Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Tue 23rd Jan, 2007

From Little Things Big Things Grow

It's been an uncomfortable three days for me. On Saturday I left LCA early in the morning to go down to Melbourne. There, Kate picked me up and we went to a friend's place near Bendigo to do a weekend of Irish Set Dance. Pushed to its limit by six days of seven o'clock starts, past midnight finishes and bad bedding, my body finally decided that enough was enough. I slept through half of the day - curled up on a sofa - and recovered enough for the Saturday night dance.

Then the nausea started. It gradually progressed to an ever-present pain in my gut, mostly on the right hand side. Kate and I drove home on Sunday night with me taking Mylanta, painkillers and it easy[1]. On Monday I moped around - standing up and doing stuff was painful but lying down or sitting playing on my computer was bearable. At 10:30pm the pain started getting a lot worse, and I went into hospital.

(Oh, and by the way, they also don't tell you that morphine makes you feel very odd. To me it felt like someone had scrambled the back of my head, and that was what was blocking the pain. It also made me strangely angry - at the constant noise of drip pumps, fridges, nurses walking around in hard heeled shoes, the light which they never turned off or blocked, and overall the frustration of being in pain and unable to do anything about it.)

A little over twelve hours later they were removing my appendix. I'd had a similar incident thirteen years ago, but had merely gone on a drip for five days and gradually it sorted itself out. This time it wasn't going away, and with the keyhole surgery the commonly perform these days it was a relatively simple procedure. I was barely conscious for Kate's first visit, but recovered enough for her second visit to appreciate Mum's relayed joke that they should have just taken the thing out the first time and saved me the trouble.

The problem is, surgery seems like a Faustian bargain. It will definitely remove your appendix, but it won't stop the pain. The pain just migrates to the three new wounds you have in your chest, the gut reacting to being prodded, and a nasty thing where some of the air they pump up your stomach with to allow the endoscope to get a good look around gets trapped in the body after they close everything up. This migrates upward and you get annoying amounts of pain from your right shoulder tip.

On Tuesday morning the real fun started: an excruciating cramp near my solar plexus caused by another air bubble that stopped me breathing. Luckily a nurse was nearby to hear my feeble but sincere cries of "help". Sitting up stopped the pain in my chest, but started it in my shoulder again. Hooray. I'm now typing this at 1:30AM, afraid to lie back down again...

[1] - this is a slightly mangled example of a zeugma.

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