You may be wondering why I haven’t blogged much this month. Or maybe you’re not idk. Either way, whether you care or not, I’m going to tell you why I’ve posted less than FIVE (eek!) blogs this month, because I’m making a concerted effort to make Country Hipster more personal. More raw. More real.
It all started on Cinco de Mayo…..well, it actually started on May 4th but doesn’t Cinco de Mayo sound a lot cooler?
ANYWAY. The night of May 4th—a Wednesday—I started having really sharp pains throughout my abdomen. I figured I had eaten something weird or maybe I just had really bad gas or maybe my worst fear of having cancer was coming true. I took some Tylenol and went to bed, only to be awoken at 3 a.m. with EVEN WORSE pain.
After throwing up and spending about 30 minutes laying on my bathroom floor wondering what the hell was happening to me, I stood up and noticed the pain had mostly shifted to just the right side of my abdomen. Weird. I went back to bed.
When my alarm went off four hours later, I felt okay. The pain was still there, but it was bearable. I decided to wear a maxi dress to work because we all know maxis are basically just crotchless yoga pants. I didn’t want to wear anything that would add any extra pressure to my already tender tummy. So basically, I looked real fancy but felt real crappy allllllll day.
Thursday was Cinco de Mayo, and so I couldn’t NOT go eat Mexican food with the work crew for lunch. I went with the carne asada tacos and a side of beans. But about halfway through, I literally felt like everything I had ever eaten was about to come spewing out of my body. My stomach was all like, nah girl I ain’t having it today! BUT I KEPT MY COOL. I kept eating, counting down the seconds until everyone was done. Maybe all I needed was some fresh air?
By the time we got back to the office around 1, the pain had intensified and had shifted to the lower right portion of my abdomen. Maybe I had a hernia? Maybe I had tweaked an oblique or something at the gym? Maybe an alien was growing inside of me? Maybe that Mexican food just REALLY destroyed me?
The journalist in me decided to do some research.
Appendicitis is the first thing that comes up when you Google “sharp pain lower right abdomen.” And so, after reading through the symptoms and realizing I had virtually ALL of them, I did what any level-headed adult would do when they’re scared and have no idea what’s going on.
I called my mother.
Usually my mom offers really good advice but this time around she was basically just like, “well, only you know how you’re feeling so it’s up to you what you do.” And here I am, all panicked inside because WHAT IF MY APPENDIX IS ABOUT TO EXPLODE, and all I wanted my mom to say was something along the lines of “YOU’RE RIGHT! YOUR APPENDIX IS ABOUT TO EXPLODE GET THE HELL TO THE DOCTOR RIGHT NOW.”
And so I went back to work and went about my business. But around 3:30 p.m. I just COULDN’T do it anymore, so I drove myself to the nearest Urgent Care facility. The doctor took my vitals, did a quick physical exam, and said, “you need to go to the emergency room right away.”
“WHAT THE HELL DID YOU JUST SAY TO ME?!” is literally all I could think.
Look, I’m 24 years old. A college graduate. I’ve lived in a foreign country by myself and I can scrape ice off my giant truck IN HEELS and I’ve been run over by a horse and I’ve survived some pretty hellacious stuff but being told I needed to take MYSELF to the E.R. was probably the most horrifying thing that’s ever happened to me.
And so I went. Long story short, my appendix was in HELLA bad shape and was taken out around 11:30 that night. HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO TO ME!
Recovering from an appendectomy is by no means a walk in the park. To make the laparoscopic procedure easier, they inject this gas into your abdomen (don’t ask me why), but they don’t let that gas escape before sewing you up. So in addition to having some pretty intense pain where your beloved appendix used to be, your entire chest feels really tight, like those cramps you get when you go for a 10-mile run when you have absolutely no business running anything more than 3.
On top of that, your incisions are also pretty tender. My belly button incision developed a GNARLY bruise and was extremely tender to the touch, which made cuddling with the boyfriend very, very uncomfortable. But the pain meds they give you are top notch and make most things pretty bearable. I was back to working full days in the office within a week.
Now, I wish this were the end of the story but it’s not. FAR from it, actually.
On May 17th, less than two weeks after my appendix had exited my body, my tonsils started swelling and I developed a fever (of 103!). Back to the doctor I went, annoyed and frustrated and sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.
After testing negative for strep and mono, the doctor determined it was probably just a minor bacterial infection and sent me on my way with some antibiotics and anti-inflammatory pills. The drugs kicked in within two hours, the swelling went down, the fever broke, my boyfriend brought me Oreos and ice cream and we made milkshakes and watched Remember the Titans and everything seemed like it might FINALLY be looking up.
Fast forward to the night of Saturday, May 29th. Just three days ago!
My tonsils started feeling a little sore and a little scratchy, but I tried to ignore it. It was a three-day weekend and I was NOT about to ruin the plans I had made! Ain’t nobody got time for being sick on a three-day weekend.
I woke up on Sunday morning and could barely talk. My voice sounded like there very well could have been a tiny leprechaun in my throat choking me out. I teach a Sunday school class at church, and I felt bad bailing at the last minute, so I dragged myself to church, gave the lesson, and was pretty positive no one could understand a single thing I said.
After church, at around 4 p.m., I headed up to a friend’s cabin with my boyfriend, sister, and boyfriend’s roommate in tow. I still had some hydrocodone left over from my appendectomy, so I popped one in in the hope that I could get through the night and then go to the doctor when we got back to Provo the next day.
All was well for a few hours. We made chicken fettuccine for dinner. Danced to Glass Animals in the living room. Staked claim on the bedrooms with the comfiest beds and nicest views. Played games and snuggled and fell asleep while we watched The Sandlot.
