By Craig Hastings
It had been a long day and late night Monday, and I was up bright and early Tuesday in order to be on the air and on duty by 7 a.m. I get off duty at 3 p.m. and need to be at the newspaper usually by 3:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon when The Journal is printed and returned to our office. We then sort, label, and deliver to the Post Office and newsstands all before 5 p.m. In order to do my part I will usually go home around 3 p.m., change out of my cop cloths and lay down for a few minutes before going to The Journal. I had done just that and was relaxing and looking forward to getting The Journal out to every place it needed to be. After, I would return home and do nothing for the rest of the evening. This is my every Tuesday routine.
I had just put my shoes on when text messages started popping up. They were from Shannon, and this is also when I discovered I had failed to read a few others from her around 1:30 p.m. Earlier she had texted me that she had begun to get a severe pain in her lower right side that just wouldn’t let up. I responded now by asking for an update. This time she called me and told me it was worse and that she had tried to throw up at work. She felt bad enough that she thought maybe she needed an ambulance. Her symptoms were those very ones I had experienced at the age of 16 when my appendix was swollen and needed removed. I called the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office dispatch and requested they send an ambulance to Shannon’s workplace.
The Arrow Ambulance crew checked her over, and her vitals were sound but they stated she should probably be driven by me to the emergency room of her choice. We loaded up in her car and off we drove; destination Carle E.R. I told Shannon on the way up I feared a long and lengthy wait in the E.R. in the middle of the afternoon. Well, it was just that and to the time of about two hours just sitting with everyone else waiting for their turn along with the constant arrival of new patients via several ambulances. When we did get moved to stage two of the emergency room visit the wheels of healing continued at a snail’s pace.
You know the routine: blood, urine, temperature, pulse, push, prod, poke, and finally an I.V. for….I wasn’t even sure. A very polite and interested female physician entered our draped temporary “room” and stated because of Shannon’s symptoms and high white blood count she felt probably Shannon’s appendix were the culprit. However, an abdominal scan was in order to confirm the diagnosis. So we waited and waited and waited. The Carle E.R. is a madhouse this day, and I’m feeling the pain of all of the staff on the run to and fro. I take this time to leave and get a sandwich. When I return the scan had been done and we are now waiting for the results.
The same doctor returns with the news….it doesn’t appear to be an obvious appendix problem so, an ultra sound test would be scheduled next to see if maybe Shannon had a cyst on an ovary. That’s female stuff I don’t really understand nor care to so I paid little attention. Our now nurse, Rachael who is younger than Shannon, warns Shannon she had suffered the ol’ cyst thing and it was extremely painful just as the pain is Shannon is experiencing now. The wait is on again. Finally she is carted off again for another hour and returned to our room of drapes and now in a little more pain than before. The ultra sound requires a little pressure on the area of pain in order to scan for irregularities. The same female physician returns after about another hour and tells us the ultra sound didn’t show anything either. She stated she would be requesting a staff surgeon look over the two tests for another opinion and suggestions. That surgeon took a look and also felt that probably the pain wasn’t the appendix and the next best thing to do was exploratory surgery to get inside and take a look around.
Shift change and we’re told the now on call surgeon would be in to speak with us. We wait, and wait, and wait yet again. In the meantime nurse Rachael tells us she’s getting off work and her area is being shut down for the evening, and she would be moving Shannon back to the first E.R. staging area. Around midnight a different nurse comes in our room of drapes and tells us the evening surgeon has been required to do an emergency surgery due to an event that arrived in the emergency room via an ambulance. I wait with Shannon until 12:30 a.m. and by now my mood has failed me completely, and Shannon is getting tired from the pain medication and whatever else is dripping from all the I.V. bags she absorbed through her arm over the past eight hours. At 12:45 a.m. I’m making the long trek back to my car through parking lots in downtown Champaign wishing I was armed.
At 8:30 a.m. now Wednesday, Shannon called me to tell me that a third surgeon has now been assigned, and he has not ruled out her appendix as the culprit. He will be doing an exploratory surgery procedure at 9:30 a.m. By 11 a.m. the surgeon has closed three small incisions and removed Shannon’s obviously infected and swollen appendix. If there is good news to this story that was it. When I left for home at 12:30 a.m. the night before I worried about what on earth could be going wrong deep inside Shannon’s right side abdomen. Anyway, I got to her room about 12:30 p.m. and she had just been wheeled in before I arrived. I stayed about two and half hours, most of which Shannon was fading in and out. When she was out all was good. When she was awake not so much.
She’s trying to stay awake, because I’m there when she really would rather be sleeping. It was too obvious so we both agreed I should just go on back to Tuscola. The next morning my phone is ringing and text dinging constantly because Shannon is ready to come home, and things aren’t moving fast enough for her at the hospital. On Wednesday when she wasn’t feeling so great she told me she would probably stay another night because she feared the boys and I would keep her awake (annoyed is a better word). When Thursday morning arrived she was feeling better, not good, but better and wanted to be around her own stuff as soon as she could get a doctor to release her.
By 1:30 p.m. on Thursday I had her home and the hand and foot waitressing by me had begun. It’s 1 a.m. Saturday and things are better, and Shannon is moving around much better. The most satisfying accomplishment she made since Wednesday was finally showering today which is Friday. Whew! Much better! In all fairness to her, she was told not to shower until today. She just came into the kitchen as I’m writing this and is making another food run on her own without any assist request from me. That’s a good thing. I need to shut up now, because I’m sure she will need to do the same for me some day. The difference will be is that I don’t like any help from anyone but, boy oh boy Shannon basks in the moment when it’s her turn. I want to thank everyone at Carle for their attention to the details of this event. I understand they are very busy and our wait time was no different than anyone else’s. Shannon’s fixed; well, her appendix is out anyway, and that’s why we were there. I’m guilty of thinking we’re living in an era of getting medical service should be like getting fast food. My bad.