#GeorgiasAppendixParty14

2 Aug

Spoiler alert: This is really self-indulgent. And long.

Photo by Travis Lee O'Dell. Scarf styled by Yaenette Dixon. Hospital Gown provided by MUSC. One size fits all.

Photo by Travis Lee O’Dell. Scarf styled by Yaenette Dixon. Hospital Gown provided by MUSC. One size fits all.

I have always been paranoid about getting osteoporosis and appendicitis. I think that watching “Madeline” when I was young made me hyperaware of the fact that this thing in your body can act up and really mess you up. The first week or two of July, I had weird sharp, shooting pain in my stomach that would come and go. Pulse check: Hadn’t eaten Taco Bell or Domino’s lately, so I was good. I was convinced I had appendicitis, but didn’t have any of the accompanying symptoms like nausea or fever (I WebMD-ed “appendicitis” of course).

About two weeks after that initial pain, it came back. With a vengeance. I thought I had food poisoning because I drank a glass of milk and then laid out at the beach all day. Thinking it was something I could just shake off, I went to two hours of dance classes. After the second class, I could barely stand up straight. Hunched over the steering wheel of my car, I rushed home and lay down. I called my dad. No answer. Mom. No answer. Sister. No answer. I couldn’t get comfortable. Legs up the wall? Nope. Fetal position? Nope.

I was nauseous and hot, but couldn’t throw up. I texted my friend Patrick “I don’t know what I ate, but my stomach is killing me and I’m dying a thousand small deaths.”

You know when you’re just sitting there on the bathroom floor, leaning your head against the toilet seat because, even though that’s disgusting because your ass was just there, the cool porcelain is the only thing that makes you feel somewhat better? That was me. I also had to minimize the distance between me and a puke-catching device, because once I started, I kept going. I texted my dad “Please call me ASAP, I have serious stomach pain.”

When he called, he suggested I take Zofran or some other prescription anti-nausea medicine. Dad, I love you, but why on earth would I have those just sitting around my house? He said if the pain got too bad, to just go to the hospital.

I texted Patrick again. “Is there any way you can take me to the emergency room?” He was there within three minutes. I grabbed a hot pink Charlotte Russe shopping bag from my bedroom floor, slipped on some flip-flops, and headed out.

The E.R. is about five blocks from my house, and I puked three times on the way there. He took the bag and threw it away for me on the way in. I checked in to the E.R., and we settled into uncomfortable, hard plastic chairs, and waited. The news was on, covering the most recent Malaysian airlines fiasco. For two hours. Finally, I was called back and we were shown to a room. I curled up in a ball at the end of the hospital bed. A nurse or someone came and suggested I scoot up, because I was about to fall off the end. I didn’t really care, but obliged. A warm blanket was thrown over me. And then we waited.

“Should I throw up just to get someone’s attention?” I asked Patrick.

He looked up from his phone—“Yeah, I guess so.”

I tried to make it to the trashcan, I promise.

But didn’t. I leaned over the side of the bed and puked out a bunch of water. I was pretty surprised that I had anything left at that point.

A patient walking down the hall peered into the room and gave me a surprised and confused look and continued on his way.

Like magic, three nurses rushed in, started cleaning up the mess, hooked me up to an IV, gave me fluids, anti-nausea medicine, and pain medicine.

It worked! I lost track of the people who came in and out of the room, poking my stomach, asking me questions. I was handed what looked like a green plastic windsock and told to use that if I felt nauseous again. Patrick and I grabbed a selfie with a nurse for posterity. She was cool, even though she turned my arm into a blood-spurting fire hydrant when she pricked me for the IV.

Cool nurse. Even though she made Ol' Faithful Jr. with my veins.

Cool nurse. Even though she made Ol’ Faithful Jr. with my veins.

A resident came in. He was a total bro. I could just envision him doing keg-stands at crazy Greek-lettered medical honor society parties in his day. He looked up at the T.V. “What are y’all watching?”

We didn’t really know. There was no sound coming from the mounted screen, but apparently some soft-core porn was on at 3 am on FX.

Bro doctor poked my stomach in several different places. They all hurt, but when he got to the right side I couldn’t help it.

“OUCH.”

He stopped. Did some doctorly things.

“I think I have appendicitis,” I told him.

He nodded and said sarcastically “Ok, WebMD,” and made to leave.

“Wait, before you go. Can we take a selfie?”

He obliged.

"We like to have fun in here." -Bro Doctor

“We like to have fun in here.” -Bro Doctor

More people came and went, more medicine was administered, I threw up some more. At some point, a sassy, middle-aged doctor came in and poked my stomach some more. Another nurse came in and handed me a Styrofoam cup of contrast and said to drink it. I was going for a CT scan. The contrast was disgusting and I had to drink three more over the course of an hour. It tasted like what I imagine the inside of those gel ice packs tastes like. After the CT scan, Dr. Sassy came back.

