The year I was a junior I had my first and only appendicitis attack. This was just a month before the junior play in which I had the lead roll of Agatha Forbes the ghost.
We had been bowling that evening and I didn’t feel all that great and I didn’t have the kind of game that I usually had, but didn’t know what was wrong. When we finished bowling we stopped at our favorite drive-in (Sadie’s) for a hamburger and some of her wonderful curly fries. On the 10 mile drive from Greensburg to Mullinville I began to have the most awful pain that I had ever experienced. By the time we arrived at my house I was really hurting. I couldn’t stand or walk to the house on my own. My date had to support me all the way from the car to the house.
When we were on the front porch my date was holding me up with one arm and knocking on the door with the other. My mom came to the door and was immediately alarmed. My date assured her we had not been in a wreck, but I had suddenly started having pains in my side.
She made me lie down on the couch and started to question me. In a very short time she decided it could only be one thing and that we needed to go to the next town to the hospital. My dad was now in his element and immediately became the one in control.
Dad helped me to the car while mom called the neighbor to come over and watch the kids. I grabbed my date’s hand insisting he go along with me to the hospital, and he agreed. He climbed into the back seat of the car and I laid my head in his lap and we were ready to go.
The hospital was 10 miles away. The road between the two towns was hilly and had several curves in it, but didn’t slow dad down. The old ways of the ambulance driver came back to dad like riding a bicycle. When we left the city limits of Mullinville, he put his foot to the floor and that is where he kept it till we arrived in the city limits of Bucklin.
This was my dates (now my husband) first ride with my dad, and what a ride he had. We made it to the hospital in about 5 minutes, and he said he was never so glad to get his feet back on the ground in his life. He said he felt like getting down and kissing it when we arrived safe and sound.
It took the doctor about 10 minutes to decide that I would have to stay and have surgery in the morning. The appendix was ready to burst, but the surgeon couldn’t get there till about 7:00 AM. That was a very miserable night. They gave me something for the pain, but because it was ready to burst, I was packed in ice sheets all night. I have never liked cold and that was the longest and most uncomfortable night of my life.
I was really glad to see the doctor in the morning and to get the surgery under way so I could warm up afterwards. Unfortunately at that time, and because I was a girl they decided to do a long incision. So when I woke up expecting this little 2 inch incision on the side that they used for boys I was really mad. I knew this would take a lot longer to get over and I had the play in a month.
Just 12 hours after the surgery, the nurse came into my room and she had to be about 6 feet tall and 300 pounds. I know she must have been an army sergeant before going into nursing. She stomped into the room in her lace up granny type white shoes and commanded me to get out of bed and go to the rest room. I just looked at her like she was crazy and told her I didn’t have to go.
She stomped over to the bed, grabbed the sheet and threw it to the foot of the bed, then barked at me “Either you get out of that bed on your own or I will get you out of bed!” One more look at her imposing size and I decided I would rather do it on my own, and told her so.
She backed off a step or two and I started to think about the best way of accomplishing the task. But every movement shot a pain up and down my stomach. I finally decided to just roll over on my side and slide off the bed.
I was really surprised and proud when my feet hit the floor; I had actually made it to a standing position. I began to shuffle toward the bathroom. She tapped me on the shoulder; I began to shudder, wondering what she wanted now. I was on my feet and heading for the bathroom, what more could she want.
Unfortunately I was bent over with my head horizontal to the floor as I was shuffling along. She barked at me again, “Stand up straight!” I stopped shuffling and thought “Yeah right, if I stand up straight the stitches will break. Are you crazy woman?”
I decided to ignore her and head toward the bathroom in my slow shuffle. I never heard her move toward me but suddenly I felt these huge hands grab my shoulders from behind. Then she said, “I told you to stand up straight” and with that statement she yanked me upright. I ended up leaning against her huge bulk.
My hands went immediately to my stomach, expecting to find it gaping open, but amazingly it was all still intact. I couldn’t believe it. She turned around with an evil cackle and headed out the door to go and torture some other patient.
I shot her an evil look and holding my stomach in case of delayed disaster,
shuffled on across the room. Although I would have loved to shoot her at the time, it was the best thing she could have done for me, because I didn’t have any trouble standing tall from then on. It has been a little bit of wisdom I have passed on through the years when someone has surgery.
There was an intern in the hospital the week I was there that roamed the halls at night playing his guitar and singing. He informed me the first night that he had graduated from Shawnee Mission.
Our little school of 80 students had been in an invitational basketball tournament and played Shawnee Mission the year before and we had beaten them by one point. The announcer had stated at the beginning of the game that their school had more drop outs every year than we had in the whole school.
I made the mistake of rubbing the loss of the tournament in when I found out where he was from, and paid for it the rest of the week. When he changed the bandage every day it was a new adventure in pain.
He would make some comment about Shawnee Mission and Mullinville, then grab one corner of the bandage and give it a yank. The whole 6 inch long bandage would come off with a ripping sound. The old white tape they used back then liked to stick to your skin and would really pull when it was removed. Then he would smile and finish the dressing.
I learned an important lesson the week of my appendicitis attack; always stay on the good side of a nurse, or intern, if you antagonize them it only causes you pain. To contact Sandy: [email protected]