I had my appendix removed in 2012 during an emergency surgery. I had no idea that I had any issues with my appendix. I had actually just been diagnosed with hereditary colon cancer and attributed all of my pain to that.
My symptoms were fairly severe but I had no idea it was my appendix. I was accustomed to having severe pain because I was dealing with cancer. It can be really difficult to know what’s going on with your body when you have more than one issue at a time.
The day I ended up in the emergency room, I had been in bed with a fever for a couple of days. It stayed right around 102 degrees and would lessen a degree or two with Tylenol. I had pain in the right side of my abdomen, but this was where my tumor was located, so I didn’t think it was anything “new” for me. At the time, I was taking narcotic pain medication for the cancer until I could have the tumor removed surgically. Even with a double dose of morphine, the pain was intense and became totally unbearable. I decided to go to the emergency room when my abdomen swelled to twice it’s normal size and I found it too painful to lift my legs without help.
Arrival at the emergency room was a nightmare. I had to sit in a wheelchair for two hours shaking in pain, vomiting into a bag, and crying. Keep in mind, this was a hospital that had somehow “missed” a tumor so large it completely blocked my colon (for six months). My father became so irate that he scooped me up in his arms, carried me to the car, and sped to a hospital an hour away. Upon arrival there, the nurse took one look at me and I was admitted.
One of the hardest things about dealing with any kind of abdominal pain is that the doctor will normally want a CT Scan before you get any pain medicine. If you are absolutely writhing in pain, uncommunicative, and unable to hold still for a scan, they will sometimes give you something to take the edge off. The reason they try to hold out, is in case you do need emergency surgery. Narcotics suppress breathing function. As tough as it is, they are trying to do what is the safest for you, while relieving your pain as quickly as possible.
After my CT Scan, I was given IV pain medication, and the doctor came in to talk to me. I don’t remember the entire conversation because of the medication, but I do remember him telling me that my appendix had ruptured and needed to come out. Honestly, it had hurt so much that I didn’t mind the surgery. I just wanted relief. I vaguely remember being taken to a waiting room for surgery patients, talking to the anesthesiologist, and crying a lot because I felt scared. The next thing I knew, I was trying to open my eyes after surgery and looking at my bandages. I remember wanting to touch the scar and asking, “Is that me,” while looking down at my abdomen. The medicine they give you for anesthesia can make you feel really weird. I felt detached from my body.
Recovering from surgery will probably seem pretty rough to most people. I’ve had so many serious life saving surgeries that it wasn’t that big of a deal to me. The incision is a lot smaller than most of my other ones, healed pretty quickly, and hasn’t caused any problems. The roughest part is really the first few days that you’re home. Don’t try to be a hero. Take the pain medication and rest. Take it from someone who has a ton of experience with serious pain; it is much easier to control then to get under control. That means, pain medication works better if you take it as directed. If you wait until you are in serious pain, it is very possible that your dose will not effectively ease the pain.
To speed recovery, walk, walk, and walk some more. You may feel a gas like pressure in your body. You won’t be able to get rid of it in the normal way. It’s in your abdomen, not your digestive tract. It’s from surgery and the only way to get rid of it is to walk and give it time. It can cause pain in your shoulders that’s pretty uncomfortable because gas rises.
Try to do things, but don’t push too hard when you get home. The day I got home from surgery, I made a lasagna and did a load of laundry. My family looked appalled and I waved a hand at them saying, “It’s good for me to be up and around. I can do it.” Now they know to just let me do my thing after a surgery. Just make sure not to push yourself too hard at first. Your body needs to recover. Sleep, revel in the attention, watch movies, read, and before you know it; you’ll be feeling good again. Don’t get your incision wet without permission from your surgeon!
Common symptoms of appendicitis are; pain on the right side of the abdomen, loss of appetite, vomiting or nausea along with pain, a fever, inability to pass gas, and abdominal swelling. This is not a comprehensive list. These are the symptoms I experienced. Some people don’t report acute pain at all. Know the symptoms of appendicitis. If your appendix ruptures, you will need surgery or it can be fatal.
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