Bomb In My Baby’s Belly
This is what they referred to it as.
An interesting case.
For days, every new doctor we met had to at some point say, “This being an interesting case…”
How could it be an interesting case when appendicitis is so common?
I want you to keep this in mind if your Kid still has an appendix.
Screw “Text Book” Symptoms
Here’s the back-story.
On August 5th at 11am my oldest teen Vanessa complained of a sharp pain on her right side.
I automatically thought appendicitis.
I checked her temperature, asked if she was nauseous…the answers were no.
These were the only two symptoms I knew of along with pain on your right side.
She hadn’t eaten breakfast, so I offered to make her a sandwich, thinking it was a gas pain.
Before I could even get the mayo out of the fridge, she yelped in pain. The pain was sharper.
Time for the Emergency Room.
The triage nurse at Westchester Square Medical Center was a wonderful lady who did her best to give us top priority and made sure we were ushered into the ER as soon as possible.
I was sure, Vanessa not looking so sick, would have us sitting in the waiting room for hours, but after 10 minutes with the triage nurse, Vanessa was given a bed.
The whole staff was brilliant and just absolutely caring.
By 4pm Vanessa had a CT Scan that confirmed she had appendicitis.
We’d caught it early.
There was never a fever, never any vomiting.
I learned the other symptoms of appendicitis were:
- pain starting at the belly button and moving to the right side
- lack of appetite,
- painful urination,
- inability to pass gas,
- and bloating.
Vanessa had none of these “text book symptoms”, but the intensity of the pain was enough to make the ER doctor request a CT Scan.
Once confirmed, the ER doctor started contacting other hospitals to make arrangements for a pediatric surgery. Their hospital did not have a pediatrics ward much less a pediatrics surgeon.
At 5pm we were transported to Jacobi Medical Center with the understanding that Vanessa was going into surgery.
The pediatric emergency room at JMC was also staffed with an awesome crew.
They got Vanessa on an IV, gave her morphine to dull the pain and gave her antibiotics to hold her over until the surgery-in-progress was over.
The surgeon, Dr. Teperman, came 4 hours later, poked Vanessa’s stomach and then deemed her not needing surgery at this time.
There were more serious traumas to attend to.
After this I received multiple possible diagnoses from multiple surgeons.
- It may have been a viral infection.
- It may still be appendicitis, but the antibiotics had treated it.
- It may be a cyst.
- Appendicitis comes in waves…for whatever reason, we’ll have several patients with appendicitis at the same time – and we don’t right now.
Well, WTH about the CT Scan?
The CT Scan was done at Westchester Square Hospital and though a cd containing the scan was sent to JMC, they couldn’t decide whether or not Vanessa had appendicitis.
They admitted her into the pediatrics ward, where another group of wonderful doctors and nurses gave her amazing care and monitored her for the next 48 hours.
My girl was crying, a lot.
Not from pain. She didn’t have any that morning and didn’t for days afterward.
Not from homesickness. Not from fear.
She wasn’t allowed to eat due to the fact that a final decision had not been made and she needed to have an empty stomach in the event she needed surgery.
By 8pm the night of the 6th, she was given the go-a-head to eat.
The doctors mentioned an Au Bon Pan in the hospital.
I spent 16 bucks buying her a sandwich, a cup of fruit and a cupcake.
At 9pm I left her to go home for the night. In the past 36 hours I’d only been home long enough to grab a shower and a cup of coffee. She was happily eating her fruit cup first. The staff was wonderful and I knew they would care for her.
At 10pm she called me crying, another surgeon, Dr. Kim, had taken over and revoked permission for her to eat.
The child was unintentionally being traumatized while the surgeons made decisions about making decisions.
They were being cautious.
I’m no surgeon.
I’m a mom.
To me, being cautious would have been taking the bloody appendix out when she came in.
Many of the pediatric ward’s staff had already explained that the best they could do was offer my child the best care possible.
They weren’t surgeons, they couldn’t make the call, and some had admitted to being surprised that she still had the appendix.
I requested another CT Scan to evaluate the progress of the appendicitis.
I was told no, too much radiation.
I asked about an ultrasound. I was told my a surgeon that it wasn’t a good indicator.
The following day Vanessa was given an ultrasound.
It was decided that it may have been appendicitis and could have become better due to the antibiotics.
I spoke to our pediatrician about this, he said it wasn’t uncommon for appendicitis to be treated with antibiotics.
When I left the hospital that afternoon to go home for a few hours, the decision to remove the appendix or to keep it had still not been made. The possibilities were she may stay for a few days to be monitored and then discharged to return to have a scheduled surgery or she would stay to have surgery.
