The kids had been sick for three days — fevers, stomachaches, one very random burst of vomit from Guy — so I assumed I had the stomach bug, too. I was queasy, thirsty, didn’t feel right. I fell asleep at lunchtime, picked the kids up from daycare early, and was happy to come back and rest on the couch with them that evening. I went to bed still queasy, but otherwise fine. Just a stomach bug.
That was a week ago.
That night, around 11, I woke up to a stabbing pain along my right side and waves of nausea that would have sent me scrambling, except that I could barely move against the painful spasms in my abdomen. The night was a long blur of moving back and forth between the bed and the bathroom, trying to find relief from the pain or the nausea (both seemed too optimistic), but neither came. When it was time to get ready for work, I just shook my head at G, and curled back into a ball of misery.
It wasn’t long after he left that I realized something was wrong, and it might not just be a stomach bug. The pain on my right side was becoming more acute. If I hadn’t just had surgery, I said to my parents on the way to the emergency room, I would say it was my appendix — but surely I couldn’t be that unlucky?
The emergency room was a long, drawn-out nightmare. They had no beds available when we got there, so G (who had turned around on his way to work and met us there) and I waited in a small room — the pain for me was becoming intolerable at that point, and he was feeling helpless to do anything. But finally, a bed opened up, and I don’t really have a good sense of time after that. We got there early in the morning and the next actual time I remember is 8:30 pm when I was awake after surgery.
In between that was a lot of pain, a lot of nausea, and very little relief honestly. At some point in the afternoon (mid-day? I don’t know), I had a CT scan. It wasn’t long after that that the nurse came back into our room. “Appendicitis,” she said. I asked her to repeat herself. All I heard was “another surgery.” G said, “We should have taken that out last time.”
But the doctor came in and explained that actually they couldn’t see the appendix at all. There was too much inflammation in that area on the scan. There also appeared to be pockets of air. His guess was that it had already ruptured. At any rate, quick surgery was necessary. He contemplated sending me to a university hospital but felt the wait would be too long, and he was also very confident in the surgeon on call (who several of the nurses said was the best surgeon they had, for what that is worth).
The issue of the serum sickness was a tricky one — obviously I haven’t yet identified what caused it last time because who knew I’d need that information less than three weeks later. I still had all the paperwork on serum sickness from NIH and other sources printed out in my backpack, which I shared with the surgeon and the anesthesiologist. Finally, after lots of conversation about it and a call to my GP, they agreed to switch one of the agents being used for general anesthesia, give me a strong dose of pre-op prednisone, and follow that up with antihistamines for the length of my hospital stay. Agreeing to those terms, I finally signed the consent form for general anesthesia outside the OR and was asleep before the ink was dry.
The next thing I remember was G by my side that night.
“Did the doctor talk to you after surgery?” he asked. “Did he tell you what it really was?”