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In the Fall of 2010, I visited my grandparents a few towns over. What was supposed to be a long visit had to be cut short after I became increasingly fatigued, almost lethargic, a little nauseous, and began having sharp stomach
At the time, I was living in Foley with my brother and sister-in-law, so I had quite a long drive home, about 45 minutes. When I was about 10 minutes away from home, my head started to hurt (could have been due to the stomach pain or the fever). My stomach pain was now excruciating. I had to pull over to vomit; I couldn’t even make it home. When I got to my house, I decided to take hot bath, thinking this pain must be cramps of some sort (ovulation, pre-menstruation, or constipation).
“I’m fine,” I told my sister-in-law Jackie who didn’t feel this was something to ignore.
“You don’t look fine,” she told me.
Jackie called my mom, concerned for my well-being and explained to her exactly how I had been feeling. “You need to get her to the hospital,” my mom demanded. I didn’t want to go to hospital but the pain kept worsening as did the exhaustion. I didn’t take my temperature at home but knew it was on the rise.
When I arrived at the hospital, the doctors were unsure about the cause of my symptoms. Because the pain was apparently radiating and I never said my side hurt exclusively, the doctors weren’t sure if it was
Instead of my side hurting, the lower, right part of my abdomen hurt.
What threw them was where my pain was occurring: more towards my pelvis. I would say that from my belly button to the bottom right of my stomach hurt from on and off.
For four hours, they tested me for this and that. I had an MRI, blood tests, a pregnancy tests, all of it. This went on until the wee hours of the morning. I do remember them telling me I was running a fever, but I don’t remember it was high.
My boyfriend (now husband) was not quite in a tizzy, but he was definitely frustrated that he wasn’t there. He wanted to be able to do something to help me.
“I wish I could be there,” he told me over the phone as I lie in the hospital bed. He was on a college trip to Atlanta, GA (5 hours away). “I’ll leave right now if you want me to,” he offered.
“No, you stay. It’ll be fine. I have my mom here. They’ll figure it out. It’s probably nothing or if it something, it’s an appendicitis.” I assured him.
Finally, the doctors concluded that it was, in fact,
“If we don’t operate soon, it could burst, and you could go septic.”
Gulp. ‘I didn’t realize it was that serious,’ I thought
The appendix is a thin tube about four inches long in the upper, right part of the abdomen. For years, doctors have said that the appendix didn’t do anything, but now there are theories that it may help with digestion indirectly as well as assist with the body’s immune system(1). Sometimes this tube becomes inflamed and clogged with stool, pus, or other kinds of foreign matter. This is referred to as an appendicitis. An acute appendicitis can be treated with antibiotics but most doctors opt to remove the infected appendix to prevent the patient from becoming septic or from the appendix from bursting, causing even more harm to the patient(2). The surgery performed to urgently remove the appendix is called an appendectomy. Appendectomies have become so common now that there are rarely any complications from them unless someone has waited too long to get it treated and the appendix bursts or the patient became septic. Of course, if a person has heart or breathing conditions, he or she should always let the hospital or medical staff know right away before a surgery is perform to avoid any issues later.
The doctor explained that early that morning they would be going in laparoscopically to remove the appendix. The surgery was rather quick. Luckily, I was able to leave that same day with orders to “take it easy.”
It was probably a week or two before the tenderness went away. The only reminder of this ailment that I still have is three small incision scars. I do feel that it does make the stomach fat a little more difficult to tighten and disappear, despite exercise and eating healthy, but I cannot be 100% certain about that.
Summary: Do not just blow off getting sick. I’m always tired but feeling as lethargic as I felt was unusual. Vomiting, fever, severe stomachache that doesn’t go away with medicine, lethargy, and (if applicable) headache all together all of a sudden are symptoms that should not be ignored. Go to the hospital or at least the doctor!