Sunday, December 19, 2010

"I see your labour and raise you an appendectomy"

(Creds to Chris for the title of this post!)

Just got back from Grand River hospital a few hours ago where we were thrown a bit of a curveball - I got my appendix removed. The whole affair started yesterday morning at the Crossroads in Elmira, where we were enjoying what started out as a nice breakfast with Linda's family (the Botts). Midway through, I started feeling a pain in my right side which progressively began to worsen. On the ride home, I was literally doubling over which ALMOST prompted a detour to the hospital (and in hindsight should have) but at that point I felt like I just wanted to get home and relax - as though that may have been all that was required to relieve the pain and get me back on track. Nope. When we got back, I could barely crawl into the house and into some comfier clothes, and then I lay curled up on the floor shaking, essentially unable to move. We quickly decided for Chris to call 911, and an ambulance was sent for me. (My first time riding in one of those bad boys - see, life continues to keep things fresh! ;) The stretcher was actually fairly comfy, and the pain lessened from being extremely sharp & acute to more diffuse and sore. Or perhaps it was more that the fear was lessening now that I was on my way to answers and presumably treatment. In parallel, Chris drove the van back into town with S, dropped her off at Mom's place and met me at the hospital.

We waited for over 2 1/2 hours in emergency and the pain thankfully continued to be tolerable. Then they got me a room in triage where we remained for another 2-3 hours. During this time, I expressed some milk as I was quite engorged by this point, and then Chris went back for S so she could come in for a feeding. (Mom and Norm had been great during this time, running around to get extra formula, nipples and diapers. S also had her first bottle over there which I had some concerns about, but all in all I felt pretty secure about our breastfeeding relationship as she's now 3 1/2 weeks old and feeding well.) The triage staff ran a battery of tests on me - urine, blood, blood pressure and finally ultrasound (which was quite uncomfortable). I was fearing the worst when the OBGYN came back in to debrief, but his first words were "Your ultrasound results were fine." Huh? However he then proceeded to mention that the white blood cell counts in my urine and blood were high, so they still hadn't ruled out appendicitis. He felt around at my abdomen and the spot that was the most sore was indeed the location of the appendix. He then phoned the on-call surgeon (Dr. Saunders) who came in to ask me some questions and check me himself, and the conclusion was that it was, indeed, almost certainly my appendix causing the pain. I asked why this didn't show up on the ultrasound and he said that sometimes an ultrasound will show an inflamed appendix, sometimes it will show a normal appendix and sometimes it won't show the appendix at all, due to its location. I fell into the 3rd scenario evidently. As for next steps, they said that a CAT scan might show things a little more clearly, but that I might be waiting a fairly long time for this which isn't ideal when appendicitis is suspected (as it's basically a ticking time bomb - wait too long and the appendix is likely to rupture which is a medical emergency). Sooooooo the suggestion was to go under the knife and remove the mofo - something they were able to arrange that evening. They informed us that the procedure would be performed laparoscopically, which meant it would be minimally invasive and involve a shorter recovery time, which was good as it was really important for us to keep breastfeeding going with S. We agreed to the surgery and off I went on a stretcher to the operating room.

One thing I have to say about minor surgery is that you feel DAMN good immediately afterwards. Anyone agree? You're hopped up on a bunch of fun drugs so you don't feel the pain and the environment around you is super stimulating. Even a simple conversation among the operating room staff can appear to be extremely intriguing and/or amusing. This fades fairly quickly however as the pain and reality begin to set in - "They just cut me open and removed an organ! w00t! :)"

I ended up spending the night in the pediatric unit, which was quite nice. The ward was all festively decorated and my room had happy fish adorning the walls. Apparently close to half the ward was actually occupied by adults due to the demographic distribution of the patients that night. I had two AWESOME nurses from 7 PM to 7 AM (Nicole and Fran) who were incredibly friendly, attentive and helpful. They hooked me up with a breast pump so I could express milk for S (to limit the amount of formula she had to eat overnight) and Chris came by later that night to pick it up. It was fairly slow that night, so Nicole hung around a bit and we got in a great conversation about traveling. (She was interested in seeing the world but hadn't gotten out there too much just yet, so I inspired her with tales from our trips to Thailand, Costa Rica and Amsterdam.) All in all, I felt pretty good overnight (thanks percoset!)

Meanwhile, Chris spent the night back at our place and Sharyn (Chris' mom) stayed over as well. Apparently she just took control of the situation, ordering Chris to get some sleep and staying with S for the night - feeding, changing and comforting her as needed. We're truly lucky to have such a great support network of family and friends nearby!!

This morning, I had breakfast, the nurse on the new shift (Katie) took my vital signs and Dr. Saunders came in for a debrief. Apparently my appendix was indeed somewhat red/inflamed, but it appeared to be a secondary inflammation resulting from a primary infection in my pelvic area. My right fallopian tube was about 50% larger than the left one, and the appendix was sitting in some "gunky fluid" (IIRC this was the expression he used - nice). I asked him what the repercussions may be in terms of future fertility, and he said that my ability to conceive may be slightly affected, and there also may be some minor increased risks of complications such as ectopic pregnancy, but he doesn't think there is anything to be extremely concerned with at this point. He did send me off with a handful of prescriptions - two antibiotics (clindamycin and flagyl) and Tylenol 3 - and a recommendation to pick up a stool softener as well. Chris and S arrived at the hospital just after 10:00 at which point we took a few quick pics to "capture the moment"...

...reviewed home care instructions with Katie, filled the prescriptions at the hospital pharmacy, grabbed a bite to eat in the cafeteria and headed home.

The last several hours have certainly been challenging. We called New Mother Support at the hospital for reassurance that I could continue breastfeeding on the antibiotics (they told me I could), and then Chris and I worked together to find decent breastfeeding positions for S (a pseudo football hold and side lying on my left side - the right side's still too sore). Tylenol 3 is evidently not as potent as the percocets, so I've been in a fair amount of discomfort so far. (It didn't help that li'l S decided to kick me in the groin during the side feeding - youch!) After the last feeding, Chris head over to his parents' place with S for Hailey's birthday party so I'm taking the opportunity to blog a bit and then get in some more rest.

I suspect the days ahead will be....interesting as we contend with this latest setback in the midst of our continued adjustment to early parenthood and Chris "bringing home the bacon". However, we've had numerous offers of support which we'll gladly accept for the upcoming week in particular, and we'll get through this! It sucks that we had to miss the Cameron Christmas yesterday, especially since we would have been "unveiling" S to the extended family for the first time, but unfortunately we can't control the timing of these things! :-/ Now I'm just hoping for a speedy recovery so we can enjoy the rest of the upcoming holiday events and get back into the swing of things with S. Wish us luck!!!

1 comment:

  1. Holy smokes! Hope you are feeling better now. You know, "Sorry, getting appendix removed in an emergency surgery" would've been a great excuse to post with your NO on our Logan's 1st birthday evite... oh well, maybe next time.