Emergency Surgery… Surprise!

For those of you who know me in real life, you might have noticed that I haven’t been feeling very well lately. Inability to sleep, sore back, general feeling of icky-ness pervading, and losing the thread a lot.

I didn’t think too much about it; it’s a stressful time at work, I was pushing to finish another massive revision on my current WIP,had another novel in edits, and an essay forthcoming. I had every right to be overstimulated and underslept.

But more and more I couldn’t hold my liqour, and eating made me nauseous, and I couldn’t sleep. I was taking sleeping pills but they weren’t really working. My lower back was sore – but I sit and type a lot, again, so nothing new. I just booked massage appointments and hoped they would help.

Thursday morning, when I woke, I had vague lower abdomen pain. I thought it was just menstrual cramps, popped some pills, and went to work. The pain moved to the rightish of my bellybutton around mid afternoon, but as that’s where I normally get cramps, I didn’t give it too much thought.

I went for a long walk after work, which helped a lot, then went to the NaNoWriMo kickoff party with about 100 people at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Shared a bottle of wine with a friend, had a nice night, and forgot the pain.

When I came home I had a soothing bath and tried to get to sleep at around 10pm. Pain came back with a vengeance. I looked up appendicitis and decided I better call telehealth (a phone-in medical service here in Ontario) to get their opinion. They talked to me for about twenty minutes, asked a lot of questions, then very calmly told me to hang up and call a cab and get to the nearest emergency room NOW.

I called Mom and Dad to give them the heads up, and went. I was processed at around midnight and admitted around 1:30. By then the pain was so intense that I had to keep pacing to keep it at bay.

Around 3:30am a doctor finally saw me. He poked and prodded and generally made me flail and scream on the cot, and called out to the nurse: “Why is this lady not on morphine yet? Now please!”

So, they hooked me up to IV and morphine and took testing fluids. By then the pain was so bad that I was grunting and trying not to cry. They said it was probably a kidney stone, so they would keep me until the morning and try to get it flushed out. (I realize in retrospect that they don’t put you on morphine and confine you to a bed for a kidney stone, so they must have been trying to keep me calm).

I woke around 6am, and they had a different doc and a med student look me over. I wasn’t hungry at all.  I was reeeeeeally out of it.

I called Dad to let him know I was still in the hospital (Mom was sleeping still, so I didn’t wake her, but I knew Dad was at work), and told him I would keep him appraised. They gave me some ice chips and morphine again, and I slept until 10am or so.

They woke me to take me for an ultrasound. The technician was very nice, but extremely worried about how high my white blood cell count was in my bloody test. He scanned my tummy and went “So, that’s your kidney… No stones, okay, and your appendix seems normal. And here is your… Whoa. What the HELL is that? Right, I need to take a bunch of pictures and we’re sending them to the specialist right now.”

They sent me back to emmerge and told me to nap while they spoke to the specialist. I called Mom and told her what the ultrasound tech said and she said she was going to leave work and come to the hospital.

At around 2pm I woke up SCREAMING. My god, if the pain had started at a 4 out of 10 on Thursday morning and was up to an 8 by the time I saw the first doc, it was a 15 when I woke.

I thought, “it wasn’t a kidney stone, it was my appendix, and it just burst!” I scared the ever loving crap out of the student nurses. (To tell you the truth, I was scared out of my mind too). I was sobbing so hard that a few parents took their kids out of the waiting room, and so steadily that I nearly passed out for lack of breath. All I could say was “It’s huuuuurrrrrrrts.”

They put more morphine in my drip and then injected a quick-acting dose straight into my IV tube.

I got really high really fast. They told me I was going to go get and get a CT scan, so no, I wasn’t allowed to get up to use the loo, and that I had to drink this dye (I knew that it would taste rotten so I chugged it). I called some people to tell them I most definitely was not going to Saturday’s Silver Snail hallowe’en party. I have been looking forward to this party for six months, so I was quite sad to miss it – on the up side, the Todd and the Book of Pure Evil crew wished me a personal speedy recovery, which was very nice of them.

I got to the CT scan and was so high I just fell asleep in the machine. They woke to tell me that they were really concerned by the results, so they were injecting me with an even stronger dye so they could do it all again, and that I could go back to sleep if I wanted.

I did and barely remember my trip back to the ER. I woke again at around 3pm and they put me in a more private section of the ER. Mom arrived around 4:30.

At around 6pm they had another specialist come to look at me and she confessed that they were all really puzzled because nobody could figure out what this giant, fluid filled mass beside my appendix was.

Finally, they just decided that it must be my appendix and that they were putting me in for an appendectomy.

I hate surgery (as those of you who were around for my knee know), but there was no other choice.

At about 9pm on Friday, they wheeled me away. I woke around midnight unable to speak as I’d had a tube down my throat (voice still hurts and I had a bloody nose last night), and my Mom was bullying the night nurse into disclosing the results.
Turns out it was neither my kidney nor my appendix. There had been a 7cm cyst (that’s about the size of your index finger) and it was wrapping around my organs like an Elder God. The pain I’d felt, the 15 out of 10? Was a wee bit of organ death.
They had to drain the cyst and then cut it up into small pieces to get it out of the incisions.

I slept again and woke when they brought me breakfast at 9:30am on Saturday.
Mom returned around noon and they made me stay for lunch and then I was discharged.

Mom took me home to my house, we picked up a doctor’s note for bedrest for a WEEK and some codine, and now I am about to go to sleep.

There are three incisions – one in my bellybutton, one to the left of it, and one way down, just above my pubic bone.

I am a bit shocky but resting now, looking forward to a week of no day-job and writing (silver lining!) And now, because looking at a screen is making me queasy, I am going to bid you all adieu and see you in a week.

JM FreyEmergency Surgery… Surprise!


Join the conversation
  • Leah Petersen - October 31, 2011

    OMG. I was starting to freak out in the middle of that, and I knew it was already over. You must be a writer. 😉

    That sounds completely horrid. I’m SO glad they figured it out and you’re ok!

    Happy recuperating! Are you allowed candy? There’s lots of it around right now.

  • JM Frey - October 31, 2011

    Candy I think I can do! I am just well and mobile enough that I can answer the door to trick-or-treaters tonight. Usually in Toronto I host a bunch of friends for hallowe’en night adn we watch silly movies and hand out candy, as I have the ground floor apartment and many of them don’t.

    But as I’m at my parent’s for the week, I get to see all the neighbourhood kids! I haven’t been home for Hallowe’en in about twelve years, so this is going to be kinda awesome.

    Sorry to freak you out a bit! Gotta keep in practice, you know… There’s my horror story for Hallowe’en!

  • Marie Bilodeau - November 1, 2011

    Sorry to hear you went through that, but I’m super relieved you’re okay. Rest well and heal up! Hugs!

  • Sheila Dalton - November 4, 2011

    My God, that sounds absolutely horrible! Do they have any idea why you would get a cyst like that? I’m glad you’re doing okay now. What a nightmare!

  • JM Frey - November 4, 2011

    Marie – Thanks, I am doing my best to rest. It’s very against my nature to stay in one place for a long period of time.

    Sheila – I haven’t got the surgery report or anything, but from what I understand it was one of those situations where it just… happened.

  • Andy T - November 6, 2011

    Glad you came through it okay!

    You are definitely a good story teller. I was on the edge of my seat during your retelling.

    I am thankful for modern medicine every time I hear one of these stories. I shudder to think how many people would have died a 100+ years ago from similar unexpected medical events without modern diagnostic techniques.

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