I Got a Ruptured Appendix for Christmas

I walked into my doctor’s office on December 28th expecting to leave with a prescription for some magical potion that would cure my nausea and the cramping in my abdomen. Instead, the doctor urged me to head to the Emergency Room, fearing my symptoms were connected to appendicitis and not the stomach virus I’d assumed. Yikes. My brother, who I’m now convinced is an angel on earth, calmly drove me to the ER. As much as I wanted to freak out about my first time in the Emergency Room, his tranquility passed on to me. Maybe this isn’t so bad, I thought, as they took my vitals and later led me to a room. My white coat syndrome seemed to disappear for a moment. I find that ironic considering this was the most serious encounter I’ve had with white coats.

Various providers stopped by my bedside, some emphasized the predicted appendicitis while one Physician Assistant assumed my cramping was from a UTI. To be honest, I’ve never wished for a UTI more than in that moment. In my head, a few days of antibiotics sounded a lot better than an appendectomy. It wasn’t my lucky day afterall. After running a CT scan, the PA returned with news that made my heart sink to the bottom of my stomach. “I can’t believe you look this good. Your appendix already ruptured. We’re going to transport you,” she said.  

The shocking part of all of this is that I wasn’t bent over in pain as everyone would assume. I was weak, yes, but I assumed 48 hours of no food did that to me. After spending Christmas morning bent over a toilet and without an appetite, all I wanted to do was lay in bed. My mom was in a different state and could sense something was seriously wrong. I, on the other hand, figured I had an unlucky mix of menstrual cramps and a stomach virus.

I’ve chosen not to dwell on what could have been had I gone to the doctor’s earlier. I could’ve ended up with a different surgeon, at a different hospital, with a completely different outcome. I’m blessed to now be on the other side of this treacherous mountain we climbed all January.

 

The point of me sharing something so personal is because I want to spread the word about appendicitis — I went from 100 to 0 and didn’t see it coming, A Google search of the symptoms will tell you: pain in the right lower abdomen, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, and poor appetite. For the first time ever, I didn’t google my symptoms while I had them. Appendicitis was the last thing on my mind. My “ride it out” mentality turned into a nightmare I wouldn’t wish on anyone else.

The cause of it all is still unclear. Since appendicitis was so far from my mind, I wanted to write this to shed some light on what it feels like and just how serious it can be. My situation probably wasn’t a textbook case but I still feel like sharing my story can help someone. While I wasn’t bent over in pain, I felt extremely weak, had no appetite, and felt cramping in my stomach that eased up when I laid on my side. I was walking fine and could get up and down the stairs fine. My biggest warning sign was the nausea and excessive vomiting - it lasted one morning and the cramps came a little over 24 hours later.

It sucks that menstrual cramps can be confused with such a terrible diagnosis. You rather be safe than sorry though, so, if you feel pain in your abdomen that makes you second guess, get medical attention immediately and save yourself the hour in the OR and 17 nights in the hospital. It’s also super super important that you avoid food, drink and any medicine once you suspect the symptoms are associated with your appendix. 

 

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