This story had the potential for being really and truly a horror (and is long…sorry…kind of). The summer I was 16, was supposed to be the perfect summer. I had a season pass to the city pool, and planned to spend the whole summer there. That’s how the summer started, too. I was well on my way to that gorgeously tanned body that I always wanted, denying the majority European ancestry that leaves me nearly as pale as Casper as I tried to will out the tiny bit of American Indian ancestry into my skin tone.
This paragraph contains a female stuff alert. Guys, feel free to skip this paragraph altogether. At this point in my life, I had a very irregular cycle. I would go anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks between periods, so I wasn’t alarmed by the initial one that summer that was only 3 weeks from the last. It was an annoyance, but not totally unexpected. Then it was 2 weeks. Then every other week. That was seriously cutting into my pool time.
Now despite some setbacks, I had a pretty decent tan for my skin tone by early August. One August Sunday afternoon (which was generally most afternoons/evenings), I was up at Brenda’s house when my belly started hurting. I assumed it was just gas, though it was a bit more painful than usual, but nothing too intense. So I went home a bit earlier than I normally would have to try and relieve the pressure, but rather than passing gas, my belly just steadily hurt worse. It was centered kind of high around my stomach, and by 5am the next morning, it was bad enough to wake up my parents.
I never woke my parents up during the night or early morning unless I was really sick. So I expected to be taken seriously. Well, Daddy wasn’t hearing it, but Mom did get up and take me to the ER. And yes, same ER as in the previous 2 accounts. The on-call doc that morning just happened to be the one my dad liked. So when I told him where my belly was hurting, which again was high around the stomach, he poked around that area only-no other part of my abdomen. He did no blood work either. Just told us I had a stomach virus and gave me a prescription for Mylanta and Phenobarbital.
We went home with neither prescription because Mom said, “You are not going to take barbiturates.” I don’t know why she didn’t at least get the Mylanta, but I figure it was because of Daddy’s tightwadedness. Not that it would have mattered.
The pain only intensified throughout the day, and late afternoon I started puking. I hadn’t eaten anything, so I wasn’t really puking up anything either. The puking didn’t last long (relatively speaking), and I wasn’t so sick by midnight, but still in serious pain. Mom was at work and missed the bulk of that day’s pain. Daddy, I am sure, was still feeling vindicated that I wasn’t that sick because his favorite doc called it a stomach bug.
Tuesday, the pain migrated to the lower right of my abdomen, and I felt vindicated because I was pretty sure Monday morning when we went to the ER that it was my appendix. But no one wanted to listen to me, and didn’t take the fact that I was barely eating and spending all my day in bed as an indication that maybe I really was sick. And then one morning I felt the pop. That was probably Thursday. But it wasn’t until Mom got home Sunday night to find me with a fever and a knot in my lower abdomen that she said “Enough. I’m taking you to Dr Lipsmeyer first thing tomorrow morning.”
Now I will add that by this time, it really didn’t hurt that much. Oh, I couldn’t lift my right leg, but there wasn’t really much pain. So we get to Dr Lipsmeyer’s office, and my only complaint with him was that he automatically assumed that I was pregnant, and it was tubal. There was no convincing him or anyone else that I wasn’t pregnant-couldn’t be pregnant. But, anyway, he sent me over to the hospital for an ultrasound. That was my first ultrasound and did I ever need to pee while they were mashing that wand around. They couldn’t determine what it was, but there was a round something that was causing the knot, and blocking the view of my right ovary. So they sent me to xray, and that was where I got my one and only enema (and why I call that area “Exit only”).
The xray entailed a barium enema, and that was just awful. It didn’t hurt, but stuff just shouldn’t flow backward. There was indication from the xray though that it just might be my appendix, but they couldn’t say it was with absolute certainty. So, I got scheduled for surgery as soon as the surgeon could get there. I was admitted right away, and there just happened to be an empty room right next to my Aunt Pearl who had been in the hospital all summer with terminal cancer. Sister Anacletus (I’m sure that is misspelled) was the nurse who did my IV, and the only one I didn’t want. Bless her heart. She was just as sweet as she could be, but not the greatest with a needle, particularly since you can’t find my veins when I’m sick. I think it took 3 tries. I was given a pre-op shot, and all was well with the world (for me) after that.
I say all was well. After the shot kicked in and I was high as a kite (and loud according to Aunt Pearl), I needed to pee. But Mom wouldn’t let me get out of bed to pee because of the shot (I guess they said I couldn’t get out of bed), and she was probably too freaked out to think of giving me a bed pan. She looked and acted calm to me, but I heard she wasn’t so much after I was taken back for surgery. Anyway, so when they wheeled me into the OR, I was not only wide awake (and high), but needing to pee really bad. Dr Lipsmeyer and the surgeon were sitting just inside the ward doors, and the surgeon asked how I was doing, and I said “Fine, but I need to pee really bad.” He laughed, and said, “Well, better now than later on.” So I was brought a bed pan after they got me into the actual room, and it was metal…and cold…as was the entire room. But I didn’t care because I had to go! LOL So then I laid down on the table, and they strapped me all down head to toe which would have been disturbing if I hadn’t been high still off that pre-op shot. The anesthesiologist hooked up the drip and told me to count backwards from 10. I think I got to 7.
So, it was my appendix, and my appendix had ruptured. But, instead of exploding all over my innards, it had encased itself in a ball that was about the size of a small orange. I was most certainly being protected because that isn’t normal for ruptured appendices. My dad’s appendix ruptured in the early 60’s, and he was given only a 20% chance of surviving. Oh, and he talked about his ruptured appendix the entire week I was in the hospital. To everyone.
Now, back to Aunt Pearl. She and Dr Lipsmeyer went way back, as in she used to babysit him. Mom thinks he knew she wouldn’t make it through the week, and he couldn’t bear to be there for it and so he went on vacation. He left his patients in the care of Dr Buchanan. The same Dr Buchanan from my 1st grade broken leg. I was not too happy with that, but it turned out fine. Dr Buchanan was nice after all. Anyway, Aunt Pearl passed away either late Wed night or very early Thurs morning. Needless to say, I couldn’t go to the funeral.
Day of the funeral, Mom and Dad both went, and Brenda came to the hospital to sit with me. Now, she was sitting over in the corner eating a candy bar when Dr Buchanan came through doing his rounds. He decided that it was time to take the drain tube out. It didn’t hurt when he pulled it out, but it felt funny, and that was the worst sound ever. I looked over at Brenda and just died laughing at the look on her face. But anyway, I got to go home the following Monday, and after spending 2 weeks in the bed, I was ready to get out. So I went to basketball practice with my friend Corene. Now I just sat in the bleachers watching, and was threatened with a butt whoopin’ if I touched a ball, but I was there, and it was great. And Daddy never talked about his ruptured appendix again. LOL