Thursday, 16 June 2011

Baby Duck and the very bad horrible no-good appendix

One Sunday morning about 4 o’clock, a little boy woke up and chundered all over the floor. Oh goody, thought his parents, a vomiting bug! But on Monday night it occurred to his mother that, for a vomiting bug, there was very little vomiting going on, and rather a lot of complaining about stomach pain.

“Where does it hurt?” the boy’s mother asked.

“Right here,” he said, pointing at his belly button.

Uh oh, thought his mother who, in a weird coincidence, had just been discussing this very symptom with a friend whose son had appendicitis. So on Tuesday morning she made a doctor’s appointment.

“My son has been vomiting and complaining of stomach pain,” she said, “and I just want to check it isn’t his appendix.”

Ha! Famous last words, as they say in the classics. The doctor sent the boy straight to the emergency department, where they waited. And waited. And waited, as one does in emergency departments everywhere. About one o’clock in the morning the boy was admitted to hospital, and by 9:30 the operation was underway.

Poor Baby Duck! The surgeon made a last-minute decision to x-ray, given the odd location of the pain, and discovered a twisted bowel as well. So he ended up with more than one cut. The tip of his appendix was gangrenous, he had an abcess and adhesions, whatever they are. I don’t know – they tell you things and you nod and look like you’re functioning normally, but the words just go whooshing past without sticking properly when you’re worrying about your precious baby. I heard “infection” and “almost perforated” – or was it “perforated”? – “long hospital stay” and not a lot else really.

Thursday we started getting him to take little sips of water, which all came back with added green yuck on Thursday night. “Bowel obstruction” was mentioned and I spent the night panicking. Fortunately things started to improve slowly after that, and Tuesday morning he came home after a week in hospital.

For a little while, anyway. Tuesday night he was vomiting again, so it was back for another day in emergency yesterday. What fun! Now, touch wood, he’s home for good, and feeling much better.

“Are you going to write about me being in hospital on your blog?” he asked.

I think he wants me to tell you how brave he’s been. I couldn’t exactly put my hand on my heart and swear to that one, but I guess it depends on whose definition of bravery you’re using. By eight-year-old standards he did pretty well. I can tell you he was very well-behaved. All the nurses commented on his lovely manners, and how easy he was to deal with.

It’s so good to have him home again. It was a hard week for all of us – very disruptive for the girls, and the Carnivore and I are both short on sleep. One of us was with him 24 hours a day. Nothing got done beyond the most basic necessities. It must be so hard for families who have someone in hospital for a long time.

We were lucky too, that we have an excellent children’s hospital only half an hour from home. It’s times like these I’m grateful we live in Sydney, rather than out in the country somewhere. Country life seems idyllic until you consider the whole airlift-to-hospital-in-a-strange-city aspect.

So, not a great week. Ironically, I was on a roll with Verity on the Tuesday morning, busy congratulating myself that I only had two scenes to write to finish the first draft. I’ll do some more when we get back from the doctor’s, I promised myself. Needless to say, I haven’t written a word since.

Life with kids is often unpredictable like that. At least it’s never dull.


  1. Argh! Hope he is on the mend now.

    "Adhesions" are when scar tissue ends up binding tissues together--in this case, it sounds like probably parts of the bowel were stuck together with scar tissue.

    Yes, he was very brave!

  2. Erk. I knew it sounded yucky!

    I'll tell him you thought he was brave -- he'll be very pleased!

  3. I'm glad he's okay, M., the poor little mite.

    I do live in the country and had my appendix removed 'just in case'. In those days, we lived nearly an hour away from the nearest hospital because of bad roads (Now, improved). The parents had to keep stopping for me to upchuck.

    I also recall the asthma patients, barfight victims and a motorcycle accident victim were seen before me. We waited eight hours.

    Not only was he brave, but kudos to you, too, for weathering the emotional storm.

  4. Thanks Jaye. I feel I could sleep for a week at the moment. Stress is exhausting! He's in hospital again, but hopefully home in a few days -- for good this time!