The time I waited 18 hours before going to the emergency room for an appendectomy.

Last autumn, my husband was up in the mountains with his buddies, doing a “man weekend” of shooting, video games, and drinking(not all at once).  My mother came to visit and we went to Home Goods/tried a few crafts we saw on pinterest.  General lady-weekend activities.  This took place on Saturday, September 29th.  Mom and I made dinner (fish tacos), and I was starting to feel a little nauseous, but figured it must have been because I was hungry, so we ate, then my stomach started bothering me a bit more.  By then it was starting to get late, and my mom had plans the next morning, so she left me to my own devices in terms of hanging out by the toilet feeling like I was going to throw up, and headed home (about 1.5hrs away).  I was awake the entire evening, vomiting, dry heaving, and experiencing extreme lower GI discomfort. The pain was strong enough that I wasn’t able to sleep, but also bad enough that I couldn’t focus on anything enough to stay entertained.  So I pretty much sat in bed all night thinking about how much pain I was in.  Earlier, we had lunch at a local chain restaurant, and I was pretty certain that I had food poisoning (having never had it and having no frame of reference for it).  Early the next morning (Sunday, September 30th) I texted Craig to let him know that he was going to have to get a ride home from his friend’s house when they got back, as I had food poisoning, and wasn’t going to be able to travel far from a toilet or bowl.  It was around 11 when he finally got back into cell reception, and was surprised to hear that I was still in pain.  When he got home, we did some webMDing and found that based on my symptoms (no bowel movements, constant vomiting, extreme lower abdominal(but not localized) discomfort), that my appendix may not be in such good of shape. Around that same time, my mom called to check on me, and theorized that I might have Toxic Shock Syndrome.  At that point, it became pretty apparent that I needed to go to the hospital.

Dilaudid, magnificent

But my health insurance from my new job… started October 1st.  Less than 12 hours away by now.  So I called and talked to my Dad about what was happening.  BTW – Did you know that my mom’s a nurse practitioner, and my dad was a paramedic?  He seemed unhappy about the idea of me WAITING with the possibility of my appendix bursting, but also understood the financial implications of going in for surgery without healthcare insurance.  We came to a compromise, that we would wait til midnight, unless the pain got a lot worse, in which case we would not call and wait for an ambulance, but instead would just get in the car and drive to the emergency room as quickly as possible.  We called my mom to give her an update, and she headed back up to our house to wait/help out/be there just in case.  So then we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Everyone took a nap at around 8pm, knowing that we’d be up all night.  I slept fitfully, but got a little rest (my body eventually figured out that dry heaving wasn’t productive and gave up), and we hopped in the car at 11:45.  At 12:05 AM, I was checked in at the emergency room.  It took them another 10-15 minutes before anything really got done, but once they came in and saw me, the nurse in charge gave me an AMAZING drug.  Dilaudid.  I think I got 2-3 shots over the course of half an hour, and when she came back to check on me and ask if I needed anymore, I told her that the pain was manageable.  She laughed a little and said “You’re only gonna get this here.  Might as well enjoy it.”  So I got another shot.  After that, the whole experience was a bit of a blur, but they did an ultrasound to try to diagnose me, but couldn’t see anything, so they did an MRI after that.  By the time everything had been scheduled and completed, it was probably 3am.

dropping off into sleepy land right before surgery

When we eventually made it into surgery at about 4:30 (like I said, my timetable may be off… I’m not very clear on this), I was feeling much better, primarily because I had gotten some sleep and wasn’t in ANY pain. When they got me open (they did it laproscopically, but still) they found that my appendix was gangrenous, due most likely to having waited so long.  As a result, they kept me an extra 24 hours on IV antibiotics to ensure that no infection had spread.  I ended up being fine, and have recovered just fine.  Now do you want to see how much money I saved by risking it, and enduring some pain?

Total hospital bills – $22,919
Total financial responsibility – $3,216
Total saved – $19,703.

Worth it.

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