Appendect-OH-MY! – Part 2

13 08 2009

AppendixI apologize for the delay in getting Part 2 of my adventures posted. For those of you who might still be interested to hear what happened, here you go…

Part 2: The Hospital

When we first arrived at the hospital, they rolled me into triage where the nurses retook my vitals and asked me questions about my medical history. I felt bad for the EMT who rolled me in, though. I guess he was a rookie and didn’t know exactly what he was doing. The nurse began asking him questions about what they did on the way to the hospital and apparently he didn’t do much of what he should have. She just kept telling him to look at how pale I was (I guess I was pale) and asked him why he didn’t put an IV line in me. He just kept sweating and saying sorry and that he should have thought of that. She asked for his name (which I forget) and told me she would talk to his supervisor (dun dun duuuuun!). She told him, though, that it was really all his supervisor’s fault because the supervisor was in the ambulance, too! After talking with some people, though, it probably is a good thing he didn’t try to stick me with an IV. It probably would have taken him several tries to find a vein!

The staff at the hospital wasn’t nearly as incompetent! I have to say that I was really impressed with the folks at Mills Peninsula Hospital. Everyone was really professional, helpful, and friendly. I think it helped that things didn’t seem too busy, but even still, kudos to them! They were really an awesome team.

There was one awkward moment, though. With the room full of nurses, one of them placed a gown on my bed and asked me to take off all my clothes and put on the robe. I know they were all in the medical profession and probably have seen their share of naked bodies, but I looked around and there must have been six or seven nurses in the room (not a very big room!). Yes, it made for sort of an awkward moment. I quietly asked if there was a private place I could disrobe and she directed me to a bathroom down the hall. I slowly made my way there and got into my gown. After I was all changed, I got back into my bed and she connected the IV and got my pain medication going. That’s when John showed up from getting the rental car.

The next few hours were basically me loving the painkillers and feeling them slowly wear off only to have me ask for another dose. I was actually surprised at how comfortable the bed was, but I was really cold. For some reason, though I am known to be “the heater man,” I was freezing at the hospital. My hands and feet were ice cold and I was shivering. The nurse went to get a blanket for me. I told the nurse that my body was freezing and she looked at me and said, “Really? I don’t feel it.” But she kindly got me a few more blankets. With four blankets on top of me, I finally felt warm and cozy. Those blankets were amazing, by the way. They apparently store them in a heating unit so that when they lay one on you it’s wonderfully warm. During this whole time, I had told John and J.R. to go ahead to Kevin’s mom’s funeral since the alternative was to simply sit and watch me in lie in bed.

When the doctor showed up, he asked me some questions about my pain, and when I had told him I thought it was food poisoning, he seemed to be ok with that diagnosis. The pain wasn’t really localized in any particular area. My whole stomach hurt with a constant pain with no relief. It wasn’t until much later, especially with the help of the painkillers, that I realized the pain really was coming from my lower right side. About 5:00 or 6:00pm, the doctor came in and poked me in the side and I yelped in pain. He told me he didn’t think it was appendicitis at first but that he now thought it probably was and scheduled me for a CT scan.

The CT scan room was amazing! Triage looked like any other hospital from any popular hospital TV show. The CT scan room looked like sickbay from Star Trek! It was all white with lights flashing and glowing all over the room. There were some stairs that led up to a room with a tinted window. I could see that someone was up there, but couldn’t see their face. The scanning machine looked like a giant white donut. I thought they were going to put me in some tube and that I would have to sit there patiently for a long time, but I guess technology has advanced some since those days.

As I lay on the bed, the machine moved me through the “donut hole.” As I passed through, I could see things whirling around the donut very quickly. A robot voice told me several times to breathe, inhale and hold, and breathe normally again. The way the machine worked, I thought they were going to beam me directly to the OR.

After they took pictures of my insides, the doctor came in and confirmed that it was appendicitis. This is when I called John to let him know. The doctors told me they had contacted their surgeon and that as soon as he arrived we would head over to the operating room. John left the funeral after the burial and came to the hospital just before the surgeon arrived. The surgeon was, for lack of a better adjective, “cool.” Although I honestly wasn’t scared about the procedure, he did everything he could to boost my confidence and assure me that things were going to be fine. He told me that the procedure would be routine. It wouldn’t last more than fifteen to twenty minutes. He told me about the incisions he would make and that for the most part he would go through the belly button. I joked that as long as he was in there, he might as well suck out some of the fat. =) I think the last thing he said was the most reassuring. He told me that he chose to work at that particular hospital because the anesthesiologists were the best he could find.

