HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
March 19, 2007, Herald Journal

The attack of the appendix

By JENNIFER GALLUS

As a public service, I’ve decided to share my appendicitis story. OK, maybe I just needed something to write about this week, but it may help someone down the road!

It all started one June morning last summer. In fact, it was the day that my son’s preschool class was to have a picnic.

I woke up to bad stomach cramps at about 5 a.m. I thought maybe I had eaten something bad the day before. I laid in bed in the fetal position for most of the morning. Ibuprofen didn’t do much for it.

However, I needed to make a dish to share at the picnic so I forced myself to do this.

The whole time, I would have to walk very slowly otherwise any movement in the stomach area would hurt. If I sat very still, it didn’t hurt as much.

I took the boys to the picnic at 11 a.m. As I walked around slightly bent over and very slow, people asked if my back hurt. I would reply that it was just a bad stomach ache, but one that had lasted much longer than usual.

A preschool student had appendicitis, believe it or not, a few weeks prior and a couple people joked that it might be appendicitis. I dismissed the idea. I was sure it was nothing major.

By 1 p.m. I wasn’t any better and was getting ready to leave the picnic. My friend Bill Dolezal gets all the credit for the happy ending to my ordeal. This is because he asked if I were going to the doctor that day. I told him no and that I would probably go the next morning if it persisted.

He said, “No, you better go today, girl!” This kind of shocked me. Most of the men I know would not pay too much attention or be too concerned because they just don’t worry about health too much.

I thought to myself, “Hmmm, this is a guy and he’s telling me to go to the doctor, maybe I should,” and I did.

I set up an appointment for 3 p.m. At the appointment my doctor pressed on every spot on my stomach and asked if it hurt and every spot did hurt.

The doctor suspected appendicitis and sent me to the hospital for further testing. Luckily my husband was working in the area so I dropped the boys off with him and when he saw me he even said I didn’t look too good.

After a scan it was confirmed that indeed it was appendicitis and that I would need surgery that evening. This did not sit well with me. I really hate surgery. I’ve had two C-sections and really don’t care much for slicing and dicing of the body!

Plus, the doctor said, “Well, it is most likely appendicitis because we just don’t know what else would cause such swelling across the stomach.” Hmmm, didn’t sound as though it was really nailed down, but I trusted them anyway.

When I woke after surgery, the nurse told me it definitely was the appendix because it looked ‘angry.’ I thought that was pretty funny.

But seriously, what did I ever do to my appendix to make it so mad? I guess I’ll never know and will have to live with that for the rest of my life (sarcasm).

So, what can one learn from this? Well, in the early stages of appendicitis, the stomach can hurt all over. The pain doesn’t localize to the right side of the abdomen until you’re 24 hours into appendicitis.

Every minute counts because it can burst. I was very lucky. Mine did not burst and we caught it early. I give 100 percent credit to Bill for prompting me to see the doctor that day! Thanks, Bill!

Kid-isms

On a plane trip to visit my mom in Arizona my 5-year-old said in the plane, “I bet we’re 10, maybe 11, feet up!”