We are not sure what it is and need to do some more tests

On my way home one very pleasant evening from Swansea to Telford, I stopped off in Ludlow for a coffee to help me keep awake for the final stretch. I decided I was not too tired to head for to my gym club in central Telford before heading home so I called my wife to check if she wanted to meet me there as she usually does.

She told me she couldn’t because our younger daughter, just a few days short of her 18th, probably had appendicitis. She had been checked very regularly by her GP over the last couple of days, and would have to go in to hospital during the night if things suddenly got worse otherwise, she would be checked by the GP again in the morning.

I could tell my wife was somewhat anxious. Whilst appendicitis is common, and an appendectomy is supposedly a very straightforward operation, everyone knows that there is really no such thing as a 100% safe operation, especially with general anesthetics involved. My wife was clearly very worried, so rather than fuel it by reacting in a worried way myself I expressed the view that there was no urgency and said I would head to the gym on my own.

In reality, I was pretty worried. I took another swig of my coffee and headed for home. Fast.

On reaching the house, I was surprised to find the other car missing. Perhaps things had taken a turn for the worst and my daughter had just been taken directly to hospital. No. She was sat at the kitchen table fully engrossed in social networking. My wife had taken a cue from me and had go off to walk the dogs!

My daughter was clearly in pain, but handling it well. She has had a history of back pain problems (amongst other things) and seems to have a pretty high tolerance level. If anything, we have to stop her doing things when she is not well enough as she will just push ahead whatever the pain and discomfort levels on things she really wants to do. An admirable trait, but somewhat worrying at times.

As parents, we did of course worry all night, listening out for a cry of pain to suggest things were going down hill rapidly. We checked on her are well through the night, but she slept soundly.

The GP visit the following morning ended with a “go directly to hospital, do not pass go” type instruction.

Space was tight at the hospital. She was admitted pretty much directly to the triage room on ward, where a succession of medical professions visited, collected history and symptoms and carried out various standard tests (pulse, pressure, temperature) and took bloods. She was not allowed to eat or drink as they expected an operation later that day.

There turned out to be too many emergencies to be able to fit her in for an operation, so late on they allowed her to eat and drink and arranged a more permanent bed for her. It turned out to be a private room (free of charge) as there were no other beds available. It was, unfortunately, underneath the operating theatres, so she was not allowed to use her phone there to stay in touch with friends on Facebook et al.

We went home for the night, and returned in the morning and then stayed with her most of the day. She was again not allowed to eat as an operation was anticipated. However, her condition did not seem to develop in a typical manner for appendicitis. She was in a lot of pain and on pain-killers, but no food, and no operation. Various doctors and surgeons appeared, hummed and harred but came up with inconclusive positions and ordered more tests including an x-ray and ultrasound scans.

No operation. No food until the evening. Poor thing. Same pattern the following day, except that they were now pretty such she did not have appendicitis. They wanted to keep her in though and continue to monitor her.

There are some key phrases you do not want to hear from the men and women in white coats. These include: “we are not sure what this is”, “I have not seen this before”, “these symptoms are atypical of appendicitis”, “we need to do some more tests”, and “maybe we should open her up and have a look”. We heard all of these and more.

On Monday, she started to seem a little better. The staff now thought they probably new what it probably was, although it was unusually severe and she needed to be monitored and returned at a moments notice if there was any sign of deterioration. We were allowed to take her home later Monday on this basis.

She was absolutely delighted to go home of course. My wife and I were of course somewhat conflicted about our feelings, and worried for the rest of the week.

However, she does seem to be okay. She celebrated her 18th birthday the following weekend with no obvious problems.

It is great that it has all worked out without an operation. A very worrying time though.

Leave a Reply