PTSD and Appendicitis
The other morning when my son woke me up at 4am I noticed some sharp pains in my stomach. When I woke up I was certain I had some kind of flu or food poisoning and just needed to wait for the inevitable mass exodus from my body.
As the pain grew worse and I became more nauseous without throwing up I started to realize something more might be wrong, and when the pain brought me to tears while I was reading my son a nap time story, I knew my day would end at the hospital. It was so reminiscent of preeclampsia—a pain that could be something simple like indigestion, but it builds and builds till it makes you want to do anything to make it stop.
I texted my husband, “what are the odds of us both having appendicitis,” as he had just had his appendix removed four years earlier. He called me right away and asked if I had done the “tests” and if the pain was in the lower right quadrant of my abdomen. The pain was actually everywhere in my stomach, but in my mind it was like all the surrounding pains were neon arrows pointing at the lower right corner, that is where the source was. So, he came home. And my neighbor who is a retired doctor came by and confirmed that it sounded like appendicitis, so off we were to the hospital.
Everything was going fine, but I was starting to get emotional. We returned to the hospital where Finn was born and the whole process was reminiscent of that terrible time. I got taken back to a room and tested, and of course pregnancy was on the table as a concern, but in the end it was in fact my appendix.
They gave me some drugs and told me I would most likely be home that night after the surgery. My mother-in-law was with our boys and now that we had a clear answer everything was moving right along.
I was taken to pre-op and met my doctor. I joked about a belly button tuck (I have always had a large belly button), and I declined the “don’t care about anything drugs,” as he said they would make me wake up slower and delay me going home and I seemed to be doing great. And I was, until I had to leave my husband and be taken to the OR.
(Yes I had my husband take my picture, just wish my hair net had been on straight.)
I lied on the table looking up at the lights, the faces around me and the door where the doctor enters and it all flooded back. When I delivered Finn there was tenseness in the room and a fear in my chest not knowing how things would turn out. This was a simple ten minute procedure, but those feelings came flooding back. I began crying, then sobbing, and a pregnant nurse came and held my hand. I started to tell her my story and she rubbed my arm and told me that was all over. They gave me some oxygen to help me calm down and I took big breaths. Eventually it must have been the sleepy drugs because I don’t remember anything else.
When I woke up in recovery I was crying for my husband. I guess I asked the nurse, “is it a boy or a girl.” I was completely back to two years ago when my Finn was born. As the drugs started to wear off and the nurse told me I need to wake up and stop crying to see my husband I obeyed. I started to remember why I was actually there this time and realized that hard part was done.
I’m healing now and even the pains are reminiscent of the C-section. The feeling of your intestines having been displaced, the sharp pains under the scars, the soreness in the muscles, but it was an appendix, not a baby this time.
This was a pretty big trigger, but small ones happen too. The ding of an alarm that sounds like a hospital monitor or maybe the smell of hand sanitizer, little things can take me back there. Healing takes time, but I am thankful to be in a time of healing.