Hi everyone! I hope you’re all well.
Todays post is a little bit different, as it’s not advice, or beauty, or fashion…it’s about my appendix, or lack of, now!
Some of you may have no interest in this post whatsoever which is fine, some of you may have experienced it or are experiencing it right now or are recovering, and some of you may be like me and just like reading random posts like this!
Also, I don’t want to scare any of you with this post; if you have similar symptoms to me, get them checked out but don’t panic; it might not even be appendicitis, and if it is, you’ll get sorted, it’s fine.
What Is An Appendix, and Appendicitis?
I’m not writing this to be patronising by the way, it’s just that I wasn’t too sure what my appendix even was before a few years back when I thought I might have appendicitis and looked into it, and so there might be some people who also don’t know.
So, your appendix is a little pouch looking organ, about 4 inches long, and it’s connected to your large intestine. From the research scientists have done, it essentially seems to be useless (well, I bloody hope it is anyway, as I don’t have one now!). Some medical professionals have said it may aid the immune system.
Appendicitis happens when the appendix gets blocked, which can be from an infection, something inside the body, or, lovingly put, a stool.
It makes the appendix swell, and the pressure of this can cause it to burst. The risk with this, is that the appendix is full of bacteria, and if it bursts this will leak out into your body, and cause a bad infection, sepsis, or can be fatal if not treated.
The Lead Up
Okay so, it all started on the 14th August in the morning at about 9am when I started getting really severe, sharp stomach pains. They started in the middle/mainly towards the lower right hand side of my stomach, and then they expanded out and covered my whole stomach. They were really, horribly sharp pains is all I can really describe it as, almost like really awful trapped wind (soz haha) but sharper.
It went on all day long, happening about every 20/30 minutes without fail.
That night I went to the pub for dinner and drinks with my boyfriend and some of our friends; I couldn’t fully concentrate as the pain was so bad, and I kept saying to my boyfriend ‘I really don’t feel right, this pain is so bad’. I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and admit that I can be a right hypochondriac/drama queen sometimes so understandably he kept telling me that I was fine, it was probably just a stomach ache.
I started feeling really sick, and also had a bad tummy (just being honest). The sickness then subsided but the pain carried on.
I went to bed and got woken up after about an hour of shut eye by the pains, because they were so severe. I was curled into a ball all night with a pillow clutched to me, with the pain coming in waves.
I booked a doctors appointment the next day, and they didn’t have any availability till about half 5 in the afternoon. I booked it, thinking I just had a bug or a stomach ache, or something else non-serious and that I could wait.
Anyway, the pain ended up getting so severe that I called back and said I needed an emergency appointment. I went in at midday, and had to wee in a pot so that he could check what was coming back in my urine, and also if I was pregnant (I wasn’t, not about to drop that bomb on you). The doctor then made me lie on the bed and examined my stomach, pressing all over it and asking me where it hurt.
Nowhere hurt, until he pressed my bottom right hand side and I nearly jumped off the bed; it was so tender and painful. He told me I might have appendicitis and that I need to go to the Royal Sussex County, which is my local hospital for those of you not from Brighton or Sussex.
He gave me a letter and called them so that they were expecting me. I went straight up there, and whilst queuing at the reception desk, the pain came in such a bad wave that I was making some kind of weird whale noises, and I think people must’ve thought I was in labour, and wondering where on earth my big pregnant belly was.
I went to the Pre Surgery Scanning area of the hospital (it’s definitely not called that haha), and they took blood from me, and it came back that my ‘inflammation markers’ were high, which apparently was a telling sign of appendicitis.
I then had an ultrasound so that they could see if I had any cysts on my ovaries that were potentially causing the pain, and I had to have a full bladder for this. I am telling you now, and I’m sure pregnant women or women who have had babies will be like I FEEL YA SISTA, but having someone pressing down very hard on your stomach and bladder, when you’ve just downed a litre of Evian, is not something I would volunteer to experience again.
I had medical students in watching whilst this was happening, and I think they found my sharp intake of breath everytime my bladder was pressed on very amusing.
They couldn’t actually see my ovaries very well in the scan, and because of the pain and the tests they’d done, they said they were going to operate.
I was put on the Digestive Diseases ward, and this was Tuesday 15th August at this point. I was told I was going to be operated on first thing in the morning, and that I couldn’t eat or drink anything due to the surgery. Fine by me.
Morning rolls around on Wednesday 16th August, and no operation happens. I keep asking if they know when I’ll be taken down, and the nurses are telling me that unfortunately they don’t know.