An hour later Vanessa called to tell me the pediatricians and the surgeon, Dr. Kim, were having an argument at the nurses’ station about discharging her.
The pediatricians felt she should stay to be monitored.
The surgeon felt she wouldn’t be needing surgery and should be discharged. She hadn’t exhibited any other symptoms. The girl never had a fever.
I chewed on this for a bit.
I didn’t want my girl staying there starving for more days while they continued to monitor her.
I didn’t want her coming home with a bomb in her belly that could explode at any minute.
I agreed with the pediatricians, she needed to be monitored and I would do just that.
I brought Vanessa home that afternoon with a prescription for 7 days of antibiotics and was told Vanessa would have scheduled surgery within a month and a pediatrician would call tomorrow to schedule a follow up visit for next week.
The pediatrician called two days later to give me an appointment for the follow up scheduled in 3 weeks.
I asked about surgery.
She said at that time they would decide if Vanessa needed surgery.
She added that if Vanessa had the slightest pain, bring her back.
I explained to her, Vanessa was transported there for surgery and never received it.
I did not want to bring her back to JMC if she’d have to go through the same bullshit again.
The doctor assured me that there would be no games, if she came back with it, the appendix was coming out, but according to the surgeons, at this time, she didn’t need surgery.
Vanessa was fine.
I was accused for hovering too.
But I hovered.
All I could think was, there’s a bomb in her belly.
At any moment, it could go off.
I had to be there to save the day.
Four days later, Vanessa wakes up at 10am. It’s a Saturday. Expected.
She has a nutriment at 11am.
She doesn’t eat the rest of the day.
Late in the afternoon, Vanessa has pain.
This time it was her whole lower abdomen.
In 20 minutes we’re out the door.
Heading back to the ER.
I had to go through all the red tape bullshit that goes on when you’re a walk in.
Who cares the child was discharged with appendicitis and is in pain again.
Insurance cards needed to be handed over, though in this day and age, I don’t see WHY considering we were just there less than a week ago and all this info should be in their computers.
I kept a level head. I asked for her to be seen while I handled the paperwork. I was told she had to sit and wait. I stated again that she is being treated for appendicitis and needs to be seen NOW.
Within 10 minutes Vanessa was in a bed.
I did the paperwork.
Twenty minutes later I joined her.
The pediatrician on call came to tell me what she understood of the case. I corrected her. Holding tightly to my anger, I corrected her.
They didn’t seem to hurried. They didn’t seem to believe it could be appendicitis. Why would she still have the appendix if it was? It would have been taken out when she was there 6 days ago.
I held on to my anger.
The pediatrician checked dates to see if it was her menstrual. She went over everything vanessa had eaten and drank for the past few days. Just like the first time we came in, Vanessa had no appetite this day either.
When the pediatrician left I asked Vanessa the same godforesaken question every doctor and nurse has asked her when pressing her stomach.
On a scale from one to 10, 10 being the worst, what would you say your pain is.
She said 6.
I said no.
You’ll say 9 and scream with pain.
The pediatrician came back to examine her.
Vanessa said 9 and screamed with pain.
Vanessa was given another CT Scan.
She had appendicitis. The appendix was not perforated yet. Yet. She was being bumped up to be the next surgery. Emergency surgery.
I said, if it’s Teperman or Kim, I’m leaving. Vanessa would go to NY Presbyterian.
Another surgeon came to speak with me and told me her boss, Dr. Lieb would be handling the surgery.
Dr. Lieb is a wonderful woman with amazing bedside manners.
She explained the whole procedure to us, the risks, the process, what would be done if needed.
She made us feel confident and comfortable.
Vanessa was rolled into surgery within an hour and a half of the CT Scan with the slightest bit of fear of the unknown.
The surgery took one hour. Dr. Lieb came to find me as soon as surgery was over to assure me all was well and tell me exactly how the surgery went.
Recovery took 45 minutes.
Vanessa was discharged the next day, which was yesterday.
She’s home, in minimal pain from the incisions.
We’re scheduled for a follow up next week.
Go with your gut.
Feel free to ask questions.
Feel free to request tests.
Forget text book symptoms. I would have taken Vanessa to another hospital if they had sent her home without a CT Scan.
Feel free to request another surgeon.
DON’T RELY ON PAST CASES.
Every person is different.
Don’t be afraid to speak up.
If your child is in pain, but doesn’t exhibit the “regular” symptoms, no worries, go to the ER anyway. It’s better to be wrong and sent home than it is to be wrong and find out too late.