My goodness! I have certainly been neglecting this blog, haven't I? To any of you who might check it on a regular basis, I do apologize.
As most of you know, Theresa came to me about 4 weeks ago complaining of pain in the lower right side of her abdomen. Of course, my mind leaped immediately to appendicits, so we went straight to the ER. They did blood work, urinalysis twice, and a CAT scan with IV and oral contrast. They told us that everything looked good...no appendicitis, no ovarian cysts, nothing at all appearing to be wrong. They said she could have had a very tiny kidney stone that she had passed or that it even could have been a virus. The next morning, Theresa woke up screaming that her side was hurting much worse, so back to the ER we went, where they stuck us in "The Annex", which is a building where they put the patients when they want to forget about them. I'm not exaggerating. We were there for almost 6 hours and all they did was a urinalysis (AGAIN). We saw a doctor when we first arrived and then didn't see so much as a nurse or medical assistant until I went asking what the heck was taking so long and they sent someone to discharge her. They still said everything was fine and she should take Motrin for the pain.
A couple of days later, Theresa seemed to be feeling better, so we figured the ER staff had been correct in assuming it had been a virus or a small kidney stone. However, when we went for a followup visit with her pediatrician and he obtained a copy of the CAT scan report, he said it showed an "appendicolith", or a stone in her appendix. He said he wanted to refer her to a surgeon, because often they will want to remove the appendix when there is a stone in it. The reason for this is because, if it is not removed, it can potentially cause a blockage, which in turn causes appendicitis and possibly a ruptured appendix.
We went last Friday (February 13, 2009) to see the surgeon and, sure enough, he scheduled her for surgery in his next "elective surgery" slot - this morning at 7:30 a.m.
The hospital and surgeon's office are on the opposite side of a mountain range from our home and a BIG snowstorm was due to blow through Monday afternoon and evening. Because of this, my parents offered to rent us a hotel room near the hospital so we could beat the storm over the mountains. We made it ahead of the bulk of the snow and spent the afternoon with my parents cruising the local mall and having dinner at our favorite fast food joint - Arby's. I had to call the hospital after 6 p.m. to find out what time we needed to arrive the next morning for Theresa's surgery. They said to be there at 5:30 a.m.!!! YIKES! I was SO glad we had ended up staying the night close to the hospital rather than trying to drive up there this morning. We would have needed to leave home no later than 4 a.m. to get there in time!
After returning to the motel Monday evening, Theresa mentioned she had a bad headache. She gets migraines occasionally, so I thought "Oh great!" I gave her a Tylenol, because that was all I was allowed to give her so close to surgery time. She promptly threw up the Tylenol along with everything she had eaten for dinner. I feel SO bad for the hotel housekeeping staff member that had to clean our room! Fortunately, she had thrown up in the bathroom and I was able to clean it up with the towels, but poor Housekeeping had to deal with those nasty towels. Theresa's migraine continued through the night and into the next morning, with her waking up at regular intervals with dry heaves because she had nothing left in her tummy to throw up. I felt so helpless, because all I could do for her was keep a cool cloth available for her to put over her face.
After we arrived, the nurse escorted us into the prep and holding area, where they got Theresa changed into a hospital gown (they close better in the back now!) and took her vital signs. OH NO! She had a temperature of 100.7, so now they were worried that maybe the surgeon would want to postpone the surgery. I mentioned that she had a migraine and also that she has always been very hot when she sleeps, ever since she was a baby. They started an IV and ran some fluids into her, which brought her temperature down a tiny bit, but not much. Thankfully, though, the surgeon felt the risk of leaving her appendix in there any longer was greater than the risk of doing surgery while she had a low-grade fever. FINALLY, after we had been there for almost two hours, they were able to give her some medication for pain and something to relax her (fentanyl and Versed). My parents and I followed her up to the second floor, where they directed us into a waiting room while she went into the OR.
Oh yes, I forgot to mention, my parents bought her a HUGE stuffed dog, which they gave her last night, and explained to her that it was to be used to cushion her tummy if she needed to cough after surgery. My father had his gallbladder removed several years ago and he remembered that they gave him a "Charlie pillow" for this very use, so that's why they bought her the dog. They told her it's name was "Charlie". The anesthesiologist was so nice. He let her take the stuffed dog into the OR with her and hold onto it until she was asleep. Then they made sure it was tucked right next to her when she woke up in Recovery.
The surgery took about 40-50 minutes and the surgeon came out to let us know everything went well and that Theresa was in Recovery. A little over an hour later, a medical assistant came out to let me know I could go in to see Theresa. Just as I was getting into the holding area outside of Recovery, a nurse was handing Theresa an orange Popsicle. Poor baby, she would take a little lick of it and then start to fall asleep, and then kind of jolt awake and take another little lick. I finally told her she could bite it if she wanted to, so she took a couple bites and then said she was done. The nurse came in and said I could help Theresa get dressed and then she could be discharged! WOW! That was fast!! We had gone shopping on Sunday for some new extra-big jammies for her to wear after her surgery so she wouldn't have anything pushing too tightly on her tummy. She picked a cute pair of High School Musical pajamas that were black with different shades of pink and a picture of the main cast members on the shirt. I helped her into her new "going home outfit", noticing that she had only two small incisions...so small that they are covered up by regular Band-Aids. After she was all dressed and had her jacket on, they brought a wheelchair to take her out to the car. She slept most of the way home, waking up only long enough to ask me "Where are we?" two or three times. Because I needed to fill a prescription for her pain medication and go pick up Michaela at her friend's house, we went to my parents' house for a while, so Theresa could just rest while I did the necessary errands. We got home at about 5:00 this evening and she immediately went to bed. I don't think she's going to be bouncing off the walls for a few days!
I want to thank everyone for your wonderful thoughts and all your prayers for Theresa's safe surgery. Please continue to pray that she will have a swift recovery and be back to her normal self quickly.