Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Some Experiences Are Forever

A while back, long before I got married or was even dating, I had to have my appendix removed. And with any experience there are things you will always carry with you. Of course in this case there was also something I did not take with me.

It pretty much started one weekend while I was working at a renaissance faire. I thought I was having some digestive problems, but thought it would “pass” in a few days. Well, five days later and it was not getting any better. So, I figured I would take the day off, go to the urgent care center, and find out what the problem was. This was on a Thursday. I called in sick and went to the clinic. After I got there I checked in and went to wait my turn.

Now I might as well mention that at the time I looked like a bit of a loser. I had long hair, wore faded jeans and worn out baseball cap.

I was finally taken into the exam room and it just so happens that the doctor who comes in to check me out is a rather attractive young female doctor.

Sure, not only am I in a bit of “discomfort,” but now I am nervous, as I usually am around good looking women, and rather tongue tied. I was, however, able to get over my nervousness when I noticed a ring on her finger, as if should she had been single I would have had a shot. Anyway, the awkwardness came back when she stood on the other side of the room with her arms folded while I try to tell her the problem I was having. I mentioned I was having some pain in my lower abdomen. She asked some pertinent questions, called some other, male, doctor into the room, had me lay back on the exam table and check me out. After that they suggested I go to the ER for an ultrasound.

At this point I was wondering why I didn’t just go there in the first place, but I guess I figured it wasn’t that serious.

So, I get directions to the closest hospital and headed over there. Once there of course I have to retell my story, after which the ER doc recommends I get a CT scan rather than the ultrasound. Their reason being that should they not find anything with the ultrasound they would have to do the CT anyway. Of course since I have had no experience with CT scans I agreed to it, though in hindsight I would have preferred the ultrasound. Here is why:

They took me to the radiology department and explain what is going to happen. In order to get accurate images they needed to put two kinds of “contrast” into me. Not knowing what that meant I figured “why not.” Well, first they have me completely disrobe and put on one of those awesome hospital gowns. Once I get changed they have me lay on this table and put an IV in my arm. The first contrast, it turns out, had to go into my veins. As the tech is pumping this stuff into me he says to let him know if I start itching.


He also says I may experience a metallic taste.

Also great.

As the contrast is pumped into me I start feeling “puffy.” When that is completed the tech then goes into another room to run the CT machine. He tells me as he is about to put me in the machine to take a deep breath and hold it for 30 seconds. Even though I was a little uncomfortable due to the puffiness I felt I would still oblige. I took a breath and held. He slid me through the machine and back out and that was it. Or so I thought. Nope. Next he had to put more contrast into my colon!

Now my philosophy regarding the back door is that it is “exit only.” But apparently this needed to happen. So the tech shows me how this is going to work. He was going to take a hard plastic tube with a bit of a balloon around the end of it and stick it where the sun don’t shine. Once the thing is in there they inflate the balloon so it doesn’t slip out.

Needless to say I am rather nervous, for a different reason than before, but I am sort of glad else is going in there. And that I had showered that morning.

Anyway, after the thing is “installed” the tech pushes the contrast in. Now, not only am I puffy, but becoming painfully bloated as well. After the tech finished putting the stuff in he goes into the other room. Then tells me once again to take a dog breath and hold it for 30 seconds.

Let’s recap shall we? I have contrast in my veins and in my back door. I am both puffy and having an artificially induced form of constipation. I couldn’t take more than shallow, quick breaths if my life depended on it. But I did my best. I took as much of a breath that I could and held it…for about 2 seconds.

How is it possible to take a deep breath of something when you already are having trouble breathing?

Well, I get all done with that and they take me back to the ER to wait for the results. At this point you would think they would just let me wait it out, but no. The ER doc decides to do his own little “test” to confirm that I am not “faking it.” He reaches down to my lower abdomen presses right down on my swollen appendix and asks if it hurt. If I hadn’t been in so much pain and shock I probably would have punched him in the throat.

A little while later the doc comes back with the results and it just so happens that my appendix was large enough they could have easily seen it with an ultrasound. And that, some people would call irony.

Well with the results showing that my appendix was quite on the verge of asploding, which I am sure the little “test” from the ER doc didn’t help, they quickly made arrangements for surgery.

While I was waiting for the OR to be prepped I called my roommate to let him know where I was and what was happening. “Hey, man. I am in the ER about to surgery. I won’t be home for dinner. Could you call my sister and let her know?”

They then take me to get ready for the surgery. While waiting the nurse asks if I had been able to pee recently. I said “no,” to which she told me I need to make sure I do or they will have to put in a catheter. Well that wasn’t going to happen, especially after what happened with the CT scan, so I said I would try. Now I would not have had a problem, but just as I was positioning myself, on the gurney, to go the anesthesiologist was putting the anesthetic in my IV. So, while I was trying to do my business I passed right out and probably sprayed anyone within range.

The next thing I know I was waking up in my hospital room feeling groggy. But the moral of this little story is to always ask for the ultrasound. Especially if the only other option is tech induced puffiness and constipation.

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