Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Case of the Missing Appendix

K.J. has led us all on an adventure.
You may be thinking to yourself "Self, this boy looks different for some reason!"
Let me assure you, he is the same boy. He's just Appendix-Free.
That's right, folks. K.J. had an emergency appendectomy! Not everybody gets to say that.
It was not so great.
But he was so brave and we feel so blessed that Heavenly Father was watching out for our family and our son.

In K.J.'s own words:
"I was yelling so much, and crying a little. So we went to the -- what's that doctor's name again? -- to the Instacare. And they had to give me a test, then we went to the hospital. And I had to have a water test, and then a -- hm -- a cat-scan. At the emergency room. And then they gave me a surgery. And I had to go to the children's hospital and stay for a night and a day, and now I'm laying in my Mom's bed. And that's how I'd tell it."

We're looking on the bright side: there are perks to emergency surgery, like -- no school for the rest of the week! Waited on hand and foot! Ramen at will! Cards and treats and phone calls! Visitors! A little sister completely devoted to his every whim and anticipated desire "here's a cookie! here's a picture! here's your treat! here's my left arm -- take what you need!" and a big sister willing to give him all the sympathy he needs, and a baby sister to smile at him because she noticed he was gone and that didn't seem right! I think he feels loved. I know I love him.

Here is the epic story:
On Tuesday afternoon K.J. called me to ask me to pick him up from school -- he had a tummy ache. When I picked him up I could tell he didn't feel well, he was slumped in his chair and then just laid on the couch. But I figured it was a stomach flu and helped him get settled with a movie in that great place of recovery, Mom's bed. Mariah had a therapy session, so I took her over. The Double B called to tell me K.J. had thrown up but felt a lot better and asked me to stop and get some Gatorade. I dropped Mariah off at work and came home, and Little Buddy seemed okay. It seemed alright for me to head to Young Women's with him in Daddy's watchful care. Luckily, young women's was just across the street last night (very unusual), and I headed over and spent the next hour laughing and talking with the Laurel's when there was a knock on the door. Livi had walked clear across the street in the dark to come and get me -- K.J. was really sick and throwing up and they needed my help! We walked back across the street and I expected him to be sick throwing up, but when I came into the door, I could hear him screaming in agony down the hall. He was doubled over, moaning and wailing and obviously in extreme, unusual pain. The Double B let me know he'd been like this about half an hour, they'd tried medicine and he'd thrown it up twice, he'd been given a blessing, and we needed to get him to the hospital. I will freely admit, I do not do well when my children are suffering. And K.J. was obviously in extreme, uncontrollable pain. I was having a hard time handling it. You other parents understand. Every time he'd scream, I'd have a little flip-out. But the Double B needed to take the girls to Grandma's and K.J. couldn't stand for me to leave him, so that meant I had to get it together to get him to the insta-care. He couldn't stand to sit up, so he laid in the backseat while we drove. He could barely stand on his feet to get weighed, he was doubled over and the pain was so great he started to throw up again, but by that time there was nothing left and it was all violent dry heaves. He couldn't walk. Daddy arrived. After they examined him and the tests came back with a high white blood cell count and with his extreme and sudden symptoms, they told us they strongly suspected it was appendicitis and the emergency room and the surgeon on call were waiting for us.
K.J. was pretty frightened, but by the time we made it to St. George he was feeling a lot better. It only hurt him to be jarred or to walk. But whereas at the Insta-care he didn't have a fever, now his temperature was at 100.2 and it was climbing every time they checked.
They monitored him for awhile and ran a few more tests, and then it was time for the CT Scan. This was the worst part of the experience for me. Daddy had to wait in our room and I could only go as far as the hallway outside of the scanning room. K.J. was already extremely nervous because he had heard the doctors mention surgery, but he was very afraid when he saw the big machine, and had no idea what it would be doing to him. Those few minutes after they closed the doors were some of the very worst moments of my whole life. Hearing the robotic voice and whir of the machine and then hearing my little son panicking and crying out in fear while I was on the other side of steel doors was almost more then I could take. I would go through that pain and fear a million times if I could stop him from having to do it even once. I squeezed my arms, trying to keep it together. I begged Heavenly Father to send the Holy Ghost to comfort and strengthen K.J. and calm his fear. I asked Him to help me, too, because I wasn't doing too well. I still felt little relief, still filled with fear -- I told Heavenly Father that I knew His arms were extended to me but I was standing in my own way of relief, to please send me the grace I needed to access that peace and be able to greet my little boy with a smile and confidence. After that, things started to calm down, I could hear the male nurse talking to K.J. to calm him down and explaining what was happening. He told him, "Just twenty more seconds, buddy, that's not very long" and I put my hand on the door and counted slowly (trying to give him some wiggling room here) to twenty. For the record: it was forty seconds. But soon I could hear the machine shutting down and a minute later the doors opened, and there was my baby boy, looking for me and quivering on his bed. Kaje still tears up when he talks