Last Wednesday after work, Brian met with me and we casually and calmly walked to the closest Emergency Room. I was having sharp pains in my stomach, nausea, & chills. The staff at the ER were so helpful and kind (I get so queasy with needles so def not the calmest person if you’re trying to put an IV in me). I had to sip a jug of this awful-tasting cocktail for the CT scan (“It’s probably just bad gas, right?” I cackled into the sippy cup filled to the brim with the vile drink, ice chips sloshing.) I was poked and prodded (“Maybe but we want to be sure.” said the doctor as pressed down on my lower abdomen.)
I was wheeled to and from the CAT scan machine (“We’re going to give you the contrast through your IV and you’re going to feel warmth in your stomach, that’s normal.” the technician warned as the stuff went through my IV drip which oddly gave me a horrible, bitter taste in my mouth.) Moments later as I was laying down on the bed, moving forward towards the mouth of a large, futuristic machine fitting for a sci-fi flick, a violent warmth spread through my lower body. It was so strangely comfortable and for a moment, I mistakenly thought I peed myself! This went on for a while before the technician came back and chatted jovially about how everything is going to be okay. I accidentally responded with three hearty sneezes and anyone who knows me well will tell you that I don’t do dainty ‘ah-choos’. My sneeze sounds like an 800 pound gorilla’s soul is being sucked out of its body. (“WHOA! Who knew you had all that in you?!” the technician laughed as he wheeled me back to the ER.) I was balls deep in the recesses of Instagram when my scans finally came back; that’s when the doctor somberly told me that I had an inflamed appendix. (“Really? That sucks.” I lamely said as my eyes welled up.) He recommended that it be removed surgically and of course, at the mention of ‘surgery’ I immediately drove myself to Panicville USA (“Can’t I just take antibiotics?” the panic in my voice rising.) I’ve never undergone general anesthesia let alone a surgical procedure. (“You can take antibiotics but it has a lot of side effects and your appendicitis will definitely come back and it will hurt a lot more. It’s a really simple procedure, I’ve personally had it done. You have nothing to worry about.” he said to calm me down.) Looking around the ER, I tried to be more rational about the fact that this is something that urgently needs to be done. (“Did I do something to cause this?“) Maybe my grandma was right all those years – running around after dinner causes the appendix to burst. (“You wronged someone in life and this is your punishment.” my doctor said as he smiled and reassured me that this just happens. There’s nothing that could have caused or prevented this.) I asked if I could go home and come back in the morning because our puppy was expecting us (LOL) but they advised against it and cited that I had to stay overnight and my operation will be booked in the morning.
Afterwards, I was transported to the east wing on a higher floor where I got more needles (“Before you go to sleep, I just need to give you injections – this is an anticoagulant and this is anti fungal.” the night nurse said as she drove the syringe in my arm while I looked away and gave my pointer finger a nice bite.) Minutes later, Brian and I fell asleep covered in cushy blankets and soft pillows and the kind of beautiful delirium that only comes with absolute exhaustion. I woke up with a start to the morning nurse doing her rounds and checking my temperature, blood sugar, and blood pressure (“I’m so sorry for disrupting, I just need to check your stats and then you can go back to your nap.“) That nap was short-lived because minutes later, a transporter came in to pick me up and wheel me to the Operating Room. PANIC! I have to change! I have to pee! I didn’t know what to do! The nurse was very understanding – she told me what to change into, and also offered a locker for my jewelry because you have to take those off, especially rings just in case you swell (who knew?)
After primping myself before The Butchering, I hopped on the hospital bed, ready to be wheeled. Brian followed along and bought along my possessions and the best support anyone could ever ask for. A couple of elevators and a whole lot of hallways later, we finally get to the double doors leading up to the Operating Rooms (if you watch Grey’s Anatomy, you know which ones I’m talking about.) There, I was greeted by an OR nurse where she showed me all the consent forms I had signed the night before. Finally, she asked me my name, my date of birth, and what operation I was getting done (“I just need a verbal confirmation from you before I take you in.” she smiled as she put a cap to cover my hair.) I gave her the info and glanced at Brian, petrified because I knew that he couldn’t come with me (“Everything is going to be okay, I’ll see you in a bit. I’m right outside, don’t worry.” he said before kissing me.) I felt a little silly as my eyes teared up at the thought of being cut open. I mean, I’m going for an appendectomy, not open heart surgery! But as much as I wanted to be logical, my fear and anxiety reigned. My nurse wheeled me through the doors and into the hallways where everything was bright white. Coasting through the hallways, I nervously peeped through doors and saw surgeons in robes, gathered around tables, draped in white light – presumingly cutting, fixing, operating. My near future was glaring at me that it took more than a second to realize that the nurse had stopped and parked us in the hallway outside Operating Room #16. The perfect spot to stop because I had the best view into Operating Room #17’s huge TV which was live streaming someone’s bloody insides (OMG WHY AM I HERE GIVE ME DRUGS TO CALM ME DOWN PLEASE). I had worked myself into a panic by the time they wheeled me in, shuffled from the bed to the table, and laid me down to meet my anesthesiologist. I politely told him that I was anxious and nervous and really, really, REALLY need something to calm myself down. (“It’s all going to be alright, we are going to give you something to help you relax.” he said as I drifted off to the deepest sleep I’ve ever had.)
I woke up fuzzy to people saying my name and telling me that it’s all done and that everything is okay. I grabbed the closest person I could (“Frank, could you please call my husband and tell him to come see me?” I slurred to someone-definitely-not-named-Frank as I urged him to call someone who is definitely-not-but-soon-will-be husband.) I was in and out of sleep and Brian was in and out of the Recovery Room. My mom and sis came by (“Anak, what happened?” my mom smiled as my sister giggled. “Of course, this would happen to you.“) Groggily, I asked my nurse when I could leave (“When your pain is manageable.” she says as I fell into another deep nap.) I was in and out of sleep while my Brian, my sister, and mom waited outside. Hours later, after my nurse gave me a higher dose of pain medication, and after I was able to walk to the bathroom with her help, she agreed to let me go home (“You need to go to the 4th floor to be discharged and they will give you instructions about your recovery.“) A transport to the 4th floor and check-up with a nurse later, I was finally being wheeled for the last time to the lobby where my mom and sister would meet us with the car. My mom drove Brian and I home to our apartment and helped me settle into bed where I fell into another deep sleep. She would stop by with my sister the next day to make Arroz Caldo (Filipino porridge) and watch episodes of Doctor Thorne. They left soon after as I finished the series with Lizzie snoozing on the couch.
That was over a week ago and I’ve been cooped up, recuperating, receiving flower arrangements, responding to ‘Get well soon!’ texts, and opening care packages from amazing friends and coworkers. Netflix and my puppy proved to be great company in between emotional episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, the doses of OxyContin, the deep naps, and bland bites of toast. It’s surprising how much you do and don’t do with a week’s worth of free time. And most of it was spent thinking about the ER visit – when Brian picked me up from work two Wednesdays ago, and held my hand as we calmly chatted through crosstown Manhattan. How lucky and thankful I am to have him by my side, to have my mom and sister, to have my lovable puppy, to have an amazing support system in my friends, and to have gone to a great hospital staffed with the kindest people. Sometimes, I get so caught up with the minutia of everyday life and I forget how truly blessed I am.