I then get told I’m going to be taken down straight after lunch; I get told to go and wash myself with all this anti bac stuff, put my gown and compression socks on, and get ready for surgery. There’s also surgeons coming up getting me to sign forms consenting to the fact there’s a very small risk I could have complications and die, which is reassuring.
Afternoon happens, and still no surgery. By this point I’ve not eaten anything for over 24 hours, or drunk anything, and I’m famished and parched. I get put on a drip, and told that there’s emergency surgeries coming in all the time that are priority. The nurses were really good the whole time, I couldn’t fault them, it was just the situation that was frustrating because I was in a lot of pain.
I kept being told I was number 1 on the list of surgeries to be done, however hours and hours kept going by and nothing was being done. During all this, my parents and boyfriend were visiting me the whole time (during visiting hours which was 3-7 I think), and I was literally laying in the bed feeling so weak because I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything. Also, I had realised I could have actually eaten and drunk, as I needed to have not had anything for 6 hours, but I kept being told my surgery was about to happen, and so I wasn’t, when in actual fact I could have because I wasn’t being taken down to the operating theatre.
It was about 10pm, and a surgeon came up saying I was about to be taken down. The other surgeons were just completing an emergency C section and I’d be going down straight after that. I was so happy that finally I’d be out of this pain.
It was then the next day, Thursday 17th August. I woke up at about 5am, realising what the surgeon had said the night before. I thought I must’ve been taken down when I was asleep, and I must of had the surgery. I began feeling my stomach for dressings and there was nothing, so I realised I hadn’t had it done.
It was mid morning on the Thursday, and I officially hadn’t eaten or drunk for over 48 hours. Yes, I was on a drip, but it wasn’t actual water in my mouth. It was crazy that it was only just over 48 hours, and yet I’d lost so much weight already. I looked in the mirror in the ward bathroom and I looked so gaunt, my stomach had practically caved in on itself and I just felt so weak.
I began to get really upset and tearful, because of course when you haven’t eaten it makes you emotional, I was in sporadic amounts of pain and I was beginning to get really worried because the pain wasn’t constant anymore, so I was convinced my appendix had actually burst and that things were beginning to get really dangerous.
Finally, at about 2.30pm on the Thursday, a few surgeons came up to the ward; so many surgeons had been up time and time again to talk to me, run through the risks and check on what my pulse and heart rate had been that day, that I just thought this was another one of those visits. When they told me they were taking me down to surgery right that second, I literally yelped with joy.
My mum was with me at the time and I was so happy that finally I was being taken down, but as my bed was being pushed along the hospital corridors with my mum walking next to me I started to get really nervous. I felt like I was on a TV show or in a film, and it all started to get a bit ‘real’ that I was having an operation.
When we got to the double doors of theatre, I had to say goodbye to my mum and I hugged her so tight because I genuinely thought that it could be the last time I see her. I know that may sound silly to a lot of people, as an appendix removal is quite a common operation, but because of my past bleeding disorder, I was petrified that I might have a complication with my bleeding and never make it out of there alive.
We said one last goodbye and I got taken in to a small ish room, where there was about 6 surgeons and anaesthetists all running around doing stuff, like sticking these little pads to my chest and body and hooking wires up to them, and talking to me about what was going to happen.
The main surgeon was really good looking and I remember thinking ‘Oooh I’m glad I stuck a pair of nice lace French knickers on!’ (when I woke up from surgery they were hanging in a carrier bag on the end of the bed! Also, I remember being BUSTING for a wee when I went down to surgery, and when I came out I didn’t need one anymore, so I’m concerned that I actually wet myself during surgery. For fuck sake).
Anyway, I told him I was really nervous and he said I was the 4th appendix removal they’d done that day, and how I was young and healthy and therefore had nothing to worry about.
They gave me an oxygen mask, and said they were going to start injecting me with anaesthetic to put me to sleep, and after that I remember absolutely nothing.
So, when I woke up I was in the Theatre Recovery Room after having my appendix removed, where there seemed to be about another 10 people also all waking up from surgery.
All I can say, was that I was off my absolute rocker.
I found out I’d been given anaesthetic, ketamine and morphine, so no wonder to be honest.
I was groggy as hell, and literally had no idea what was going on. I kept falling into little dreams where I was imagining my mum had a mushroom on her head, and then had a gummy bear as a head.
I remember telling one of the nurses in the room that they needed to phone my parents to tell them I was alive, and get them to tell my boyfriend that I was too.
After about half an hour/40 minutes in recovery, I got taken back up to the ward, where I still had a nose tube on to help me breathe.
