Friday, November 20, 2009

Death of an Organ

This past Tuesday was a normal day. I was at Taylor's wrestling meet (he pinned the guy in 22 seconds). Nate was coaching. Ian and Jordan had walked up to the middle school gym after their school got out.  (So nice that they're next to each other!) Ian stayed, Jord walked home. ("I'm bored.") Brit had intramurals after  school, so she was going to come up about 4:30, when she got done. Her little friend was at the meet, so I figured she'd want to stay and play.

About 4:10 Brit walks into the gym, crying. I'm thinking, "Who did it? I'll beat them up!" She collapses against me on the bleachers. "Brit? Sissy Bear, what's wrong?"

"My stomach!!!!!! It huuuuuurrrrrrts!!!!!"

Hmmm. Brit has a pretty high pain tolerance. That's weird. "Did intramurals get out early?"

"No. I left because my stomach hurt so badly. Can we just go home?" I can barely understand her through her tears. Her friend is watching us from a few seats down, wanting to play but seeing that something is not right.

"Okay, okay. Let me get my things. We'll go home." I let Nate know we're leaving, and Brit sobs all the way to the car.

"Brit, when did it start hurting?" I ask.

"This morning. Right after I got to school."

"What? And you didn't go see the nurse or call us?" My mother's heart aches.

"No." She's in too much pain to talk.

We get home, and she collapses on the couch in tears. I sit by her, not knowing what to do. She's been "backed up" before, which wasn't comfortable, but this wasn't like that. She feels nauseous from the pain. I think that maybe it will subside, but within five minutes she is howling like a hurt dog, screaming at times.

I call the base acute care clinic, praying they'll send us somewhere else, somewhere that will be good. It's our first medical emergency here, and I don't know where to go yet.  The nurse hears Brit in the background, "Is that HER? My goodness. Let me put you on hold so I can get authorization for you to go to the ER."

After a few minutes we get the authorization. I call Nate, who is almost home from the meet. I am suddenly very thankful for a now-13-year-old who can stay at home with the other kids.

Brit can barely make it to the suburban, and lays down in the back seat. Nate walks in the garage, just getting home. He pushes on her abdomen, and she says it hurts all the way across. He pushes where her appendix is, and she says it hurts the same there. We pull out of the driveway, and Brit slowly starts to quiet down. The drive to the hospital is only seven or so minutes, but by the time we pull up to the ER she's quiet, only whimpering. Nate gives me that, "Are you really sure about this" look.

After two hours in the ER, Brit is reclining on Nate's lap, stretched out where before she had to hunch up to lessen the pain. She says it still hurts, but we're wondering if all this is worth it. We discuss just going home, but something in me... something in me says we have got to stay. I reason I'd rather wait here and get a prescription for constipation than have to make another appointment for another day.

So, we wait.

They take x-rays.

They show us back to a room.

The doctor comes in and pushes on her belly. THIS time, it seems to be fine everywhere, except in one particular spot. "Well, that's where her appendix is. We need to get a CT scan to be sure. She doesn't show any of the other signs. No fever, no vomiting, no diarrhea... but we need to be sure."

Nate and I look at each other in disbelief. Really? A CT scan? He says they need to rule everything out, and the nurse comes back with some red stuff for Brit to drink so everything will show up on the scan. Then she has to give her an IV. Evidently, Brit doesn't like needles very much. That was an adventure. I take the BRAVE bracelet off my wrist and put it on hers.

Nate and I keep looking at each other thinking, "Really? Well, I guess it's good that they're thorough."

After an hour and a half of having the red stuff in her, she goes off to get her CT scan. Then she's back. Then we wait, thinking surely they'll come in any minutes and dismiss us with a Glycolax prescription.

Then the doctor pushes through the door, "It's appendicitis." I must have looked a tad shocked.

"What? Really? Really?" I hear myself say. The doctor says they need to do surgery right away, and that the surgeon would be in as soon as he finished up taking out someone else's appendix. I'm thinking this is still bizarre, as she doesn't have any other symptoms. (Brit, who was scared, suddenly thinks it may be cool to be the first one in the family to lose an organ.) As the next 45 minutes or so goes by, she develops a fever. All of a sudden, it's hurting her to go to the bathroom. Hmmm...

After a while, the surgeon comes in. He's very nice, and speaks directly to Brit. She seems a little nervous, but excited too. (She is our fearless one.) He discusses how normally he would do the surgery laproscopically, but Brit's abdomen is so small and her appendix is so swollen that he'll do it the old fashioned way and open her up. But, just a little, he assures her.

Realizing the momentous occasion this is becoming, I realize it needs to be photographically chronicled. Which is why I keep the camera in my purse, for just such times as this.

The surgeon says her appendix appears from the scan to be very large and disfigured and needs to come out right now. The nurse who is tending Brit mentions her fever is, indeed, rising.

