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18. August 2011 11:32
by Jobo
0 Comments

Summertime... War Stories

18. August 2011 11:32 by Jobo | 0 Comments

I've gotten behind on the blogging!  Things on the home front had gotten a little bit out of hand for a while...

On July 30, I awoke through the night with awful "gas" pains.  Or so I thought they were just gas, food poisoning, indigestion, or something.  Being pregnant has been a very new experience for me, and I'm never quite sure what to expect at any particular time.  The pain was horrible, all over my abdomen, and relentless.  I hyperventilated, I threw up, and mostly just cried and moaned a lot.  By early morning, I had to wake up Mark, because something  just wasn't "right".  None of the medications I knew I could try helped, a warm bath didn't help, food didn't stay down.  I was starting to worry that something was wrong with the baby... so we went in to the hospital.

I'm sure all Emergency Departments are like this... you go in, and usually you wait for hours and hours, and don't always leave feeling satisfied.  They were great to me however, checked on the baby immediately with fetal monitoring and such, and ran a barrage of tests and offered doses of every-preggos-favorite Tylenol.  Our first clue that something was up - the Bloodwork came back showing a slight sign of infection.  My white blood cell count was at the high end of normal, not even very high.  The ER doc was being cautious though, and had concerns that this might be a sign of a kidney infection or something else.  He ordered an Ultrasound of my kidneys, appendix, and a few other areas.  The radiologist on call read the results, and felt that the appendix looked "suspicious".

Seriously?  "Suspicious"?  At this point I was starting to get worried.... I was almost 20 weeks pregnant.  They don't do surgeries on pregnant ladies... do they?

Well, the answer might surprise you... YES - they will (quickly and efficiently) remove your appendix while you are pregnant.  It's a medical emergency, requiring decisive action to get that sucker out before it ruptures.  A ruptured appendix would have been very risky for both me and the baby.  In fact, often 2nd trimester appendicitis are actually missed or misdiagnosed as a milder pregnancy complication... especially since growing a baby pushes around internal organs and makes the presentation atypical.

So there we were, sitting in an exam room in the ED... the surgeon comes in and confidently declares that he is able and willing to remove my appendix then and there.  Sign the papers, let's book that OR right now.  My husband and I were both very concerned of the effects of surgery and anesthesia on our unborn child, but he was reassuring that it was a risk, yes, but much less risky than waiting and having the appendix rupture.  Mortality goes up significantly for both mom and child if the darn thing ruptures - I am glad I did not read much about this until well after the procedure was over and I was home recovering.  There really wasn't a choice... we opted to go ahead with the surgery.

I was pretty nervous... I had never needed stitches, broken a bone, required general anesthesia, stayed overnight in the hospital... nothing.  I'm quite healthy.  I was terrified of surgery, and even more terrified that something might happen to the baby.  I tend to be a little bit of an anxious person.  That particular moment was no exception.  I was very glad to have Mark, and my Mom and Dad there to help me get through that part.  Alone, I might have fallen completely apart.

The surgery was pretty uneventful - just the way you want.  They did the procedure laparoscopically, which basically means they just made a few small incisions, and used instruments to do the operation under the skin.  I had 3 cuts, one below the bellybutton, one above it, and one off to the side almost to the hip.  I was "under" for nearly 45 minutes, then in recovery room for about an hour.  Things went smoothly.  I was ok, Baby was ok. 

Next, Recovery.  I spent 3 days on a surgical ward... pulling myself back together.  The Surgical pain sucked, but was nowhere as intense or as worrisome as the Appendicitis pain had been.  At least this pain made sense - it hurt in specific places, for specific reasons.  What a sense of relief to know why I was hurting, and that it would eventually subside and heal.  The previous moments held no such comforts.  Nurses from labor and delivery came up to check on the baby several times a day via fetal heart rate monitoring, and even portable ultrasounds.  It was reassuring to have regular reminders that the little jellybean was still flipping, squirming and growing.

When I finally got home, I was still pretty weak, and really not able to do anything around the house.  I couldn't knit, I couldn't pay attention to things.  The painkillers gave me unpleasant feelings of irritability and drowsy confusion.  I took only the minimum doses, but the pain was still fairly intense, so as much as I hated to - I still needed something.  Within a few days though, Tylenol was enough to dull the aches.  The surgical wounds were healing up, and the staples holding me together were itching.  After 8 days, I couldn't stand them anymore and I had them out.

So, how do I feel now?  I'm obviously better than I was.  It's been almost 3 weeks since the surgery.  I'm moving better, though slow compared to the normal.  I came back to work last week, mostly out of desperation and boredom.  With this kind of operation, I am not able to lift anything heavy or do any strenuous activity for 4 - 6 weeks, so the house looks like a bomb hit it and I'm running out of patience in general.  It's like I slept through 2 weeks of my life.  The world just stopped turning for that period of time.

Recovery is a lonely process.  People can visit, and loved ones can help, but at the end of the day it's a struggle between you and your own body - it's healing as fast as it can, and you have to try and foster things along without rushing it or pushing too hard.  It's a delicate balance, often filled with frustration and impatience.  I will admit that I am not the most patient person, even less so a "patient" patient.

So that's what I've been up to!

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