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“Trust Your Gut” Has Never Been So Literal

, , , , | Healthy | November 30, 2022

My mom is a tough cookie with an incredibly high pain tolerance. She’s not one to complain about feeling ill unless it’s really bad. I get up one morning to find she’s not at home. I don’t give much thought to it, thinking she’s running an errand, until she calls me.

Mom: “I’m at the doctor’s. I need you to pick me up and take me to the hospital.”

Trying not to panic, I rush over to our local doctor in my car. When I go in, my mom is lying in their small clinic room, pale, sweating, and vomiting. The doctor explains that she came in complaining of severe abdominal cramps. The doctor offers to call ahead to the hospital so that we don’t have to wait in triage. I get my mom into my car and rush her to the hospital. In my (albeit non-expert) opinion, it sounds like her appendix is about to burst.

I rush into the ER and get them to bring mom in using a wheelchair. She’s getting worse by the minute, and I’m trying not to panic as I fill in her details. I call my dad, but he’s at least two hours away for work. Mom gets seen in triage and admitted.

Once we’re in her room, we’re told we need to wait for the doctor. Mom is still vomiting and in agony. The nurses refuse to give her anything without the doctor.

An hour goes by. Two. Three.

I’m frantic. I know that this is an absolute medical emergency, and there is no urgency being shown. The nurses brush me off when I tell them they need to get a doctor immediately.

Eventually, the doctor arrives, giving some bulls*** excuse. My mother is still dry heaving in pain, so I fill him in and say that I think she has appendicitis. He looks at her with little interest and asks if she ate anything weird. (No, we all ate the same things.)

Doctor: “Could it be an ectopic pregnancy?”

Me: “For God’s sake, she’s menopausal and had a hysterectomy two years ago, which is on her d*** chart! It’s her freaking appendix!”

Mom: “Doc, I’ve had two kids, and this is worse than the pain I felt during labour.”

Doctor: “Hmm… I think you may be being a bit dramatic. I’ll give you something for the vomiting and send you for a scan.”

He leaves. Thirty minutes later, the nurse administers the nausea medication, which has no effect, but at least Mom’s given fluids.

It’s another hour-long wait before they’re ready to do the scan and another forty-five minutes for the results. Mom’s pain is worse when the doctor comes back.

Doctor: “I don’t see anything suspicious on the scan, but seeing how much pain you’re in, I think we’ll have to operate and see what’s going on.”

They prep Mom for surgery and wheel her off. At this point, I collapse with worry. My dad has since arrived, so he and I go home, waiting for the hospital to tell us she’s out of surgery. By 7:00 pm, we get called back.

Mom has done a total 180; her colour is back, the vomiting has stopped, and she’s feeling relief despite having just had major abdominal surgery.

Me: “What was wrong?!”

Mom: “The doctor hasn’t told me yet. Guess we’ll find out.”

The doctor walks in about forty-five minutes later, looking sheepish, to say the least.

Doctor: “Ma’am, it turns out you weren’t overreacting. Your appendix managed to twist itself and had become gangrenous. You literally had a gangrenous bowel. There’s nothing more painful. I’ve never seen anything like it. We actually took pictures to show our colleagues.”

My mom was less than impressed with the doctor who had brushed us off. She was back home the next day. Trust your gut, people.

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