I wasn’t going to write about this as it’s still very fresh and a little personal yet I found reading other people’s experiences through their blogs helpful and consolidating. So perhaps this may help someone too…and get a giggle (but not too hard as that hurts).
The Trip: I had planned this wonderful 4 day camping trip in and around Algonquin park since about 6 weeks, included was a day pass at a yoga festival and SUP yoga lesson on the Sunday. Exciting! Since I know how a wonderful pick-up truck-tent-on-the-tailgate equipment I’m trying to use it as much as I can. “Save money and go camping” has been a common phrase. And yoga! Yes, it’ll be full of eager, gluten-free beer drinking ‘let’s all love each other yet steal each other’s light’ people but it’ll also have those quiet, genuinely trying to seek a more peaceful, calm inner-being and understand how an activity that helps you stretch also soothes your mind a little works.
My goal of the summer ‘brace yourself for the depth of it all’ was to learn how to do yoga hand-stand postures – mostly because they look cool on yogi Instagram pics and a lot of fun (May have to extend this goal to next year now).
But Yoga AND Camping in the woods for 4 days, for me = Heaven.
The Pain: Friday morning the pain begins….
A ‘dull’ pain is the best way to describe it… with circles of intense fire burning pain, then a dull pain again. I didn’t go to work as I figured I should just go to the doctors and get seen to before The Big Trip.
As a side note – I have had a lot of trouble trying to get my OHIP ‘Ontario Health Insurance P?’ Plant? Pleasure? card. In order to get it and receive coverage in Ontario you must be working full-time and for longer than 3 months… (If you’re a foreigner) My first full-time official job was not until this gardening one so even with each other job I attempted – I could never get the coverage.
I finally received my OHIP gem of a card on Wednesday that week, wonderful!
Anyhow, I figured, might as well get it checked out quickly before the trip as I’m covered. Even if it means no beer for me.
As the truck is getting packed and prepped for the trip the pain starts getting worse, and nausea hits. I decide I can’t wait until my 4:30pm appointment at the walk-in clinic and go to the local hospital to see how the emergency wait is.
The hospitals: 4 hour wait. However, they’ll give a quick ‘triage’ to see how much of an emergency you’re in. I didn’t want to waste time so told the nurse who took my blood pressure that I had another appointment and maybe should just wait until 4:30 and be seen by a doctor. She kept answering that it was my choice and she didn’t know. I just wanted her opinion if it looked like I should be admitted to a hospital (having checked all my vital signs) or a doctors visit would be enough – maybe some prescribed antibiotics are all I need? The response was “I don’t know what they do at the clinic”.
Okay. Figured I’d be seen faster at the doctor and the nurse didn’t seem concerned, I walked out. Better someone else take my place there.
Off to the clinic this time, got seen to relatively fast although my dull pain had turned into a huge fire ball that was making me rock back and forth in pain and moan loudly, the nausea was taking over my physical control. I am known to not try to draw attention to myself and quickly embarrassed in crowds so this type of behaviour was not normal.
She did a few checks and said she was worried about appendicitis. That I should go to the hospital… But the trip!??
As I walked out the office, I was feeling sad and guilty to have to miss this trip, the money and time and even, effort put into it was huge. And of course, I’m too ill to travel.
Once outside the building I violently vomit in the car park, more pain, more nausea.
Okay, maybe… just maybe the doctor is right and I should postpone the trip.
Back in the hospital.. Although this time, rocking, moaning, sweating, fire balls and all.
The lady at the reception desk recognizes me but says we have to re-register as I left, yet, she can’t find her glasses. I’m just holding onto the back of this chair trying not to lose all of my insides as she searches for her glasses. I think it’s funny now. It wasn’t at the time.
And I immediately get to go through the emergency doors this time. I guess I was convincing enough.
Same nurse sees me and asks me the same questions – but I can barely answer her. The discomfort was too much. Eventually, she says “I’ll get something for the pain” and returns with a big needle and two tablets. I manage a corny ‘uh oh’ where I almost get a smile but mostly an explanation that the needle will stop the pain a lot faster than the pills. Not going to argue with that. “You’ll feel a burn”.
Oh Fuck Me! Was that a burn!! Wow. Not the needle, but the fluid they put inside of you. WOW! I don’t swear that often but JESUS THAT HURT. As the weekend went by I found those HORRIBLE needles of brief TORTURE were a friggin’ life saver. Morphine 🙂
The X-ray lady was very nice, smiley. I asked her if she knew what was wrong with me from the results and she, of course, smiled. “I bet you get asked that all the time don’t you?” Smile. “Yes, I’m not really supposed to say anything”. Fair enough.
