So, I had the most dramatic phone call ever with my mother. I won’t try to transcribe it here, mostly because I don’t really remember most of it. Suffice it to say that she was pretty shocked, we convinced her NOT to turn her car around and drive 3 hours to the hospital, and all of a sudden it was time to get transported up to surgery. Our bed-pusher (what are the guys called who push you around to whatever department you need to go to?) spoke super highly of our surgeon, said if he ever needed an appendix out this is the surgeon he would want to do it. I guess surgeon-praise doesn’t get much higher than that.
We met the anesthesiologist, who was very no-nonsense, which seemed comforting. She let us know what was about to happen, asked lots of questions about my medical history, and then asked if we had any questions. I felt like we should have a million but I actually had just one: was I going to wake up with a breathing tube down my throat? She said I most likely wouldn’t, unless something went wrong. Cool.
Then we met the surgeon. At the time, I thought he was very handsome. Like, could have been on Grey’s Anatomy handsome. He was confident and reassuring, like a good surgeon should be. I asked him how many of these surgeries he’d done on pregnant women, and how many had resulted in lost pregnancies. The answer to the second question was “None,” so I was convinced. He explained that the surgery was going to be laparoscopic, so I’d have just three small incisions: one for the camera and two for the tools they’d be using. They’d also have to use gas to make some room in my belly for this stuff to move around, so I’d probably be pretty bloated for a few days. Nice.
Then it was time to leave Josh, which was the only real time I got scared and cried a bit. But then I was whisked away to the OR quickly. I was surprised at how stereotypically the OR looked like TV or the movies, all white with big lights overhead and lots of people milling around. They got me on the table and gave me a mask with the anesthetic in it. There was a moment where I felt like I couldn’t breathe and panicked a bit, but then I quickly fell asleep.
And then I woke up with a breathing tube down my throat. CUE FREAKOUT.
I probably wouldn’t have freaked out quite so much if the anesthesiologist hadn’t told me that I would only wake up with it in “if something went wrong.” It turned out that nothing went wrong, I just happened to wake up before they took it out. But MAN.
My mouth was really dry and my throat was sore, but once the tube was out I croaked out two questions: “Was it my appendix?” and “Is the baby okay?” The answer to both was yes. Phew!
Josh and I reunited in recovery where he got to feed me ice chips while we waited for someone to wheel in an ultrasound machine to check on Burpy. Who was fine. Still jumping up and down in my uterus, good heartbeat, not a care in the world. Lucky duck. We had a weird conversation with our recovery nurse about the value of arts education and this year’s election. I can’t imagine I spoke at all intelligibly about either of those things.
We managed to snag a double room with no roommate, so Josh was able to stay overnight with me in what looked like the most uncomfortable recliner ever. And thank God for that, because I don’t know what I would have done if they had sent him home. He was seriously amazing throughout the whole process and really stepped up (having never really experienced this kind of medical emergency before). He’s going to be awesome in the delivery room, I just know it.
I was woken up at least every hour or two by nurses checking my vitals, and I had to page for help when I needed the restroom, but it was otherwise a pretty uneventful night.
The next morning all my vitals continued to be good, though I was definitely feeling pain when I tried to move around. At first I was hesitant to accept painkillers (vicodin), but the nurse explained that the key to my recovery would be my ability to move around as quickly as possible, and that it would do absolutely no harm to the baby, so I got with that program.
After some cranberry juice (I was still on liquids-only) the nurse encouraged me to go for a walk in the hallway. She said that the surgeon would come back and check on me this morning, and if he gave the all-clear I could be discharged as early as the afternoon. This awesome nurse also made me a “coughing pillow,” which was really a blanket folded up and taped tightly that I could use to press against my belly whenever I needed to cough/laugh/adjust positions. I carried that thing with me everywhere I went for about a week; the nurse very sweetly drew little hearts on it and wrote things like “Hug Me!” on it. So nice.
Then it was time to walk! Josh tied me up nice and tight in my hospital gown so my bum wasn’t hanging out everywhere. At first I was disappointed by how SLOW I was. I definitely needed to lean on my IV pole for support and it took me a while to get to the end of the hallway. The nurse seemed impressed, though, because she decided I was okay to walk without her and went back to some other patients while Josh and I strolled. Every time we got to the end of the hallway I thought we’d be done, but then I said, “Let’s try one more lap.” I did five laps! I was pretty proud of myself!
The next few hours went by in a blur; the surgeon stopped by and said I looked great, cleared me to eat lunch and said could go home that afternoon, I ordered way too much food from the cafeteria and ate maybe half of it, got a prescription for painkillers which Josh filled at the hospital pharmacy. Then I had a moment of “It’s been less than 24 hours since we got to the ER. How can I POSSIBLY be ready to go home?” But everyone assured me it was time, and before long I was tucked into the passenger seat of our car, clutching my couch pillow to my tummy as we hit Every. Single. Pothole. on the way home.