When I was a student at Northwestern College, Watertown, Wisconsin, I began to suffer severe stomach pains. I went to the doctor. He subjected me to a test in which I drank a liquid containing either barium or some barium compound. He had some apparatus which enabled him to watch my stomach while I drank it. On the basis of the test, he concluded that I suffered from a pyloric disturbance.
The stomach has two valves: the cardiac valve and the pyloric valve. Food enters the stomach through the cardiac valve and leaves through the pyloric valve. In my case, the pyloric valve did not open properly when the food was supposed to leave. So the doctor prescribed some medicine designed to relax the pyloric valve so that it would open properly.
The medicine worked. The symptoms disappeared, and I had no further trouble for a few years.
Then in my first year of study at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin, the severe stomach pains returned. Since I had previously suffered from a pyloric disturbance, the doctor automatically assumed that my former problem had returned. Since I had a different doctor this time, he gave me a different type of medicine. This time it did not work very well.
During the summer after my first year of study at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, I worked in the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana. My camp was Trapper Creek several miles from Darby Montana. It was a considerable distance from Hamilton, where the nearest hospital was located.
I continued to suffer severe stomach pains, especially after breakfast. Besides taking the medicine, I exercised vigorously. This usually brought relief until the next breakfast.
Late in the summer, either toward the end of July or the beginning of August, the pains became especially severe, and nothing that I did brought relief. They began on Friday, if I remember correctly. My boss wanted to take me to the hospital, but I resisted his suggestion until Monday morning.
When I arrived at the hospital, the doctors quickly determined that I was suffering from appendicitis. They rushed me to the operating room and performed an emergency operation. They told me that that I had come in the nick of time.
They usually let a patient go three days after an appendicitis operation. However, since I was living in the wild, they made me stay five days. After that, I could go back to work, but I had to take it easy.
Our work was fighting forest fires. When there was no fire, we did other work to keep busy. Naturally, the boss was not upset when I could not work as vigorously as the others.
However, our camp had to fight two forest fires during August. The first fire struck shortly after my operation, so they left me behind. I was better by the time the second fire occurred. However, the fire was in a distant location, and we had to take a plane. Since the plane could carry only 25 fire fighters, I was one of the people left behind.
When did my appendicitis begin to develop? It is possible that my pyloric disturbance in college was only a symptom of incipient problems with the appendix, so the trouble may have begun already during my college years. However, it is impossible to know for certain. At any rate, my pyloric valves have functioned perfectly since the operation.