Friday, July 9, 2010

The Un-Highlight of Vacation

Here's how it went down. (More than you ever wanted to know about a fairly routine medical situation.)

After a typically awesome day on Heron Island, we were all gathered in the cottage thinking about getting dinner together, when my stomach started to feel a little bloated. I didn't think much of it, but as dinner progressed, the pain and bloating got worse. By dessert I had excused myself to lie on the couch. I just thought I had really bad gas (from what I had no clue), and to be honest I was kinda pissed off about the whole thing. I could hear my parents and the Gutsy Dad in the other room debating whether it could possibly be kidney stones or appendicitis. Whatever, I thought, I have a Mexican train title to reclaim. I was determined to be better by the time dessert and dishes were done.

Nope. We searched the cottage for relevant medicine and found only ibuprofen and alkaseltzer. I downed both.

By 10pm my back was aching all over. A long massage (thank you, honey) made it feel a bit better, and then I just fell asleep from exhaustion. At 1:00am one of the girls woke up needing something, so I was up. Within minutes it was clear that things had gotten worse. Not only was my stomach bloated all over and painful to the touch, my back was in major crisis mode, frozen stiff from neck to butt and hurting like hell.

The Gutsy Dad suggested it was time to get help. I immediately burst into tears (because I wasn't "winning") and then we woke up Mom and Dad. (Side note: the Gutsy Dad reports that when he went to knock on my parents' door, my Mom was already up, standing there in her nightie and headlight, ready to serve. Once a mom, always a mom.)

Dad went to get the boat in from the mooring, and Chris went down to get the Toro Twister, a small farm utility vehicle shared by the islanders, which looks something like this. There's no such thing as a smooth ride in the Twister on Heron Island, but we decided the pain from the bumpy ride would be worth the speed to get me down to the boat.

Of course down at the North Shore, Lori was up and offered to follow us to the cove to make sure we got there without a snag. (Literally. Motorboating in the dark in Maine means navigating around buoys which are nearly impossible to see in the dark. Especially if, say, your running lights are out and your spotlight's batteries are dead. Getting the motor snagged on a lobster buoy is annoying at best during the day, and not something you want to do at all in the middle of the night with your daughter moaning on board.)

Anyway. We arrived safely in the cove, and the half hour in the car to the hospital was over lickety split. We checked in around 2:30 or 3:00am.

Through a series of routine tests the doc ruled out kidney stones and something ovarian or uterine. My white blood cell count was high (17,000) so we knew that something, somewhere inside of me was infected. By 5:00am I was having a CT scan and by 5:30 (thanks to radiologists in Australia who reviewed my scans via email) appendicitis was diagnosed. (No, I did not have pain in my upper right side. I had pain ALL OVER my belly and ALL OVER my back. The most acute pain was in my lower gut, practically my groin, on the right side.)

By 9:00am I was being wheeled in for surgery, having successfully convinced my husband that he no longer needed to be wearing his headlight. Both the surgeon and the anesthesiologist were awesome. And those of you who know my fear and hatred of anesthesiologists know I wouldn't use the word "awesome" lightly here. But she really was. Coming out of the general anesthesia was A BREEZE, especially compared to the horrific experience I had coming out of it twelve years ago after kidney surgery.

But I digress. Laparoscopic surgery itself is pretty amazing. Three little tiny incisions. Twenty-four hours to recuperate in the hospital, one week of "taking it easy" at home, and I felt (and feel) back to my same old self. I'm so glad they did not have to "open me up" and that the appendix didn't burst, either of which would've lead to a much longer and much more painful recovery.

At my follow-up appointment I learned that the pathology showed acute gangrenous appendicitis (which can develop rather quickly, i.e. it wasn't stewing in there for ages). So it's a good thing we went in when we did and got it out.

Lesson learned? Next time you think it's "just gas," take a moment to reconsider, don't try to tough it out, and make sure the lights on your boat are working.

Next up: fun photos from Maine which make it look like none of this ever happened. YAY!


Mom on the Move! said...

There's a life metaphor only water people will appreciate: "Always make sure the lights on your boat are working!"

Heather said...

Telemedicine in action! although I wonder why they had to get someone in Australia to review the films? Glad it all turned out fine and cant wait to see some pictures! Miss you all,

The Gutsy Mom said...

The hospital, being small, does not have a radiologist on staff. During normal business hours, they apparently email x-rays to docs in Portland, but overnight they send them to Australia because, as they explained it, "the doctors are awake there."

Anonymous said...

"By 9:00am I was being wheeled in for surgery, having successfully convinced my husband that he no longer needed to be wearing his headlight."

Funniest thing I've read in a while! I was an insomniac "witness" that night, wondering who on earth was out in a skiff at 2:00 (Lori) and again later (Lori). That's all I heard, believe it or not, with my x-ray hearing!!!

The Gutsy Mom said...

He literally was wearing the headlight the whole time we were in the ER. One of the nurses asked him if he was concerned about power outages. When I asked him to take it off (the last time), he said "but it's so comfortable up there!" God love him.

Alpha Kris said...

By 9:00am I was being wheeled in for surgery, having successfully convinced my husband that he no longer needed to be wearing his headlight.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA-funniest line I've read in a while! I was an insomniac "witness" that night...heard nothing but Lori's skiff (going and coming). You guys were VERY quiet in the Toro...must have been driving WAY slower than Joe!!!

Holly said...

So glad you are ok! And I know there is at least one anesthesiologist who you love dearly ;-)