Last week I had my appendix removed. A lot of people have a lot of questions, so I decided to write an in-depth post (what else would you expect from me?) about what exactly is your appendix, what it does, and how did they remove it.
What the junk is an appendix?
The appendix sits where the small intestine and large intestine join. It’s about four inches long and is usually in the lower-right side of your abdominal cavity. The function of the appendix is currently unknown. A lot of people think that it’s something left over from our pre-historic past. Other people think that it acts as a storehouse for good bacteria. Almost everyone agrees that we can remove the appendix with no health complication.
What is an Appendicitis?
An appendicitis is simply the infection of your appendix. Everyone has an appendix. We don’t use it, we don’t need it, but sometimes it gets infected.
When your appendix gets infected it swells and can rupture. When it swells, the area around your appendix hurts like something awful. The best way to explain it is like a very, very bad muscle tear. In fact, I did some stretching the day before and thought that I just pulled a muscle stretching.
At lunch I told my fiancée, “Geez! My side hurts really really bad. You think I should go to the doctor and get it checked out?”
She told me that I was being was being a wuss and should just tuff it out. I went back to work. I didn’t notice, but I was holding my side as I walked up some stairs. Someone came up to me and said, “Chip! Are you okay? You’re holding your side!”
I continued to work but as the day went on, my side hurt worse and worse and worse. I looked online to find out that your appendix is in your lower right side. That’s exactly where the pain was. After talking to my “triage” of coworkers they told me I need to go get some medical help.
The biggest symptom of appendicitis is pain around your stomach. It starts at your belly button and then moves to the right and farther south. Other things that you can look for are: fever (I had a slight fever), nausea and loss of appetite. If you experience any sort of abdominal pain I would go to the ER immediately.
I decided to first go to an urgent care facility – not in the ER. This was a huge mistake. Urgent care places are typically full of workers’ compensation injuries. It is not the best situation to be in if you have something urgent like an appendicitis.
It took me about two hours to see a doctor from the time that I walked in. You definitely can’t describe the urgent care facility as luxury or high-class or maybe even clean. Well, it was clean – but barely, it smelled like smoke from everyone smoking outside the entrance.
After finally seeing a doctor, two hours later, he told me that they couldn’t help. They didn’t have a CT scanner and I needed to go to the ER immediately. The good thing is, they refunded my Co-Pay, so, at least, I didn’t have to pay for two hours of my life that I’ll never get back.
I immediately went to the emergency room at Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth. I literally saw a doctor within five minutes of walking in the door. He laid me down and he said, “Does it hurt right here?” He pushed exactly where my appendix was and I cringed.
I said, “yes.”
He said, “Do you know you have?”
I said, “I think I have an appendicitis.”
He said, “I think you’re right. Let’s run some test to make sure.”
After that quick diagnoses, I spent a lot of time waiting getting blood work taken, getting urine samples taken and just sitting around waiting for all the results to come in.
One way to confirm that you have an appendicitis is a CT scan. One of the weird things they do is a fill your body with an iodine dye so they can see the organs in your body a little bit better.
Thankfully, the people at work warned me that it would feel like I peed my pants. I did not believe them. Once they put iodine my body I felt the weirdest warming sensation – it really felt like I peed my pants (I didn’t, in case you were wondering). It was the weirdest thing I’ve ever felt in my life.
About an hour after my CT scan was complete, the doctor came in and confirmed that I had an appendicitis. Very shortly after, the surgeon came in and told me exactly what they were going to do.
The Appendix Surgery
The surgeon told me that this is a very routine procedure. In fact, about 8% of people have their appendix taken out. I did not know it was that common. He told me the only thing they do more often is remove gall bladders.
It’s very interesting how they remove an appendix these days. They do this laparoscopically. This simply means they don’t have to cut you open like the old days. They put two incisions below each side of my belly button where they put in the different tools/instruments to actually cut out my appendix. They also use those holes to put in cameras, take photos and assess the situation exactly.
Once they identify the appendicitis they go in and cut out the infected part. Then, they pull out the appendicitis out through your belly button, which they also open up.
Of course, they put you completely under for this procedure.
When I came-to, I felt some pain. They gave me morphine, which immediately kills the pain.
To get into your abdominal cavity and do the surgery they have to fill your abdomen with gas – like a balloon. Because of that, you have a lot of excess gas in your body. So, you feel bloated. But you will also feel pain in your back in your shoulders, because that’s the gas trying to escape.
The bloating is the worse. The pain medications also make you constipated. So, think about that. You have gas and you’re constipated. That is not a very good combination.
The bloating was so bad the next day I couldn’t button my pants. The pain wasn’t bad but the bloating was awful. I joked with Jessica that this is fattest I’m ever going to be because I feel so miserable. A couple of days later, I was able to use to the restroom and feel a lot better.
My belly button is a bit bruised and you can see the laparoscopic holes. The doctor told me in a couple of months, you won’t be able to see any of the holes.
Overall, it’s pretty amazing that you can have a part of your body removed and be a the TCU Football game (Go Frogs) the next day. Let me know if you have questions about my appendicitis in the comments.