The drugs had worked and I was calm, still a little nauseous but they had put a drip into me to give me Charcoal? I think? Which apparently takes away any nausea. It totally worked.
I should mention at this point that this is my first real injury/illness/hospitalisation. So the drip in the arm was terrifying, I’ve had blood taken before but at the same time as extreme pain and nausea, that was terrifying, those damn needles and the random vomiting, was all terrifying. I felt like I was being tortured on the walking dead or something.
I was told I had appendicitis and had to go to another hospital in Ottawa to have surgery.
Surgery!!? Oh crap. What if I don’t wake up? What if I wake up half way through?
I should also mention that I’m quite happy pretending that inside of us is simply a white cloud of soul and the skin just kinda…covers it. So as soon as organs are mentioned… It grosses me out. I have never claimed to be perfect – far from it.
At the second hospital in Ottawa, funnily enough this is in the French part so basically everyone’s first language in there was french. I liked it and found it quite surreal (the morphine was working) I thought I’d travelled to another universe. Having been brought up by my French mother made me feel quite at ease with it all.
All the same tests and questions again, and the same drugs. I was very quickly taken to an operation room, my jewellery was taken off, my gown was put on and I was ready for the knife.
Even now, it feels like it all happened so fast and I had very little control over any of it.
I remember saying to the surgeon in a quiet voice “I’m very nervous” and she replied “Don’t worry, it’s normal to be nervous…”
Post Surgery: I remember opening my eyes and being surprised by my surroundings – I was back in the recovery room. I was in the bed and then moved to ‘my room’, which I shared with two other women. I didn’t speak to them much, remained friendly but liked my curtains pulled for utmost privacy – A thing very rare in hospitals. At least 7 people were in that operation room, and they all saw my vagina.
I was to spend two nights there, as my white blood cell count was too high.
Luckily, as I had already packed everything for camping it was very easy for me to have my belongings ready. Books, Toiletries etc. were all there so that was comforting.
I was accompanied throughout most of the full day I spent there which was a big help. I contacted or was contacted by my friends and family, some calls were made (of which I will always be ever so grateful as, times like these, you need to feel loved, you need to not feel alone – yes, we’re all alone but, feeling cared about just friggin’ helps).
As for the nurses, pfffft they work such long hours, I certainly have a new found respect for them now. All were very different and most were very nice, apart from the first one I saw twice who seemed annoyed that I was in her space (“I don’t know” lady) I wish I could have thanked them all. The stuff they have to put up with, deal with, be patient with. It takes a certain type of person.
The first night went quite well, considering. I was still in shock and quite drugged up so even though I didn’t sleep much, I was warm in my bed and comfortable. I was happy when a nurse popped her head around the curtain to give me medicine or check things and I felt glad that ‘it was all over’.
The next day I was awake at 6am and it was my first assisted pee attempt… that whole day turned into how much pee I could produce, I’d have a special measuring bowl and each time we’d see if there was any improvement. The first time I stood up I felt very light headed, but the nurse held on to me and led me extremely slowly to the bathroom. Of course, relieving oneself in front of a stranger (or even someone you know) is a little embarrassing, yet there was a voice inside my head that often came out over the weekend ‘be mature, it’s okay’ and it worked. I went in front of her, I didn’t blush or hide (they’ve seen it all) and we even chit chatted. Which I never do! Funny how you get in touch with your extroversion in the awkward situations.
I wasn’t doing well, I had a lot more urine inside of me than coming out, so it was a struggle but by that evening the nurses seemed happier with my results. Gold Star.
The next evaluation – passing GAS. Ah, one of my favourite topics to discuss with almost anyone who would listen anyway but here, people are constantly asking you ‘have you had a chance to pass gas?’ Nurses, doctors… okay well, thats all but you get the idea. So for once in my life, I had a genuine excuse to talk about ‘farts’. Although, I was not gold star level on that one, took about 24 hours before things started shaking. It turns out the reason being that for this procedure I had of appendectomy ‘Laparoscopic’ (keyhole) means they pump you up with CO2 gas to get a good look inside of you – so you have to fart after the surgery as you’re full of it!
There are two types of appendectomy – the ‘easier and less intrusive’ laparoscopic procedure where they poke 3 wholes inside of you or the longer recovery option ‘open’ appendectomy, where they cut out a much bigger, single patch of you. Also, I’m not sure why but the laparoscopic type leaves with a sore right shoulder… and it’s true. Really aches.
