Medical Update from a Bus

Greetings, my friends! It’s been just over a month since my appendix ruptured, and I’m happy to report that I’m about 94% back to normal. Based on the number of questions I’ve been asked as I’ve eased back into society I figured it was time for another update.

At the moment I’m on a bus from DC headed home to NYC. We came down for the holiday weekend, and I stuck around to shoot some headshots today –my first shoot in over a month! It felt good to pick up the camera again, but I’m still not pushing myself too much. Heck, I made my assistant Will do all the heavy lifting today =)

Let’s just say the introvert in me definitely took over for the past few weeks. After a while I got tired of repeating the story, I didn’t want attention, I didn’t have anything new to say; I just wanted to chill out and get back to normal. What I didn’t realize at the time is that recovery would take a month. I spent a solid three weeks on my back with little energy to do more than walk from room to room. By week four my back started to hurt (wonder why?…) but by then I had enough energy to walk around and get some pathetic excuse for exercise.

If I knew from the start that I would be out of commission for a month it would have been easier to swallow. When you keep thinking you’ll be back in action “any day now” it starts to get a little depressing after the first two weeks. Motivation was hard to come by for a few days in there.

As I expected, I progressed much faster once I got off the antibiotics. Every day I would notice a little more improvement, and even now I still feel some things rumble and bumble in my abdomen. It feels like progress, or perhaps I’m being overly sensitive to it. Until that sucker is removed I’m not going to take my chances.

At this point it looks like it will be another two or three weeks before I go in for surgery to get my appendix removed. That is the most baffling part of this story for most people –“Why didn’t they operate on you immediately?!”– so I will attempt to explain it as best as I understand it.

The conventional method of treating a ruptured appendix is to go immediately into surgery and get it removed. However, in recent years the medical community has begun to re-think that strategy. The problem with operating immediately is that you have a big mess to deal with. Think of it like a pest control issue. You find a bug in your house, and then another bug, and then another. The more you look the most you find, and eventually you get to the source and realize it’s a bigger problem than you thought. No longer will a can of Raid suffice, you’ve got to tear out some walls and fix the plumbing. I imagine that’s what operating on a ruptured appendix is like. You start to find infected areas of the colon and intestines and who knows what else, so those have to be removed also. What you end up with is a patient who has diarrhea for the rest of his life because the surgeon went a little overboard with the scalpel.

So, you can guess how much fun that would be.

The only one who benefits from that approach is the manufacturer of toilet paper. Rather than dealing with a messy surgery and unhappy patient they have started to take advantage of the fact that the infection doesn’t kill you immediately. If you think of it as an infection rather than an emergency it makes a lot more sense to attack it with drugs instead of a knife.

Once the infection has been wiped out your body goes back to business as usual. In my case, it took about four weeks. That’s why the doctors decided to delay the surgery. If there isn’t a rampant infection then the surgery is much easier for them and far less damaging to me. All in all it’s a much better scenario even though it feels like a long ordeal right now.

There’s a part of me that’s not too excited about the notion of losing an organ even if doctors don’t really know what it does. But there’s another part of me that is even less excited about the thought of a relapse…

So that’s how I’ve been lately and how I’m doing now. I thank God that I’m feeling so much better, but I realize we’re not out of the woods quite yet.

Miscellaneous thoughts and schtuff:

  • The best way to prevent appendicitis seems to include a diet high in fiber.
  • Not only did I repeatedly win against Heidi, but I also whooped my dad in a game of Phase 10 during my recovery.
  • I need to get some more travel-friendly photo gear. Schlepping my gear on the subway and Bolt Bus is no fun.

3 thoughts on “Medical Update from a Bus

  1. “repeatedly win”…a bit of a stretch. Didn’t I whoop you at something?! I think I handedly won Scrabble and Scattergories.

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