November 16, 2015
One night back in October, I started having a dull pain throughout my stomach. It was not too bad, but it was noticeable, and it woke me up from my sleep in the middle of the night. I took some Advil and went back to sleep. Woke up in the morning feeling a little better and went to work. That day my morning consisted of a lot of walking around. The pain came back, and started getting worse. In the afternoon I went home to rest. Around 4:00, I went back to work. Over the next few hours, the pain moved to the lower right side of my stomach. I started to think I had appendicitis.
Back in college many years ago I volunteered a few times in the local hospital’s ER. I remember one time discussing with the attending ER doctor the classic presentation of appendicitis, because there was a patient there he suspected had it. It was very similar to what I was experiencing … a dull pain throughout your stomach that migrates to the lower right side. That night I went to the local urgent care to get checked out. They didn’t see signs of infection (an indicator of appendicitis) and the doctor thought that since the pain was not that bad, it was most likely not appendicitis. With the caveat that in 5-10% of cases, it very well still could be. Went home that night, and was pretty uncomfortable sleeping. Woke up the next day, and had to take a day off from work. The pain was worse. Then all of a sudden in the afternoon, I started to feel much better. Until after dinner, when all heck seemed to break loose in my stomach. My stomach seemed to be on fire everywhere. Sleep was very difficult.
The next day I went to my primary care doctor who through a blood test now found signs of infection. He strongly suspected appendicitis and sent me for a office surgical consult. The surgeon also suspected appendicitis, who sent me for a CT scan. The radiologist diagnosed a ruptured appendix and sent me straight to the hospital. I had surgery that very night. The surgeon who did my surgical consent used the term “classic presentation” and suspected that the appendix probably ruptured the day before when I started feeling better. After the surgery I had a week long stay in the hospital with a few weeks recovery time thereafter.
In the grand scheme of things, this was a relatively minor medical blip. Certainly it could have been worse, and I certainly had some of those worse outcomes going through my mind. Anyway, as I was waiting to be brought into the operating room, my wife was there and I recall reminding her where she could find our life insurance policies and estate planning documents in case she needed them. Luckily we had taken care of that stuff already, so I guess I knew that if anything happened to me, she and the kids would be okay financially. So the lesson is, don’t procrastinate on getting your affairs in order, it is easy to do. Sometimes people think the process will be too long and complex so they do not want to engage in it. They put it off. I’ll tell you, I find that most of my clients are pleasantly surprised as to how painless and quick the process can be.
And of course the final lesson is this. Never ignore the signals that your body is sending you. If you notice a change in your body’s functioning or a pain that seems different from anything you’ve experienced before, definitely go get it checked out as soon as possible.