Friday, 20 April 2012

BotCon is so close yet so far away now

Within 30 minutes of my last BotCon posting (about me being excited about only having just 7 days left to go until I start my annual adventure), I go to bed but can't go to sleep because of a growing pressure in my lower abdomen.
I roll around different ways to get relief, but the pressure grows so much that I can no longer lie down without pain. So I get up and watch some TV, thinking that it may subside if I sit up or distract myself... as it could be caused by my over-eating of Lasagne on the weekend getting stuck in my lower intestine, or, a strained stomach muscle from doing new duties at work the day before.
A third possibility could be appendicitis, but I've been told that it is a much more unbearable pain.
Either way, when it got to 5am without much change, I was going to go to the nearby hospital to have it checked out. I had a quick, warm shower, and the hot water was so relieving, it halved the pain enough to end up not going.
I hopped back into bed with a hot water bottle, and managed to get a bit of restless sleep (re-adjusting the bottle every hour or so when I woke).

I went off to work at 2pm, with minor pain, but figured that if it was a muscle strain, I should go in and have it reported and assessed through work channels... that way it would be covered by work.

After 7 hours of running around 2 different Hospitals (following work's injury procedures), it was about 10pm Tuesday that I was told that I had appendicitis... and it had to be removed.

My first thought was - that darn trip of mine... all that planning... all that hassle getting registered... all that expense (travel insurance would cover most of it)... gone up in smoke.

My first questions were related to how long would I be in Hospital for, what sort of recovery period, and if flying would be out of the question next week.
And that was after I had to decide if I wanted to do it Public or Private (my health insurance might have covered Private, but was told it would cost $5100 if it didn't). I didn't risk it and was transferred to their Public section.
I was first told that the surgery would occur that night, which would at least get the ball rolling on recovery, but when they finally had me re-processed and re-assessed at the Public Hospital (in their emergency department), it was past midnight before I was ushered to a bed in the regular wards.

I was told that it was too late now to do it that night, and since it wasn't urgent anymore (the pain had been receding - which was a good thing, as it meant less chance of it being ruptured), and would have to be on the next day's waiting list... which starts at 1pm (Wednesday).

Sleep was minimal that night, with everyone in the room having machines that would sound off every couple hours. Then around midday I was told to shower up with some special soap, to be ready when my time came.
Close to 1pm I was wheeled down to pre-op, which was earlier than expected, so musta meant no off-the-street emergencies that day. About half an hour later I was wheeled into the operating theatre, transferred onto a long narrow slab and injected with anaesthetic.
Around 4 or 5pm I started waking up, back in the ward.
I didn't get to see any doctors that night, so just had to go by the nurses, who were telling me that I could start eating again at 8.15, and that I would likely to be released tomorrow. (Thursday)

The dinner service was about 6pm, so mine was held in a fridge for a couple hours... so wasn't too exciting.  But I avoided the green beans on the main dish, as it was too painful to roll over, so didn't want a heap of gas swelling up inside me.

The next morning one of the doctors came by to check on me, and I asked about the procedure.
They cut three tiny holes in my stomach, for a camera, a cutter and a grabber. They also inflate the abdomen with gas during the procedure to let them see what they are doing.
If you want to find out more about appendectomies, see here.

The most surprising news was that they were discharging me within a couple hours - only 20 hours after surgery.
It wasn't even long enough to have a proper meal there... I'd only had a small dinner and breakfast, because they were "default" meals to people who hadn't been able to fill out a meal sheet.
The prepared meals was the one thing I'd been looking forward to. (it'd been about 27 years since I was last in Hospital)

The stay itself I could handle... just not the pain and discomfort of whatever you are suffering from to be there.

Anyway, I was back home by 10.30am Thursday, with 5 days to recover enough to fly across to America.

I have since had to ring up the travel agent to check if the travel insurance will cover any complications while away, or if QANTAS will need to know about the surgery (because the doctors were saying it was okay to go - they just didn't recommend it).
I had to pay extra on the insurance, and have been told that the QANTAS cut-off for refusal to fly is 4 days after surgery - so I'm just safe with it being 5 1/2.

Either way, I still have to see how I feel on Monday, or if any complications occur before then. Because it is still only early, and a lot can still go wrong with my recovery (infection, etc).

At least in previous years, the drama was almost missing flights, or losing my wallet (which I packed into my check-in luggage by mistake in 2008)... this is a new benchmark in the hassles I go through to get to BotCon each year.

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