This is the story of how I do not have appendicitis.
Thursday: Around late morning, I started feeling a strange sensation in my abdomen, as though there were something pushing inwards from the waistband of my pants. It got worse towards evening and by the time I got home at 10, I felt sharp pains over a fist-sized area. Still, I slept through the night.
Friday morning: The pain seemed to have focused over a smaller area, but it twinged and jabbed and generally bugged the hell out of me whenever I was sitting down. So with the encouragement of a few friends I went to a clinic to get it checked out at lunch. Appendicitis was diagnosed, so I was referred to the hospital.
Friday afternoon: At the hospital, a family friend working in general surgery examined me and said I had the symptoms, but that he wouldn’t diagnose appendicitis without running some scans and tests first. Apparently, in the old days, any pain in the vicinity of the appendix meant that they’d cut you open immediately. It was lucky for me that today’s medical technology is a bit less barbaric.
I was warded and instructed not to eat or drink until further notice. At the ward, I was interviewed for my case history first by a medical student and then by a first-year doctor. This doctor also set my IV plug in the most inconvenient possible vein in my wrist, and managed to make every nerve in my hand scream bloody murder in the process. While I managed not to curse or yell at said doctor, I couldn’t help but snark as he left: “I’m sure you’ll get better with more practice.”
(The next time I have the ill-luck to be hospitalised, I’ll be asking for a nurse right off the bat.)
They set me up with saline so I wouldn’t dehydrate, as well as antibiotics for my fever and to beat any possible infections. Thus trussed up with intravenous fluids, I proceeded to write some urgent emails, read part of a book, and generally move as little as possible to avoid aggravating the pain in my belly. I was also getting hungry.
The ward was out of private rooms so I had a 4-bedder . It was a really old ward, too:
More than six hours after my last meal, they wheeled me down to radiology for my CT scan. I was SO HUNGRY. In contrast to the retro ward surroundings, the CT scan machine was something out of a sci-fi series.I would’ve taken a photo, but I was too hungry to care.
For some strange reason, they had to wait for my CT scan results before I was allowed to eat anything. I say it was strange because my doctor had assured me that any surgery required would only take place in the morning, so it made no sense to continue starving me in anticipation of surgery at, say, midnight. Sadly for me, it wasn’t the nurses’ call. So all I could do was whine at my long-suffering husband.
Eight hours after my last meal, I finally had the green light to eat. The doctor made a wisecrack about ordering KFC delivery – whatever. I sent James to the food court for noodles.
As you might have surmised from the first line of this post, the CT scan results showed that my appendix is fine. Healthy. A-Okay.
The downside is that it also didn’t show what could be causing that pain. So now I feel like that weird patient on House whose symptoms all point to something that isn’t the right diagnosis. Except that the episode ends inconclusively and anticlimactically, and the patient is still in some pain, just less.
(Also, I still had to stay the night in the ward, on the IV, until the other doctors could see if my fever went away by morning. I deeply resent any night not spent in my own bed for reasons other than leisure.)
The upside, meanwhile, is that I’ve reportedly been given two weeks’ medical leave to monitor the weird pain. I say ‘reportedly’ because the doctor who was supposed to discharge me wasn’t around to sign the paperwork, so they’ll mail it to me instead.
Who knows, in a couple of days I might receive mail from the hospital saying that I should have been back at work on Monday.