Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Notes from a Medical Emergency

I am still amazed - I called my doctor at 9 am and was seen at 9:30.  By 10:30 they had completed a physical exam, a urinalysis, blood work and got me an appointment at the medical imaging center located in the same building.  There I drank a bottle of disgusting contrast stuff and had to wait one hour for it to work.  I was then promptly taken for my CT scan.   They then told me to go back to my doctor’s office and he would have the results in 10 minutes.   I hadn’t even checked in with the receptionist when my doctor came out, told me I had a ruptured appendix and to get Martha to drive me to the emergency room.  He told me he would call ahead and let them know I was coming.  We got to to ER around 2 o’clock and they immediately got me to a room and started an antibiotic IV and a surgeon came to see me.  She had already viewed my CT scan and laid out what the following days and weeks were going to be.   From a 9 am call to a 2 pm diagnosis and care treatment.  I am so grateful for the care I have received.

Even with the VIP treatment I didn’t yet realize how critical my condition was.  I was still thinking that is was early enough in the day to have a laparoscopic appendectomy and maybe be home by evening.  The surgeon just laughed.  She explained that if she opened me up now, she would probably have to take part of my colon and intestines.  She told me I had a life threatening condition if the infection spread to my others organs.  She explained that the first and only thing we would be dealing with is the now septic condition in my abdomen and to plan on 6 to 10 weeks for recovery. Well, that certainly got my attention.

When I had the CT scan, they inserted some kind of dye into my arm.  Unfortunately, the injection broke through the vein and infiltrated  the tissue.  It hurt and burned like hell.  And then my arm blew up and looked like Popeye’s.  I kept looking at it saying “ holy crap, look at those biceps!”  By the time I got to the ER it looked like a Macy’s Thanksgiving balloon.  Folks at the ER were quite concerned about it especially since the mastectomy gives me a high chance for edema.  But it did earn me this wristband and immunity from my left arm being stuck with IVs and blood tests.  (it has finally returned to a normal size)


Unfortunately it also made my right arm take an undue burden - two IV ports plus blood test twice a day.  Ouch.


It took about an hour to get me to a room.  Then Martha, now knowing I was going to be in the hospital for days left to get me some supplies.  When she returned a while later Peachie was with her.  She had driven 3 hours home from college to see me and stayed with me the whole time I was in hospital.  (Martha, now having a blossoming cold and cough was banned from the hospital altogether.)  Peachie really should have been studying for her final exams but instead she was helping me in and out of bed, helping me in the bathroom, getting the nurse every time my IV ran down, getting everything that was out of my reach, monitoring all my vital signs, and motivating me to take those laps around the floor, dragging my IV pole.  When I was getting really ripe, she stripped me down, gave me a shower, washed my hair, and shaved my legs. It was then that I had that weird sense of the mother becoming the child and the child becoming the mother.  Unsettling and comforting at the same time.

The first night got I spent a horrible night with my IV monitor constantly going off and then my roommates minutes later.  Lots of code blues and people moaning and groaning.  Staff coming to take blood, change the IV, hot pack my arm, take vitals, etc.   But the next morning I had the surgery to place the drain and then got moved to the post surgery wing.   So much more quiet.  And although they still had to wake me every 4 hours for my vitals, they tried very hard not to disturb us from midnight to 4am.   Bliss.  

Martha had brought me numerous books and magazines to help bide my time. I never looked at any of them. I don't know where the time went. The days were marked by meals that came, and went uneaten. Hospital time must occur in a different dimension.

Every medical person who came examined my belly said "great, nice and soft." I have come to understand that if something bad was happening my gut would have distended or become rock hard. Still, with all the sit ups and crunches and planks I do, it was somewhat discouraging to have everyone comment about how soft I was.

I am fortunate to live in an area with many hospital options.  I choose the Catholic one since being recommended to one of the best oncologists in the area who is based there.   I have always received excellent care without any religious pressure.  Except every room has a crucifix which I always found disturbing.  (who wants the worse day of their lives recreated and shown everywhere?)    But this time I noticed that the crucifixes have changed.  No longer is Christ agonizing on the cross.   It is difficult to see in this picture, but now he is dressed and has his arms raised.


I hope I am not being disrespectful but all I could think of was he looked like touchdown Jesus.  Which made me laugh every time I noticed it.   I guess religion can be very healing.

I am so happy to be home.


  1. 'touchdown Jesus'... thank you for that! Especially after this harrowing ordeal!

    I am so thankful that you called your doctor and were seen so quickly. A ruptured appendix can indeed be life threatening. It's scary just thinking about it.

    And, I'd like to know how the heck the sonographer and radiologist missed your probably inflamed appendix just a few days before this when you had a check up. Your doctor should go back and look at that scan.

    Glad you are home, my dear. Keep your chin up.

    1. I am so messed up that I didn't even realize I'd missed the Cowboys/Eagles game. Touchdown Jesus was definitely on my side this week. And yours too!

      I had that ultrasound done at a new OBGYN. I will definitely look into it. Everyone has been amazed that I was not in greater pain, and I wasn't running a fever. I really had no warning signs at all until one day before. But you're right - those pictures might show something.

      My chin is up and I am so, so happy to be home.

  2. I got to spend some time talking with the Peach while you were so rudely sleeping. What a remarkable young woman she has become. Beautiful, smart, knows what she wants to do and how she wants to get there, and obviously loves her mama very much. You did good with that one.

    1. Did pretty good with the other one too. Or more accurately, they did pretty good with me. Glad you got to spend some time with her. And thanks for everything.

  3. Oh goodness, take care of yourself! And there is nothing wrong with allowing your daughter to mother you for a while. You have earned it! You and your family are in my prayers.

  4. You do not do things small, I'll say that for you. I am so glad everyone's on top of things. And soft belly isn't an insult. Even guys from Muscle Beach have the soft belly they're talking about, when everything's in good shape.

    As a child, growing up Catholic, I never got the whole Christ on the cross thing. I always thought they should show him flying to heaven, in a superman pose.


    The nuns did not like me. I was a handful.

  5. So, so glad you got the care you needed!

    Jesus. Cross. yeah, No.

  6. I believe that's called a resurrection crucifix. Certainly less gruesome!

    I'm glad you got good care and are back home again.