Hugs for Lydia and her husband Benny
THE AGONY OF APPENDECTOMY STITCH REMOVAL
I REMEMBER—EVERY DETAIL
A WORDPRESS WEEKLY WRITING CHALLENGE
The wordpress weekly writing challenge for August 5, 2013, is I Remember—my earliest memory. Capture every detail..
I imagine everyone heard the bloodcurdling shrieks that came from a small white-walled corner room of the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, hospital.
I remember those shrieks well.
They emerged from deep within the well of my body and soul.
The flu hit me hard that year, making me a very sick 7-year-old. I was living with my grandparents at 29 Spring Street in Portsmouth. The second floor of the house had a linen closet off the opening off the 3×3 foot connecting opening that connected two bedrooms. It was there that I lost my cookies during the flu.
Forty-five years later, when the then-owner of the house (I’ll call her Marie) graciously gave me a tour, I told Marie about what happened in that linen closet. By now, it had been closed off, made into a deep closet for one of the bedrooms, the one that was once an upstairs kitchen.
“It was always closed off,” she said.
“No,” I said firmly. “It was not.”
Funny. She was a real estate agent, but she argued with me for a few minutes. I guess she gave up in the face of my adamant statements, because she opened the closet to examine it.
“Why, you’re right,” she said, surprised.
Duh. Of course I was right. I lived there and I did upchuck in that linen closet. It’s something one doesn’t easily forget.
But I digress.
Shortly after the linen closet experience I was taken to the hospital.
“Appendicitis,” the doctor informed my grandparents. “It’s ruptured. This is a very sick child.”
The doctor informed them that I needed surgery immediately. Later, they said they wouldn’t have given a nickel for my life.
During my in-hospital recuperation stay I recall sitting at a small table coloring. I also looked out the window and waved to my mother, and my slightly older sister. It was a beautiful day, but I don’t recall wishing I could be outside rather than being a hospital patient.
But what I remember most is being in that small room, surrounded by doctors and nurses in white coats, and screaming—no, shrieking—as the catgut stitches were pulled from my abdomen. I proved I could scream as long as they took removing those critical stitches.
At the time I was unaware that my paternal uncle was a victim of the 1918 flu epidemic. And I wonder if he might have had a fatal case of appendicitis on top of his flu.
I was reminded of my experience when my son’s appendix ruptured while he experienced the flu. He had had mini-ruptures (undiagnosed periodic iffy illnesses) beforehand. I was never aware that appendicitis could come on like that, repetitive until it finally reacts by rupturing.
I live with two reminders of my fateful day:
- as I sit on my front porch in the evening, writing, the shrieks of the screech owl distract my attention, reminding me of the time my shrieks were heard not only on the floor of the hospital where I was treated, but probably over the ocean salt-water not far from the hospital.
- when I see my battle scar I cannot help but remember.
It was only in recent years that the effects of my appendectomy became clear to me. I used to consider myself a physically weak person, but then I realized I must have been very strong physically to survive the near-fatal attack of appendicitis.
I recall having stitches following surgery in later years, the early 1970s. I don’t recall the pain of stitch removal being anywhere near that of my childhood experience.
Some things in life have improved.
Since I’ve had a long-time curiosity about catgut stitches, I plan to do a post on that soon.