This is the story of how a tiny, wormlike tube attached to my colon (a.k.a. Tanya’s appendix), laid waste to not only a vacation, but the first weeks of 2006!


appendix%20flowers.JPG Ever give thanks to your abdominal muscles? Well, I urge you to do so immediately — if you’re doing anything other than lying flat on your back right now you’re using them extensively. Why this sudden fascination with the abs? And could this have anything to do with me not answering calls, SMSs, cellphones, being seen in person recently? Yes — an emergency appendectomy will do that to you.

One 12-hour stomach ache, an elevated tempterature, uncontrollable shaking and a midnight 911 call later saw me wheeled out of our apartment building by the paramedics. Fortunately the ride to St. Vincent’s Midtown Hospital was short — a mere 8 blocks, and the source of many of those sirens visiting friends have borne witness to from our apartment.

Once there, though, the ER-like response slowed to a syrupy pace, with an 8-hour observation and testing period that included testing of bodily fluids; four people asking me the exact same, very long questionnaire (“Is this ‘Law and Order’ or ‘E.R’?”); three hours to do a CT scan, and no pain medication in case it masked the symptoms… and then a visit from two surgeons and being whipped to the operating room within 20 minutes.

Sad to say, despite requesting laproscopic surgery (this minimally invasive procedure where they make three holes and stick tiny tools and a camera in to do the surgery and which makes it easier to recover with less scarring), this was not possible. Instead, I am now sporting a 3 inch long gash down my right side through which they cut through all the abdonimal muscles. (Yes, it’s making me queasy just typing it. If you reall want to make yourself queasy, or simply find out more about the prodecure, click here.)

Two days (or should that be daze, seeing as I apparently made my way through quite a cornucopia of pain killing drugs during my short stay?) later and I was disacharged and am now home. St. Vincent’s rating? Quite good on all fronts except one pain injection, a mysterious injury and my discharge.

Actually, to be specific, one injection where they enthusiastically plunged the needle into my thigh and accidentally scraped the bone, resulting in a massive contusion that still looks something like if you imagined adding a blob of Plasticene/Play Dough to a figure with an already swollen middle.

Oddities at the hospital? These wierd scratches on the back of my left arm that look like I was attacked by a rabid wombat. I didn’t even see them until Jay spotted them. When he asked the staff they were singularly alarmed, immediately applied a goopy orange unction and told us to continue the regimen three times a day, and wouldn’t speculate on the cause!

But really, as someone who has had the good fortune to rarely be in a hospital, I think they need to work on their discharge. We were left stranded without a wheelchair to get me the city block length and six floors down to the front door despite Jay’s multiple requests. Eventually he found a completely different section of the hospital who were horrified and immediately gave us a wheelchair and assistant to get me almost to the front door.

Curiously, there are four steps and no ramp between the lobby and the front door. What’s the big deal? Well, when your achievement so far is being able to walk 12 feet to the bathroom doubled over and in pain, steps aren’t really manageable. But unfortunately, they and getting into and out of a car, and on to and off a luggage cart to get up to our apartment were all incredibly painful necessities.

But I am home and hapy to be surrounded by familiar things, the warm wishes of family and friends and a florist forest of flowers (you’ve no idea how cheering the wonderful flowers and balloons have been.) Thank you all so, so much. (I’ve been especially grateful to Jay’s mom who was a nursing professor and could give me tons of good advice for a full recovery.) The surgeon zapped the sutures out on Friday, pronounced me healing ‘remarkably’ and handed me back to the care of my PCP/GP.

Highlights, lowlights and insights so far:
* The new sofa bed rules. I spent the first days sleeping on it because it is much lower than our bed, making get into and out of it easy.
* Thank goodness for salwar kameez, those indian caftan-ish outfits. (Read this for a hilarious opinion.) They are loose, have no elasticated bits and apart from my bathrobe and yoga pants, make up the bulk of my currently wearable wordrobe.

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7 Responses

  1. oh man…. that sounds absolutely wretched in parts… i hope you and your ab muscles feel better! happy appendix-less new year!

  2. Hey Tanya,
    So sorry to read about your pain.
    Does it hurt when you laugh?
    Get well soon!!
    From
    Hoosen and all your friends at the Sunday Times, Johannesburg, South Africa.

  3. Laughing, coughing and… worst of all, sneezing! I have mastered the ‘shallow’ laugh, but look forward to being able to enjoy a full body guffaw :0)

  4. Enjoyed reading your blog but sorry to hear about your recent misfortune – rather amused to hear the swish New York hospitals also have hassles….
    Get better soon.

  5. Eina!
    Your description and that horrible link to the Medline site make empathy easy – we feel your pain and are happy to see you’re recovering remarkably!
    Love,
    Nick & Laura

  6. Hello Tanya,
    What a start to the year! Your thorough story telling with Medline Plus link makes me think a home job with a sharp instrument is almost possible in future, and almost desirable…
    Dr NO!

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