“You have appendicitis.”

“I knew it!” I announced triumphantly, “I was right!”

I was told I had to get surgery, more people came and went, blah blah blah. I drifted in and out of sleep, two of my friends, Yaenette and Julie, showed up around 8 in the morning to relieve Patrick. The three of them kept me company, chased down nurses to get more pain medicine or an estimate on when I’d go in for surgery.

That Friday was awful. I wasn’t allowed to drink anything all day and I was parched. I was still in a lot of pain—it went through the pain medicine. I think J.K. Rowling modeled the Cruciatus Curse after appendicitis. I was wheeled to another room, and Julie sat with me and held my hand while I cried, nervous about surgery, thirsty, tired, and still in pain. Around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, Sean,an overly friendly and mostly incompetent tech, finally wheeled me to surgery. But he just left me in the surgical ward without telling anyone who I was, where my chart was, or any pertinent info. A concerned group of ladies swarmed around me, because at that point, I was sobbing uncontrollably.

In soothing voices, they asked what was wrong, gave me pain medicine, made small talk, and begin anesthetizing me. I drifted off and woke up three hours later, appendix free.

Julie was there when I came to, and I was taken up to a much nicer room, where Yaenette and another friend from Salsa, Lyndsy, were waiting. I was able to drink water. It was the most satisfying glass of water in my life. Friends poured in and out of the hospital room all night, much to the chagrin of John, my incompetent and addlepated night nurse. I was still in a lot of pain and could barely move. To go to the bathroom, the IV had to be unplugged from the wall and what I dubbed my stylish legwarmers (things on my leg to keep circulation going), had to be unplugged from the bed. Someone had to take my hands and winch me out of the bed and help me drag the IV into the bathroom. It was quite a production.

Julie and Yaenette being awesome. I just got out of surgery. Hence the stank face.

Julie and Yaenette being awesome. I just got out of surgery. Hence the stank face.

Following the surgery, I was overwhelmed by how many people sent me well wishes via text message or Facebook, and how many people came to visit me in the hospital and at home after I was discharged.

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I couldn’t believe that Patrick stayed two nights in the hospital with me. That Julie sat with me all day on Friday, from early in the morning until after the surgery, holding my hand and hugging me while I cried. That Yaenette was there first thing in the morning both Friday and Saturday, and brought breakfast the morning after the surgery and stayed until she had to go to work. That another dear friend Travis stayed Friday night in the hospital, and then stayed with me Saturday night at home, helping me on Sunday to eat, shower, and not have to be alone. That other friends, Selene, Enrique, Corrigan, Mario, Dan, Dimitri, and Prakash, came to visit me in the hospital, bearing gifts, hugs, and well-wishes. When I got home from the hospital, my roommate had set up my room with flowers, a husband pillow, light-blocking curtains, movies, books, and food in the refrigerator. My friend Rebekah came Sunday night to spend the night, and her dad cooked us dinner while we watched “Star Trek” and online shopped. I couldn’t believe the people who came to my house after to visit and bring food, drinks, or just a few hours of company: Becky, Rachel, Dusty, Robbi, and Erica. My mom came the Monday of that week and stayed until Saturday, dropping everything in Alabama to help me. She was amazing—administering meds, feeding me, doing laundry, and just hanging out. I cried when she left on Saturday. All of my clients were amazing, letting me take the week off and not worry about work. One of my yoga clients, Gretchen, sent me a sweet note in the mail, and other clients sent me kind emails and Facebook messages.

Flowers from Mom.

Flowers from Mom.

I couldn’t make it out dancing after the surgery, and my friend Priscilla took a video of a song that Gino and the boys dedicated to me while Yaenette Facetimed me in.

I always say that I have the best friends and family in the world, and #GeorgiasAppendixParty14 proved it. I can’t ever say “Thank You” enough to everyone who took such good care of me. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude by the amount of unconditional love that my friends and family gave me. I’m still recovering—it’s a longer and slower process than I had imagined and it’s humbling. I’m learning to say “no” to certain things and to pace myself.

Hospital AM selfie with Patrick. When the attending wakes you up at 6 am, you have no choice but to grin and bear it.

Hospital AM selfie with Patrick. When the attending wakes you up at 6 am, you have no choice but to grin and bear it.

And if you stuck with this very long post until the end, thank you.

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2 Responses to “#GeorgiasAppendixParty14”

  1. Tyler Lahti August 2, 2014 at 5:12 pm #

    What a mess! Glad you’re okay.

    • gschrubbe August 9, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

      Thanks Tyler! Getting there… 🙂

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