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The Story of How I Found Out I Had Appendicitis

At midnight, I woke my husband. Something was wrong—the pain in my stomach was worse. This is the story of my emergency appendectomy.

Me.

Me.

It was a Friday evening, and my children and I went to visit some family friends across town. During the visit, I told my friend a few times that my stomach hurt and that my jeans felt tight. It hurt right around my belly button, and I couldn't figure out what was going on. Later, the pain wasn't as bad, but it never went completely away.

I had a busy week coming up. On Saturday, I would pick up my nephew while his parents, my sister-in-law, and brother-in-law went on a vacation to Las Vegas. The child was a challenge to care for because he had down syndrome. It was for this reason why I volunteered to do the care-taking, knowing his grandmother, my mother-in-law, would be overwhelmed. Everything went well on Saturday after I picked him up, except I felt a little aching pain on my left side.

Sunday arrived and everyone came over to our house after church. My great aunt and uncle came out to play cards, and the kids' friends were over. After everyone left, I cleaned the toy box. It was very messy after a long day of play. Evening came and I got the two youngest, our son and our nephew, fed and ready for bed. They were both exhausted from the long day and ready to fall asleep. I did the laundry and got the older kids' things ready for school the next day. I didn't eat dinner because I was busy and didn't have time. My husband cleaned the kitchen and when I finally sat down between loads of laundry, I ate some popcorn, which made me feel nauseated.

Soon after, I went to bed. At midnight, I woke my husband. Something was wrong. The pain in my stomach was worse. He said it must just be gas and to take something for it. I took Milk of Magnesia and immediately regretted it. At 3:00 in the morning, I took my temperature. It was 101F, but because my temperature never runs that high, I called the doctor. At this point, the pain was excruciating on my right side. He said I needed to come to the hospital, but not until 6:00, when the correct personnel would be there. I asked if he thought it was appendicitis. He said, "Yes."

Our children.

Our children.

I called my mother-in-law and told her we would have to bring the younger kids to her house. I called a neighbor to see if she could stay with the older kids until the bus arrived. "No," she said. She couldn't because she made lunch plans with a friend and didn't want to get stuck at our house and miss it. So I called a real friend. She said she would be right over with her kids and put them all on the bus at the same time. We dropped the babies off at my mother-in-law's house and headed for the hospital. The first thing they asked me was if I had vomited. I hadn't. The pain was now on my right side, and I could barely stand. It was extremely painful. The doctor said he was fairly sure the appendix had ruptured.

They wouldn't put me under to perform surgery, giving me a spinal instead. I hadn't vomited and they were worried I would if they put me under. This scared me more than appendicitis. I was awake through the entire surgery. While performing the surgery, the nurses and the doctor gossiped, talked about parties, and shared their summer plans.

After surgery, I had to spend five days in the hospital. I have a large scar where they made the incision, which they made big enough to examine more than just my appendix. At the time, they felt it was likely I was experiencing a ruptured appendix, but were not entirely sure. As it turns out, my appendix did not rupture but was on the verge of rupturing. It was also gangrenous. The doctor figured, if they hadn't done the surgery when they did, it would have ruptured within another hour.

My recovery took a little longer than normal because of the large incision. Usually, scars from an operation to remove an appendix are not so large. When other doctors see the scar, they say the doctors must not have had a positive diagnosis before operating. According to other doctors, they were also looking for stomach cancer.

My mother-in-law

My mother-in-law

My mother-in-law did fine with the kids, with help from my husband and close friends. She told me my two-year-old put a little chair on the front lawn and sat there, waiting for me to come home. He told her he wouldn't leave until "Mommy" came home.