My recent unexpected ER adventure

last month
last modified: last month

Last Wed. I got a slight stomach ache after eating a kind of rich lunch, so wasn't surprised. It faded out within a few hours, I had no other complaints, and slept fine that night. Thursday morning I felt back to normal, but around noon I started feeling like I had trapped gas in my stomach. The bloated gassy feeling was more uncomfortable than painful. I went about my day and ate some high fiber foods to help relieve the gas, but still hadn't really passed any by bedtime. So I decided I'd eat oatmeal for breakfast in the morning, which always does the trick for me.

That night I awoke around 3am feeling pretty nauseous. I noticed I didn't feel as bloated or gassy anymore, just nauseous, although I never vomited. By the time I got up (now Fri. morning) the nauseous feeling was gone and I felt back to normal. My sister called on Friday and I mentioned the on and off 'tummy troubles' I'd had. She told me to go to an ER because it sounded just like what happened to her 10 years ago.

She'd suffered a burst appendix before she even realized she had appendicitis. My DS also had waxing and waning discomfort from unexplained trapped gas in stomach, but like me, had no pain in lower right side or fever. It wasn't until later, on the day she felt back to normal, that she suddenly got very, very sick.

So I went to the ER where they triaged me low on the totem pole, because I seemed fine, with no pain or fever. I told them my sister had the same symptoms, but didn't know she had anything serious until she started feeling really ill and went to the ER, only to learn her appendix had ruptured. They looked at me kind of doubtfully and said I might have diverticulitis, which has similar symptoms, but is more common in people over 60 (I'm 65) whereas appendicitis is more common in ages 10 to 30.

They ran bloodwork, which revealed a high white blood cell count, and then an abdominal CT scan. Long story short, I was told I had a ruptured appendix and quickly admitted and hooked up to IV antibiotics. I wasn't shocked, because my sister basically had the same manifestation, and had warned me.

A surgeon came in and told me it was too late to do an emergency appendectomy. But after the area heals, he'll do an appendectomy if I want. It would be an open abdominal incision, as I'm loaded with scar tissue in that area, from a complete hysterectomy a year ago. He said I could go the rest of my life and never get appendicitis again, or it could occur again any time. I thought he'd push for surgery, but he said he feels each option has the same percentage of pros and cons.

The pros for an appendectomy are of course that this could never happen again. The cons are that it would be a longer, more invasive surgery, (with the usual risks those entail) because he'd have to carefully cut away all the scar tissue surrounding the appendix first, before he can remove it. The pros for doing nothing is that I could never have appendicitis again and wouldn't have risked any complication during the surgery or possible side effect after it. The cons are of course that I could get it again some time. I was released on Mon., after my white blood cell count had been normal for 24 hrs. I meet with the surgeon in 3 weeks to discuss and decide which option I'll choose. But I just wanted to post this, to mention that apparently not all cases of appendicitis involve noticeable right sided abdominal tenderness or fever.

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