I’ve been told there is a slight chance that I could possibly, maybe, remotely be stubborn. I really don’t think I am. But, maybe that’s me being stubborn.
So, a few days ago, when I started getting a pain in my right side, I didn’t think too much about it. It’s just gas. Or I pulled a muscle at the gym. (Stop laughing, I do go to the gym occasionally). It’s my diverticulitis flaring up. Or — worst case scenario — I have another dreaded kidney stone. You may be beginning to realize that I’m 1.) a lot of fun at parties or 2.) getting old. Or both.
That was Monday night. Waking up Tuesday I expected the pain to be either gone or certainly less severe. It wasn’t. I went about my normal routine because, well, I guess I’m stubborn. By the end of my work day, around 5:00, I had pretty well decided that this pain was going to have to be checked out. I wasn’t happy about it. That meant no taking my daughter to karate class and no working out for me. Both things I enjoy doing.
So, begrudgingly, I headed to Quincy Medical Group’s walk-in clinic. There was a long wait — over an hour. The whole time I’m thinking I’ll go in, be told it’s nothing major, and be on my merry way. When I get called in, the nurse was friendly, and asked me what was going on. I described the pain as a steady dull ache, kind of a burning, that gets more intense with a cough or a sneeze. She asked a few more questions that led me to believe she was thinking kidney stones. When I asked her if that’s what she thought, she politely and with a smile said “I’m thinking I’m asking you the questions I need to ask you.” Well played.
Finally the doctor comes in. By now it’s pushing 7:00 and almost time for the walk-in clinic to close. He examines me and doesn’t hesitate. “Here is the dilemma,” he told me. “The pain is on your right side. I’m not comfortable sending you home for 12 hours just in case it’s your appendix.” He placed the probability of it being my appendix as low. “Twenty percent,” he told me. I needed a CT scan and at that hour it couldn’t be done at QMG, so he called Blessing Hospital’s ER to give them a heads-up that I was on my way. I get in my car and make the short trip to Blessing.
It’s a Tuesday night in April in a sleepy river town, so naturally the ER is packed when I get there. This was already a long day. Little did I know how long of a night it was going to be.
The ER staff was great, apologetic for the wait times, and worked with me to get things moving. On such a busy night they got me triaged and blood work done in between trips back to the waiting room while they worked on other patients. I managed to get three episodes of The Big Bang Theory watched on the ER waiting room TV. By the way, here’s a Big Bang spoiler, Sheldon is a bit neurotic and has OCD.
Finally, a little after 9:00 I get called back to a room in the ER. I’m checked out by a nurse (not that way), then another. The doctor comes in and orders the CT scan. So about an hour later I get that done. By now, as I’m talking with some nurses, the blood work has all come back good. We’re all thinking kidney stones as we casually watch the Cardinal game on TV. Then the doctor comes in to interrupt the party. “It’s appendicitis,” he said bluntly. “You’ll be going to surgery as soon as we get a surgeon lined up.” That meant surgery in an hour, or surgery first thing in the morning.
Soon they give me the news that surgery will be early in the morning. Naively, I asked if that meant I was going home and coming back in the morning. “Oh, no. You’re going to a room as soon as a bed gets lined up.”
Back to the waiting. And the mind starts to kind of take it all in. Appendicitis, if untreated, can be bad. Like, really bad. Like dirt nap bad. This was one time I’m glad I didn’t take my stubbornness to extremes.
It was about 2:30 a.m. before I got to my regular room. After answering more questions and getting settled in it was 3:30 before I finally was able to get some sleep. I was up two hours later for surgery. Things went well, I am very sore. Modern medicine is amazing, the surgery is laparoscopic and recovery is much quicker now than it was 20 years ago. I was actually released from the hospital late Wednesday night, just about 15 hours after surgery.
Soon things will be back to normal. In the meantime, I implore my friends and family to be as stubborn as you want, but not when it comes to your health.