Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


Operation Necrotic Appendix

Well it’s Sunday afternoon but none of us seem sure what day or time it actually is right now. It has been a hectic few days and we’re still not back to normal. Freddie and I are sitting in the hospital, Fred is watching The Fantastic Mr Fox on his DVD player and I’m just feck-arsing around.

Over the last few weeks Fred has had an upset tummy from time to time, nothing that bit of Paralink hasn’t been able to solve. This week gone by, he has had the odd bit of upset but has still been able to eat and drink. The problem when he’s on medication is that from time to time he can get a bit of upset, especially when levels are being increased or new meds introduced. He’s a good man for vomiting; I think it’s a coping mechanism for him, to help deal with the changes his body goes through.

On Thursday evening he was off his food a bit, just had a small bit of chicken and plain rice for dinner. About 9pm or so he fell off to sleep but didn’t go into a deep sleep, which is his usual form. Fred, Ruby and Lisa go into such deep sleeps so quickly that trying to rouse them after ten minutes or so can be very difficult. It’s the opposite with me and thankfully, the kids have inherited their mother’s sleeping patterns. So when he still wasn’t asleep properly by about 10.30pm, the two of us went off to bed, to try get settled.

About an hour or so later he said he’d a pain in his tummy so Lisa gave him some Paralink to help settle him.

The two of us went off to sleep and we slept soundly till about 5am when Fred woke me saying he was feeling sick. I got him to the toilet, where he tried to vomit but with no luck. After we settled back in bed, I gave Lisa a shout and she came rushing down. As I had to drive to Dingle in the morning Lisa sent me upstairs and she got in beside the little man. When I came back down at 7am, he was no better. He’d vomited a few times and had a seizure too for good measure. Lisa gave him some Diazepam and had him someway comfortable in the bed.

Ruby and I went off Dingle, neither of us too willingly either. Tiredness, the idea of the drive, Friday morning and Fred being sick were all combining to make us want to stay. The fact that we were both up and dressed helped push us out the door.

About 11am, I rang home, and the two were up and dressed, downstairs on the couch but little Fred wasn’t much better. Stable but still a sick little man and I could tell from Lisa’s voice that she was worried. When I got home about 2pm he was lying out on the couch and if anything, looked worse than he had done at 5am.  Lisa had been dosing him with the necessary meds but he looked wrecked and could barely communicate with us. He’d a few small seizures too, five second frontal lobe ones. As I tried talking with him, he just looked blankly back at me, unable to answer any question.

We were worried, very worried. Lisa said the hospital and we both knew we hadn’t an option. We quickly packed him up, jumped into the car and off we went to Kerry General. On the way over, he had another small seizure and memories of last winter, rushing to hospital, came back to haunt me.

I dropped them at the doors of the A&E and drove off to park the car. When I got back, they were in a cubicle and the nurses were looking after my little man. The nurse did the usual obs, they took some blood and a line put in. He looked wrecked, totally wiped; neither of us had seen him look so badly in a long time. Just in case we weren’t worried enough another small seizure broke through.  That time in the A&E was just horrible, Fred looked so sick, his temperature was up and all the machines he was wired to, were beeping. That’s the worst thing about those machines, you have no idea what they are checking and why they are beeping. We just didn’t know what was wrong with him. This time it wasn’t epilepsy and it threw us completely. Any parent will know that the worst thoughts fly around your head in such circumstances. Lisa was sitting with him, cuddling him; I was trying to occupy myself by walking around, reading info notices, anything to distract myself.

At 5pm Lisa had to go collect Ruby from the bus, thankfully I’d given her a tenner that morning, just in case. The two men stayed in the A&E cubicle, Freddie somewhat awake, me holding his hand. His urine test came back clear, some good news but still didn’t explain why our Fred was a near zombie. About 5.30 the porter came and took us to the ward.

We were back in the Cashel ward for the first time in seven months. The familiar faces, happy to see us, lessened the upset of being in hospital again.

In his room, Freddie settled into the bed but was still fairly non-responsive. The blood results were back and they showed a likelihood of infection but it was still too soon to say what was causing it. Mamon, the doctor who has been with us through so much of Freddie’s time in hospital, ordered a strong antibiotic. The nurse put Fred on a drip and added the dose of antibiotic. Soon afterwards, Lisa and Ruby came back. Fred roused himself a little but was still not really with us. After Lisa got him up and watching a DVD, Ruby and I went home. It was nearly 9 O’clock and the two of us were tired and hungry.

For the rest of the evening Lisa and I texted each other; Fred was still more or less the same.  About 11pm, Ruby and I went to bed. Fred was sleeping ok in the hospital, Lisa and the nurses taking good care of him.

