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!