I'm sharing my story in hopes that others will understand the undetectable warning signs of an appendicitis during pregnancy.
It was Memorial Day weekend, 2012, when I came down with what I thought was a stomach bug. After vomiting and spider web abdominal cramps all day Saturday, my husband took me to the emergency room
In fear of dehydration. The on-call OB/GYN evaluated me, monitored the baby and contractions, and sent me home with zofran, diagnosing me with the flu.
Sunday afternoon and Day 2 of vomiting and cramps, my husband took me into the ER again. This time, I was given an IV and monitored for an hour. Since the baby was stable and I wasn't having contractions, I was sent home with a suppository to stop the vomiting and was told to drink fluids, that it will soon pass.
Monday morning and Day 3, I spiked a high fever and began having contractions. At this point, I grew increasingly concerned that I was going into preterm labor. But, because of the flu? It didn't make any sense to me. My husband rushed me to the hospital. When I arrived, my contractions were increasing in intensity and I began vomiting again every 20 minutes. The ER nurses rushed me to labor and delivery.
As I was dressing into my hospital gown, I felt the worst pain of my life. It felt as if someone poored boiling water into my uterus and down my right thigh while stabbing me with a knife. I collapsed onto the floor and screamed for my husband, who was outside giving the nurses an update on my symptoms. My husband and nurse Agatha (I remember her name because I screamed it for 2 hours!) ran in and helped me into bed. I began screaming, "Help me! Help Me! Please Help Me! Something is terribly wrong!" The nurse, while updating my chart on the computer, turned to me and said, "Honey, you're just having contractions. They will subside soon," and began typing some more. I rolled over in bed to read her name tag. I thought if I said her name she would somehow understand that it wasn't contractions I was feeling. I then began pleading to Agatha, pleading for help, to stop the pain. At this point, I was in too much pain to scream out, and began whispering to her, "Please Agatha, I think I'm going to die...I think I'm going to lose my baby...please help us..."
As I continued to call out for Agatha, the on-call OB/GYN arrived. He began asking a lot of questions and ordered an ultra sound. At this point, I had been on a heart monitor for the baby for 30 minutes with contractions 10 minutes apart. The doctor approached me and asked where my pain was localized at. I screamed out "Everywhere!" The doctor grabbed my arm and asked, "Does that hurt?" I cringed no and he snapped back saying "Well then it doesn't hurt everywhere! Now where does it hurt?" I was so angry I wanted to punch him, but I could hardly move. I ran my hand across my stomach, from hip to hip and sternum to naval, and down my right thigh to my knee, as I begged for help and morphine. He began examining me and checked my cervix, which was completely closed. Again, I asked for morphine and his response was, "Since you're not dilated and show no signs of pre-term labor, we can't give you anything for the pain until we know what is going on.
Ten minutes later, an ultrasound technician arrived and began scanning my uterus. My baby had a strong heartbeat and showed no signs of being in distress, but the technician had a concerned look on her face and left to get the doctor. When the doctor arrived and performed the same scan, his look of annoyance turned to concern and guilt. He turned to me and said, "I'm so sorry but it looks like you are have appendicitis."
From that point, I remember the pain medication (and thinking Agatha finally helped me!) and the radioactive iodine they injected into my...yeah...by a nurse who I went to high school with. After the CT scan, they discovered that my appendix had in fact ruptured.
A few hours later I was rushed into surgery. Everything from this point on is second hand information that I learned from my husband and family.
The surgeon was able to perform the surgery laparoscopically but said I had a severe infection with a lot of puss in my abdomen. The baby remained stable during the surgery and he expected a full recovery.
Wednesday, Day 5, I spiked a high fever, my heart rate shot up, and my baby went into distress. I went septic.
My first night in the ICU, the doctor inserted a central line into my artery so they could draw blood and administer antibiotics easily (that I woke up for!).
Friday, Day 7, my OB stopped by to see me, he sat by my bed, held my hand, and said how very sorry he was that this happened to me. He told me my family was signing the papers to have me life flighted to the University of Washington Medical Center as I was not improving and my Kidneys were shutting down.
Friday night, my husband and I arrived in Seattle. A team of specialists sat at my bedside arguing over my care (I remember bits and pieces of this, thinking I was a science experiment).
Saturday, Day 8, I began vomiting black bile. The doctors put a tube down my nose to pump my stomach (that, unfortunately, I woke up for!). I spent the next 8 hours wide awake, watching black/green liquid being pumped from my stomach and begging anyone who would listen to pull it out!!! Even the cleaning lady!
Sunday, Day 9, the doctors again argued over my care. My blood sugar levels were dangerously low (I had gestational diabetes), I hadn't eaten in 10 days, and my kidneys were failing. They decided to push insulin to try and save my kidneys and raise my blood sugar. At this point, my baby was still stable.
Monday, Day 10, I woke up and began interacting with the doctors. The insulin was working! The antibiotics began working to flush the bacteria out of my body.
Wednesday, Day 12, my kidneys Slowly started to recover. An MRI was ordered to view the damage that had occurred to my kidneys and to see if any fluid remained from the ruptured appendix (see below). My baby was still doing great!
Friday, Day 14, I was released from the hospital with bed rest orders and appointments with specialists lined up. I was 29 weeks pregnant...I was STILL pregnant!
Over the next 9 weeks, I visited an infectious disease specialist (I contracted cdef in the hospital), a kidney specialist, and my OB 4 times a week (2 stress tests, 1 ultrasound, and 1 follow-up appointment every week). In addition, I was diagnosed with cholestasis of pregnancy, sinus-tachacardia, and was still monitoring my gestational diabetes. But, I was STILL pregnant!
After a Caesarian at 38 weeks, Mille Brooke was born! A healthy, 8 pounds, 1 ounce beautiful baby girl!! A strong, amazing fighter who against all odds, turned out perfectly healthy!