You may have been wondering where I have been these last couple of weeks. I had grand plans to start 2016 with a bang, and had so many ideas and blog posts to share with you after recovering from my surgery in November. All of my plans changed though, on the fifth day of 2016.
Early Tuesday morning, about 1:15am, I began to experience an awful pain on the right side of my abdomen. This came on suddenly, and I was in absolute agony. I ended up in the bathroom for four hours, doubled over in pain and thinking I had been hit with a stomach bug. I Googled my symptoms and joked with my husband that the results said appendicitis, but I was sure that was unlikely.
I managed to slowly walk into my doctor's office at 10:45am. He took one look at me and concern flitted across his face. As he pressed into my abdomen, I went as white as a sheet. His next words were "I think we should get you to hospital." I was then hooked up to an IV drip, given fluids, and taken away via ambulance. As I was taken away, I managed one last wave to my boys and had no idea what was to come.
I arrived at the Emergency Department and was given a lot of pain relief, then saw three doctors. I couldn't believe it when they said the symptoms were in keeping with appendicitis, but because of my recent surgery there was also an element of unknown. I was taken to a pre-surgery ward and admitted overnight. My boys and husband came in briefly to bring me some supplies, and as I said goodbye I figured that we would have an answer that night as to what was happening. My CT scan happened at 9pm and the doctors came to see me at midnight. The CT scan images were unclear, and so an ultrasound scan was booked for the morning. Cue the first lot of tears due to the pain and the fact that I wouldn't have an answer until the morning.
The tears were still coming thick and fast before my ultrasound, as I was scared and worried. Throughout the ultrasound, I was in a lot of pain and the images were still unclear. There was talk of a possible infection as the result of my hysterectomy in November, but appendicitis had not been ruled out. The main issue was my blood test results- I had a CRP (a level of inflammation) of 180, when the normal range is 1-20. This indicated that something was definitely going on!
A few different doctors had seen me by that stage, and the decision was made to take me to surgery to have a look at what was happening inside. More tears came as I had to accept the fact that one of my greatest fears, going under general anesthetic, was going to happen again. However, about twenty minutes before I was due to go into theatre, the Women's Hospital team decided to take over my care as they were convinced that my pain had something to do with my recent surgery.
Off I went to another part of the hospital, and proceeded to have three days of intravenous antibiotics for a post-operative infection. To make things worse, my right ovary also decided to have a burst cyst, just to add extra pain into the mix. I cried because I was in pain, I cried because I missed the Weird Al concert date night with my husband, I cried because my children asked when I was coming home. I finally got discharged on Saturday afternoon, and crawled into my own bed at home.
However, my problems were not over yet. I spent all of Sunday doubled up in pain as the cyst on my left ovary then decided to burst as well- I had been warned of this happening as it was picked up on the ultrasound. My pillow and a heat pack were my best friends throughout the day.
Monday morning saw me at my GP again, who suggested repeat bloods and another ultrasound as I was still sore. Off I went to the radiologist, who spent a good hour looking at my internal organs. I knew something was up when the senior radiologist was asked to look at my images, who then called my GP. A large mass was showing up on the scan, and the best course of action was to send me straight back to hospital. I burst into tears at the thought of going back, but there was nothing else I could do.
I was admitted again on Monday night, after one and a half days of freedom, and I remained in hospital until Friday evening. The days passed very slowly as I was attached to more IV antibiotics, which dripped into me every 8 and 12 hours, and with no TV and limited visiting hours, I felt very isolated and alone. I cannot fault the hospital staff, who treated me with extreme kindness and did everything they could, but being in hospital is never fun and I did have a few weepy moments as I wondered whether or not I would be OK or if I would have to end up with more surgery.
My emotions were definitely running high, and I really appreciated the visits, flowers and kind words sent from friends and family. It was hard watching my roommates come and go, whilst I stayed attached to machines and got to know all the nurses.
Over time, my blood test results looked more promising and the visits from other medical teams meant that I was thoroughly investigated. I even had tests for Coeliac disease (which has come back positive!) and saw a lovely physiotherapist as my hips were very sore due to the hospital beds.
My wonderful family rallied around me, and as I fretted over my boys they were having a wonderful time with extended family. I cried as I was missing out on those moments with them, and their hospital visits were short and sweet since hospitals are rather boring for little boys. A lovely text from one of my good friends sent me into floods of tears as she reminded me that I am a good mother, as I certainly didn't feel like it.
The doctors were still not sure what was going on with my symptoms, and so on Friday I had another blood test plus a repeat ultrasound. These both came back normal- I was finally improving and feeling a lot better. The decision was then made that I could be discharged- after nine days total in hospital this was wonderful news and I could not wait to get back to my family and into my own bed.
This was definitely not the way I had planned to start my 2016, and I have missed out on a lot of plans including the Weird Al concert, a trip to Queenstown and taking my boys on a day trip to the beach. I am so grateful, not only to my friends and family, but also to my GP, the St John ambulance staff, and all of the doctors and nurses who were involved in my care.
As I move forward with a new medical diagnosis and a tendency for naps, I am grateful that this medical blip was only a small part of the year. I should be able to move forward from this, and now I know to listen to my body and know when I am doing too much. Part of moving forward is telling this story to get it out of my system, and I also hope to encourage women to listen to their bodies and seek an answer if something doesn't feel right. I was worried that my pain would just be disregarded or that I was overreacting, and I am so glad that my GP and the hospital staff took me seriously and did everything they could to help me.
Let's hope the rest of my 2016 is uneventful, and I get to share new activities, recipes and craft tutorials with you all!