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Thursday, May 10, 2012

What A Month (part 2)

Day 4, Tuesday

I woke up on Tuesday morning to the sounds of my wife getting the kids ready for school. We (and by that I mean she) had kids to drop off at 0800 and 0900, a doctors appointment (she was 38 weeks pregnant at this time) at 1015, and a kid to pick up at 1120. A busy morning. When she came by the bed I told her that it was time for me to go to the ER. I was fairly certain at this point that I had appendicitis.


Around noon my wife drove me to the ER. I hobbled up to the front desk and signed in. Thankfully the ER was empty and I was on deck to be seen. A couple of minutes later I was sitting at the triage station explaining my plight to the triage nurse. Before I could even finish giving my report (yes, it sounded like I was rattling off a report about one of my patients) another RN had appeared to show me to me "room." While she did offer me a wheelchair I declined. After all, I wasn't that sick. Or so I thought.

Looking back on it I should have known that I was really sick. My heart rate was above 130. I was breathing more than 30 times a minute. I had a high fever when it wasn't being controlled by medication. The only one of my vitals that didn't look bad was my BP and I'm sure that my heart was trucking away trying to keep it that way.

Up to this point I thought I had appendicitis and a flu. I hadn't really considered the chance that I could be septic. At least the ER staff was on it. They immediately drew blood for some tests (I think I gave more than when I donate to the Red Cross). Within minutes the ER MD came by for a chat. He told me that I was indeed very septic. My WBC count was well above 30,000 (above 12,000 is considered septic) and I was extremely dehydrated. While he talked my RN hung a bag of saline and two different IV antibiotics. The doc also said that I was going to be getting a contrast CT of my abdomen to find out if I really had appendicitis.

A few minutes later my RN was back with a container the size of a Super Big Gulp. It was the contrast dye that I had to drink for my CT. That stuff tastes nasty. You'd think that drug manufacturers would take into account things like taste. There's nothing like giving a nauseated patient a liter and a half of horrid tasting fluid to choke down before they can get the tests they need. It took me the better part of an hour to get it all down.

About an hour after the test the ER doc and a surgeon came in to see me. I was told that my appendix had indeed ruptured and it looked like part of my large intestine had as well. They couldn't be sure. So the plan of action was to get me into the OR as soon as it was open and to try to do a laparoscopic appendectomy. Once inside me (that's a weird statement to write) the surgeon would be able to tell if he needed to open me up and perform a bowel resection. Needless to say this really stressed me out.

I asked the surgeon how long each procedure would take. My wife was at home and I didn't want her to show up and have to wait for hours in the waiting room. He said if it was just the appendix it would only take 45 minutes. If I needed the bowel resection it would take more than a couple hours.

After signing all the waivers I waited. I called my wife and talked to her about everything. I told her when I expected to go into surgery and when I hoped to be out.

Around 2015 they came to get me to take me to the surgical suite. I sent off a quick text to my wife letting her know what time I was going in so she would know when to come.

In the surgical prep room I met the anesthesiologist. We chatted a few minutes so he could get to know my medical history. It's strange the things you notice while waiting to go under the knife. I was the only patient there and it was relatively quiet except for music coming from the OR. Once everything was readied for me they wheeled me in. I slid over to the operating table. This one only had my right arm out at a 90 degree angle. My left arm was wrapped in a sheet and tucked in close to my body.

The anesthesiologist put me on the heart monitor, pulse ox and automated BP cuff. Much like I do at work. Have I mentioned that I really don't like being the patient? He then placed an oxygen mask on me and told me to breath deeply. He told me when he was injecting the medication and then.......

....I woke up in the recovery room and the first thing I saw was a clock. It was 2330. It had been several hours since I went in. My heart started to sink as I realized that I must have needed the bowel resection.
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