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Appendicitis With No Normal Symptoms

Google wasn’t much of a help so I’m writing this in hopes that my story can help others. This Week I Learned (TWIL): Yes, you can have appendicitis without having the normal symptoms. So are you even wondering if you have appendicitis? There’s no need to read this long post. Just go to a doctor. Really. Don’t procrastinate like I did. Just do it.

Saturday

Saturday night I was in bliss. I was home alone and cozening in with lovely music, a good book in front of my electronic fireplace and indulging in crackers, cheese with a glass of wine. Even took a pic of my fireplace to share my luxury with my husband by text.

During the night I woke up due to a nushy stomach. It woke me up randomly the rest of the night. I blamed it on the cheese I had eaten. It was gourmet cheese soaked in oil and herbs, and I thought the oil got me.

Sunday

By Sunday the nushy turned to nausea. The nausea turned into two bouts of vomiting (right before and right after my chat shift — good timing, eh?). Then I was back to nushy. I truly thought it was a side effect of some medicine I had started taking. Saturday night was the first dose, and it has nausea as a side effect.

I had a normal lunch, but wasn’t really hungry for dinner. My stomach hadn’t felt great after the vomiting so I drank two mugs of bullion water for dinner.

Monday

Monday rolled around, and it was my day off. My stomach was a bit gurgly, but otherwise all right. Chris and I went to do our two-mile trek up/down the mountain. We have a section we call our lazy walk — that’s when we turn around half a mile into the hike so our round trip is only a mile. Looking down at the roots and rocks was making me nauseous again so I suggested we turn around a few hundred yards short of the half mile mark.

Feeling low on energy, we binge-watched half a season of The Apartment and an entire season of Interior Design Masters. That’s a lotta TV, even for me!

Again, I ate just fine. I did think to turn our chicken stir-fry leftovers into a soup and had two or three bowls of that and a bunch of crackers. The crackers were particularly appealing and qualmed the slight nausea I had.

As the day progressed, I was feeling more uncomfortable and the nausea turned to slight pain. When I realized the pain was in my lower right quadrant of my stomach, I started thinking appendix issues. Researcher that I am, I hit the Internet to check symptoms:

  • It’s most likely to affect people between the ages of 10 and 30. (Clearly I’m out of that range)
  • Pain in your lower right belly or pain near your navel that moves lower. This is usually the first sign. (Nope. No navel activity for me, and no moving around)
  • Loss of appetite (off and on — debatable)
  • Nausea and vomiting soon after belly pain begins (Nope. Belly pain came a day and a half later. As for the nausea, yes, but only on Saturday, and ironically, I had just started taking a medicine that has a side-effect of nausea and vomiting. Great timing)
  • Swollen belly  (No more than usual, haha)     
  • Fever of 99-102 degrees (None at all. At one point I thought I did have a fever then we realized our thermometer was very faulty. One minute I’d be 100 degrees Fahrenheit and literally a minute later I would be 96. Chris went to four stores to find me a working thermometer. Apparently Covid makes them a hot ticket. When we got an accurate one, we found I had no fever at all).
  • Can’t pass gas (not an issue)
  • constipation or diarrhea – (Just on Saturday night, and very little problem with it)
  • wanting to have a bowel movement to relieve discomfort (nope)

So you can see why I didn’t think it was the real deal. I barely met any criteria. And I still thought it might be the new medication I was on. By Monday night the pain was a bit more intense. It was a rough night of sleeping.

Tuesday

After talking with Chris, we were leaning toward the possibility that I probably pulled a muscle throwing up. It felt like a pulled muscle, although I did think that was odd that it kept getting worse days after the puking.

Of course, I researched that, too. The only article I found was

And that was actually a bit helpful. It showed me that maybe it was more than a pulled muscle.

Knowing I should eat, food didn’t totally appeal, but I was okay with bland so I had a bowl of oatmeal. The pain wasn’t really lessening, and I mentioned my uncertainties to my team at work in a Slack thread. They strongly recommended get to a dr asap. I expressed uncertainties about going to a medical center and risking Covid over nothing.

One colleague reassured me that things in hospitals were generally safe, even in Georgia (where she lives), a place that isn’t super safe in general. Another suggested I use the phone nursing care option that comes with my insurance. Another gave me anecdotal evidence as to why it was important to not ignore stomach issues.

At that point I was using my faulty thermometer and thought I might have a fever. I called my doctor and was told they wouldn’t see me if I had a fever. No clinic would take me, either. I had to go to the Emergency Room.

This seemed like a bad choice to me, and I wasn’t feeling worse. Just kind of level with the pain of the night prior.

My team lead strongly recommended I stop work and get to a doctor, but the decision was mine (something I really appreciate about my job — people suggest, but most of the time I can make the final choice).

We offer Quick Start (screenshare) sessions at work, and I know they are popular, and people have to wait a few days to get one after they sign up. I had two in the afternoon and didn’t want to have them cancelled so I decided to deal with doctors after work. The ER is open 24/7 so there was no time constraint.

After work, I had a lovely tortilla pizza Chris had made. We were talking about my pain and he, too, suggested I call a nurse if I was so hesitant to hit the ER. The nurse listened to my tale and told me to get to an ER within the hour. Off I went, arriving at the ER a bit before 8pm.

