As I went to bed one night last week, I thought I had had a good day. It was my 3 year olds first day of preschool, I took lots of photos, had a good cry, heard all her news that evening, took a great power-walk, had a glass of wine and hit the hay.
At 4am I woke up feeling strange, as if I had a tummy bug. Five hours later I was still up, but in really bad shape and beginning to feel like this was no flu.
The doctors office told my husband that the pain in my abdomen should go away for a while, every time I threw up. It didn't. It felt like I was impaled on a sword. I couldn't walk properly and could keep nothing down - or in. They told him to get me to the ER. I was almost embarrassed, despite the pain. Didn't the doctors there have more important things to do than deal with a tummy bug, albeit a bad one? My doctor's office again told my husband to get me in and I did feel, deep down, that this might just be something else.
By the time my husband and three scared toddlers got me to the ER I was very dehydrated, with a BP of 70/50 and vomiting constantly with nothing coming up.
About 11 hours later I was in surgery with a ruptured appendix and thinking "how on EARTH did this happen?" And "how could something the size of a worm, with no definite purpose, cause so much pain and even death, if a rupture is not given medical attention?" You'll find lots of answers at the end of this story.
I had many, many tests. I was given a pregnancy test, in case of an ectopic pregnancy despite promising them I could not get pregnant due to my husband's surgery a couple of years ago.
"But did he get his count done afterwards?" the nurse asked.
"Yes!" I said. "And it's zero!"
The doctor gave the nurse a look (yep, I saw it, despite my pain)and they took a test anyway! I had to laugh, really. Maybe they thought that between running a busy home and having small kids and a busy work schedule, they thought I had time for extra-curricular 'activity'. I didn't take it personally. Aren't all of us women supposed to be fantastic multi-taskers? Hey, maybe I can have it all - boyfriend too!
After my negative pregnancy test (thank you, Dr. Doubtful) I had blood tests, urine tests, a pelvic exam, an ultrasound and finally a CT-scan. Morphine wasn't working at all so they put me on other painkillers. The pain is very hard to explain, I had experienced nothing like it before.
The CT-scan showed the issue to be my appendix which I had pretty much figured out at this stage, especially as my general abdominal pain had localized strongly to the right side. The cat scan also showed fluid gathering and a rupture beginning. I developed a fever right before surgery, further sign of an impending rupture.
Emergency surgery well went, I was put under general anesthesia and the rupture happened during surgery. I was lucky to have had laprascopic surgery, despite the rupture, (done via my belly button with two other small incisions in my abdomen) as opposed to a tradition appendectomy where a large incision is made.
Two days later I was home and am now ok, despite pain (in my left side, more than my right side, strangely enough) and progress is good. My belly is not as distended as when I left (be prepared for rapid weight gain and a rather huge belly because doctors literally fill your abdomen with air before surgery). I have now lost the 8 pounds of fluid I gained (gained in three days!) and my gut size is not as Frankenstein-ish as it was over the weekend. I've worked hard for that flat tummy - I want it back! I will be on antibiotics for some time.
Here is my advice from this experience - TRUST YOUR GUT. Literally, and figuratively in this case. While the appendix has been somewhat connected to helping our digestive system, we don't need it. And a rupture is nothing to joke around with. If pain is constant after vomiting, call a doctor or get to the ER.
Like many others, I am one who feels like she might be wasting doctors time and I'd rather stay in bed for a day and call it even. But severe pain is your friend. It's there for a reason - don't ignore it. My instincts told me to get to a hospital (my first time ever in the ER, as an adult) so listen to what your body is telling you. If it feels wrong, it probably is. If it feels serious, it probably is, too.
That's my preaching over -
Here is a little information on the appendix, and more importantly, appendicitis, courtesy of the University of Michigan Hospitals Systems -
"Appendicitis is one of the causes of serious belly pain. It happens when the appendix , a part of the large intestine, becomes infected and inflamed.
Experts do not know what the appendix does in the body, but most of the time it does not cause problems.
About 8 out of 100 people will get appendicitis sometime during their lives. It is most common in people ages 10 to 30, but it can happen at any age.
What causes appendicitis?
It is not clear why people get appendicitis. Infection in the appendix causes appendicitis. But doctors and scientists are not sure what causes the infection. In many cases, a small object (such as a hard piece of stool) blocks the opening to the appendix. Then bacteria can grow in the appendix and cause an infection.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptom of appendicitis is belly pain. Many people feel the first pain near the belly button. Then it moves to the lower right side of the belly. But the pain can be in different parts of your belly or even on your side or back. The pain may get worse if you move, walk, or cough. You may also have a fever or feel sick to your stomach.