So, it's off to pre-op.

Everyone is very nice, and Brit even gets a hat to wear. Someone had given her a little bear earlier, and she clings to it quite tightly.

Awfully cute. We need a close-up.

After this picture, her nerves kicked in a bit. She almost cried, but she was tough. The nurses and anesthesiologist were all around. Nate and I prayed with her, and then she was gone down the hall.

If you look closely, you can see her little hand waving goodbye as they wheel her off.

None of us had eaten anything since lunch at this point, and it was now 11:30pm. So, Nate ran home to get me some clothes for spending the night and acquire something from the only place open. (McDonald's)

The surgeon came out to the waiting area when they were finished to get me. He said it was very, very good that we had come in. Her appendix was so swollen that it would have definitely burst the next day, possibly even by the next morning. I found myself thanking God over and over and over. Her stomach had hurt, but it was climbing the rope in intramurals that pushed her over the top! Had she not done that, we might have just waited at home, thinking we would get something for constipation the next day. That was His protection, to get Brit in and get her appendix out before something worse happened.

Then we got to go in and see her. She was so cute, all woozy and sleepy. She would wake up for about thirty seconds and say, "Where am I? Wow. That was easy!" Then she'd be out.

Then she'd wake up again. "Where am I? Oh! That was fast!" Then she'd be out.

Then she'd wake up again. "Oh, hi! Gee, that was really easy. It was fun." Then she'd be out. SO adorable.

Protective father. All is well. We peeked at her teeny, tiny incision on the side of her belly.

I spent the night with her. She almost fainted while using the bathroom at four in the morning. But, by breakfast time she was getting her energy back.

No, she didn't eat all that.  =^)  But, we had a little of everything because they didn't know what exactly she would be able to eat. I got the leftovers. Yum. Yum.

I read Brit all the well-wishes everyone posted on facebook, and I think she loved hearing that everyone was so concerned for her. She felt very important when the hospital man delivered to her a bear and balloon from my parents. And when Nate walked in the door with a dozen pink roses, well, a girl just feels so special!

A mad game of Connect Four.

After she had lunch and took a shower, Nate and I ran home to get the second car since they'd be releasing her most likely that evening and he had to do the gym run. When I came back, this is what I found:

Brit, walking the halls, pushing her IV herself. They had said the more she walked, the sooner she'd recover. So, we had done a few laps. But, she wanted to show she could do it herself.

Our dear friend Jake came to visit, and he even brought her flowers. She was quite tickled to be so important, and says that her two favorite men in town came to see her: Dad and Jake.

No one under 18 was supposed to visit because of the severity of swine flu, but Ian came with Nate after gymnastics. They watched some tv, then he held his sister and comforted her as they took the IV out. Removing that tape is painful!

So, we checked into the ER at 5:30pm Tuesday, she went into surgery at 11:30pm, was out by 12:30am, and checked out of the hospital at 9:00pm Wednesday... minus one very nasty appendix.

Her brothers were very relieved when she came home, and have been very careful with her. She's finding it very hard to NOT do handstands and cartwheels throughout the house. No gymnastics or soccer 'til the doctor approves it in a couple of weeks (or more, depending).

So, I guess it was a good thing we went in. God's protection was written all over our circumstances. It could have gone so wrong, so many other ways! I'm so thankful that things went the way they did. Brit actually had FUN, too. She said the food was good, her scar is cool and everyone at St. Francis Hospital was so nice. But, her favorite part? "I could watch whatever I wanted on TV and didn't have to share the remote. No boys!" Ah, the desires of an only girl.
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Brown-Eyed Girl said...

ANGELAAA!! I had NOOOO idea this was happening!! I don't always get your status updates ( weird how I see some and not others). Oh I feel so awful now to not have known because I would of been praying for her!! But, PRAISE GOD!!! PRAISE GOD!! Glory to God for his obvious fingerprints all over the circumstances and how it all lead you guys to the ER!! Brit looks so at peace in all of these pictures, her face IS so sweet and I am praising God along with you right now for her protection and that thankful that this was caught on time and Brit is no longer in pain and on her road to recovery.

You need to text me next time if anything like this ever happens again (let's pray it doesn't) because you know girl that I WILL pray! For tonight I will pray for a swift recovery = ) . Love you, and hugs and well wished to Brit. Phew, praise GOD!!

Macks and Knickknacks said...

I'm so amazed at how brave and adorable Brit is! And I'm glad she's OK! Good instincts Momma! Angela you have such an awesome family and I totally enjoy peeking into your life from your blog! Love ya!

Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs said...

WOW! What an adventure!! Glad you took some pics. This is definitely something that needs to be remembered! It's not everyday that you lose an organ!

Karen said...

Yay to Brit and her new missing appendix for showing such strong Girl Power....and what a girl can do with her daddies love.