Saturday morning and I was up and over to the hospital by 9am.

Fred was no better when I walked in. I was hoping to see him sitting up eating breakfast but no such luck. He still looked wrecked, trying to watch a DVD but still out of it.

He wanted to go to the toilet so I took him out of the bed. The poor man couldn’t straighten up and was walking very gingerly. Lisa thought he was sore from the vomiting; he’d been doing a lot of retching in the last 24 hours.

For some reason or other, I said that maybe it was his appendix.

Nurse Marie took me up on this and called a doctor to check him. The doctor was down in a matter of minutes and did a brief check. Fred was tender to the touch but wasn’t complaining of any pain. We only knew he was in pain when the doctor dug his fingers into Fred’s abdomen because Lisa felt him flinch. The doctor called his boss. He too thought there was a tenderness in Fred’s belly. The surgical registrar came down, did a few checks and ordered an ultrasound.

Down in the X-Ray ward they wheeled Freddie in for the scan. That was the worst ten minutes of the weekend so far. The radiologist was very thorough and very quiet. She said she would be, as she was concentrating on what she was doing, she would talk afterwards. Fred was dropping off, very sick in himself, very, very worrying and upsetting. Lisa was sitting next to him, holding his hand, whispering in his ear. I was doing the worst thing possible, standing behind the radiologist, looking at what she was looking at. How was I to know what to look for? The worst thoughts were going through my head. The biggest one was what if his appendix was fine... What then was wrong?

After what seemed an age she finished and the porter wheeled Freddie out and back to the ward. I stayed to get the news from the radiologist.

“It’s the appendix,” she said to me as soon as the porter had left.

Oh the relief, I could have kissed her, instead I welled up, thanked her, then thanked her again and ran off to tell Lisa.

Back on the ward we waited for the surgeon. After a while, he came down with his team, confirmed the diagnosis and had Lisa sign the consent form.

Then we had to wait for the call from the theatre.

Eventually we got the call, about 5.15, and off we set. Nurse Marie with us, as she always is, keeping us steady, keeping us reassured and fighting our cause. A truly dedicated, wonderful nurse…words fail me when I try to describe how much she means to Lisa and me.

In the theatre, Marie went through Freddie’s notes with the staff and told them what was what when it came to dealing with Freddie. They were in no doubt about what she expected of them…

They dressed me in theatre clothes and I went in with Freddie. Lisa and I had been reassuring him on the way over that he was going to get the pain taken out. In the operating room that it was all I could say, over and over again. He knew something was happening but took it all in, trusting in his parents that all would be ok. Once they gave the anaesthetic, I left, hugging them all as I went.

As Lisa and I walked back to the ward, I thought of something. The two of us were alone for the first time in years. It really was a strange feeling, we walked hand in hand along the corridors like young honeymooners, it felt wonderful.

For the next hour we drank tea, read books and waited. About 6.45pm, we walked back over and waited outside the theatre. I had a look around the door. The nurse said they weren’t finished yet, about another ten minutes or so. It sounded a bit strange.

About 7pm, one of the surgical team came out. Things had not gone as planned. The appendix had actually burst, not fully but in the centre and pus had seeped out. The team was working at cleaning the wound and the area surrounding where the appendix had been.

He went back in. Lisa shrank to the floor. I stood there in shock.

“What the fuck?” was all Lisa could say.

The surgical registrar came out and explained in more detail but it was still the same story. What he did add was that Freddie probably had the problem for seven or eight days. All that time and he hardly complained…some brave little man.

It would be a while before we’d be allowed in.

About 8.30pm, a nurse from the children’s ward came over to collect him and brought us into the theatre. We still weren’t allowed beyond the red line, half-ways up the hallway. After what seemed like forever, they wheeled Freddie out to us.

The brave little man was lying out on his bed. Amazingly, he was awake.

“How’re you doing?” I asked.

“Fine” he answered. Some man, all he’d been through and he gives me that for an answer.

“They took the pain away Mum” he said next.

Brave, brave little boy.

Now, it’s almost 24 hours later and he’s fallen asleep in the bed next to me. The pain is under control, he’s on two strong painkillers. Also, they put him on three different antibiotics to fight any potential infection. We’ll have to wait and see if they got all the pus out when he was in surgery, but the signs are good so far.

The surgeon came round this morning to check on Freddie.

“It was a very bad appendix,” he answered, when I asked him what had happened, “it was a necrotic appendix.”

Necrotic appendix…that’s a couple of words I won’t forget in a hurry.













Posted by John Verling

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