Several appendectomy questions
March 4, 2004 10:38 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone here had their appendix removed? If so, what were the symptoms leading up to it? How long were you out, and was it painful at all? (a little more inside)

A couple nights ago I woke up at 3 in the morning with a pain on my right side, next to my stomach. Ever since then it's just been a dull pain and just sort of annoying and I can't tell if its intestinal or if it's my actual appendix is flaring up. For those that did lose their appendix, was the pain sudden and sharp or dull and long-lasting?

In college I remember a friend "caught his appendix early" and they just gave him antibiotics instead of removing it. I'll probably go to the doctor tomorrow but I have an intense fear of doctors and hospitals (I was in the hospital once at the age of 4 and I nearly lost my eyesight, and I've never been in since) and I thought I'd just ask here since it seems like a general thing that happens to a lot of us.
posted by mathowie to Health & Fitness (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The main symptoms are generalized abdominal cramps which become worse when the area is touched, nausea and vomiting, fever, loss of appetite, and abdominal swelling. Do you have any of those? Just about everyone I know has had appendicitis or has had their appendix removed, 'cept me. When you probe the area, it should hurt like a somanabitch if you have acute appendicitis. I'd go see a doctor.
posted by iconomy at 10:52 AM on March 4, 2004

Ruptured appendix is when the appendix ruptures and it spills poison into your system and can kill you. When I was a whee lad, I had this condition at the same time as the flu, so no one was on top of it and I was near death before they caught it and did emergency surgery within minutes of figuring it out. You don't want the appendix to rupture. The appendix is on the right side, mid-way between the last rib bone and the top of the hip bone. If its sore to touch there, thats a sign. It could also be other things like what you ate recently or try some Pepto or laxatives.
posted by stbalbach at 10:52 AM on March 4, 2004

..and does anyone know why we have a useless sack of poison waiting to explode in our body, doesn't seem very Darwinian.
posted by stbalbach at 10:55 AM on March 4, 2004 [1 favorite]

I had my appendix out at age 10; they pain was mind-bendingly intense, and it came out of nowhere, ramping up to full force within a couple of hours.

I have no idea if this is the only manner in which appendicitis manifests, however, so you should definitely see a doctor. Any pain that's intense enough to wake you up at 3 am is worth worrying about. And the ultrasound technology around today will definitely make for a more pleasant exam than the one I went through 18 years ago.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:59 AM on March 4, 2004

Get to a doctor immediately, this sounds a lot like what happened with my appendix, and if you wait too long, it will burst. Do not try to self-daignose, I had barely any pain when pressure was applied (the method iconomy mentions above), but I definitely had appendicitis.

btw, it's my understanding it's not "filled with poison" but infected. Also, hasn't there been some studies recently that show it's not entirely useless?
posted by malphigian at 11:00 AM on March 4, 2004

My great-grandmother Goldie was born in Manhattan in 1905. Sometime in (we think) the 1920's, she was rushed to the hospital with intense abdominal pains and fever and other traditional symptoms of appendicitis...only they were on the left side of her body. She got sicker and sicker, and there weren't very good diagnostic tools available in the 20's, obviously, but the doctors felt they had to do something. So they did emergency exploratory surgery as a last resort...and discovered that she indeed had appendicitis. It's just that her insides were reversed and her appendix was on the wrong side of her body. Or at least, so says family lore.

I tend to believe the story, because it's not even the only wacky-ancestral-appendix story in my family. My dad, Goldie's grandson, mistook his appendicitis for food poisoning from bad Chinese food for a whole week. But because he's rather overweight (thus having his insides put a lot of pressure on the appendix area so it couldn't burst), and due to some more weird-appendix-location stuff going on (unlike Goldie, it was on the correct side of the body, but buried underneath some intestines or something--I guess this must be genetic?), his appendix was only "leaking" vile stuff all week and never ruptured fully.

Hope you're okay, Matt! :-)
posted by Asparagirl at 11:03 AM on March 4, 2004 [1 favorite]

Happened to me about 17 months ago...started on a Saturday afternoon with some very mild pain/discomfort/nausea in the center of my belly...and over the next 24 hours got progressively worse, and seemed to radiate/travel down and towards my right side slowly. I woke up Sunday night and nearly barfed, but didn't. Monday morning, still getting worse...even walking hurt -- whenever my right foot came in contact with the ground, the pain in my lower-right quadrant was getting unbearable. So - the pain started slow & dull and progressed over 36-48 hours to sharp and intense.