It was my first hospital food experience as well, I don’t really have a lot to complain about. I didn’t eat a lot of it, mostly because I had no appetite. However, I liked that we had a menu handed out to us covering 3 or so days of food; breakfast, lunch and dinner. It just adds a less morbid theme to hospitals I guess, and patients feel they have a bit of a choice. Well done Canadian Hospitals.
The second night was not so pleasant, I had less sleep and all the events and risks of the first night (surgery and what not) was starting to creep in. Nothing was new and exciting, it became more of ‘oh, i hope they send me home tomorrow’ and ‘how long will I take to cover?’ reoccurring thoughts in my head. At the same time, there was another patient making a lot of noise somewhere else in the ward, not too far as I could hear him quite well. He was yelling and retching the entire night, at some point I guess he was trying to open a door and asking why he had been locked in, he was banging and trying to pry this door open. It was just bad, bad and sad. I felt sorry for him, as of course he must have been confused, probably post surgery and completely disorientated but it also seemed there were little efforts to calm him down. You wanted him to stop, You just wanted him to stop. I know the nurses probably had no options and thats why it continued but it was just a horrible reminder that yes, you were in a hospital with strangers, you were sick and they were sick, and you can’t leave. It was just an unpleasant night.
The next morning I was told I could probably leave, and a couple of hours later it was confirmed. I was very happy.
Getting out of bed had become a little easier, my system of rolling over to my side and pushing myself up was becoming less painful, if you take hold of your legs as you do it, I find it helps a lot. I read about it on another person’s blog, she would grab her right leg and it helped her, yet I find grabbing my left works better for me so.. I think everyone has to find their own way of comfort as this stuff just hurts and whatever works, works. In fact, most of my pain is coming from my left side, even though my appendix was on my right. I don’t know.
Recovering at Home: So I went home, I felt a little emotional leaving, it had all happened so fast, I had gotten used to my bed, the pink curtains, the nurses and even the ladies in my room, whom, I try not to think about them still being there. I was worried the entire drive home, bumps in the road or even a car accident. Feeling ridiculously sensitive to all movements and desperate not to have to go ‘back there’.
It was nice to get home, a HUGE bunch of flowers was waiting for me (thank you) and I felt a little more at ease. Guess I’ll just chill and watch Netflix for two weeks then. It’s not that simple.. It is now Monday night so, it’s my second night at home and as much as I feel safe and relaxed – it’s tough. The pain is always there, the risk of falling, catching yourself on something, eating the wrong thing, drinking the wrong thing, not going to the toilet or going too much to the toilet is all there.
With no exaggeration, it took over an hour to get me into bed last night. I was just panicked, I didn’t want to feel the pain again and I had (still have) a paranoia about getting a hernia. No positions worked to get me into bed, lying down, I was too anxious to let go and put my head down. I missed the hospital beds where you can press a button to lower you. Lots of pillows or no pillows? Is it too soft? Or too hard? What If I can’t get up in the morning? The mind was overworked. I read different blogs of what other people did, some settled for the sofa, or armchairs, but I wanted a decent sleep in a bed. Eventually, I lay on more than 4 pillows (I think) and one was taken out from under me (slowly) until I was lowered at the right level. I put a pillow under my knees too to lessen any tension in my lower back/abdomen. I’ve found that today, my lower back hurts more which I’ve read is quite normal as we’re using it a lot more to protect out front side. So that system worked for me last night, I’m a little bit dreading tonight but trying not to overthink it. I was prescribed some pain drugs too which I took half way through the getting-into-bed-attempts, which to be honest, worked very well. Morphine 🙂
So comfort has been a big thing. And coughing. Each potential cough puts me into survivor mode, grab a pillow and hug your belly, it’s going to hurt. I hope that’s the first thing that stops. I hate it. I’ve also bought myself a walking stick to help with my balance, and hopefully my back (which has been getting worse) even though I look funny using it. One piece of advice I’ve found important has been to ‘keep moving’ … it’s easy to stiffen up when we don’t move, I feel all rusty when I wake up or haven’t left the sofa for a couple of hours.. So grab that walking stick and get walking. Keep your shoulders relaxed and try to stand upright. Just keep moving.
How unlucky that it happens the day of The Big Trip?
How lucky was I to have had it all happen barely 2 days after my health insurance came through?? Life eh?
Et voila, I think that’s the extent of what I have to write about this experience, It’s only been 3 days so I hope things improve and life gets back to normal. Anyone who is experiencing this, I wish you luck, and to try to remember its all temporary. That’s the great thing about life, everything is temporary, sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s bad but ‘this too, shall pass’.