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Mom Intuition – 1, Appendix – 0

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Thursday started out like any other day. I got the kids up, made breakfast, made lunches, and the husband and I got them all out the door and off to school. My middle child, Gracie, complained that her tummy hurt. I sent her to school, because I thought she was just nervous for her state testing. I didn’t want her to miss the test, because she’d have to make it up. (Looking back at this, I feel just awful.) So, I sent the kids off to school, letting Gracie know that if she continued to feel bad she just needed to visit the nurse at school and I could pick her up.

It was raining that day. It took me forever to get to the meeting I had at the school district that morning. It ran overtime and with the added time for the rain, my schedule was all wonky. I was supposed to work with Gracie’s class on their knitting, but got the call from the nurse that Gracie was in her office for the second time that day. When I got there, she was in pain, so I took her home.

She was in pain, not nauseous, and it got worse as the day wore on. By 5pm she was miserable and it was too late to call the pediatrician, so I decided to take her into the urgent care, where Gracie moaned and writhed in the waiting room, my 6-year-old clung to me like Saran Wrap, and my 11-year-old son tried as hard as he could to get Gracie’s mind off the pain. It’s also where they told me that we have to rule out appendicitis, but we’d have to take her to the E.R., because they didn’t have any ultrasound machines to find out for sure.

The rest of the night was like this:

6:30 – drove in the rain and traffic from urgent care to the E.R., all 3 kids in tow

6:45 – husband picked up the other two kids and left us at the E.R.

Exhausted at the E.R.

7:00- Gracie was triaged at the E.R.

7:15- Blood drawn

9:20- Saw the E.R. doc, who told us it most likely was NOT appendicitis, because Gracie’s pain level had gone down since we’d gotten to the hospital. He ordered an ultrasound and x-rays anyway, just in case.

10:00- Luke, the tall, young orderly (or possibly CNA) wheeled us down to the ultrasound room. She got her ultrasound, and the tech was quiet as a mouse for the whole thing, but took SEVERAL pics of something round in my daughter’s belly. And when it was over, she got to pick a new toy. She chose this darling chameleon.

Her new friend, courtesy of Faith, the ultrasound tech

10:45- The E.R. doc came in, baffled, and gave us the news that Gracie has appendicitis. I was starting to doubt my instincts before he spoke, but felt vindicated when he was so obviously shocked by the results. Now, don’t get me wrong- I did NOT want my daughter to need surgery, but I have to say that a part of me wanted to shout “I was RIGHT and you were WRONG!” (I didn’t).

Keeping her spirits up, waiting for results

11:30- We were sent up to the Pediatric Ward. More paperwork, more questions, vitals were checked, and an IV was put in. We’re finally on our way to a room. (Note: the pink bunny she’s holding is Rosie, who I’ve had since I was 6 years old. My mom brought her to me when I had a bad ear infection and I’ve always said she makes me feel better.)

In the chair, ready to go to her room

Our fancy digs. I now know what my husband felt like to have to sleep on one of those cots when our children were born.

Our sleeping quarters for 2 nights

Gracie did a lot of things to try to keep her mind off the pain, and her hunger (since she couldn’t eat or drink). Daddy brought us clothes and some things to keep busy while waiting for surgery. She watched cartoons, played games, and even knit.

Grammy, Mommy, and Gracie waiting to hear from the O.R.

Finally, at around 1:15, we were told that it was time to get ready for surgery. Our nurse, Art, put on his rescue pack and helped transport Gracie to the pre-op area.

Our favorite nurse, Art

Gracie got lots of attention in pre-op. She got her instructions, and the surgeon asked if she had any questions.

The surgeon having a pre-op chat with Gracie

The anesthesiologist walked in, took one look at her, broke into a genuine smile and said, “You are THE cutest patient I’ve had all day!”

The anesthesiologist, giving Gracie "giggle juice" before heading out

Now, I’ve had this surgery myself. I knew it’s very routine. I knew, rationally, that she would be fine and the likelihood of anything happening is slim. But there’s something about watching strangers wheel your child away to cut her open that just makes all rational thought leave your mind. I’d been strong for Gracie since the minute we got to the urgent care, but the minute she was rolled away, I suddenly couldn’t stop the tears, and when I went into the waiting room and found my own mother there, waiting for me, I just cried in her arms. It wasn’t a long cry, but it was a cry, nonetheless.

In 30 minutes, it was over, and the doctor told us she was all done and it went well. Thank God!  I got to see her in Recovery, and she was pretty groggy, but she told me, “Thank goodness it’s over. Now Sean doesn’t have to worry.” After an hour or so in Recovery, we were on our way back to the room.

A little brother-sister time on the way back to her room

A visit from Sean and Maddie was a nice surprise for Gracie. They brought flowers, books, and a few dolls. Maddie kept herself busy by reading one of the books.

How Maddie spent a lot of her visiting time

The rest of the afternoon was tiring. Lots of rest, lots of checks from the nurses. Medications for her pain, clear liquids, and naps were the business of healing. She tried to get up to pee, and one of her incisions was bleeding a bit. Other than that, she was seemingly doing very well.

Saturday she awoke in a good mood. We were all hoping to go home.

She knows the drill - temp and bp every few hours

The pediatrician said she could go home after she ate and walked to the playroom, so those were our priorities.

mmm... hospital food

Taking a walk down the hall to the playroom

There were a lot of “little kiddish” games and toys, but there was also a whole closet full of bigger kid games, so we played Trivial Pursuit Junior.

Dad setting the game up

Gracie, thinking over her answer

Finally, she had her wounds re-dressed, we got our discharge papers, and said “Adios!” to the hospital.

Ready to go

Bye-bye, hospital!

 

So, Mom’s intuition was right. I’m so glad I didn’t wait. I’m so glad the doctor listened to me when I told him her symptoms, even though he really didn’t think it was appendicitis. And while I’m not glad that it WAS appendicitis, I’m so glad it was caught before it ruptured and she was taken care of so well.

Thanks to all the doctors and nurses at Huntington Memorial Hospital. Thanks especially to Dr. Shin, our surgeon, Dr. Tirce, our anesthesiologist, and Art, our nurse-supreme. Everyone was a team, and everyone helped our little girl get back on her feet, and for that, I’ll be eternally grateful.

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9 responses »

  1. Aww, Gen. I cried looking at the pictures.

  2. She looks extra little in the gown, doesn’t she? 😦

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  4. Oh that poor bug!! I hope she’s well on the road to recovery!

  5. Geb, what an ordeal! I’m so glad Grace is all better. The anesthesiologist is right: what a beautiful patient! You did a great job capturing the mood, the scariness, the humanness, EVERYTHING, with your pictures and story. Lots of love to you and especially to Gracie.

  6. I couldn’t read this without crying myself. I truly was with you in mommy spirit all the way. Gracie looks like ” all in a days work” what a champ.
    See you at school
    xo
    Michelle

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  9. Appendicitis has been labeled as a very difficult to diagnose internal disorder. The symptoms of appendicitis are often vague and unspecific, thus rendering the process of diagnosis very difficult. Appendicitis rarely generates outwardly visible clinical manifestations and doctors often require additional tests in the process of diagnosing the disorder. In order to confirm the presumptive diagnoses of appendicitis, doctors rely on blood analysis, computerized tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound tests. However, even modern medical procedures have a certain degree of imprecision and doctors are faced with a real challenge when it comes to diagnosing unspecific cases of appendicitis.`

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