I am in the process of recovering from a ruptured appendix. After a whirlwind eight-day tour of Michigan, including sleeping in five cities in five nights, I arrived home with a stomachache. Little did I know.
I went to Michigan for a professional conference in Traverse City--ICT2011, which I liveblogged a bit over at my Google+ account except, whoops, I forgot to make most of the posts public--and I took the opportunity to visit family on the way there and back. Let me just say to any employer sending someone to a conference: don't send them alone. When your employee is trying to make technical small talk with strangers in their field, the awkward silences are depressing. Send a coworker along.
My last stop was in Williamston, to help my dear old friend Cat move to Grand Rapids. The task of packing a house she'd lived in for 12 years proved overwhelming, so her boyfriend and I unstuck the gears. I awoke early Sunday morning with a stomachache, which I thought meant I'd eaten a bad burger the night before. I drove home uncomfortable, laid down to rest, and covered myself with a blanket. And ran up a fever. I felt slightly better as the day wore on, and we couldn't decide if I had food poisoning with a possible hernia (a painful spot on my right) or appendicitis. Early Monday morning, I had a crescendo of pain so intense I could only breathe in gasps. We went to the hospital.
They took out my appendix that day, noting that it was perforated before they got to it. That means the bacterial soup inside it had a chance to attack everything else in my gut. The doctor said the outsides of my intestines looked "pretty pissed off". I replied "I can relate".
The day after the operation I was swollen taut with inflamed intestines. I couldn't even stand up straight for fear of the tension bursting my incisions. They hit me with three different antibiotics in the hospital and gave me a fourth to take home. It's Friday and I still can't button my pants, though I did manage a half day of work from home yesterday and another today. Occasionally I get painful cramps that interrupt my ability to concentrate, and of course my digestive tract is not finished rebooting itself, but I hope to be able to return to the office Monday.
Moral of the story: do not mess with rapidly escalating abdominal pain associated with a low fever. Get to a hospital.