An Easter to remember
This year’s Easter celebrations had a slightly different feel to them.
Unfortunately, that “feel” was the excruciating pain in the lower right part of my abdomen that left me needing five hours of surgery and the extraction of a body part.
Poor Marley spent most of last week not having a clue where his daddy was. And wondering why his mummy was leaving him with various different people for hours on end. The only interaction I really managed to have with him between Friday and Tuesday was a couple of groggy morning FaceTimes where he kept asking: “Daddy, have you got a sore tummy?”
The answer was yes. And below is the story of why.
Note: For those of you of a squeamish disposition, I have removed any photos showing anything too horrific. Apart from my face…
About 11 years ago, I had my first issues with my nasty little friend, the appendix. I was still living in Edinburgh then, but was busily preparing to travel over to Japan and on to Australia to see my brother, Eddie, who lives in Sydney.
About a week before I was due to fly, I’d begun to experience some pain in the centre of my stomach. It then moved slowly over to my right-hand side. It got gradually worse over the course of a day or two, and eventually reached the stage where I could barely walk. Hunched over like Quasimodo, I had got out of the car at A&E and I think the waddle across the car park took me the best part of 20 minutes.
The situation was diagnosed by doctors as a “rumbling” (or it might have been “grumbling”) appendix. Either way, it wasn’t an acute appendicitis, so I couldn’t have it taken out.
Sorry. Those are the rules. Here’s a handful of antibiotics. Get out of my hospital.
To be fair, the pain subsided and I was able to fly. And thankfully, my ultimate fear of the appendix exploding inside my body 30,000ft in the air over Mongolia, was never realised.
But, roll the clock forward 11 years and that same, unwelcome pain came back. I went to see my GP a couple of weeks ago when it re-surfaced and he booked me in for an Ultrasound scan for a few weeks’ time. But he also said that if the pain were to get worse, I should visit A&E.
And that’s exactly what happened last Friday morning.
After dealing with a night of reasonable discomfort, I spent an entire day in A&E. I was poked, prodded, injected, scanned and generally examined (I have a big spleen, apparently) by a good few doctors and nurses before being told to go home and come back again the next morning for a CT scan.
That night, perhaps as a result of being bashed around by the medical staff all day, my appendix decided it was time to try and kill me.
I tried in vain to get some sleep, but that was never going to be permitted. At times, even just being in bed wasn’t possible. It was “better” to buckle myself on to the floor in the foetal position.
A low point, in every sense.
By around 6.00am I couldn’t wait any longer, I had to go back in. And I don’t think anyone has ever looked at me in a stranger way than the Uber driver did as I gracelessly curled myself in to the back seat of his car.
I was back in the waiting room around two hours before I was meant to be. But by this point I didn’t really know what else to do and I just wanted to get my scan done so they could confirm it was appendicitis. Not that I had any doubt.
The CT scan was weird. They injected me with some liquid which then shows up on the scan. As I lay under the scanner, I could actually feel the liquid warm up inside me. I could feel it in my throat, but mainly in my bladder where it felt a bit like I was peeing myself.
The surgeon came to visit me almost immediately after the scan to confirm I needed to get the appendix out (yes!) and I was on his operating table within the hour.
Typically, an appendectomy is fairly routine and usually takes an hour or so. And that’s what I’d told my wife before I was put to sleep by the anaesthetist around 11.00am.
So, when I didn’t arrive back on the ward until 5.00pm I think she was more than a little worried.
It transpired that upon inspection (via a keyhole camera in my side and a small incision above my belly button) my grubby little appendix had become embroiled in a battle with my large intestine. This meant the surgeon needed to make an extension to the belly button cut, and then have a go at hacking the appendix away from the intestine, deal with the inflammation and get rid of any infection to the area.
I was then sewn up, and a drain pipe installed just underneath what remained of my belly button (which was not very much).
God knows how much anaesthetic is required for five hours of surgery, but whatever it was it had made me high as a kite. Add to that a substantial quantity of pain killers, including multiple doses of morphine, and I was almost completely out of it by the evening. Every time I closed my eyes, I was seeing all kinds of things, from plasticine men to close-up satsumas.
Honestly. I was off my head.
Unfortunately, the most irritating man in the world who was sharing a ward with me was not a hallucination. He was in there because he’d been stabbed – for the 9th time, allegedly. After spending the evening listening to him verbally abuse the nurses and other patients on the ward, if I’d had the energy (and the knife) there is a very strong possibility he would have been dealing with his tenth.
Thankfully, after a couple more days of monitoring how much blood and other stuff my drain was producing (yuk) I was able to go home.
Marley took a bit of time getting back to normal and was obviously nervous we were going to leave him again. But he’s been amazing at looking after me and seems to totally understand that I can’t play too much with him, and that he can’t jump on me!
As I improve, it’s becoming quite difficult to resist the urge to pick him up, but I’m under strict instructions not to do any heavy lifting for 6-8 weeks. I even got in trouble for picking up a cushion the other day!
But with my parents here to help out for a few days, I was able to get some decent rest. And it’s just so great to be back home with the family.
After all this, I wish there was a moral to the story. But unfortunately there’s only so much you can do when your appendix decides it doesn’t want to be a part of you any longer.
I certainly won’t miss him.