I was getting really bad sharp pains in my shoulder, which I’ve since learned is normal after surgery, as they pump your stomach up with air to make it easier to operate (that’s another thing – you look about 8 months pregnant after the op!).
My parents came up to see me, but not for long as I was absolutely exhausted and just wanted to sleep.
I had literally the best looking doctor during the night come and check on me, and he told me I needed to go for a wee so that they could check it. Well, I was not expecting the level of pain that ensued.
This was the first time I’d gotten out of bed, and it was absolutely excruciating. I walked to the toilet at a pace of 0.01 miles per hour, I’m not even joking. I was doubled over, with this huge, swollen, air filled stomach.
I was also given antibiotics, injected directly into my veins. Now, I am good with needles. When I had my bleeding disorder, I learnt to get over my fear of them, but sweet lord above oh my goodness gracious, this was pain like I’d never felt it.
I actually screamed out loud in the ward; it’s what I can only assume getting the lethal injection feels like, I actually thought they were injecting me with poison. It was awful. Apparently I have small veins so maybe that was why? Lord knows.
Going Home & Recovery
I was discharged the next day, but in all honesty, I didn’t feel ready to. I know that I was, they need the beds for other people, but I was in so much pain and so incapable of doing anything it just frightened me.
For the first 5 or so days, I was honestly unable to do anything for myself. Even sitting up in bed, moving a cushion, anything, it all had to be done for me. My parents and boyfriend were such a big help during this time.
You don’t realise how much you use your core stomach muscles, until suddenly you’ve had an operation on that area.
All I did was lay in bed sleeping and on my phone and watching stuff on my laptop, but I couldn’t even plug it in or move it myself if I needed to.
I didn’t shower either, which sounds disgusting, but I didn’t want to get my dressings wet yet, and also I had to have help to even get to the toilet, let alone wash myself.
After about 5 days, I was still in pain but I was a little bit more mobile, for example I could walk down the stairs, even though it would take me a while.
After about a week and a half, I was a lot more mobile, and could stand in the kitchen and make egg on toast and things like that, and after 2 weeks even though I was still sore and uncomfortable, I could go about my normal life although obviously I couldn’t do anything really active or lift anything heavy, etc etc.
Also, my stomach was still huge until about the 10 day/2 week mark where it started to go down from the swelling and the air that had been pumped into it.
Another thing, pretty personal but if anyones reading this who’s going through it then it might help them so I’m gonna say it; going to the toilet.
I didn’t go (well I went for wees but I didn’t go for that kind of toilet) for the whole time I was in hospital. I got discharged on the Friday, and went for the first time on the Sunday afternoon. It was quite painful, and I also had some bleeding, but it seemed to mainly stop after that episode.
Wounds & Dressings
So, thank the bloody lord, my post-op wounds/scars healed exactly as they should’ve done. I had a bit of leaking the first few days but that all cleared up soon enough.
I have an incision just under my belly button, one just next to my left hip, and one right on the top of my lady part (which was unshaved for surgery, SOZ Fit Surgeon). After a few days I cleaned my wounds with the help of my mum, with saline water and new dressings which the hospital had provided. We did this every few days and then after about 2 and a half weeks I let them heal without any dressings on.
They now look like pink/light red scars, which have faded quite a lot. I’ve used the Cloud 9 Skin Rehab Scar Minimising Cream, available here to help fade them, and I do genuinely think it’s helped. It has loads of good ingredients in, including arnica, which is your go-to for getting rid of bruising.
I was on Dihydrocodeine when I came out of hospital, which was to be taken 4 times a day, 4 hours apart. It’s pretty strong, and for moderate to severe pain. It tastes a bit like thick, flat coca cola to be honest.
I forced myself to stop taking it after about 4-5 days, only because I didn’t want to get reliant on it, and I haven’t taken it since.
So, my operation was now 2 months ago, and I’ve been pretty much fine since. Again, maybe this is TMI but if it helps someone then it’s worth it, but your stomach might be a bit funny, let’s say, after having your appendix removed, as it is part of your whole bowel set up, and is to be expected.
You shouldn’t do exercise or anything too strenuous after for about 6-10 weeks I don’t think, as you’re still healing on the inside. Even now, my insides are still healing and they will take some time to, but I do feel almost right as rain now.
I’ve not been very well recently, bogged down with a cold and flu, and I’m hoping it’s not to do with my immune system due to my appendix removal, but we shall see.
Anyway, this is probably the longest post I’ve ever written, and if you’ve stuck with me till the end, you’re a bloody trooper and deserve a medal.
I hope this post has helped any of you who are going through it right now, or have done, and I hope you all feel better soon!
All my love BGP xx