Doctors & Hospitals

Appendicitis and Lupus

Dear Diary,

I just wanted to tell you about my latest health crisis. Last Monday, I had severe abdominal pain that turned out to be appendicitis. I had to have an emergency appendectomy.

It was very scary because I’ve been on Coumadin therapy since the pulmonary embolism in 2008. So, to keep me from bleeding too much during the surgery, they had to give me a plasma transfusion to thicken my blood.

It all started on Sunday during church when I was having really bad abdominal pain. I couldn’t get any relief, and I thought it was the Plaquenil that I started taking for the Lupus. I spent the night searching the Internet to find out if abdominal pain was a side effect of Plaquenil. Some people had similar experiences, so I tried to sleep thinking that it was the new medicine.

But, that nagging voice in my head kept saying, it’s appendicitis. So, I promised myself, I’d called my rheumatologist first thing on Monday to get her opinion. I left a message, and within 30 minutes, she called back to tell me that it probably wasn’t the new medicine, and that I should go to the ER right away. I was already about to head there when she called.

Thankfully, I was in really good hands at St. Mary’s Hospital. The ER doctor was a little dry, and kept poking me in that area to see my reaction. I don’t know if he thought I was supposed to be hysterical or what. Not everyone responds to pain in the same way. I’ve been living with severe pain for a really long time now, so when I get pain, I go into a very meditative, deep breathing mode to handle it.

They sent me for a CT scan, and much to the ER doctor’s disbelief, it confirmed appendicitis. So, they prepped me for surgery, and I met my assigned surgeon, who happened to be a vascular surgeon. He explained that he would perform the procedure laparascopically, which was less invasive. I asked him what he would do if there were any bleeding or clotting issues, and his answer was right on the mark—insert a filter in my vena cava to prevent another embolism. With his answer, I knew he was very well prepared for a patient with my complex issues. He was present as two nurses gave me the transfusion, and I asked my Hubby to pray over me before I went in.

As with my other surgeries, I woke up in a cold room to the voice of my operating room nurse. All I could think of was that I made it. I’m alive! The doctor told us that my appendix thankfully hadn’t burst and was only inflamed.

They wheeled me to my room. No room mate. Hubby stayed with me all night.

I was released from the hospital late the next day, all bruised and sore in my belly. They sent me home with prescriptions for antibiotics, painkillers, and Lovenox shots that I had to inject myself (while bridging back to taking only Coumadin). I’m finally awake enough and have enough strength to spend some time in the living room with my laptop. 🙂

Emotionally and psychologically, though, I’ve been struggling because I just can’t believe I’m going through yet ANOTHER potentially life-threatening health crisis. Yes, I’m grateful that I was in good hands and that I got to the ER in time; but I just don’t know how much more of this I can take.

Hubby and Mom (who flew in to help take care of me) said I’ve done very well. But, I can’t sleep, and I keep thinking that something more will happen; like the last time I had the laparascopic surgery (to remove my fibroids). Mom reminded me that it was eight years ago to the day that I hemorrhaged from that surgery–February 4, 2005.

So, this illustrates more than ever that I need to find a good psychotherapist here in Reno. I think it’s important for me to get back into therapy so that I don’t regress. This has the potential for really setting me back. I just don’t understand why this stuff continues to happen to me….

But, closing my eyes, and thinking of how a therapist might counsel me, I can counter those moments of thinking – why me, again? AND, if I choose to, I can see that all the pain and fear keeps me in constant prayer and it gives me a profound appreciation for the little things. Our sufferings can be turned into blessings, if we just let them…. Whew, that’s not easy to swallow, but all I can do is try.



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