They quickly prepared me for surgery and wheeled me over to the OR. On the way there, the surgeon continued to give me confidence about the procedure. He told me that the day wasn’t very busy at the hospital so that they were able to assemble their “A-Team.” When I got to the room, it was really cool… cooler that the CT scan room! There were these two massive lights hanging from the ceiling. They looked like those old desk lamps with the bendy arms, but much bigger. Each light must have been four to five feet in diameter with dozens of halogen bulbs. They weren’t on, but I imagined how bright they must make the room.

The nurse was crazy. She was so excited to be in the operating room and kept singing about how they were going to take the appendix out. She reminded me of a muppet or Sesame Street character: really bizarre but cheerful. I asked the doctor if he was going to put a mask on me to put me to sleep, but he corrected me and told me the anesthetic would run through my IV. He then said, “It’ll be any minute now…” And that is the last thing I remember about the OR.

It seemed like I was asleep for a long time, but when I woke up, it was only a couple hours later. I was in the recovery room and there were a couple nurses roaming from one bed to another checking on patients. When one of the nurses saw that I was awake, she walked over and said, “This is going to feel weird.” Then she began to pull a tube out of my nose which must have been eight inches long! Yes, it felt weird, but thankfully it didn’t hurt. I asked if I could get back to my room. It was about 9:30pm, and I knew that John and the guys had a flight to catch at 10:30pm. Since the hospital was right next door to the airport, I thought they might still be at the hospital so I wanted to go and check in case they were waiting for me.

Unfortunately, it took a while to get out of the recovery room because they said my room wasn’t ready and was still being cleaned. I later found out that I probably wouldn’t have been able to catch the guys anyway. It was all right, though. I didn’t mind being alone because it added to the adventure and the bizarre events of the day. I flipped on the TV and was thankful that I wasn’t in any pain. In fact, I could get up and out of bed whenever I wanted and could even go to the bathroom on my own.

I was thankful to go to the bathroom. Before surgery, I had asked the surgeon if it was necessary to put in a catheter. He told me the only reason they would have to is if I couldn’t go to the bathroom for over four hours after the surgery. When I first woke up, one of the first things I told the nurse was that I needed to go to the bathroom.

I had heard stories of how people come out of surgery all sore and in pain, but this was a piece of cake. I wasn’t in any pain at all. I walked gingerly because I didn’t want to reopen all my wounds, but it didn’t hurt to move around. I even called Christine and told her to come up to San Francisco so that we could do some sightseeing before heading back down to San Diego.

Little did I know that the only reason I felt so great was because I still had some lingering effects of the anesthetic. When that wore off, I could barely move! It hurt to breathe! They told me I would need to work on my breathing because my lungs would need some exercise, but I really couldn’t take any deep breaths. One time, I tried to get out of bed and because of the pain in my belly I had to hoist myself up using nothing but the strength of my arms. The nurse was there to help me, but it was such exercise that I became fairly winded. Well, I couldn’t breathe deeply because of the pain so I started hyperventilating and eventually passed out at the foot of the bed. I knew I was out for at least a few seconds because when I came to, I was surrounded by nurses who were all trying to get me back into bed properly. They had me in a blanket and six of them were lifting me up to the head of the bed again. I could hear one shouting, “Stay with me, Patrick! Don’t sleep!” I told them I was fine and that I passed out because I couldn’t breathe, but the nurse insisted that I needed a bracelet that read, “Fall Risk.” Hahaha!

The rest of the recovery process was slow. It took me about three weeks to get over the pain. I was thankful that I wasn’t alone in the hospital very long. Kevin Au came by to see me and even brought his dad by the next morning. I was really thankful for that. Wayne and Melanie Hu also came by and dropped off a Batman balloon. =) The best was when Christine finally arrived from San Diego with Eden. It was great to see them again. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Christine to be in San Diego while I was going in for surgery in San Francisco. I’m so thankful for my loving wife!

There’s more to the story, but this is getting really long. And having read it over, Part 2 doesn’t seem nearly as entertaining as Part 1. Oh well. If you read this far, you are cool. All in all, I was bummed I missed the 10 Year Anniversary Banquet at Lighthouse, but it was still a fun adventure. I’m sure I’ll have a great time telling the story to Eden if ever she needs to have her appendix removed!




3 responses

25 08 2009
jennifer lee

ahahahaha “fall risk”
did you call me a few weeks ago?

26 08 2009

everything looked cool because you were all drugged up….hahahah….and so want to make comments on the belly button part but will refrain….

23 06 2010

I m just on my laptop for the first time after JUST gettting mine out! it was a total surprise for me …. we had the same adventure …. even asking the Doc ” well while ur in there…..” 😉 lol take care

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