Emergency Appendectomy: Because this is how we roll in our first week postpartum

If anyone had told me that I would be getting a second abdominal surgery within about a week of my C-section I would have laughed out loud and said that isn’t possible.

I am writing this post with a hope that it may prevent somebody else enduring the suffering I did and identifying the symptoms of acute appendicitis much earlier than occurred in my case.

As for me, I have now learned the true meaning of physical pain. It is an ugly beast that I would not wish on anybody. Holy dinosaurs.

The nausea began last week but I assumed it was just a function of having a very large uterus still filling my abdominal cavity and the recovery from my cesarean. I blamed the sudden diarhea and spectacular flatulence on this, too. Oh the things no one tells you about c-section recovery, I thought.

The right-side abdominal pain started on Sunday. I also noticed I had a fever for the first time that day. The trouble is that as soon as I took the Volteran that my OB had prescribed for pain following the cesarean, the abdominal pain was reduced and my fever basically disappeared.

Monday morning I enjoyed a brief respite. By the afternoon however I was having stabbing pains on my right side and general pain throughout my abdomen. I convinced myself these were gas pains which I had been warned about being possible during cesarean recovery. My temperature was elevated again. I took more Voltaren and things were manageable albeit uncomfortable. I cursed the abdominal gas pain gods.

By Tuesday morning I imagined that how I felt was akin to having been stampeded by a herd of buffalo. I did not feel well enough to drive the MT to child care. I felt compelled to draft a file transfer memo on a sensitive matter. Once I finished that I think down in bed with my beloved heating pad. Then I googled appendicitis.

Things went from bad to awful and worse in under an hour. I contacted family until I found some – my Dad and his spouse – who could drop what they were doing and take me, the MT and Azulito to Emergency. I had hoped to avoid an ambulance because I thought that would probably freak out the MT.

I cannot say enough kind words about all of the help, generosity, thoughtfulness and quality care that not only I received but that my little boys received. The nurses were stellar. I plan to write a note thanking them and having something delivered to the ER team when I get home. So lovely.

The journey to a diagnosis took time and, this being an inner-city hospital, the general surgery department is subject to countless scheduling challenges and changes in priority. My case was no exception.

At midnight last night we were told that they were bumping the day’s first surgery with mine as I was high risk for perforation. We were also told I could also get bumped if more urgent surgeries arose in the intervening 8 hours.

Of course that is what happened.

By the time the Porter came to take me to take me to the OR, I felt like death. The LP later said I was so pale and drawn, I looked as though I had aged to 70+ years. He was scared. 

By that time, I was scared too.  I was afraid the devil appendix had ruptured and I was afraid my reaction to general anaesthetic  this time could be bad. The narcotics I’d been given for pain every 3 hours and the Zo.fran for nausea had stopped working and the stabbing pain had increased to the point where I was struggling to stay conscious. I kept a cold cloth on my face to keep me from passing out and as some small comfort from the endless pain and intense nausea. 

I waited in the OR “loading bay” for what seemed an eternity (in reality 90 minutes), met with the general surgeon, anesthesiologist and various nurses.  I could barely speak and had to repeat myself a fair bit when answering their questions as my voice was weak and my breathing shallow (hence them having had me on oxygen since early this morning). 

After surgery, I was sore but not like before.  I felt like a new person.  The LP said I looked like a different person when the Porter wheeled me back to my room. 

I am off the narcotics and thrilled to be nursing the little bean. He has been quite the celebrity both in the ER and on the general surgery ward to which I was admitted last night.  Both kids were total champs and I am so relieved to have Azulito with me overnight and the MT sleeping soundly at a friend’s place. 

Of course what was wrong with my appendix was not amenable to treatment with antibiotics alone and required surgery. The little devil was quite inflamed and enlarged. It also had a “stone” in it.  Lucky me!

If you or anyone you know experience symptoms like the ones I’ve described please go get checked and don’t assume as I did that they were attributable to pregnancy or delivery after-effects. Mind you, each of the surgeons told me that having acute appendicitis a week after delivery is quite rare. It is much more common for women to develop appendicitis while pregnant. 

Go figure. I was on the wrong side of the odds again.  Lucky me.  Not that having appendicitis during pregnancy would be a treat.  Especially if it meant you didn’t recognize the symptoms for several days as happened in my case.  As I said, I wouldn’t wish my experience on anyone and hope this may alert others that this can happen and what to look for. 

