In a matter of minutes, my plans went from relaxing by the pool on my summer Monday off, to having an emergency appendectomy. As the next few hours played out, I was faced with a team of doctors and nurses that blew me away.   If you work in healthcare, please know how important you are to people when they are at their worst.

The look on her face said it all as soon as she walked back into the exam room.  "I hope you're ready for a few weeks of vacation," she joked.

It all started last Saturday. I felt like I had eaten something that just didn't agree with me, like some bad salad dressing on a salad that was turning my stomach sour. I felt a little nauseous, but I talked myself out of it. I felt the same way on Sunday.

When I woke up on Monday with the same uneasy feeling in my stomach, I decided to go into the doctor. I can't really tell you why I went in, but I'm so glad I did. I was a little embarrassed for going into a doctor visit for what was essentially a "belly ache," an ailment that might be associated with a three-year-old. But, there I was, sitting on the exam table as the doctor pressed her hands into my abdomen. She zeroed in on the source of the pain very quickly--the lower, right-hand quadrant of my stomach, the precise area of my appendix.

She sent me off for blood work and CAT scan. The look on her face said it all as soon as she walked back into the exam room. "I hope you're ready for a few weeks of vacation," she joked.

"You're kidding!" I said, astonished.

"You need to get that appendix out--today!"

Well, THAT escalated quickly, I thought. Surgery?!?!?!? TODAY?!?!?! I wasn't ready for it, but that didn't matter.

She sent me on my way to the emergency room, where I was to meet with the surgeon and discuss the plan. The ideal option was to remove the appendix, but there were a few other possibilities, including treating it with antibiotics. We all agreed that removing it would be the best option. In the meantime, no food or drink until the surgery (which was tentatively scheduled for that night, when an operating room would become available).

I have to say, the care that I received from the doctors and nurses was exceptional. You could truly tell that they sympathized with my pain and discomfort, and were willing to do anything they could to make things as bearable as possible.

Truthfully, just before the surgery, I felt afraid. I didn't know what they were going to find inside, and I worried about the general anesthesia. I hadn't had that since the sixth grade, when I broke my arm. The entire staff reassured me that everything was going to be OK. When I told the anesthesiologist that one of my illogical fears is that I wouldn't fall asleep and would feel the whole operation, he joked that I could fight to stay awake as much as I wanted, but he hasn't lost a fight yet.

They placed the oxygen mask over my nose and mouth. At first, it was just oxygen, but when they started to pump in the anaesthesia, it began to make me cough just a bit  I felt my muscles begin to relax, and my body become heavy as I succumbed to the medicine.

A moment later (or so it seemed to me), I was waking up in the recovery room, my mom by my side. She and the recovery nurse told me that the surgery was a success and that they were able to do exactly what they had hoped. Those nurses in the recovery room were like angels, making sure I had water when I needed it, and even digging up a chicken salad sandwich when my appetite returned at 6 a.m., before the cafeteria opened for breakfast.

It takes a special type of person to work in a hospital, and I'm so grateful that there are so many people that dedicate their lives to the important work of healthcare. If you are a doctor, a nurse, a CNA, a cafeteria worker or custodian in a hospital, thank you for all that you do. Please know that you are appreciated.

I can't imagine a world where we didn't have access to healthcare like we do in our community.


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