It was a very busy night there. They took my blood and sent me to the waiting room. It was a 3.5-hour wait before I was able to see a dr. I felt really bad for the people around me who I could tell were in serious pain. While decidedly uncomfortable, I wasn’t nearly in the agony they were.

When I was finally seen, I was told my blood tests were normal. Interestingly when the dr pushed on my stomach, we discovered I now had pain creeping over to the left side, under my belly button. I had no fever still, and since I had no problems eating dinner or anything, and this had been happening since Saturday (usually appendicitis hits hard and fast) we didn’t think it was appendicitis.

Wednesday

Shortly after midnight on Wednesday morning, the doctor said we could wait another 24 hrs to see if things got worse, or I could get a CT scan with contrast. He told me his recommendation was the CT since that would show if there were other issues in my stomach.

About twenty years ago, I had a mesh put in for another medical complication. The doctor was thinking maybe it was a mesh issue. We decided that since we were there already, we would just as soon have our minds put at ease so we took his recommendation and had the CT scan.

I messaged in to work that I was taking Wednesday off, and went off to take the scan.

An hour later the doctor came in and told me I was a good reminder to their team to listen to the patient and not assume.

All my blood work and lack of fever and the fact that I had eaten dinner all pointed to the fact that I didn’t have appendix issues. The the CT scan showed the appendix was 1cm dilated, and it was about to blow. For perspective, appendicitis is a swelling >5 mm.

They put me on strong antibiotics to keep further swelling at bay until surgery. Around 4am they wheeled me to a room where I tried to sleep until surgery. Morphine helped the increasing pain levels and relaxed me quite a bit as I drifted in and out of reality.

When I messaged my kids to say I needed surgery, our Mollie (who is also Avalon’s teacher at childcare) sent me some pics. The first one made me smile.

My granddaughter smiling. A nice picture before my appendicitis  without symptoms experience.

The second made me laugh.

Mollie wrote: She wants to share her Lucky Charms with you for good luck.

Avalon wishing me a lucky surgery to remove my appendix.

All my kids told me they were praying for me, and that was particularly awesome.

I was wheeled out of my room for laparoscopic surgery at 11:30am, and I left the hospital at 4:50pm the same day (my choice — they had asked me if I wanted to stay another night, and I declined). Before surgery, I was given a Covid test. That hurt more than I expected — perhaps since I have a deviated septum. Good news is that I don’t have Corona 🙂

Home safe after the appendectomy. Same day as the surgery.
This is the picture we sent our kids so they would know we were home safe.

Thursday

Today I am doing well. I’m resting due to the pain, but I feel the pain is more due to the fact that they were rummaging around my innards. I’m going to give it a day or two to have bruising go down and have everything settle back in place. Then I will start living again (although I won’t lift anything for two weeks).

It’s amazing what modern medicine can do.

Most of all I am feeling so thankful. If it had to happen it was amazing timing. I only lost one day of work (since I don’t work Mondays, Thursdays or Fridays). I know that work would allow me all the time I need off, but I love my job so I’m glad I can go back. And it happened before our trip to Utah to see the kids.

The hospital I was in was the Berkshire Medical Center. I was really impressed with the way they communicated, tested, kept me knowledgeable about what was happening and respected my decisions. I will have no trouble trusting them with my health in the future.

I’m so thankful for my supportive work team who not only encouraged/lectured me to get to a dr, but also kept in constant communication while I was in the hospital, sending me encouraging notes and emojis. Family and friends were right by my side as well. I am so blessed.

And of course, there is Chris. What a man. We have had so many unpleasant hospital experiences, and the flashbacks were hard on both of us, but he stuck right by my side, without sleep, just loving me. So, so thankful, I am.

So that’s my story. I was extremely fortunate my procrastination didn’t end up with a life-threatening disaster. If you have any pain in your lower right abdomen, please go see a doctor.

It’s possible you won’t have any of the normal symptoms.

I know that for a fact.

20 replies on “Appendicitis With No Normal Symptoms”

Wow, what a saga. Glad you finally listened to your intuition. I’ve discovered that if you go to the ER in an ambulance, you get a bed and attention right away. For future reference! So glad you are home. Take good care of yourself and obey the doctor. No lifting!
Love, Aunt Jan

Wow! What an experience! I’m so glad they found out what was wrong and fixed it immediately.

It has been so long since I had my appendix out that I don’t even remember the circumstances. It was back in the days of incisions, not holes. Someone asked me at the time if I knew anyone who died from appendicitis. Well, yes, I knew of someone. My mom’s father died of a burst appendix when she was four years old. Obviously, I never knew him. Again, I am so happy to know you are OK!

Oh my. That’s scary and sad about your grandfather. Glad you ended out okay, too.

Oh wow. I wish there was more on Google about this sort of thing. It really would have helped me make up my mind to hit the hospital sooner. I thought I was being over-dramatic thinking it might be the appendix. I hope your mom’s situation went as smoothly as mine did.

Gee, Chrissie, what a story!! Just caught up with it belatedly. You’ve done a great service here, for those of us who still were glued to the idea of “lower right-side-tummy-pain” plus fever, and nothing else. So good for us to know, so thank you!! And how great that things ended up well for you! The only drag I see is that long 3.5-hr. waiting period in hospital for things to happen.

I’m so happy to hear the was helpful. I’m glad the wait didn’t lead up to something worse happening.

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