It occurred to me tonight that Azulito has spent as many days in this hospital as he has at home.  Bad luck. The LP and I could do without any more luck like this!


44 thoughts on “Emergency Appendectomy: Because this is how we roll in our first week postpartum

  1. I am beyond relived that you are now on the road to recovery. I truly hope that this is your LAST medical emergency for a good long while, because my god, no-one deserves to endure what you have gone through in the last many months!! Sending you love and hoping you get home quickly from the hospital so that you can spend all your time snuggling your little ones!

  2. Say what? My oh my! You are getting dealt quite the hand here my friend. I can totally see how the post-op recovery masked the symptoms. Hope you are on the road to recovery. Sending lots of healing light your way.

  3. What?! That is just awful. I am glad you are now on the other side. Still cant believe after all you have been through (buffalos not withstanding) that you can use the word “lovely” to describe the staff. Must mean they were really amazing! WOW. I wish you the speediest of recoveries with no laughter or sneezing while using the loo. No one told me but by placing a pillow on your c-section site when standing from sitting helps immensely in those first few weeks… might help even more with double the abdominal love you have received.

    • Thank you. Yes the pillow trick helps. Of course I caught a cold the week before babe’s birth and although short lived on other symptoms it left me with a soggy persistent cough that I have resented every day of my recovery and even more so these past few days!

      They really were amazing. Above and beyond.

    • Good idea. If ever the madness ends maybe I can start writing that! Yeah the Google thing was based on my gut saying loud and clear “you have appendicitis” despite my rational brain saying “that’s crazy talk!”

  4. What you have experienced in the last many months is nothing short of a crazy roller coaster ride that never ended. I am so sorry my friend. I hope that this is the last crazy thing that you would experience. It’s time for some calm, quiet, and sanity in your life. Love to you, friend. ❤

  5. Oh lord. I am sorry to hear about your ordeal. And by ordeal I mean the medical emergency! I’m glad you (being the smarty pants that you are) realized that your symptoms were not congruent with a c-section recovery, and sought help. I agree that the signs and symptoms of your appendicitis would be hard to tease away from what’s typical for a crappy section recovery though. I’m just glad that you’re okay, the kids are okay, and that you’re in recovery now. What’s another major abdominal surgery after a c-section anyways right? Lol. Get well soon my friend.

    • Thank you. Just saw the Dr. I am apparently “pretty sick” and had a “very messy appendix”. Nothing like a brush with death to make a person mindful of our good fortunes especially those we love. Phew! Thanks so much for your good wishes.

  6. Oh. My. God. First of all, I must have some sort of psychic connection to you, since something was clearly urging me to send you that email to check on you yesterday. Bizarre. Second of all, WHAT THE HELL?! Seriously, what the hell!? I cannot believe this. I am so sorry you had to go through all of this! It sounds terrifying and painful. The “good” news is that if things really do come in threes you’re set. You’ve now just had the third operation in your family. Holy moly. I’m so glad all of the staff was great with MT and Baby A. Sending hugs and healing thoughts to you. The Universe can back off now. Just leave her alone, Universe. Step away slowly.

    • Thank you. Turns out my feeling like death was not so far off. It had perforated and leaked toxic waste into my abdomen. My WBC was bananas. They’re keeping me in hospital hopefully only until tomorrow but could be Saturday or Sunday. Ugh!

  7. Wow… just wow ! Is this what that awful pain was during the latter part of your pregnancy? I am so glad that you are okay. Wow that is a lot to deal with given the LP just had surgery and you just gave birth. Praying for a speedy recovery and glad they caught it before it ruptured.

  8. Are you kidding? Girl, your luck is something else! You seem in good spirits and like you’re feeling much better. I hope you finally get a break to just enjoy that little miracle!

    • My spirits have become awash in tears. The appendix had perforated and leaked pus and toxic fluid into my abdomen (I got the doctor code talk for “you could have died” during rounds this AM) and my WBC count was ridiculous apparently so I’m stuck in hospital AND not allowed to breastfeed again now. That brought out the waterworks. I am thankfully enjoying the little miracle. He has been a shining light through all of this.

