big deal to me to be on and off (but mostly off) your feet for a month. I'm glad you are on the mend.

Mandy Fonoimoana said...

I surely thought you were going to say that the nurse had talked to Scott. Heavenly Father knows exactly what each of us need and loves all of us as individuals. What a touching moment! I am so grateful that you shared it. Also I am glad to hear you are on the mend. That's pretty scary!