about the scary cat-scan machine that told him to "hold your breath." He really hated it. But Mom was there to greet him with a smile and he was happy to see me and be done with that. There was a small delay because the St. George machine reader was down and when they sent it to Provo their machine was down, too, so they had to call the head radiologist and ask him to read them. When the e.r. doctor came in, he told us the appendix was definately enlarged and it looked like the walls were hardening. It was appendicitis. He didn't even get to finish telling us the surgeon was there and the anesthesiologist was on his way and they would be right in to prep him for surgery before poor K.J. started sobbing his little eyes out. He was so scared, he kept begging "It doesn't even hurt anymore! I want to go home! I just want to go home! It doesn't even hurt anymore!" It broke my heart, but after I was able to get him on my lap and soothe him he was able to calm down and listen to Mommy and Daddy and then the surgeon. The Holy Ghost definately came through for us -- by the time they came to prep him, he could get into the bed calmly. By the time we got upstairs to surgery, he was at peace and almost asleep. The very kind anesthesiologist gave him the anti-anxiety medication and some more pain relief and he went right to sleep by himself. One of the Double B's good friends was the surgical nurse on call that night, so we were relieved to know he was in there. The anesthesiologist assured us they would take very good care of our son, and off he went around the corner. As the aide led us to the waiting room, where we basically had the whole floor to ourselves, the tears could finally feel my eyes and I could finally get the strong hug and "it will be okay" from my own personal Snuggie. We both felt such relief, knowing our son was getting the help he so desperately needed. The clock said 12:49 a.m.
After only about forty minutes, the anesthesiologist came out and told us everything went perfectly and K.J. was doing well, and then the surgeon came out. Everything went very well, but there was a lot of puss and infection surrounding the appendix, much more then usual, making him think there was a perforation somewhere in it. It would have burst by morning. They cleaned him out very well, but because of the infection that had leaked out, he would have to stay in the hospital until all the strong antibiotic treatments had been given -- he was hoping K.J. could go home Wednesday night, depending on how everything went.
Soon we were able to go to recovery, and he came out of the the anesthesia easily and well. They transported him in the ambulance to the children's hospital. I was riding in the back with him and thought how strange it was there was no one on the roads, but then the nice ambulance man told me it was 2:30 in the morning! Okay. Well then. That's the only kind of ride in an ambulance you ever want to take, when the emergency is already over with. Seriously.
They got K.J. settled and very comfortable at the children's hospital. He fell right to sleep. The Double B headed home to our girls and I settled in the extra bed for the night. It was about 3:15 in the morning. K.J. did so well -- he would startle awake sometimes, but I would sit up and talk to him and he'd remember and calm back down into sleep. The nurse was so amazed at his pain tolerance -- they should have been giving him morphine, but he didn't need anything until about five o'clock when he woke up with some pain. They gave him a small dose and he informed me it was just like we said: he fell asleep, and when he woke up he was at the children's hospital and his appendix was gone!
He has compared every pain since his surgery to the pain of his appendix, and nothing measures up (thank heavens). He has been such a trooper. After a long, long day at the hospital, playing the wii, watching t.v., coloring, many trips to the bathroom and many visits with the nurse, they gave him his last treatment with antibiotics. His stats had been very good all day and the surgeon gave him the all clear to go home. He was so happy, and we were so happy, to get our little boy home again.
These are the experiences that remind you again what is really important. Our children mean everything to us. We have our family, and nothing else can really matter so very much.
It was a very, very long 24 hours.
We are so, so thankful to a Father in Heaven who is blessing and protecting us even when we don't know that He is. We are so thankful for modern medicine and that we got to the hospital in time -- before K.J.'s appendix could burst. He was already starting to feel better, which gave the doctors even more urgency. We are so thankful for the medical staff that helped us so kindly and carefully. We are so thankful. We can't even tell you.
And now K.J. is sleeping peacefully in Mom and Dad's room for one more night. And all is right in our corner of the world.


Tina Williams said...

Wow! You just never know do you. One minute life is normal, the next minute you realize everything has changed. I'm so glad the story has such a marvelous ending. What a trooper you all are. What awesome parents you are to make your room a hospital room - my parents may have done that for me as well on an occasion or six.

You are truly blessed!

Elise said...

Oh, man! I'm sorry for your little guy. Sending savory Top Ramen thoughts your way.


Ducksoup said...

rie, rie, rie, oh my goodness. i can't believe all you've been through the past few days. so not fun at all! k.j. is awesome. i am the biggest woos on the planet and feel for the guy - - good thing he is so tough. so glad things turned out okay and that they got the appendix out in time!

i think you are so cute. i loved every detail you wrote and want to be the loving, kind, awesome mom you are.

sending well wishes your way and hoping for a very speedy recovery!

katie said...

Poor Boy!

Tara said...

wow. that is crazy. I'm glad things went well and hope he continues to recover quickly.