As some of you know, I’ve been having mysterious stomach pain for almost a year. I’ve had several doctor appointments, an ultrasound, a CT scan, and a colonoscopy, but nothing turned up, so two weeks ago, I finally bit the bullet and went in for a laparoscopy, having been told that there would be one incision, possibly two.
I woke up with four incisions and no appendix.
Waking up was disorienting. I apparently talked to my OB-GYN, but I have no recollection of it because I had just gotten out of surgery. And my discharge papers were just for the laparoscopy, not the appendectomy, so the only info I had on what the doctors did and how I should take care of myself were from what I can remember from those hazy moments. I did talk briefly to the doctor who took out my appendix. He said that my appendix looked a little off—the size of a thumb instead of a pinky—so for the sake of being safe rather than sorry, he took it out. Oh, and he casually chatted about how research is starting to show that appendixes might have a function after all. (Exactly what a recently appendix-less person wants to hear haha.)
I did end up testing positive for appendicitis, but I didn’t know that for several days, so all of this was more unsettling than I’d expected—I guess because I didn’t expect it. Nor did I expect nearly passing out trying to walk to the restroom, or how difficult recovery would be. I mean, it’s an appendix. Tons of people get them out. Some people supposedly go back to work the next day. But even though it’s a common procedure, I didn’t know much about it, and I think if I had known more about both appendectomies and laparoscopies beforehand, it would not only have made recovery easier, but it might have encouraged me to go in for a laparoscopy sooner. Here are the 5 main things I wish I would have known:
- You are under anesthesia, and if the appendix hasn’t burst (or if you’re only having a laparoscopy), they can use glue to seal you back up, not staples or outside stitches. I put off having this procedure done because I thought I was going to have to be awake, and I thought that I’d have to go back in and have staples removed, which freaked me out. In reality, they used this purplish glue that flakes off on its own in a few weeks.
- Being bloated is the worst part. They fill your abdomen up with air so they can get a good look at what’s going on, but they can’t suck all the air out afterwards, so it lingers for a few days. The bloat stretches the skin around the incisions and makes them more painful. The short walks they advise you to take are difficult, but they really do help with this. Also, I found that propping up my legs made it easier to sleep at night.
- Take all the drugs, even if you feel like you don’t need them. The local anesthesia they use during surgery can make you feel better than you actually are the first day, and when it wears off, it’s awful. I’m someone who tries to avoid taking medicine whenever possible, but in this case, it’s definitely better to take whatever pain killers they give you whenever you’re allowed to take them. I also think it’s worthwhile to set alarms during the night so you don’t miss a dose. It helps you sleep better overall and prevents you from waking up barely able to move and having to wait an hour for the next dose to kick in.
- You use stomach muscles so much more than you realize. Any time I stood up, my breaths became shallow, and I had to throw my head back to open up the air passage more. I think this is because I was subconsciously avoiding using stomach muscles to breathe. If you cough or sneeze, you’re supposed to hug a pillow to your stomach. To get up, you have to roll to your side first so you’re not doing a crunch.
- Support from family and friends really is everything. On the fifth day of my recovery, someone rushed to meet me at the top of the steps so I wouldn’t have to walk down them, and I almost cried. Your world becomes so small when you can’t get around much, but somehow that allows you to appreciate the people in your life so much more. Thank you to everyone for the texts, visits, and prayers. I know it’s just a stupid appendectomy, but your support has meant the world. ❤
What I’m Listening to: New Fetishes (Mashup) – Dua Lipa x Selena Gomez