So those of you who know me will know I spent the last week suffering with Appendicitis and recovering from a Appendix Laparoscopy surgery. I figured I’d share my experience with the infection, especially seeing as I have been mainly horizontal for the past 8 days.
I woke up at 2am in the morning on Friday 23rd June with quite a severe ache in my tummy; a constant, dull ache right above my belly button and no matter how I curled up I just couldn’t fall back to sleep. After hours of being awake in uncomfortable frustration I gave a call to the NHS helpline on 111 in hopes they would have some advice for me, sadly due to having no other symptoms of anything they just told me to call back if it didn’t go away/worsened/changed, in over 24 hours. Feeling too rubbish to go to work I spent most of Friday in bed/on the sofa trying to ignore the ache, finally calling my sister to get me some food as I was unable to move in the early evening, we googled various tummy symptoms whilst she forced me to try and eat a toasted teacake. My pain was starting to move down to my lower abdomen, which was flagging up for us as appendicitis, but I had literally 0 other signs so we still didn’t think it could be that. Fast forward to 2am Saturday morning, I’m back on the phone to the NHS helpline as my pain was definitely worsening and in the lower right of my abdomen, who now decide they want to see me immediately in the out of hours GP.
Still not fully convinced this was any kind of emergency, despite all my pain, I didn’t think to call anyone and just took myself to the hospital in an uber. By the time I saw a GP I could barely walk so I was quickly wheeled up to A&E for further tests. The 20mins I spent in the A&E waiting room was actual hell on Earth, so many awful, drunk people with bandages around arms and ankles, swearing at each other.
Finally I was sent through to assessment and by this point my pain had increased so much I couldn’t even sit on a chair properly, next minute I’m whisked off in a bed into a bay for some initial tests until a Dr could come see me. By 4am I finally broke down in the panic I wouldn’t be going home any time soon and called my mum and messaged some friends so I didn’t feel alone. A urine test flagged up infection, and after a quick tummy examination by the Dr I was booked in for an ultrasound scan at 2pm. Us females have a lot going on in our lower abdomen, so they have to thoroughly check everything to make sure it’s not any of your reproductive organs. At this point they also said as surgery was highly likely I wasn’t allowed to eat for the rest of the day, which as my painkillers kicked in and my appetite came back, became a nightmare haha.
Come 2pm I was in and out of the ultrasound pretty quick, my appendix was visibly that angry and inflamed that no further tests were needed and I was added to the emergency surgery list. The way the emergency surgery list works is that you’re admitted in order of ‘need’ as opposed to the order you arrive at the hospital. Given the appendix can rupture, that’s deemed a priority, but obviously anyone that arrives in an ambulance with life threatening trauma jumps in place of you.
My surgery didn’t end up happening on the Saturday, or the Sunday. By Sunday night I was weak from not eating a proper meal since Thursday evening, frustrated that I was kept being told I was up next for surgery then being cancelled on and bored of being laid down on a drip all day so I pretty much cried myself to sleep, I had been moved to the Theatre Admissions Unit earlier in the day which gave me hope I would be appendixless by now.
Come 3pm on Monday the surgeon team finally came to get me, and all the fear I had about the surgery had just become pure relief that it was happening at last. The anaesthetist team were super nice and made me feel at ease, then before I know it I’m waking up in a recovery ward, in possibly the most pain I have ever been in, in my life. It took plenty of a drug similar to morphine for me to feel comfortable, but once I had I was in pretty good spirits, just curious to see what my stomach looked like. My throat hurt a lot too, as they insert a tube down whilst you’re unconscious to prevent anything from your stomach going into the lungs and they don’t take that out until you wake up and they see you can breathe on your own. They also pumped my tummy full of gas, which was quite uncomfortable for a couple of days, but quite funny to have a round lil pot belly.
Half an hour later I was back in my ward, and had managed with the aid of a nurse to walk myself to the toilet too (I was so determined to not use a bed pan) which I was really proud of. My mum and sister swung by to see me as I woke up but as it was about 7.30pm I was quite ready to nibble something and get an early night, in the hopes that I might finally be allowed to leave the hospital the next day.
Here’s a look at my tummy two days after the surgery when I was finally allowed to shower and change the dressings, I couldn’t believe how small the incisions were! The biggest is hidden in my belly button, and the low one below it would be hidden by underwear/bikini bottoms, with the third hardly anything to be conscious about. The wounds are closed with an absorbable glue too, to minimise the scarring.
It took about 4 days post surgery to be on my feet without being in some pain, but by day 5 I was ready to spend the night at home unsupervised.
As I write this it’s been a week since my surgery and I’m down to just taking a couple of paracetamol as and when I need it, the pain has pretty much gone but I still have to take it very easy as any heavy lifting or vigorous movement could pop the wounds, but I’m able to go about my day relatively pain free. I just struggle with reaching/bending a bit. I have a follow up appointment tomorrow to check everything is healing as it should, then due to return to work in another weeks time, by then I’m positive I’ll be feeling so much better. I was told to allow 6 weeks for a full recovery.
One final thing, god bless the NHS! I did some research, and this surgery in the UK costs the NHS £2300. It would have cost me around £2700 via a private health service and if I was in the states the average cost is $33,000. Our country is so lucky to have a free health service, I do hope no matter what happens it will be kept that way.