Back and Better Than Ever

I had my appendix removed. There was nothing wrong with it, I just did it as a warning to the other organs in my body to shape up or they’re out of there.
- Charlie Viracola

Two weeks ago I had stomach pain. It was a dull ache that was annoying me for nearly seven days. I insisted to myself that it was nothing more than gas pain, lactose intolerance, a bit of a bug and then it just became something really obnoxious that would not go away. I finally called my Dr. on Friday afternoon and described the pain to which she insisted I go to the emergency room. With the clock ticking on Sabbath I ran to the ER telling my family to save me dinner (how I had any appetite at this point I am uncertain). Obviously, my stomach ache turned into something serious and Sunday my appendix made it’s appearance outside the body. End of drama.

I grew up in a household where we went to the doctor for everything. You have a cough for a week, doctor visit. Doctor tells me, guess what? You have a cold. Then I would come home feeling stupid and not want to go again. In the tenth grade I had strange belly button pain. I went to the local lawyer who recently turned doctor and he told my parents that I had mono. He never took a blood test but was convinced that based on my belly button pain and the fact that I was tired (what 15 year old isn’t tired) that I had mono. So, for a week or longer I stayed home from school caught up on my soaps and was very happy to have a vacation – only to be “healed” and return a week later. I am still uncertain that it was mono, but the doctor friends I have now insist that there was no way to know without a blood test.
When I was 25 I had my tonsils taken out. I had been new to the teaching world and had acquired every illness known to man in those early teaching years. My doctor insisted that taking out my tonsils would avail me of the sore throats and constant strep. So out they came! It was not a fun surgery as my bladder didn’t want to return to functioning post op and the recovery stank, but I was resolved to ridding myself of the sick. Over ten years later I can honestly say I don’t see much of a difference. But, my singing voice is now in the toilet. So my trust in doctors seemed iffy at best.

Saturday afternoon the surgeon told me in the hospital, that I needed to have my appendix removed. There was small chance that it could heal with just antibiotics but that window had closed now that we tried it for over 12 hours. I complied and went down to the pre-op room. I stared at the ceiling while the anaesthesiologist explained the procedure and welcomed the soothing feeling coming from my IV. In my drugged stupor panic kicked in. I immediately starting screaming at the nurse to remove me from this area and that I wanted to cancel the surgery. It was as if something terrible was sitting on top of me and I couldn’t focus on anything other than getting the heck out of there. The doctor came in with my husband and calmed me down. We agreed this was not the day for my surgery. Once my crazy left me I realized that I needed it (the pain was ridiculous) and we did the operation on Sunday.
Now that I have had over a week to think about this ordeal it got me thinking – Why do we ignore our bodies signals? So many friends of mine have stories of pushed off pain that turned into something big. I have one friend who didn’t realize for four months something was wrong and suddenly it dawned on her that perhaps she could be pregnant – bingo! One friend felt a sharp pain in her mouth every time she bit even the softest of foods – well, eventually she needed major root canal which could have been avoided had she just went in for a routine check in the first place. Then there is my dear husband who’s toenail looks so fungus among us that it is shades of purple and brown and I have begged him to go in to the podiatrist to no avail. Of course, we all know the stories of people who ignored a breast lump, a strange pain in the groin etc etc etc….
Why do we do this to ourselves? We have only the one body yet we prolong taking care of it for convenience purpose or because we are too embarrased yet, only to wind up in the ER scrounging for childcare and begging for morphine! It was a horrible bout of pain, followed by surgery, followed by recovery and still I am pissed I missed that Friday night dinner and am a week behind on laundry.

No one has time to be sick. No one has complete faith in the medical system when one can look up online what the issue can really be. No one wants to be told by an ER doc that their huge pain is gas, of all things. But, I need to trust my instincts more and believe them if they tell me something is wrong before it gets to a bad place. The doctor told me that if I would have waited to have the surgery it most definitely would have burst and that could have been a mess to clean up and way more painful. Following my trip back home a kind acquaintance who heard about my surgery called to check in. She told me that of a woman she knew who was pregnant with lower abdominal pain. The doctor told her it was just from the pregnancy. She didn’t trust her instincts and died from an appendix rupture just three short weeks ago. After I thanked her for the story (but really didn’t mean it) I then thanked G-d for allowing me to trust those instincts that something just wasn’t right and I needed help.
I also want to thank my incredible husband for his selfless servitude during my week of painful but restful recouperating. Thank you to my sister for standing in as Mommy when I was at the hospital , my doctor friends for convincing me to own up and cut the damn thing out and my multitude of superhero women friends who literally hold me up when I am down.

3 Responses to “Back and Better Than Ever”

  1. [...] little over a year ago I had my appendix removed, (appendix story here…), and that was the end of my healthy me. Every day as I started to heal, I made my mantra known to [...]

  2. SMK says:

    Thanks for reading Rachel! Exactly right – never thought much about the responsibility point until recently. A healthy parent is a total obligation, not to be taken lightly. thanks!

  3. Rachel T says:

    So glad you are ok! :)A burst appendix is no fun indeed – good for you for trusting your instincts.I've always had a "better safe than sorry" attitude when it comes to the health of me and my loved ones. My friend's uncle died this week of a massive heart attack. Sadly, it was completely preventable- as he had been feeling ill for several weeks but didn't want to go see the doctor and pay his insurance copay. Not only does this man leave his kids and wife behind, he also is survived by 2 elderly, sickly parents.My point is, when we're part of a family, it's our responsibility to take care of ourselves for them!1Refuah Shleimah!

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