Thursday, June 9, 2011

Primo Versus the Appendix

Thursday morning, I woke at 6am in the hospital bed with Primo. The two month-old baby who was his roommate, was screaming frantically. Not my favorite way to wake up. Certainly not as good as waking to the sight of Icelandic lava fields.

“Mommy, my belly hurts,” Primo moaned, awake too, “Did they give me the medicine yet?”

“Not yet, honey,” I replied, “They have to check you first.”

I called David, who’d gone home to take over Sec duty from my grandmother, and I told him there was no new news, and that he should take Sec to school. About an hour later, eight men in white coats strode into the room and assembled in a semi circle around Primo’s bed.

“Its appendicitis,” said the white-haired man who looked like Head Doctor, “No doubt about it/”

“You can tell without the ultrasound?” I asked. I am the parent who always has a thousand questions.

“An ultrasound would be nice, but yeah, we’ve seen this a lot and I’m sure that what it is,” said Head Doc, “Either myself or Dr. Crannick with remove the appendix, not sure when but sometime today. As soon as we can.”

“Wow,” I said, “OK, Is that the only way you handle this?”

“Yep,” he said, “You need that appendix out before it ruptures. It’s a dirty business, appendicitis, lots of stool in there and you don’t want it getting out/”

He had me at “lots of stool in there.” I’m no expert but I think it’s a safe bet that, as a general rule, you want to keep stool contained.

“We’ll let you know when we can fit him in,” Head Doc said and the coterie were gone.

“I have to have my appendix TAKEN OUT?” Primo exclaimed. I braced myself for the panic attack of the century,

But instead, Primo panted, “I think I’m gonna throw up!”

Vomiting trumps panic. But you know what trumps both vomiting and panic?


“MOMMY IT HURTS!!!” Primo yelled, after he stopped throwing up, “MOMMY IT REALLY HURTS!”

When they’d screened him in the ER, the nurse had shown him a spectrum of pain, with 0 being no pain – a smiley face – and 10 being the worst imaginable pain – a Munch-like scream. Primo had been at about a 5. Suddenly, he was at an 8. At least, I think he was. I can’t bring myself to think of him at anything higher.

“OK, OK,” I said, shocked at the sudden change. I pressed the call button and asked the nurse if he could have pain meds now that he was diagnosed and now that he was obviously in need.

“I’ll check with the doctors,” she said.

I don’t know how much time passed but it felt like at least an hour. In fact, it was probably ten minutes. Primo kept screaming and writhing and crying. I tried to console him but every scream was ripping my fucking heart out. When I couldn’t stop myself from crying anymore, I turned my head away from him, so he wouldn’t see. I wanted to go to the nurse’s station to check on the meds but I didn’t dare leave his side.

I sat there, trying feebly to rub his back, caress his head and not have a nervous collapse.

After an eternity, someone who identifies herself as a pediatric resident, comes in to assess Primo to see if he qualifies for pain meds.

“Please hurry,” I cut her off, “This is killing me.”

A minute later, she was injecting morphine into his IV.

“How long will it take to work?” I asked/

“It’s working already,” she said.

And in fact, it had. Primo was so heavy-lidded, he looked like in was lounging in an opium den.

"Where's my morphine?" I asked the resident when Primo was good and loopy.

She smiled. Did I need to clarify that I wasn't fully joking?

"An epidural, at least," I ventured.

She wasn't biting.

Primo stayed nice and loose, falling asleep in the middle of his sentences, all through the second ultrasound (a successful one conducted by the Chief of Pediatric Radiology), through the pre-op paperwork, and up til the surgery a few hours later.

I can't say enough nice things about morphine, really. Morphine rocks your socks off. Morphine is my hero. I can't recommend morphine highly enough.

Tomorrow . . . laparoscopy, hooray!