Substance and Soul

Adios appendix

LifeSamantha WetterholmComment

Now that I am a few days post surgery, I thought I'd type out this whole ordeal for posterity's sake. Or just so I could remember the crazy. Or to complain. Or something.

At 4am on Monday morning I was jerked awake by horrible pain in my stomach, pelvis, and back. It truthfully reminded me of back labor, which was probably the worst pain I've ever experienced and this was just a notch below. Oh joy.

I was in sort of a daze because I would have rather been sleeping at 4am. But I'm weird like that. I writhed around in pain in bed for a while before deciding to roll out of bed and try to walk around. I made it to the couch around 4:30 and collapsed. My first thought at that point was for the baby. I was afraid that something was going wrong with my pregnancy and that terrified me.

Hunched over, I felt my way back to our bed and woke Paul up. Poor guy, I think I gave him a heart attack. Through several gasps and moans, I said I was having the worst pain evaaaaa and he said that we should go to the hospital. Why didn't I think of that?

I curled up on the floor of the living room while he rushed around gathering entertainment/food/clothes for Emma and I tried putting shoes on and wondered where my rosary was because oh boy, was I in for some praying. Paul loaded up the car and then came back to grab me and I took the grueling two flights of stairs (might as well have been a treck down the grand canyon) down to our car leaning over Paul trying not to pass out. 

The ~ten minute drive to the hospital (thank God it was so close) was incredibly painful because I felt every little blip and bump in our "well cared for" streets and freeways of California (not). We finally made it to Kaiser around 5:20 and Paul grabbed a wheel chair for me. The perky (perky at 5:30, WHAT?!) receptionist took down some info and asked for my insurance card, blah, blah, blah and then I had to wait in the EMPTY waiting room for, what felt like, ten million years (more like seven minutes) before I was wheeled to an ER room. I had to wait a little longer for everything because of the holiday. Oh great... 

After describing my symptoms to a nurse and the ER doc, they could not pin down anything right away. Thankfully, for my sanity, they did an ultrasound first thing and the baby had a strong heart beat and was moving around and swimming like nothing was wrong. WHEW. First sigh of relief. Then they hooked me up with and IV for all those lovely pain meds. Keep 'em coming.

I have been to the ER several times in my life and I always worry that I am being overly dramatic and that I have nothing wrong with me. Hypochondria rears its ugly head at times. But in this case, I hoped that there was nothing major and that I would be able to go home as soon as the pain subsided. Maybe I ate too much? Maybe it was just a bladder infection? Ugh. NERP.

Blood draw? Check.
Other fluids? Check. 
A poke? Check.
A swab? Check. And yuck.

The ER nurse and doctor were amazing and constantly checked in with me and gave me the sweet relief of fentanyl and morphine. I am no fan of narcotics, but this was much appreciated. Thank you kindly drugs. Love, your new BFF that Monday.

After I was assessed by the ER doctors, the OB/GYN doctors, and the general surgeons on call they had a nearly positive diagnosis of acute appendicitis (they were still debating, because hey, preggos can have a myriad of nonsense going on). Every time a new piece of information came to me, my immediate thoughts were for this little baby. I wanted to treat whatever I had but minimize the impact on the peanut as much as possible. Because they were not 100% sure it was appendicitis after the exam and the ultrasounds (yes plural) they suggested I get a CT scan. 

UGH RADIATION. DEAMON. This is the face of annoyed. 

As a doctor myself, I understand the importance of diagnostic images to get the proper diagnosis. But as a dentist, specifically, we are all about the thyroid/lady parts lead apron and minimal exposure to preggos. And here I was faced with the decision to radiation right on my abdomen and while pregnant. OH LAWD. Ultimately, after talking with the surgeon, she was very hesitant to take me to surgery without being certain (after some gooooogling, Paul later tells me that over 10% of appendectomy surgeries are done on people with perfectly healthy appendecies, no bueno). The CT scan was quick and confirmed the big bad appendicitis. 

Surgery time. NOOOO. WHYYYYYY?

Side note: after ten thousand prayer threads, I felt so much love and support from everyone wishing us well and sending their prayers. You da best. 

Another side note, Paul took Emma to our neighbors around 9 am and she stayed with them all day. They are wonderful and generous people and I am grateful that Emma didn't have to spend all day in the hospital. 

I finally went in for surgery around 4pm all hopped up on the happy juice but started to panic when they had to strap me down on the table and put the oxygen mask on my face. Full on panic mode. Thankfully they can pump in the sleepy meds right away. 

When I woke up (successful they said! you did great they said!), I went into tiger mom mode and tried to rip off my oxygen mask and demanded that they check on the baby. Apparently they wheeled the ultrasound into the recovery room right away and showed me a strong heart beat but I didn't believe them. Disoriented? 

I kept asking/demanding/growling that they check on the baby again and when Paul was able to join me, the wheeled the ultrasound machine in yet again to show us, both of us. They wanted to show Paul so that he could assure me because I was on the post-anesthesia crazy train and needed proof or else

They took me to my recovery room and my dad finally arrived (he had driven up from home, 7 hours in traffic, bless him) and he stayed with me that night while Paul went home to take care of Emma. That first night/morning was HARD. Breathing was hard. Moving was harder. Sneezing was THE WORST. I needed help for everything. And the Miss Independent in me was not havin' it. 

I'll save you all the boring details of recovery but I am on the mend and every day is slightly getting easier. My dad stayed with us until today and my mom and sister come tomorrow. I am not allowed to lift anything over ten pounds and Emma passed that weight a long time ago. She has been gentle with me and I've only had to remind her a few times not to jump on me/kick me/hug me a little too hard. Emma took it like a champ and I hope this was a gentle crash course for her into my next hospital stay in August when bebe number two comes on the scene. 

I am grateful for the doctors and nurses. They were so kind and eased my nerves as much as possible. I feel blessed for my friends and family and their outpouring of love. And most of all, I am so glad to have had my incredible husband/parter/hunk/bff by my side. He is so nurturing and takes every burden and responsibility off my shoulder.

The support and love from everyone gets me through those tougher pity party moments. WHY ME? 

I have another appointment next week to check on baby but in the midst of all the pain and frustration - I felt this baby's little flutters for the first time on Tuesday. God is good. He's hilarious with His timing. But He is so good.