The doc I saw "diagnosed" me by laying me on an exam table, extending my right leg out, and giving a semi-hard "thwack" to my heel -- the pain instantly traveled to my lower-right quadrant, and he directed me to the hospital. Then, of course, they drew blood to verify the dx. Sure enough -- it was time for the appendix to come out.

Regarding your fear of docs/hospitals: I was truly petrified -- never before had surgery, one of my worst fears. My greatest worry was that the anesthesia wouldn't work on me! But I was strangely calm, because I guess that I knew that I had no choice -- ruptured appendix is VERY, VERY BAD and can literally kill you.

When the anesthesiologist plugged me in via the painless IV needle, he told me to count backwards from 100...I thought to myself that this is silly, it will never work, I'll feel everything but won't be able to scream out...99, 98, 97,96...and then nothing. I absolutely don't remember a single thing until about 2 hours later when I awoke in the recovery room, extremely groggy, for about three minutes. Then I woke up about two hours later in my hospital room, with just very mild discomfort and a wonderful IV line to some pain meds.

Discharged the next day, walking gently, with three very small incisions -- about 1 inch in length each -- and recuperated fully in about 7-8 days.

In hindsight -- it was a fascinating experience, and believe it or not, I would actually go through it again. I felt better physically, of course, but also mentally -- I felt as if I had faced & conquered a phobia of sorts.

Feel better, Matt -- see the doc, and don't worry -- appendectomies are "bread & butter" surgeries, with relatively quick recovery times and no lasting ill effects in almost all cases.
posted by davidmsc at 11:04 AM on March 4, 2004

Response by poster: If its sore to touch there, thats a sign. It could also be other things like what you ate recently or try some Pepto or laxatives.

It doesn't hurt too much to push in on the area, it feels about the same as when I push just as hard on the left side. I had some awful overcooked salmon for dinner the night I woke up with this, so I was wondering if it's just fish stuck in my tract or something.

I'll call a doctor today just to be safe, thanks all.
posted by mathowie at 11:05 AM on March 4, 2004

three very small incisions -- about 1 inch in length each

Ooooh, laprascopic appendectomy (regular appendectomy has the traditional one long scar). You do realize this meant that they pumped your abdomen full of air like a balloon so it inflated and they could see inside with a little camera and snip out the appendix in little pieces with robot-controlled arm-thingies? Way cool.
posted by Asparagirl at 11:13 AM on March 4, 2004

Well, you're not female so it isn't ovulation pain.

Do you feel bloated yet unable to burp? If so it could be your gallbladder. My gallbladder pain manifested in the middle of my stomach but my husband's was on his side. Both of us had ours out with laparascopic surgery (the same kind mentioned above) and it was not that big a deal.
posted by konolia at 11:37 AM on March 4, 2004

For those that did lose their appendix, was the pain sudden and sharp or dull and long-lasting?

Both. Here's my story:

One day I woke up with a dull pain in my abdomen. I dragged myself around at work all day, and by the evening, it got so bad that I went to the emergency ward. I spent about four hours there with various medical people asking me the same questions and poking fingers up my butt. Their consensus seemed to be that the pain wasn't in the right place to be appendicitis. By then, the boredom had gotten worse than the pain, so I went home.

The next day, I dragged myself around work all day again. Driving home, I suddenly doubled over with intense pain. I some how managed to get home whereupon my (then) wife drove me back to the hospital. My new pain seemed to reassure the doctors and they removed my appendix that evening. I don't thing it had burst yet, but I guess it would have if I'd waited much longer.

