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Chronicles of An Appendectomy (posted at
September 30th, 2007 posted by erwinilao under Family Life, Living Overseas, Uncategorized

I had my very first surgery last Sunday, courtesy of an inflammed appendix. It started like a bloated feeling on my stomach, much more like you want to pass gas but can’t. I thought that was all there was to it, so mustering all that my manlihood can stand I held on for 12 hours, hoping that the pain will subside once I fart it out. Never in my life have I wished that hard so I can pass gas but none came.

By the early hours of Sunday morning I was in terrible pain. With my wife and the kids still asleep, I managed to get to the car and drive 1 mile to the emergency room at Kaiser. Walked in through the empty waiting room. It was a perfect time. 5am of Sunday morning and no one to compete with for medical attention. In five minutes I was checked by the admissions, interviewed by the triage nurse and was on my way to the bed. An IV line was inserted and an attending resident came about an hour after.

I felt the sensation of the pain medication they gave intravenously. Almost instantly the pain was gone and I was feeling comfortable. They still have to determine the cause of it though and was told to wait two hours for the CAT scan to be performed. They let me drink two cupsful of something that tasted like lemonade. I wanted to sleep since I was tired and groggy. I texted my wife to tell her that I am scheduled for a CAT scan within two hours. Oh yeah, and that I was in the emergency room having driven by myself without their knowledge, so that I do not die in pain. It was something like that.

Minutes after she was calling me back. Since the signal was terrible I just asked her to text whatever message she has. I wanted to sleep and it would rob me sometime if I go on explaining what was happening to me. Not that I know what was happening already. It’s futile as far as I can see. If I have bothered them with the pain, would they be of any help? Or would the serious and overly concern that I am bound to receive just be a cause of further agitation I would not want. Face your battles, minimize casualties and stand like a man. That’s why I did not want to inform them.

The two hours waiting for the CAT scan was Godsent. I was able to sleep well and get my thoughts straightened out. I texted my boss of what was happening to me. He has to find me a replacement for work. He wished me well. Somehow I was uncertain of what might become of me but I was not terrified since I knew that I am in the hospital and receiving proper attention. A staff nurse came by explaining to me what is supposed to happen. She asked a whole history of my medical condition. No. I am not allergic. No. I have never been like that. First time. Yes. Wait let me think. No. I guess.. Just how many people pay attention to their medical history when they are healthy is beyond me. I mean, I do not know who in my family got this and that. Only now that I am being asked do I ask myself back. Did mom have diabetes? Do we have a history of allergy to medications? Well, I got through the quiz and was being asked now if I have an Advanced Medical Directive. (Well if you do not know what that is, go to ). I said yes, well, of course. I am the founder of a fabulous website that is the only one to feature such thing. The nurse just looked at me and asked me to sign the papers in her hand. And oh, she added that they usually ask for the patient to shell out the co-payment before surgery and that was two hundred dollars, but she could wait till after, just for me. Oh geeze, lesson learned, do not forget your wallet stuffed with cash, when you go to the emergency room. I just said “bill me later”. I guess that would guarantee a better service huh? They have to make sure I come out of this alive.

Okay so we went through the scan. The iodine solution used to detect any blockage in my anatomy shot through my veins up to the tip of my tongue like warm milk. I was laying flat on my side as the machine moved forward and backward, arching over my whole body. A male voice which sounded like an elevator operator said “breathe” and “hold your breath”, as I moved forward and backward through the machine. It was over in five minutes and was wheeled back to my station. 

The CAT scan results showed that my gall bladder was ok but my appendix was inflammed. I need surgery right away. I asked if I could get something non-invasive. The doctor said no and that it is a simple surgery and would be over in less than an hour. I could go home within the day. Well, I wanted to go home..but what are the other options? Just ignore it and wait till it ruptures and kills you. Ok well said, let’s do the operation now then, doc. They let me wait four hours for it. A surgeon checked on me. A young Chinese looking 30-ish something. Female. Took a look at my spread eagled legs and checked ME out. Normal procedure mind you. They have seen thousands they do not know the difference. She pointed where they are going to insert a camera to do the laparoscopy. A semi invasive surgery that would take out my appendix without cutting me. Less time spent on the hospital, less pain and faster recovery. She was saying straight out that I would be ok and that this is simple and that I would be able to go home. What am I supposed to decide on anyway? They had me on “Let it rupture and kill you.” So the nice doctor left to get her team ready for my first operation. 

