Recovery

Welp, sickness sucks. Emergencies suck more. Strap in, this one's definitely got some fun. Content Warnings: surgery, pain, medical, gross

So! Sunday evening, the 3rd, I started to feel a little bit of what I thought was just gas pain. I normally get it in my middle of my abdomen, and it sucks, but it goes away eventually. This did not. It persisted, slowly getting worse. I kept farting here and there hoping that was relieving it, but it never truly did. I struggled with the bathroom, but it kept getting more persistent. It eventually started to spread outward, encompassing my lower right in it. By this point, it was probably 11 PM or later? I thought it might be appendicitis, but in that "WHAT IF IT WAS CANCER???" kind of way. Thank WebMD for fears like that.

The pain persisted and I kept trying to sleep, whimpering, tossing and turning as I kept shifting in the hopes it'd go away. Certain types of abdominal pressure helped, but overall it was just bad constantly. I finally fell asleep once I took Tylenol, which helped the pain subside some.

Come Monday morning, I felt better, no more weird gas pain, but something else was there -- this weird nagging 'persistent' feeling in my left side. There was a presence there that insisted I know it was there, like using a highlighter on a word on white paper, but this was internal. I couldn't get rid of the nagging sensation. Nothing helped, and as the day wore on, lack of sleep kept me tired but feeling bad overall. Something was clearly wrong. I was talking to Mathias about it, who had asked about specifics the night before and wanted to keep an eye on specific feelings. He finally came over early afternoon to stay with me and help me feel better, but the sensation wouldn't go away.

With both of us hoping it was something benign ultimately, some new sensation with IBS, we went to an urgent care clinic to check it out. There, they couldn't do much, a urinalysis, but overall nothing. But then the nurse practitioner came in, spoke to me, poked a little, and said I was presenting a lot of the classic signs of appendicitis -- pain and tenderness in the lower right, pressure, nausea, rebound pain when pushing on the left side of me, lower GI issues beyond IBS. It was probably serious, so she told me to go to an emergency department (ED/ER) and tell them the urgent clinic sent me with concerns of appendicitis.

Walf and I were still hoping that the imaging would rule it out -- I had no fever, no vomiting, no intense pain like people described with it being the worst pain they'd ever felt. But a CT scan showed the attending nurse practitioner (NP) at the ED that I almost certainly had acute appendicitis, and an hour later radiology concurred. The main hospital would set me up a room, and I would ride in an ambulance for the first, and hopefully last, time. (BUMPY!) I was told I'd almost certainly be operated on by a surgeon the NP had perform on him once, which was a pretty glowing review to me! I was also comforted by hearing that it'd also likely be laparoscopic, minimally-invasive -- just 3-4 little tiny incisions on the belly to operate and that's it! (Spoiler alert: this did not happen.)

They couldn't schedule me for surgery that night, so they transported me to the main hospital, and up to my room there, allowing Mathias to spend the night there with me and helping him get some bedding in the room with me. I was in pain, but treated with morphine that helped the pain considerably at low dosage, only 2mg at a time -- 4mg gave this TERRIBLE rush sensation up the back of my shoulders and neck that I hated feeling. I don't get why people like it. But the low dosage helped, and I slept, intermittently because of repeated waking, but I still slept.

As a side note, the nurse at this time, at the hospital, had some indirect connections, apparently having worked at the same Panera a good local friend of ours works at, and her fiance having worked for the same computer repair place I worked at after I left it. Small world! She was SUPER nice and helpful.

Waking, I met that doctor I was told about, who told me he'd be making sure he could do the minimally-invasive and then I'd be feeling better soon. Much more pain today, but again, managed through drugs. But soon after, I met a different doctor, who said he'd be doing my surgery instead, and that he would not do the laparoscopic -- not because he didn't know how or wasn't good at it, but because he didn't "like" it. "But then you have 3-4 incisions and scars instead of just one!" I think I'd have preferred that over what I have.

