In all my Dr visits this week, one of the questions they've all asked is if I've had any previous surgeries. I have. A tubal ligation and an emergency Appendectomy.
There have been several appendectomies on my Dad's side of the family. Dad's uncle Harry, died of peritonitis which was caused by a burst appendix. The family blame his death the Dr because he kept telling Uncle Harry that it wasn't appendicitis and refused to operate until it was too late.
That was in the mid 1930's. Uncle Harry left his bride and his family who loved him very much. My Dad is named after Uncle Harry.
Shortly after Uncle Harry's death, my Dad's older brother, Glenn, developed appendicitis. He was 2. I've heard repeatedly the story of Grandad driving with Dr Robb (who was not Uncle Harry's Dr.) frantically trying to get the Dr to his little boy. Dr Robb made Grandad slow down so they could get there safely. I'm pretty sure that Uncle Glenn's appendix also burst. I know they almost lost him too. How scared they must have been; knowing that they'd just lost one family member to Appendicitis, and knowing they might lose another...a baby at that.
My Dad also had appendicitis when he was a young teenager. His did not burst; he recovered quite easily.
My Grandma often related to me how she'd test her kids for appendicitis. Grandma said that if the kids complained that their stomach hurt, or their right side, she'd slap the bottom of their right foot. Not hard, but just a nice slap. If it hurt in the side, and not in the foot, then the child had appendicitis and it was time to get them to the Dr.
I always thought that was an old wives tale, and that there was no way her test would actually work...until I had appendicitis.
See, Kev was out of town. He and Miss Kat were in Colorado visiting family. For some reason, I couldn't go, so Andy stayed at home with me. On Saturday, we went to lunch with my friend Monica and her little boy. We gals had the same chicken for lunch. That night, around 1 a.m., I woke up with a stomach ache. So I went to the bathroom, decided that maybe my chicken was bad and went back to bed, trying to go to sleep. The pain got stronger. Two hours later, I decided that I'd had enough; so I called Monica, hoping that she was up and in pain too. If she was, then I'd know it was the chicken. If not, well, I was afraid it might be my appendix.
So I called...and woke her up. Which meant it wasn't the chicken. Since she was now awake, I asked her to drive me to the emergency room and asked if Andy could stay with her husband and son. Bless her heart, she came right over. She knew that if I was wanting to go to the hospital, I was really hurting. By this point, I could not stand up straight. It was the worst pain I'd ever felt. And, I have a very high pain tolerance, so it hurt.
So we get there, and the Dr on call was Jeff, my former student. Not exactly who I wanted to see because 1. he was fresh out of medical school and 2. he was my student... But, at this point, I really didn't care. I hurt!
So he did the question thing, where does it hurt, blah blah blah...and it really didn't hurt in my right quadrant, it was a more central pain. So, they did a sonogram, and other tests and then Jeff did a rectal exam (oh, yeah! my student is now sticking his finger up my butt...lovely.) But they still didn't think it was my appendix. So I jokingly told Jeff of my Grandma's test.
To humor me, he slapped me on the bottom of my foot... Let me tell you this, if I could have come off that bed and smacked him up the side of the head, I would have. That hurt. Not my foot, but in my right side! A sharp piercing pain. Holy cow, it hurt! Don't know if Jeff was converted, but it certainly made a believer out of me.
I have no idea who taught Grandma that test, but it worked for me. And, I have carried on the tradition. If my kids complain of their side hurting, or a stomach ache, I tap them on the foot. So far, so good, no more appendicitis. And I am very confident that I'll be able to diagnose it if I ever need to. Which goes to prove, you should always listen to your Grandma.