If you do go to the hospital, be sure to demand drugs. I'll only got them after chatting with a nurse I knew from school who noticed that I was in pain halfway through our conversation.
posted by timeistight at 11:42 AM on March 4, 2004

Do get it checked - when mine wanted to come out when I was thirteen, I didn't recognized the symptoms - I just retired to bed for four days, until it exploded, and I ended up in a very bad way, and spent about two weeks more out of action than I needed too. Plus the pain when it ruptured was soooo bad, worst thing I've ever experienced.. hope your fish theory is correct :)
posted by ascullion at 1:05 PM on March 4, 2004

i know a diabetic that had pain that sounded like that.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 2:08 PM on March 4, 2004

Mine came on slowly as a vague discomfort that turned into a cramp that just would not go away. It was nearly linear in progression. It was not particularly isolated to one side. I did not have rebound tenderness when tested which threw off the diagnosis for a while. Got in just before it blew, supposedly. Glad you're getting it checked out.
posted by cairnish at 2:12 PM on March 4, 2004

There are so many possible symptoms of appendicitis that almost anything between a vague feeling of discomfort and sudden debilitating pain can mean you have it. The symptoms can appear almost anywhere and are not necessarily related to the location of your appendix. My partner had abdominal pains much like you are describing from time to time for several years (what they called "grumbling appendicitis") before the doctors decided to operate on her and found that it was badly infected and had been for quite some time. The pain gradually got worse over a few months, which was what convinced them to operate and that was mainly because they tried every test known to the medical world but could find nothing wrong, so assumed that it must be appendicitis.
posted by dg at 2:23 PM on March 4, 2004

Get to a doctor immediately

Word. You're not going to get a definitive diagnosis here, and the risks to you if it bursts are significant. Put the mouse *down*
posted by scarabic at 2:35 PM on March 4, 2004

What are the Symptoms of Kidney Stones?

Usually, the first symptom of a Kidney Stone is extreme pain. The pain often begins suddenly when a stone moves in the urinary tract, causing irritation or blockage. Typically, a person feels a sharp, cramping pain in the back and side in the area of the kidney or in the lower abdomen. Sometimes nausea and vomiting occur. Later, pain may spread to the groin.

If the stone is too large to pass easily, pain continues as the muscles in the wall of the tiny ureter try to squeeze the stone along into the bladder. As a stone grows or moves, blood may appear in the urine. As the stone moves down the ureter closer to the bladder, you may feel the need to urinate more often or feel a burning sensation during urination.
posted by NortonDC at 4:40 PM on March 4, 2004

Asparagirl: Yeah, lap surgery is the way to go! As I said -- I would go through it again if someone would film it so that I could see it all -- the whole experience was just fascinating. Matt -- if this does happen to you, approach the whole thing very "clinically", so to speak -- from a purely intellectual standpoint, as if you're going to have deliver a presentation about it after the fact. And arm yourself with knowledge beforehand, if possible -- I did some monster Googling between the doctor visit and the hospital, and called my folks (doctor and surgical nurse) for more insight. I felt *much* more comfortable knowing the details.

The only downside: when I was knocked out in the recovery room, the surgeon showed my wife & kids my appendix -- they said it looked like a large pinkish shrimp. I wanted to see it, dammit!

Now - as scarabic said - put down the mouse, back away from the computer, and get thee to a doctor.
posted by davidmsc at 5:49 PM on March 4, 2004

I had classic appendicitis symptoms a couple of years ago. Went to see my regular doctor first, and he sent me straight to the ER. Spent the night there while they ruled out appendicitis... it turned out to be food poisoning. But you don't mess around with symptoms like that. So, yeah, if it's bothering you, see a doctor.

(Funny thing was that they just handed me a bottle of Vicodin without my even asking. I guess they didn't think I was the drug-seeking type. I never even opened the bottle.)
posted by litlnemo at 6:30 PM on March 4, 2004

NortonDC: What Matt describes is a dull, ongoing pain and, trust me, there's absolutely nothing dull about kidney stones. At the ripe old age of 19, I woke one morning and felt as if someone had knifed me in the side. It got progressively worse from there.

Pain originating from the appendix sounds like it originates from a different geographical region than a razor-sharp rock tearing its way down a microscopic tubule mid-ribcage.

Dear Lord, just thinking about it makes me need to drink a few glasses of water...
posted by Danelope at 7:56 PM on March 4, 2004

AskMattFilter...did you talk to your doctor? Are you going to be seen? Are you ok? Even my mother, who lurks here from time to time, wants to know, for heaven's sake! When you're well enough to pick up the mouse again, an update, please?
posted by Lynsey at 9:15 PM on March 4, 2004

Response by poster: did you talk to your doctor? Are you going to be seen? Are you ok?