      • Oh no! I’m so sorry! This is terrible news. Sending you big love for quick recovery and healing. A friend of mine also had his appendix perforated so I’m probably over zealous about checking pain in my right quadrant, but it was so rough for him and I’m sure it is for you too.

        • Yes. I will be in people’s faces from now on if I know anyone with similar symptoms. Such a serious thing, of course it can be life threatening and apparently if you catch it before it actually is perforated the pain and healing are very different. Thank you so so much for the love and good wishes Andie.

  9. HOLY SHIT!!! I don’t believe it. I just DO NOT believe it. How could this be??? Come on, Universe! Give this girl a break already. It’s just incredible. Unbelievable. Shock doesn’t begin to describe it.

    Unfortunately, I am short on time at the moment but want to say more… I’ll email you!

    • It just got better. The devil appendix was perforated (meaning it had burst) and got fluid and pus everywhere. My WBC count was crazy high so they are keeping me at least one, possibly 2 or 3 more days. No wonder I felt as though I had been poisoned. Oh and I can’t breastfeed. There have been tears. I don’t think I can take much more. I just want to get well, go home and have a normal life!

    • Apparently the chances after delivery are very low. Higher during pregnancy. The little devil had ruptured too. My WBC count is bad (very high) so they’re keeping me and said I can’t breastfeed right now. I’m currently throwing myself a little pity party. No food though – haven’t eaten solids since Tuesday morning – so not much of a party really. 😉

      • 🙂 Hey no one can judge what we call a party! Hahaha.. Just keep pumping and dumping. Hopefully sooner than later you will be feeling more the thing! It just never ends with us Infertiles does it? Remember, snuggles make everything better. Thinking of you and fam and knowing that sunny days are here to stay!

  10. OMG r u serious.. Please I pray that this is the last of this … Have you not dealt with enough. Sending you and the family positive thoughts and a quick recovery.. Update!! We picked our donor.. The crazy insane roller coaster ride will begin soon.. Then u wonder am I crazy to do this all over again.. Yup I am. Lol.. Have a good one!

  11. I’m so glad you’re okay. How scary. It’s time for the universe to give you a break, now so you can all settle into your new routine with your new little one. (I actually had a friend develop appendicitis a few weeks after giving birth–she hadn’t had a c-section, but it still took her a while to realize that the pain wasn’t birth related.)

    • Thank you. Wow, I can relate to your friend’s confusion. Several nurses while I was in for the burst appendix commented that this probably wouldn’t happen to men but as women we are so accustomed to sucking it up and looking for reasons we feel awful. Lesson learned – I will not ignore my body in future (I hope).

      You must be getting excited (stressed) with the little girl’s arrival so close (by which I don’t mean this week!).

  12. My girlfriend had her appendix removed about 3 months after a c section. It has been about 6 weeks since her appendix removal and she claims every time she gets horny if I try even talking sexual that it causes extreme pain for her. Does this sound about right and possible?

  13. Oh no! Really to me, anything like this is terrible. I just had an appendectomy 6w postpartum and I am shot. I am not allowed to lift more than 5lbs and go figure, my son weighs 12lbs. I am shattered that i cannot cuddle with him or even breastfeed him other than lying in bed on my side. We are now pretty much confined to the bedroom. We can’t go for nice walks like we started doing last week. And because I did not want him in the hospital’s emergency rooms and only saw him once a day at the hospital, my milk production went down. I try not to pick him up but it’s close to impossible.

    Tell me, were you allowed to pick up your baby? How quickly did you recover and did your abdominal muscles ever heal after the trauma of the pregnancy and the appendectomy?

    Very unfortunate that this happened to you so soon but I’m glad I found someone who talks about it! I felt pretty much the same way you did before the diagnosis.

    Thank you for sharing!

    • I was allowed to pick up my baby. I did heal. Was your appendectomy laparoscopic? If so you should be fine holding your son. They don’t cut the abdominal muscles in any significant way for laparoscopy. Your milk would have gone down anyway as you can’t nurse or pump and save/use while on narcotics. And I don’t know who’d survive that procedure without narcotics for recovery!!

      I did recover but it was long and slow with setbacks. I really only felt myself about 18 months later but that had as much to do with all the steroids and other drugs I had to take to keep baby in and my immune system at bay until he was born. Wishing you all the luck and en

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