Sometimes the only symptom is a general feeling of not being well and a pain that is hard to describe. The pain in your belly may be different than any pain you have had before. It may be severe. Or it may not seem like a very strong pain, but you may have the feeling that something is wrong. Trust your instincts.
Because the diagnosis is not always easy to make, it is very important to see a doctor as soon as possible if you have symptoms.
In some cases, appendicitis does not cause any symptoms except for belly pain. If you have moderate belly pain that does not go away after 4 hours, call your doctor. If you have severe belly pain, call your doctor right away.
How is appendicitis diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask you questions about what symptoms you have, when they started, and what was happening before the pain began. Your doctor will press on your belly to see where the pain is. He or she will take your temperature to see if you have a fever, which is a sign of infection. You also may have blood tests to look for signs of infection.
Your doctor may not be sure whether you have appendicitis. You may need other tests, such as a CT scan or an ultrasound of your belly.
Sometimes tests can't show for certain that you have appendicitis, but your doctor may strongly suspect that you do because of your symptoms. In this case, your doctor probably will recommend you have surgery to have your appendix taken out. Most of the time, the doctor is right and the appendix is infected. During surgery your doctor may find that your appendix is normal and something else caused your pain. Your doctor will go ahead and remove your appendix. You can live just fine without it, and taking it out gets rid of any chance that it could cause problems later.
How is it treated?
The only treatment for appendicitis is surgery to remove your appendix (appendectomy). If you have appendicitis and do not have surgery in time, your appendix can burst. A burst appendix can cause serious problems. It’s best to remove the appendix before it bursts.
There are different types of surgery for appendicitis. Your surgeon may operate through a large cut (incision) in your belly or use a tool called a laparoscope to remove your appendix through a few smaller incisions. Either way, you may take antibiotics before your surgery, after your surgery, or both. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of surgery. Talk with your surgeon about which type is best for you.
If your appendix does burst, you will need antibiotics. Surgery to remove a burst appendix may be more complicated.
The main symptom of appendicitis is belly (abdominal) pain. The pain can feel like indigestion or like you need to have a bowel movement or pass gas. Many people feel the first pain near the belly button. Then it moves to the lower right side of the belly. But the pain can be in different parts of your belly or even on your side. The pain may get worse if you move, walk, or cough. You may also have a fever or feel sick to your stomach.
Many people who have had appendicitis say the pain is hard to describe. It may not feel like any pain you have had before. It may not even be a very bad pain, but you may feel like something is wrong. If you have moderate belly pain that does not go away after 4 hours, call your doctor. If you have severe belly pain, call your doctor right away.
You may have appendicitis if:
You have pain in your belly. The pain may begin around your belly button.
The pain in your belly gets stronger and moves below your belly button on your right side (the lower right quadrant ). This is the most common place to feel pain when you have appendicitis.
The pain does not go away and gets worse when you move, walk, or cough.
You have pain in any part of your belly or on your side.
You feel nauseated or throw up a few times. You also may not feel like eating.
You have constipation, back pain, a slight fever, or a swollen abdomen.
Some people do not have the symptoms listed above. Older people, children younger than 2 years, and pregnant women may not have pain in the lower right part of the belly. Other people feel pain in their side because their appendix is in a different position than normal.
Pain in the abdomen is very common.
There are also many conditions with symptoms similar to appendicitis. But because appendicitis can become serious in a short amount of time, call your doctor right away if you have any of the symptoms listed above. Treatment is much easier if the appendix has not ruptured. In most people, the appendix does not rupture until they have felt sick for at least 24 hours.
Exams and Tests
Appendicitis is diagnosed with a medical history, physical examination, lab tests, and sometimes imaging tests. Appendicitis can be difficult to diagnose, especially in children, pregnant women, and older people.
The doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms, including the order in which your symptoms appeared and what was happening before the pain began.
The doctor will push on different parts of your belly to see where the pain is. The doctor will probably focus on the lower right quadrant , where most people feel pain when they have appendicitis.
The doctor may insert a gloved finger into your anus (digital rectal exam) to help identify the cause of your pain. Women may have a pelvic exam to help rule out other problems."
Did you (or someone you know) have you appendix removed? Did you have a rupture? I'd love to hear other experiences!
All user-generated information on this site is the opinion of its author only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. Members and guests are responsible for their own posts and the potential consequences of those posts detailed in our Terms of Service.