Waking up one morning I noticed a constant dull pain in my stomach, more specifically my abdominal region. I had helped some business associates host a company party the previous week. The main event of the get together was an outdoor oyster roast, with some live entertainment from a local rock band. Throughout the evening I was lifting fifty pound bushels of whole shell oysters, as well as the “slim jim” garbage pails full of oyster shells which weighed much more than fifty pounds each. Early on I blamed the pain in my abdomen on the strenuous lifting I performed the previous week, and speculated that perhaps I had a pulled muscle. The pain I was experiencing as I said was constant, and I could not pin point a specific spot in my abdomen where the pain was originating from.
After a few days passed the pain made me increasingly uncomfortable, but I was still able to move around without incident. I continually tried to find the root of the pain by bending in different directions, stretching, and other physical exercises. I could notice no increase in pain from these exercises, and I became worried as the pain persisted. On the fourth day of this constant numb abdominal pain, I found that I could not have a bowel movement. I would have the urge to use the restroom, but I could not have a bowel movement. By the end of that day, my appetite also became very strange. I’m a very slender athletic person with high metabolism and my appetite reflects these traits. Each time I built up an appetite and sat down to eat, by the time I consumed two or three bites of the meal I felt the urge to stop eating. I cannot pin point why as being full, or a loss of appetite, I just could not eat any more. I became more and more worried throughout the day because I could not really eat, or have a bowel movement.
The following morning upon waking up, the pain had become much worse and I decided to go to a local hospital’s emergency room. Also that same morning I noticed that I could finally pin point the pain as originating in my lower right abdomen. After answering questions concerning my symptoms and examination by various nurses and physicians, the medical team concluded that I had appendicitis. I was then hooked up to an IV and given morphine for pain while I drank two containers of barium sulfate to prepare me for a CAT scan. The barium sulfate was a white solution, which the nurse described as chalky and disgusting. I was delighted that even though the sulfate was a bit chalky, the overall taste was bearable and I was able to finish both containers fairly quickly. I was not forewarned that the barium sulfate would act as a laxative but in my case it did, which was a great relief. Now that the barium sulfate was in my system to help highlight the abdominal region in question, I was put through the CAT scan. While awaiting the results I gave a blood and urine sample for examination.
As it happens, the CAT scan results revealed that my appendix was in fact already ruptured. Another term which the physicians used to describe my appendix at this juncture was “perforated.” Usually in this case emergency surgery is conducted as the contents of your appendix are gangrenous, meaning that whatever it touches will become infected and your stomach will essentially begin eating itself. I spoke afterwards with a couple individuals who also experienced a ruptured appendix, one of which was female. She explained to me that she became highly infected and part of her intestine had to be removed as well as one of her ovaries. For this reason, it is very hard for her to become pregnant. I had no idea that you risk losing the ability to reproduce from this illness. Luckily for me, when my appendix ruptured an abscess formed around the rupture and kept my appendix and the contents together. Yet and still, emergency surgery was still necessary as the abscess could give way and release the gangrenous fluids into my body.
I was then taken to a prep room within the operating wing where the surgical procedures were explained to me and I was visited by my anesthesiologist who asked me various questions before deciding what anesthetic to use. Not long after that I was put to sleep, and had an open appendectomy performed. The next thing I knew, I groggily awoke, the surgery completed successfully. I was left with a small scar about an inch and a half long on the right side of my stomach. I remained on an IV throughout my stay in the hospital, which lasted a total of four nights. I was on a fluid diet the first day after surgery, and was moved to a solid diet for the next two days. The IV I had in my arm supplied much needed antibiotics to stave off infection, and a stool softener to lighten the load on the muscles in my abdomen. I was also administered four shots each twenty-four hour period to prevent blood clots in my legs.
After surgery my appetite and bowel movements slowly improved, and I was able to get around on my own even though it was uncomfortable making the transitions. Finally on the fourth day of admission in the hospital I was released. I was prescribed Percocet five milligram tablets for pain, Amoxicillin eight hundred seventy-five milligram for antibiotic, and Docusate one hundred milligram as a stool softener. The medications were to last me two weeks, and I was to return for a checkup with the physician who performed the surgery after one week. All seemed well upon returning home in the upcoming week, until my one week checkup.
As it happens, antibiotics have different classifications based on gram positive and gram negative. Some individuals need gram positive antibiotics while others need gram negative antibiotics. Amoxicillin is a gram positive antibiotic, and my body responds better to gram negative antibiotics. As such, the scar tissue from the surgery had become infected. I had a large bulge over the incision in my stomach, which was jutting out about two inches, and was as large around as a hockey puck. This was very painful, and made it very difficult to make transitions from laying down to getting up and standing, etc. I really could not even stand up straight during this time. After taking my gram negative antibiotic for three days the swelling had almost completely gone away, and the pain was subsiding as well.
The official diagnosis given by my surgeon was acute gangrenous perforated appendicitis. The official name for the surgery performed was open appendectomy with abscess drainage. If you have these symptoms and are unsure what your ailment is, please ask your physician to consider appendicitis. Often, physicians will check for hernias, urinary tract infections, and the like, as the symptoms are similar. The earlier you catch appendicitis the better your chances will be of having it removed before it ruptures, which is very important. For those that have had appendicitis before, we have our scars to remind us everyday of the horrible pain we felt for those few days.