Friday, May 20, 2011

Going Above and Beyond (shout out to myself!)

***Please note that this post was written in the middle of the night, after surgery, on a pain med drip--It's also a little long***

Just a tour? Who settles for just a tour of a hospital when you can get a taste of the real thing? Not this supportive husband. If you recall, about a month ago, Meghan and I visited a couple of the hospitals in our area in hopes of making a more informed decision as to which hospital we were going to entrust with the delivery of our girls.  We met with nurses, asked a ton of questions (ok, I asked a ton of questions), we took tours of the NICU, checked out the recovery rooms, etc.

Something was missing though, as we just weren't able to definitively choose which hospital we liked the most.  I couldn't exactly put my finger on it though.  So, my body, fully aware of our internal dilemma, decided that, in the best interest of choosing at which hospital Meg was going to deliver, it would donate one of my organs to the cause as a way of providing entry for a first-hand experience.  The organ de choix--my appendix.

(Rare photo of me taken with the webcam)

It all began when I noticed a pain in my stomach on Wednesday night, unlike any pain that I had felt before.  I've definitely felt worse stomach pains.  I was just having a difficult time locating the source of the pain, even though I could feel the pain centered right over my bellybutton. I was hoping that a good night's sleep would cure the problem, but I ended up waking up several times throughout the night with more severe pains, mixed in with what felt like bouts of fever.  When I woke up in the morning, the pain had diminished a little bit, but I also noticed that it had migrated from the center of my belly to the lower right quadrant of my abdomen.  At that point, the pain was coming and going in waves.  It's really hard to describe it though, but I'll try.  Basically, it didn't feel like an upset stomach or when your stomach cramps up.  It also didn't feel like sore ab muscles, like you feel two days after doing crunches when you haven't worked your abs in a long time.  It felt like the pain was locked somewhere in between my stomach and ab muscles.  Though I did try to "stretch it out" to no avail, just in case I had inadvertently used my ab muscles while I had been on the computer at work.  Like I said, it was a strange feeling. 

I never actually got sick though, which was great, because any sort of movement was definitely providing an opportunity for the pain to remind me that it was still there.  The convulsions involved in vomiting would have definitely put me over the edge.

Because I wasn't displaying any of the really serious symptoms of appendicitis, I almost wrote the pain off to constipation, or some other bowel-related issue.  To be sure though, I called a couple of friends who are now sans appendix and, of course, my mother who has been an RN for almost three decades.  I compared notes with everyone, as well as to what I was reading on WebMD and decided it was better to be safe than sorry if it really was my appendix.

When I checked into the ER, I actually got a little embarrassed.  At one point, the doctor asked me to rate my pain on a scale from 0-10, with 10 being the worst pain possible.  Honestly, at the time he asked me, it was 0 and that's what I told him.  I started to think that I had over-reacted to what would probably end up being gas.  Well, that was about five seconds before he pushed down on my abdomen, where the pain immediately jumped to a 8 or 9.

After that, the next stop was to get a CT scan.  Upon entering the room, the nurse said that we'll start with Option #1 (as if it were realy an option), then the radiologist would determine whether or not we'd need Option #2.  Like any curious patient, I asked the obvious question, "What are Options #1 and #2?"  To which I received the answer, "Let's just start with Option #1 before we WORRY about Option #2."  It wasn't really a satisfactory answer to me at the time, but now I understand why she explained it that way.  After raising my arms above my head and moving in and out of the CT scan a few times, the radiologist called down and said that he could see what he needed to and that Option #2 was off the table.  So, the nurse finally explained that if doing a basic CT scan didn't provide a good enough view of my appendix, they would have needed to perform a RECTAL CONTRAST, thus why they kept it the "secret" Option #2.  Radiology nurses, thank you for that by the way.  No need to worry an already sick patient.

(How they remove the appendix)

After confirming that I did, indeed, need an appendectomy, they were actually able to squeeze my surgery in within the hour.  I'm not going to lie, I did get pretty nervous when they started to wheel me back to the OR.  The worst thing I've ever been to the hospital for was a fractured wrist.  I've only ever been knocked out once, and that was when I had my wisdom teeth removed.  But I've never had a tube down my throat or a catheter before now (speaking of catheters, I didn't know they had used one until the first time I tried to use the restroom in the middle of the night).  If you've ever had a catheter, you know what I'm talking about.

Since I slept for most of the evening yesterday, I woke up around 3:00am this morning.  I won't bore you with all of the details of how nice my room is, but there are two pieces of equipment which I wasn't aware of before I arrived, but make complete sense and make me want to thank the thousands of patients before me who probably created the need for these tools so that I didn't have to suffer.

Do you know how easy it is for abdominal surgery patients to get pneumonia?  I didn't.  Apparently, most post-abdominal-surgery patients fail to breath deep enough which cause the farthest reaches of the lungs to be under-ventilated and, eventually, collapse.  So, I have to take 10 deep breaths per hour out of this device, below, to keep from getting pneumonia.

Also, it's very easy for any surgical patient to get blood clots in their legs from lying still for too long.  Now, they have what look like equivalents to blood pressure cuffs that alternate their inflating and deflating to ensure that the blood keeps flowing through your legs. It felt a little strange at first, but then it was almost like someone was gently massaging my calves for hours on end.

Well, I'm hoping to get released today, but for now, I'm still hooked up through this IV,

which is feeding me fluids, antibiotics, and the occasional pain med.  I have to take it with me everywhere.  Everywhere consists of two places right now--the restroom and the entire recovery room floor.  They're encouraging me to get up and walk around as much as possible to help get my digestive track moving again.  If anyone has ever seen Something's Gotta Give, and you remember the scene when Jack Nicholson is in the hospital, you'll get the next reference.  I was walking around the floor with my IV stand and one of the nurses came up behind me and asked if I wanted a second gown to help cover up.  Lord, I hope she thought I just looked cold or something, because I know I didn't tie the back of my gown.  I can't reach back there!

I'll go ahead and wrap this up by saying that I think we found our hospital.  The experience here has been great and the nurses here have been wonderful.  All in all, I think I could've done without the catheter experience, but for a guy that likes to get his hands dirty and get into the mix, there was no better way to assure myself that delivering our babies at Edward Hospital will provide the right experience for us!

Lastly, I want to give a shout out to all of my nurses - Kathy, LaShonda, Rose, and Majen.  Thanks for taking such good care of me ladies.


  1. OMG...I got on to show a friend at work the last sono of the babies and saw this. Unbelievable. I am so glad that you had good nurses and good care. Despite what some may say is minor surgery, any surgery requires time to recuperate. Remember to take it easy.

    Jo Anne

  2. See? It DID make for a great post! Glad you had a good experience and are on the road to recovery!

  3. - Ami, how bad is it that on my way to the ER, I was already thinking about how to incorporate the experience into the blog? I have to say that I've never kept any sort of journal/diary before. Blogging is freakin' awesome and it's such a great way to both remember details from so many times in your life that you might easily forgot and be able to share what's going on in your life with so many of your friends and family all at one time. I definitely don't think I ever would've started one had I not found yours.

    - Jo Anne, it's definitely more than minor surgery. Actually, I think the surgery part was probably minor, but the recovery, well, not so much. At least not at this point.

  4. Yeah! I have a computer again. :) Honey, I'm sorry you're there all by yourself. I hope you feel better soon. I love you!