I got stuck in HMOland, where the earliest appointment was Friday. They said I could go to ER if it got worse. It's feeling slightly better, but still a dull pain. I'll let you know what happens when I get back tomorrow afternoon.

Now I'm thinking a possible hernia since I still have an appitite and it's not painful to push into the area. I spent the last two months at my desk and on the couch doing nothing, then got up and spent all last weekend doing monster yardwork and kind of wrenched my back a bit. Hopefully I didn't do any other damage in the process.

davidmsc, you do make it sound bearable and almost fun, so if it is my appendix and it does have to come out, I'm looking forward to it (and I'm looking forward to the low-grade pain to go away and let me concentrate on work). If the whole procedure is as smooth as you make it sound, I don't think I have anything to worry over. Sounds about as tough as a haircut.
posted by mathowie at 11:22 PM on March 4, 2004

Woke one morning in a hotel in Phoenix. Felt my usual self. 2 hours latter I was doubled over. Dizzy with fever and while not a lot of pain, it sure felt better when I stayed doubled over.

Franticly I phoned to locate my SO (was there on business). 2 hours latter I was very unhappy trying to even walk. Got to the hospital and first thing they discovered was I was dehydrated. Mud blood! They weren't sure otherwise, but admitted me.

They did decide it was the appendix. Laproscopy was the method. When I woke in the recovery room, they said my blood pressure was too high. I felt TENSE as a violin string, and demanded they make "it" go away, and escaped the whole mess by returning to sleep. (I wonder if they drugged me back down, or it was my doing).

Next time I woke up I felt okay. Within a couple hours I was walking downstairs to have a cigarette. They encouraged me to walk ASAP. Next morning I was checked out and at another hotel to recover a couple days before the drive back across the desert to LA.
posted by Goofyy at 11:57 PM on March 4, 2004

Response by poster: So after a visit that included all sorts of tests and samples my appendix is definitely fine, but the pain's still around and my doctor couldn't nail it down to anything telltale.

There's a good chance it's a bunch of really oddly pulled muscles from my yardwork last weekend. There's a slim chance it could be a couple other worse things that would require surgery, but I'm taking big doses of advil and resting up this weekend to see if it goes away by Monday.

Personally I'm feeling better after advil and thinking it's just really badly pulled muscles. About a year ago I was laying some sod and ended up having trouble breathing days later, thinking I collapsed a lung or something when it turned out all the muscles in my torso were wracked by the exersion.

After 30, life kind of sucks sometimes.
posted by mathowie at 10:23 PM on March 5, 2004

Amen, Matt. And the lesson yardwork, no heavy lifting, no exercise, etc. All of those things can cause PAIN!

Hang in there...and keep us posted!
posted by davidmsc at 10:39 PM on March 5, 2004


could be a gallstone.

they couldn't diagnose me for the longest time -- mostly because I too young to fit the gallstone demographic -- and it took a gallstone getting stuck in my bile duct and a bit of jaundice before they finally got moving on it.

go in and ask for a sonogram. have them check it out.

if it is your gall bladder, it's a similar operation to the appendix (laproscopic, for the most part) and it's not bad to get out, but it HURTS LIKE MOTHERFUCKING HELL until you do.

the way i would describe how i felt at the time was "HEARTBURN FROM FUCKING HELL" which would occasionally manifest itself as pain in the lower/mid back. it's around what they call the "upper right quadrant" (that's where your gall bladder is, i believe -- slightly above where the appendix would be) and so the pain is localized around your chest. I actually thought I was having a heart attack at one point (wasn't of course -- just passing a gall stone, but fuck, it hurt).

hope you feel better.
posted by fishfucker at 6:57 AM on March 6, 2004

Danelope, I had my first kidney stone 8 years ago. The pain waxed and waned, and at times it was dull, seeming like little more than some weird case of gas. Other times it felt like what it basically was--pushing a chunk of gravel through a fucking capillary, with periods of pain intense enough to make me loose sensation in other parts of body.

I'm a big believer in hydration these days...
posted by NortonDC at 6:55 PM on March 7, 2004

« Older Non-Alcoholic Beer   |   Is bluetooth worth the hype? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.