For a few days I had noticed some pain in my abdomen, but they were fleeing. On the twenty second of December, I began having more severe pain on my left side. My doctor’s nurse practitioner had a last-minute cancellation and I left work early and went straight down to my doctor’s office. The pain had subsided a bit by the time I got there and the pain was on my left side. The nurse diagnosed me with diverticulitis and gave me a prescription for antibiotics.
I started feeling better and within a week I was feeling pretty good…until I finished my antibiotic regimen. On New Year’s Day I began having some pain, again. We went to an urgent care doctor. Because of the diverticulitis diagnosis, they suspected it was probably something I ate. They sent me home and told me to see my primary care doctor. After a few days I got in with my doctor and he sent me for a scan. My appendix was mildly inflamed. The antibiotics from the misdiagnosis of diverticulitis had reduced the inflammation, and he recommended a more aggressive course of antibiotics for the appendicitis.
If you are like me, you haven’t heard of treating appendicitis with antibiotics, but it is a real thing! Here is a WebMD article that shows 80% of patients may find medicine effective rather than surgery. Apparently, this has been a standard practice in Europe for some time, now, and America is just coming around to this standard of treatment.
I consented to trying the more aggressive course of treatment and got started right away (Friday). At 3:30am on Saturday morning I woke up intensely sick. I got to the bathroom, somehow, but I was nearly incapacitated with nausea, intense pain, and my head was spinning. Though my wife had left town for the weekend, luckily, I was not alone! My mother drove up to stay with me because my wife was concerned for me. Carrie is so wise! I yelled for my mother to call an ambulance.
Thankfully, the ambulance was quick to respond. They were great. They got me down the stairs, out of the house, out through the cold and bright flashing lights, onto the gurney and rolled me into the back of the ambulance. I thought to myself, “the whole neighborhood is awake watching this. How embarrassing!”
I was rushed to OSF Saint Francis and proceeded to sit in the Emergency Department for hours. Good thing my appendix didn’t burst!
Once I got to a room in the Emergency Department, the doctors didn’t know what to do with me. They would not or could not look at scans done by another hospital system and the doctors wouldn’t call to consult with my primary care doctor. It just so happens that the doctor on-call for my primary care doctor’s office called me to check-in. I put him on the phone with the doctors at St. Francis.
One doctor came in to say I had appendicitis and was going for surgery and then another doctor came in to say that I didn’t. Then a surgical resident came in to talk to me about my ‘pending’ surgery and then a GI doctor came in to tell me that there would not be surgery and it was not appendicitis. I felt like a ping-pong ball.
I was admitted to the hospital and they kept me off food and ran some tests. Worse than boredom is boredom with a completely empty and loudly growling stomach! They never sent me for scans, but instead they watched my vitals, ran blood panels and tested my urine. I’m so frustrated that they haven’t really consulted with my primary care doctor, as far as I know, or even looked at the scan taken on Friday.
I was discharged by the hospital on Sunday with instructions to come back and have an appointment with an OSF GI specialist. I already have an appointment tomorrow with a GI specialist over in Bloomington (that appointment was set up when I saw my primary care doctor on Friday). I just hope this specialist can figure things out and give me a diagnosis.
It’s bad enough that I don’t know what’s wrong with my GI tract, but on top of it all: I was hospitalized on a Sunday morning. But it is worse than that, even. This was the week I was supposed to preach a sermon for my doctoral program! Luckily, I have an advisor who will understand and colleagues that made sure my pulpit was covered. Rev. Lori Bultemeier immediately offered to preach and lead worship so that I didn’t have to worry about anything!
Thank you, Lori!