Baliktanaw: A boy and his Appendicitis

A few days after an out-of-town with friends, I got hit with a stomachache. I thought it was just food poisoning from the vacation, but when it persisted, I decided to have it checked. After a visit to the ER, I had my first surgery and I had my appendix removed. This is how it went.

My suspicion that this wasn’t food poisoning started when the stomach medicine didn’t do anything against it, but some painkillers did dull some of the piercing pain. I was still able to go to the office, but I was grimacing and getting cold sweats all the while during my morning commute.

The pain also started moving from my stomach area down to my lower right abdomen. This was a common symptom of appendicitis but I powered through the day thinking it would just go away. Eventually, it was in the wee hours of the next morning that Ming persuaded me to go to the emergency room.

After some paperwork, an ECG and an X-ray, it was confirmed to be appendicitis. The ER doctor told me that I had to be admitted and wait for a surgeon to schedule my operation. This was the first time I was admitted to the hospital since my bout with dengue 8 years ago.

I didn’t miss the hospital walls, but I did enjoy lying down for a long while and catching up on some sleep. Fortunately, they were able to schedule me with an operation on the same day. We opted for a private room because the semi-private option had a long waiting list. This was out of my insurance’s coverage but we wanted to put my comfort first.

Hello, IV drip, it’s been a while

Finally, operation time came and I was taken away from my partner and my mama on a stretcher. I said my goodbyes as I was wheeled into an operating room. There, the nurses comforted me as the anesthesiologist injected something into my back. “You will fall asleep in 5 minutes.” I was knocked out in less than 1.

My next moment of consciousness was already in the recovery room. That meant everything turned out fine. I was unable to move anything below my chest. It was my first time getting anaesthetized so it was very interesting.

I looked at my feet and tried to move my legs, but they wouldn’t budge. It felt like they were buried in concrete. It was alarming but since no one else was panicking, neither did I. I slipped in and out of sleep because there was literally nothing else to do but wait.

It was probably during the dead hours of the hospital as there was just one other patient in the room. They were eventually wheeled out and I was left alone. Thankfully, one staff kept checking up on me and told me that I was ready to be wheeled into my room at around 11:30PM. A digital clock in my periphery blinked the time. 11:00PM.

That was an exceptionally long 30 minutes. Being awake and unable to move your body was strange and I wasn’t mentally prepared to just stare at the ceiling that long. I was unable to fall asleep despite trying hard. But finally, the orderlies arrived and whisked me away to my room.

My Five-Star accommodation for three days

There, I found Mama and Ming waiting for me. I was smoothly transferred to my bed and was told all the things I can and can’t do.

  • No raising of my head because my spine will hurt. This is due to the anesthetic being directly injected into my spine.
  • Keep trying to move my legs from my toes upwards. This is to make sure the anesthesia had no complications.
  • Liquid diet only. But I was hooked to an IV drip since before the surgery so I didn’t feel any hunger.
  • Wait to fart. This means that my digestive system is back to normal.

My surgeon must have been real good because there was no pain at all. The next day, I was able to fart and they let me eat some soft food. Lugaw and soup never tasted so good. This was the first time I was able to eat and drink since I entered the emergency room days ago.

The next couple of days were just spent recovering. The doctor admired that I was recovering quickly and on the second day after surgery, I was eating normal food. Finally, I was released after spending three days in the hospital. It was here that I was confronted with my biggest fear.

See, while I was knocked out before the surgery, they inserted a catheter.

This was something I dreaded all my life. My hair stood on end when I realized after the surgery that they put one inside me. Just imagining it attached already made me cringe. I was unable to look at it the whole time.

Of course, it was convenient not having to stand up to pee, but I dreaded the part where they pull it out. And finally, the time came.

Fortunately, the nurse was very professional and swift that it went by so quickly I barely had time to react. She ripped it out after counting down and with a smooth motion like launching a beyblade, the tube was out of my private part.

The sensation was something I will never forget. It’s hard to describe but it felt like hot pee coming out without my control. I would very much like to live my life without experiencing it ever again.

The culprit for this entire thing, swollen to about twice the regular size

Catheter-free and appendix-free, I was released from the hospital on a wheelchair and carrying my complimentary pillow. We settled the (very expensive) fees and had dinner at a nearby Panda Express. All I had to do now was to recover at home.

Here are some post-Appendectomy advise that was given to me by people:

  • Don’t eat too much that it would stress out your digestive system. Duh.
  • Wash the stitched area with water and disinfect with betadine before covering with gauze.
  • Don’t exert too much physical effort. Don’t do the Valsalva maneuver.
  • Bend over when sneezing or coughing.
  • Wrap your waist with a bandage because it will feel better when the area is compressed.
  • Take some light walks to keep yourself active.
  • Take painkillers depending on your tolerance level.

After a week of home recovery, we returned to my surgeon for a check up. After seeing the stitched area, he concluded that I was already doing well. There was no sign of infection and the wound was healing nicely. I still had to refrain from any physical activity for about a month since my insides were still healing, but thankfully I had the green light to consume alcohol.

So here I am, still recovering because it still hurts when I sneeze and cough. But aside from not being able to exert effort, not much has changed. I’m back to work and while I had to give up biking, I found joy in commuting by reading e-books once more.

The biggest damage this sickness caused is financially. I knew it was going to be expensive but it was still quite shocking. Even with the insurance and PhilHealth subtractions, it hurt to see the total bill. It’s costly to get sick in this country so I would like to wish everyone the best of health.

I would like to thank everyone who wished me well during my confinement. To the people that empathized and gave me some tips, I am extremely grateful. To the medical staff of Marikina Valley Medical Center, thank you for taking care of me. You’ve been my go-to hospital for more than a decade and it’s not hard to see why. Service is top notch.

To the surgical team of Dr. Bravo, thank you for taking care of me and for disposing of my appendix. And most of all to Ming and Mama, for being my wings throughout this ordeal. They hardly left my side and took care of all the things I was unable to do. I am eternally grateful.

Enjoying my first taste of outside food post-surgery

This experience has made me reflect on a lot of things. In the long run, I’ll be back to my regular programming, but for now I’m taking the time to slowly be mindful and grateful of the things in life that I’ve taken for granted.

  • I missed eating and drinking while I was hooked up to an IV. Time to be mindful of every spoonful of food that enters my mouth.
  • I missed being able to walk while I was forced to be bedridden. Time to be grateful for the opportunity to travel using my body.
  • I missed my stomach not hurting while my appendix was trying to blow up. Time to be grateful for all the days my body is operating normally.
  • I miss physical activities while I’m still recovering. Time to be thankful for a working body and time to get back into a regular fitness routine.
  • Thankful for not needing a catheter anymore, though I do kinda miss not having to get up to pee.

Anyway, these are just my ramblings for this exciting point in my life. Thanks for bearing with me and I hope y’all don’t have to experience this. Appendicitis has no definite cause, so it can happen to anyone. I was just part of the unlucky ones.

Thanks to Ming for documenting this experience :))

Stay healthy and count your blessings!



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