Around 12:15 a.m., my tonsils became very, very angry. They were so swollen that they were almost touching. So swollen that I looked like I had a double chin. So swollen that I started having trouble breathing and talking. I broke down in tears, frustrated that nothing was going as planned, which I’m sure only made things worse. After calling my mother (because duh), my boyfriend drove me to the nearest hospital while I just sat and cried in the passenger seat.
Long story short, the E.R. doc discovered the source of all the swelling and pain—a nasty abscess had attached itself to the back of my right tonsil. The most likely source? The breathing tube that had been put down my throat during my appendectomy. The doctor said it wasn’t unlikely that it nicked the tissue in my throat, allowing bacteria to get in and go WILD. The solution? Drain the abscess, send the drainage in for testing, then determine the next course of action depending on the test results.
But there was just one problem. When the doctor and nurse attempted to drain the abscess, nothing came out. I don’t know if any of you have ever been poked in the throat with a freaking needle, but it is EXCRUCIATING. And they poked me FOUR TIMES. Top three worst experiences of my life. So, you can understand why I broke down in absolute hysterics when the so-called “simple” solution didn’t work.
Luckily, the boy was there to read me Harry Potter during the downtime and kiss me on the forehead when I was overwhelmed and hold my hand when I was in pain.
The hospital we went to was fairly small, so they decided to transfer me to the one in Provo so I could see an ear, nose, and throat specialist. Fine. But since I was stable, I asked, could we drive ourselves?
Apparently during this entire process my heart rate had held steady at 120-130 beats per minute, even when there was absolutely nothing going on. Even when I started drifting to sleep. Even when I wasn’t spitting up blood. I was tachycardic (i.e. my heart rate was WAY too high), my fever was rising, and my tonsils showed no signs of getting better. And so, the ambulance was called and off we went.
The EMTs were really nice. I wish I could remember their names. They both smelled like campfire. I spent the 40-minute ride asking them about their plans for the weekend because I couldn’t bring myself to ask them about the gnarliest injuries they had ever treated. The ambulance was a surprisingly smooth ride, and I was only A LOT disappointed that they never turned the sirens on. Sheesh. WHAT THE HELL WAS I PAYING FOR, ANYWAY?!
I was whisked into the hospital, asked all the same questions I was asked at the last hospital (I mean, really, they’re in the same network. You’d think there would be more communication here.), and put into an itty bitty room with Fox News on the TV. By then it was about 5:30 a.m. I was tired. The boy was tired but hadn’t complained once. He was honestly the glue keeping any sanity I had left intact.
The ENT specialist came in, and boy was he NICE. Like for real, he was SO nice, which was SO refreshing. He broke the news that he’d have to stick a needle in my throat again, but I figured since he had such a good bedside manner I’d let it slide. Just this once. Except this time around, he used a bigger needle and didn’t wait quiiiiite long enough for the numbing medicine to kick in so after he stuck the needle in (only twice this time!), it took literally all my strength NOT to rip my tonsils out right then and there. I immediately started crying. Not just a few tears but like heavy, snotty sobbing that threatened to cause hyperventilation.
“I’ve been married 14 years, and I’ve only seen my husband cry twice,” the nurse said. “That procedure was one of them. You’re a trooper.” Thank you, nurse whose name I can’t remember, for making me feel like a badass even though makeup streamed down my face and snot poured out of my nose.
Once again, the doc was unable to drain the abscess, so I had to decide whether I wanted my tonsils AND the abscess surgically removed RIGHT THEN, or whether I wanted to go on a regimen of antibiotics, steroids, and painkillers for 10 days to see if that would kill the abscess. As much as I wanted to say I had TWO body parts removed within a month of each other, I opted for the drugs and finally left the hospital at about 9:30 a.m.
Now, I realize this blog post is gettin’ a little long. We’re at just over 2,000 words and I’m pretty sure I haven’t written that much in a single sitting since I was in college. So I’ll cut to the chase.
Over the last few weeks, I have been very bitter. Angry. Upset. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. It’s SUMMER, for crying out loud. I want to be out hiking big mountains and swinging off rope swings and road tripping to weird places and staying out way too late and kissing in the rain. I want to be taking photos and making memories. I want to be irresponsible and spontaneous and FUN.
But instead I’ve been stuck in my house. Too sick to work out. Too weak to walk more than about half a mile. Too tired to put cute outfits together and go on photoshoots. Too scared to make any big plans for any grand adventures that require me to venture too far from home.
But as of today, I’ve decided to look on the bright side of things.
On the bright side, I now have enough time to watch whatever I want to on Netflix.
On the bright side, I can use being sick as an excuse to cuddle with my cute boyfriend as much as I want.
On the bright side, I’ve had tons of time to online shop and I found the CUTEST Etsy shop full of turquoise goodies!
On the bright side, I have an excuse for being soooo white while every else is tan for summer.
On the bright side, I work for an AMAZING company that lets me work from home when I’m feeling most crappy.
On the bright side, I have more time for reading and napping and decorating my living room.
On the bright side, Dierks Bentley’s new album just came out and I literally haven’t stopped listening to it since I bought it.
On the bright side, I am not allergic to chocolate.
On the bright side, puppies exist!
On the bright side, I AM ALIVE.
On the bright side, I have so, so much to be grateful for.
And so, if you’re like me, sick and tired of being sick and tired, look on the bright side. There you will find so much hope and so much happiness that’ll make all the appendectomies, needles to the tonsils, fevers, hospital visits, ambulance rides, and nausea-inducing drugs worth it.