…On the way to the holidays. I hosted Thanksgiving, as I always do. Everybody brought parts of the meal – squash, salad, vegetable – so it wasn’t all on me. Because with 24 sitting down to dinner, there is a LOT to do! On top of that, I had a book due at the end of the next week, and I knew I was going to have to really knuckle down and work straight through until that Friday to get it done on time. And then I’d be free during that first week of December to do my Christmas shopping. And I intended to get it all done!
On Deadline Day, I was nearing the end of the manuscript and saw that I had some major plot problems. Then I realized I was writing badly, just to get it done. Which is unlike me! And then it hit me! The reason I wasn’t doing such a good job was because my stomach hurt. A lot. More than it’s ever hurt before (outside of childbirth, and this was continuous…)
I emailed my editor and told her I wouldn’t finish that day, but I’d work on it over the weekend. Then I went to bed, hoping that if I could sleep for an hour or two, I’d wake up and feel better.
But I couldn’t sleep. My stomach hurt too much. Actually, it wasn’t my entire stomach, but just my lower right side. Of course I know the anatomy. (I wasn’t a critical care nurse for 25 years for nothing!) But I was truly hoping I was wrong. Why couldn’t it be a kidney stone that would just pass? Or a little ovarian problem that would disappear by morning? Or maybe just some really bad gas? What was I doing with appendicitis at my age??? (It usually hits young kids or octogenarians).
I took some acetaminophen and actually did fall asleep for a couple of hours. When I woke up and the pain was still there, my husband said he thought we should go to the ER. My reaction: “On a Friday night? Are you kidding?” (We live in a large urban area, and I know what the ER is like on a Friday night). Besides, if I went to the ER and it turned out to be nothing, well then I would have just wasted a whole lot of time, and gotten into the ER “system” where they’d do a battery of tests and I still might never know what it was.
At about 2 am my dear hubby asked me again about going to the ER. At this point, I could no longer deny what was going on. But I replied: “I don’t want a surgeon who’s had only ONE hour of sleep. I want him or her wide awake. I’m going to try and stick it out until morning.”
Yeah. Really dumb, for someone who should know better.
I did hold out until 5:30 Saturday morning. I was in an ER bed by 6:00, had bloodwork done and an IV in my arm, and was pretty much diagnosed by 6:30. They gave me morphine, which didn’t touch the pain, but gave me a headache. The ER doc ordered a CT scan (to verify his diagnosis – because again… people my age don’t typically get appendicitis). When that was done, my nurse hit me with some IV Dilaudid for pain, and that worked (although it sort of knocked out my respirations and gave my poor husband a panic attack).
This is about the time when “the girls” came in and introduced themselves. I’m talking about three very nice-looking, happy, enthusiastic, late 20-somethings. One of them said: “Hi, I’m Dr. This, and here is Dr. That, and she is Dr. So-and-so. And we’re going to take out your appendix!” All three were senior surgical residents, but they reminded me of my kids! You know: my children!
Ah well, time marches on, right? My eldest kid is a lawyer. My next one is a medical research scientist. And the third is a professional musician. Who am I to say those children don’t grow up?
Things moved quickly from there. I found myself in the operating room, and they were checking to see if I had any loose teeth before knocking me out and intubating me. I woke up a couple of hours later, in my own room, with my husband and kids waiting. A little sore, but ok. So I got out of bed and went for a walk down the long hall and back. And then I did it again.
Three cheers for laparoscopic surgery! I went home the next day and did very well for about three weeks. Then I hit a wall, and felt like every system in my body was coming apart. I guess I’d been feeling much too good, and so I overdid it a bit. How could I not, when Christmas was just around the corner, and I still had a manuscript to finish? My husband couldn’t help me with the writing, but he did do most of the shopping. I did a good bit of it online, but there was still a lot to do, and I did everything in my power to get it done.
But I learned my lessons.
1. Denial is not necessarily a good thing.
2. When you feel good after an illness, that’s when you need to pace yourself. (My grandmother used to say that).
So … I was supposed to see my doctor two weeks after surgery, which would have been December 15th. I tried to get an appointment, but his schedule was loaded until today!! Six weeks later. Apparently, everyone wants to get in their little surgeries before the year-end and their deductibles kick back in. So, off I go this morning. I’ll see you all later and let you know what he says. (After he’s done yelling at me for waiting so long to go to the ER).