When I was six years old, I was rushed to the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital for an emergency appendectomy. It was an ordinary Sunday afternoon and all of a sudden I got cramps and had to go to the bathroom. Then I got cramps and I could not walk. My mother called the doctor who told her to rush me to the hospital.
I can remember being rushed to the hospital. It was a terrifying experience as I did not know what was wrong, what I would have to go through, or even if I would survive. When we finally got to the hospital, of course, the doctors examined me and conducted the usually battery of tests. As a young child, I was scared and worried what he verdict would be, and what I would have to go through.
It was determined that my appendix had rapped itself around my intestine, and that was why I was having cramps and could not walk. It was a serious and life threatening situation. The appendix was infected and swollen and it could burst and spread poison throughout my body which could kill me.
At the time, there was not any medication available to solve the problem so I had to have emergency surgery. Of course, I had no idea what was going to happen next, but I could sense the drama.
I do not remember being taken to the operating room. But I can vividly remember what it was like after the surgery was over and I was taken back to my room and woke up. I was in tremendous pain, and as the anesthesia wore off I felt very sick. In those days they needed a large incision to remove an appendix and mine practically came up to my stomach. I remember tossing and turning and jumping all over my bed. I was still terrified and I can still remember yelling to my father, “Don’t let them take me, don’t let them take me!”
After I got out of intensive care, things started to get better. The pain subsided and I began to feel better and regain my strength. A couple of days after the surgery, I was told I might be going home the next day, and of course I got very excited, They said all I had to do was get out of bed and stand up straight. So I got out of bed and I tried to stand on my own strength. I fell right over and they caught me before I hit the floor. I found out they only wanted to get me out of bed to get my circulation flowing. They knew I was not ready to go home. Well, a couple of days later I did gain some strength and I was released from the hospital.
A Unique Experience
My experience was unique for a couple of reasons. It started out as a normal Sunday afternoon and ended in a life and death situation, and I had no idea what was happening. It was a progression of frightening experiences. First, I had to go to the bathroom, and then I had cramps and I could not walk. Next thing I knew I was being rushed to the hospital and prepared for emergency surgery. Also, I was very young and I had some unique experiences while recovering.
I continued to recover at home, and went back to school but I almost messed things up. My friend Leo got a new bike and offered to let me ride it. Of course, I forget everything the doctor told me about not running and riding bikes, and I rode the bike. Fortunately, my first grade teacher saw me riding the bike and called my mother. She was smart enough to realize that I was not ready for bike riding. That was the end of that foolishness and I recovered without doing additional harm to myself.
There are two obvious lessons learned. We all have intestinal pain from time to time, and the inclination is to just ignore it and press on. If the intestinal pain is unusual or extreme, it is best to have it checked out as you may be seriously ill.
Follow your doctor’s instructions as closely as possible. Make a conscious effort to know what you must do and what you must not do and then follow through. I never intended to violate my doctor’s instructions, but I did and I almost injured myself. Make a conscious effort to closely follow your instructions.