A team of five. Introduced themselves one by one. Made me feel at ease. Nice knowing their names since the would operate on me anyway. They took turns looking at ME. No judgements there, I suppose. Normal procedure. The have seen thousands like this they don’t know the difference. Somebody said “shave”…a little poking..did i hear someone say “this looks huge”?..oh I was just dreaming. I passed out completely. 

A tug on my shoulder woke me up. I am alive. It has been two hours since the operation and all they want me to do now is pee and go home. Wow that simple. I tried to focus on where I was. The recovery room. I was alone with two staff nurses I have not seen previously. The male nurse gave me a plastic bottle. Relax and try to pee. Ok that would be easy. I stood up. Held the bottle and waited. Nothing came out. One more time. Nothing happened. Did they screw this up? Might have nipped the wrong thing and cut off my penis.  Is there a hole there still where my pee can come out? I was now writhing in pain, much more painful than I previously felt. My bladder was bursting and putting pressure on my newly operated insides. Stop this please! I swear I won’t hold off peeing anymore, just let this pass. They must have given something to sedate me for the terrible pain eased a little and I passed out again. 

The tingle was still there when I woke up. It felt like there were salt crystals blocking the base of my manlihood and it is rendering him useless. To say that it is useless is an understatement. But it more than actually is. The nurse said that it is normal. Yeah I heard that before. The effects of the narcotics is slowing or impeding my urinary functions. I have to drink a lot of water and let it pass out. But through where? They waited an hour more to see if I could pee by myself. No success. No choice either, but to insert a catheter and let it go through a urine bag. That’s the only way to get the pressure out. So they had me on my back again, spread eagled, again, and poking again. A shot of pain ripped through my “other” head as the tube went in and pee passed out. 400 ccs of waste went out my system and instantly relieved my bladder.

And then they made a mistake. They took out the catheter expecting everything to be normal after sending me home. Or were they just cutting cost? I wonder. 

After six hours post-operative care at home, I was shaking once more because I could not void. (void is a medical term for peeing). I asked my wife to bring me back to the emergency room after consulting with a stand by nurse on the phone. The trip to the emergency room was an excruciating experience. Every little bump on the road leads to an indescribable pressure up my groin and would make me shake all over. By the time I got through admissions and triage, the nurses know exactly what was wrong. My blood pressure was 165 over 100 and I was convulsing. A little interview about what I have gone through the past 24 hours gave them the idea that they have to stick in the catheter again to decompress the bladder. After probing and checking for other wounds that might have been the source of the pain, they had me on foley. I am able to breathe once more. God. People do not have the slightest idea how lucky they are to be able to pee normally. With a newfound sense of appreciation for my thingy, I comfortably got out of the emergency room without a wheelchair and headed straight home, a urine bag strapped to my legs from where a tube leads all the way to my penis. Poetic. The feeling of being able to breathe normally, much more appreciated. Every gasp of air counts. No pressure on the bladder. Don’t care about the bag strapped to my right leg. I am normal as far I know. 

My kids asked me a lot of questions when I got home. It was Monday morning and my wife had to juggle between what the kids and I need. When they got through showers and dressing up and breakfast and packed lunches, finally she was able to focus on me. I could tell how this was affecting her. She managed to do what needs to be done. A little after we talked about why I did not tell her I was going to the E.R. and why I did not wake her up when I was in pain. Same rationale. Fight your battles. Minimize the conflict and stand like a man. She won’t get it. Just dropped the subject off after promising not to do it again. When the kids came back from school they were sympathetic. My eldest was asking if I had a good day resting. My youngest stepped on my bag and sent shivers up my tubehead. I could use some more rest.

I wish the story ends here. I have been going back and forth emptying the bag since I first started to write. But there is one final chapter in this chronicle of an appendectomy.

