"My Son Could Have Died". Our experience with appendicitis, the most common cause of Pediatric Emergency Surgery.
6 Year Old Girl's Appendix Ruptures
I came upon this story this morning and thought it deserved some attention. If you're looking for more information on children with appendicitis, you should definitely read it. A mother shares her story of her 6 year old daughter's symptoms over the course of a few days that turned into a nightmare. She, like many others, had no idea what her daughter was going through was any more than a stomach bug.
When surgeons removed Josie's appendix 12 hours after her mother brought her to a San Francisco emergency room, it had already ruptured, probably days earlier. Catherine was overwhelmed with guilt. "We dragged her 2,000 miles from home when she felt so awful, and we kept giving her Tylenol and Tums. We were so clueless." - Parent.com
"Sometimes I think about that day though and am so grateful that I knew what I did and can't even think about what might have happened if I had kept putting it off as a stomach virus."
The most common disorder of the appendix is APPENDICITIS. Most people are familiar with the name of the disorder and that it has to do with the appendix, but many still don't know what to look for when it comes to recognizing when it's "malfunctioning". In the first hub of this series (What is the appendix and what does it do) I noted that there are about 80,ooo pediatric cases of appendicitis every year, and in that 80,000, approximately 1/3 (nearly 30,000) of those children suffer a ruptured appendix. Whether it's due to an overlook, or misdiagnosis, or simply waiting too long because parents honestly just don't know what to look for, it's too many. I feel like everyone should be educated on at least the basics of anatomy, and common disorders. Here's one reason why.....
MY SON COULD HAVE DIED IF I HADN'T KNOWN WHAT TO LOOK FOR
On one night in May of 2006, my 5 year old son woke in the middle of the night vomiting. I medicated him, assuming it was nothing more than a stomach bug. He went back to sleep soon after I cleaned him up, and had no other complaints. The next day, he was up in the living room playing his video game and seemed his normal self. He was sitting on the floor on his knees like he usually does. He told me his stomach was hurting a little, so I gave him Tylenol, assuming (I do that a lot) he was achy from the vomiting during the night. He didn't complain of anything else, didn't appear sick in any way, wasn't running a fever, nothing.
About an hour later, close to lunch time, I asked him to get up and come to me so I could help him get dressed. When he went to stand up however, I noticed he was moving slow, and he couldn't stand completely straight. He was bent over as he walked to me. I asked him what was wrong, and he said my stomach hurts. At first he said it was hurting all over..... I asked him...."can you point to exactly where it hurts at?".
My stomach knotted up as I watched him, without hesitation, move his finger to point to the lower right corner of his abdomen.
As a nurse, I had seen many cases of appendicitis, and taken care of patients of both lap and open appendectomies. I had also taken care of patients who had to be opened completely after the appendix had ruptured. In these cases an incision is made vertically down the center of the abdomen, and patients are not always closed back up immediately after surgery. The incision remains open and packed so that it can be irrigated (cleaned out). I had never seen a case with a child my sons age though. The youngest I had seen to that point was a 13 year old who had come in with a ruptured appendix.
As much as I dreaded to think about what tests were going to be run on my son if I took him to the ER, and even worse, the possibility of surgery, I just knew that it was his appendix because I had never seen him look, or act like this and he is the tougher of the 3 boys. Keep in mind that he NEVER ran a temperature, he never cried, he never looked like he was really sick as I would have pictured.
The rest of the story ....I took him to the ER in the town I live, 3000 people, no Surgeon or even Operating Room. Blood work showed a high White Blood Count (indicative of an infection) = 32,000. The normal range for WBC in his age is 5,000 to about 14,500. (This will vary from hospital to hospital, but only a little) He had a very obvious reaction with rebound pain check. After the ER doctor called around surrounding towns looking for a surgeon to help my son on a Saturday, we finally were on our way. On arrival at the next ER, a CT Scan was done and it confirmed that his appendix, in fact, was HOT! At 8 o'clock that evening, he was being wheeled into the OR, that was the first time he cried the whole day. They sedated him, so he was a little "loopy" and he told the nurses he felt better, and could he go home. It was one of the hardest times for me to see him so little being taken back. He ended up having an open appendectomy, so he does have a scar about 3 to 4 inches now. He shows it off as a battle wound. Being so young, he healed up quickly, was up walking the next morning, and he was back to school in a week. Sometimes I think about that day though and am so grateful that I knew what I did and can't even think about what might have happened if I had kept putting it off as a stomach virus . As uncommon as I had thought it to be in that age, within 6 months, a friend of mine also had a 5 year old that had to have the same procedure done.
In the first hub of this series (What is the appendix and what does it do?) I noted that there are about 80,ooo pediatric cases of appendicitis every year, and in that 80,000, approximately 1/3 (nearly 30,000) of those children suffer a ruptured appendix. Whether it's due to an overlook, or misdiagnosis, or simply waiting too long because parents honestly just don't know what to look for, it's too many.
This is why I feel people should be knowledgeable about the human body functions, and the common disorders that come along with it. It could save your life or the life of someone you know.
Read the rest of this 3 part series...
PART 3: (you are here) "MY SON COULD HAVE DIED..."