By Greg Price
Still feeling the afterglow of my near month-long trek across Europe, apparently that warm fuzzy feeling was something else.
Returning to work last week, a sudden pain emerged in my stomach around noon on Friday which worsened as the day progressed. So much so I was gripping my side and even something as simple as bending over was proving difficult.
A short drive to emergency later and the medical consensus came — appendicitis.
Thankful that the issue didn’t pop up while I was making my way through the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Croatia and Bosnia, I still found myself cursing under my breath at the not-so-comfortable feeling of the affliction.
For someone who simply thought I was painfully bloated at the time, it is news that scared me a bit. Removing an appendix is one of the most common medical procedures performed worldwide and accounts for an estimated 25,000 hospital stays in Canada, researchers say according to a recent CBC article.
Nevertheless, even when I had bladder stone surgery last year, I have never had a procedure where I was officially ‘put under’ with general anesthesia. Studies have shown by psychiatrists that 30 per cent of patients are more afraid of the anesthesia than the actual operation in question.
Even including patients who had emergency surgeries, poor health, or were older, there is a very small chance—just 0.01-0.016 per cent—of a fatal complication from anesthesia according to an American surgery article I referenced from 2017. I have flown numerous times in my life and it doesn’t scare me in the least, yet something I had never experienced before (general anesthesia), but yet had less of a chance statistically of being harmful to me than flying caused me worry.
But I must say, the rural health care I received at the local emergency clinic and hospital was top notch from when I first entered to being released after a day of recovery.
Right from when I first signed in, to the two doctors who gave me my options and assisted in the surgery, to the nurses, the anesthesiologist and all supplementary staff helped put my mind at ease.
I’ve always said what makes a good healthcare system is not just the skill in which it is delivered, but how it is also communicated as well. Bed-side manner is what I think they call it. Certain ailments may be commonplace to those skilled people in the medial system, but they are not to those who are afflicted which causes uneasiness.
Treating patients like herded cattle getting pushed through the system can be damaging to the psyche of any patient. I never felt like this at one point in the whole process with all the different entities with the Taber Health Centre. I was given all my options by one doctor in full detail, with the pluses and drawbacks of each in the ever tricky diagnosis of appendicitis. The anesthesiologist described the process to me of going under. In the end, I went from taking deep breaths in and out in a mask, to waking up and not even realizing the surgery had already been done — it was that easy in being unaware of the situation which just happened.
Nurses from when I was getting wheeled into surgery to post-recovery were soothing and patient friendly with any questions asked with some humour mixed in to lighten the mood of the brief hospital stay. I thought I was being funny to some of the nurses with some of the jokes I cracked, or at least I thought I was being funny, but it could have just been the meds I was given pre and post surgery that were talking in my loopy state. They say laughter is the best medicine, I’ve discovered that the opposite is true when recovering from an appendectomy. Laughing or coughing — not a good thing.
I even met a new friend in Abe as a roommate for my one-day/night stay at the Taber Hospital, where each other’s company and good conversation helped pass the time where even a day-and-a-half, I was feeling stir crazy.
People complain of ‘hospital food.’ All I can say is after being on a liquid diet for a day where the highlight was broth, when they delivered toast and porridge the next morning before I got officially discharged on the weekend, it was as if edible angels came down from heaven to deliver their bounty.
People complain about the healthcare system (I know I certainly have in the past). This past weekend was no such experience.
So, a tip of the hat to everyone who helped deliver quality care to me over the weekend. Your efforts are much appreciated.
Now hopefully recovery proves speedy as I never knew something as simple as putting my socks on could be a chore, as has been simply getting in and out of chairs, couches or beds.
I’m Truckin’… ever so slowly as I walk down the street… but I’m Truckin’.