Whatever. He reassured both Mathias and I and so I was promptly prepped for surgery, taken down to pre-op, where the din of the place and the sounds, the treatment, the disorganization (four different people asked me the same questions!) had me quickly skyrocketing in anxiety, and Mathias thankfully was back there and with me because I broke into tears at some point. He also gave me my earplugs, but well before I was given the drug to start to go under general anesthesia, a nurse told me I had to take them out, which sucked because they were helping me manage my anxiety. I was scared, and upset, but the lady shaving my belly for surgery helped me calm a fair bit. Pain, but she was comforting with talking a little as she did, and taking her time. At some point I was given a large dose of ondansetron for upcoming nausea and then an anti-anxiety drug that had me calming down, everything feeling melty, and promptly passing out without even realizing.

The next thing I knew, just like with tooth surgery, I was in considerable pain and they were trying to help with things in post-op, getting stuff worked out, talking about room transfers as if I'd end up in a different room than I'd been in. But finally they decided the same room I'd been in, and I was transported -- feeling every. Fucking. Bump. The most minor bumps, the acceleration of a rotation even gentle, starting or stopping and ESPECIALLY those GOD DAMN ELEVATOR BUMPS felt like HELL on where I'd been operated on. I could barely move, I was trying not to cry, just tired and stressed.

And then they picked me up, sheet and all, and put me in my bed again. And my pain spiked so high I yelped as it shot up past a 10 for me there, and I promptly broke down sobbing as they left -- feeling tired, afraid, hurting, abandoned by them, cared at instead of for and just... terrible. Upset and angry my want for laparoscopic had been overturned because some old doctor didn't "like" it. Who fucking cares if it takes longer, I'm unconcious, what the shit do I care? It felt like he was just trying to speedrun surgery instead of patient care being the focus, and just reminded me so much of how many people feel this way in the US's current medical treatment pipeline. I just wanted everything to feel better -- even remembering now I'm choking a little because of how bad it felt. But Mathias was there for me, and held my hand and what he could safely do of me and kissed my head, staying close as I cried with the pain and hurt of it. I had no option here, I had to get surgery immediately or I would've died, I had no chance to pick a doctor or facility, I was stuck with whatever I had. Every jingoistic asshole talking about how "Americans have choice in healthcare though" compared to other systems can fuck RIGHT the hell off, they've clearly never had emergency care needs because I don't get to fucking pick, I just have to hope wherever I end up is covered by my insurance or that I can fight with my insurance for it. I'm grateful that my insurance will likely make this expensive, but still something I can afford, though I don't feel like it's right for me to have to pay $800-1000 just because some part of my body decided to fuck up.

Pain meds helped, and some water, some rest, and I started to feel a little better. I felt well enough to eat the dinner I was served in full, and in full I did -- I was starving at this point, Tuesday evening, since I'd had nothing to eat since Monday early afternoon. I rested in and out a fair bit, woken repeatedly for vitals and the like. I had to repeatedly watch for air in the line because people were inattentive too, I pointed out a large one to a nurse in training just before she injected some into me, and had to withdraw it which pulled blood into the IV line, oh well.

By Wednesday morning I just wanted to go. I wanted things over. I wanted pain to stop, I wanted everything normal, but I couldn't. My gut was starting to try to move again, but couldn't, and as I was getting released, I started to get gas pain again, but this time it was very clearly just gas pain moving around the small intestines and into the large one. But finally I was discharged after the nurse's attitude changed some I think seeing how stressed and upset I was from everything. There seemed to be constant miscommunication, or misunderstanding, and the nurse pointed out that's all it was but...that doesn't change how I as a patient feel in that situation. It sucked. Again, I felt cared at rather chan cared for and I couldn't really word it any other way. The act of caring without directly caring for me individually.

But, I worked through it, nurse helped me with walking some more, good advice, and I was given medication to drop my blood pressure from being so high and then released. Also at this point I had a LOT of gas discomfort and bubbling and I was trying badly to fart, so bad that the first time I did I almost moaned with relief. It felt like the best fart ever because holy hell, you don't realize what it feels like when that whole system just STOPS and then needs to start again.

I'm writing this while at my desk, while Mathias is in the living room working at my work desk, staying with me. Immensely grateful for him being here. I told my boss I'll be out this week and be back WFH on Monday, though may be WFH that week. I'll recover. It'll take some time, but I'll be back to normal again soon I hope.

tags: hospital surgery pain

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