I was scheduled for a urology visit come Tuesday at 1130am. Time to say goodbye to my beloved catheter. The nurse had me void 400 ccs of the 300 she put in me just to see if I could go on without any tube. It was a success. Finally, I am free. No bags, tubes or pressure. Went home and celebrated with a meal and a steady stream of iced tea lemonade. Went to bed. Turned on the DVR. Relaxed at last. Then it started again. A little sting at the base of my penis. Rushed to the bathroom. Come on. I did this once. Pee.. For heaven’s sake…

A little after 4pm Tueday, an ambulance parked two houses away. Two paramedics came out. I was stuck in the toilet seat. Could not move. Shaking, perspiring. I do not know how close I may have come to meeting death but I swear I nearly met mine. My wife would say, “Ow, don’t be overly dramatic, you just can’t pee!”, but I swear I would have prefered something else. 

They hauled me out in a wheelchair. A flight of chairs, and a hundred steps from the front door of my house to where they parked, each movement just killing me. Never mind my neighbors staring out of their windows. But quite a lot turned out. I was wearing only my boxers, a shirt and socks. A healthy thirty year old cussing and swearing as the paramedics slipped me into the ambulance. A sight they would not forget. 

Normal procedure. The have done this many times. For me, what turned out to be the first was to become the third trip to the emergency room. What an experience. Something every man should never have to. But might. Somehow.

I have tuned out about 2000 ml of fluid since starting this blog. Before they take this catheter out again it would be two weeks. I wonder how many more blogs I could write between now and then.

If you want to comfort me just write me a note. I have nothing to do for a week.        

Tags: erwinilao, life, health

About the author: 1990 - Freshman belonging to a seminary called the Marian Missionaries of the Holy Cross. The very first student to run out of St. Vincent's Bldg. from the Registrar's office when the violent earthquake of 1990 began. 1992 - Fresh out of the seminary and back to the corridors of the institution. Feeling the need to belong to something or someone. That was when I found SAMAKA. 1993 - Elected President of the College of Liberal Arts, really did nothing but hung out with Morfe, Echauz, Mercado and the Filipinism ideologue. Most were SI Fraternity members. 1994 - Got tired of student politics and joined the MASP, a popular group of Student Speech instructors who knew how to clean tables and do teachers' errands. At least we got paid and I got to "own" the Speech Lab off the 2nd floor of the ST bldg. 1995 - Elected as President of the Adamson University Student Government (AUSG). The election was a landslide courtesy of a no-show opponent, a dysfunctional left-winger, an ambitious "speaker", and my being a popular student teacher. Not that I did not deserve the position at that time. My term was the most peaceful the last fifteen years prior. Here are My Achievements: - Minimal pillboxes thrown off the campus since I keep them in my Cabinet at the AUSG office., - Less frat wars since I attended their drinking sprees in front of Cardinal bldg., - A more religious contribution from the AUSG, never before done, during the celebration of World Youth Day - More parties or celebrations like a week-long festivity during the Student Week, a College Student Government celebration, a fund-raising dance party for Lahar victims and other sorties we would not mention. I am glad I was part of this institution. I am proud to say that it was because of ADU that I am who I turned out to be. For more of me, visit

erwinilao has blogged 16 posts

Read the Comments

[ # 1219 ] Comment from JB [October 1, 2007, 11:35 am]

this scared the shit out of me. and here i am thinking having an appendectomy is as easy as coughing. even “routine” things could get really bad.

by the way, erwin, is a great idea. have you already launched an online advertising campaign on Google Adwords to promote it? you should.

[ # 1223 ] Comment from erwinilao [October 2, 2007, 3:57 am]

thanks for the comment. ownlegacy is still under beta and there are more features that will be made available in the next two months. official launch will be thanksgiving and the holiday season will be the perfect opportunity for us to deliver our message. we are affiliated with google and commission junction. there will be search engine optimization campaigns to be launched as well. but the bulk of the advertising will be directly thru traditional media since people are not apt to search for ways on how to prepare for the end-of-life experience. we needed to educate more people on this. a personal crusade of mine will be to launch this in different regions hoping that somehow when people think about death, they think about their own lives at the moment. the unexamined life is not worth living, as you know.

thanks for pursuing this effort to bring the best and the brightest of Adamson online. i will continue to provide some content to this site so more exchanges will be coming.

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