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It's A Jungle Out There


It's A Jungle Out There

Memorial Day weekends have special memories for most people. It's a time when Spring has come to almost full bloom, plants and gardens are lush with green vegetation and everyone I know seems to want to do some sort of family gathering or as others would refer to it as forced family fun.

Memorial Day is a federal holiday dedicated for all Americans to remember the soldiers who died while serving in the military. The holiday is observed every year on the last Monday of May. Interestingly, it originated as Decoration Day. The Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans which was founded in Decatur, Illinois after the civil war, established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the those who died during the civil war. Flowers were the preferred decoration at that time. The Confederates had their own Decoration Day and by the 20th century, the competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions merged. Memorial Day was born and eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service. 

On another note, Memorial Day typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end of it. 

I usually cooked ribs on Memorial Day; dry ribs over a charcoal fire. Of course I have my own secret dry rub recipe and marinate them overnight before cooking. In the past, my children usually brought friends over and we had a great time, typical of the celebratory milieu of our time. I visited a cemetery once to pray over my grandmother's grave. That was years ago. 

But Memorial Day weekend brings back a special memory for me. One that everyone can learn from. It started on the Friday before the weekend. My son complained of vague stomach pain and nausea. He hardly ever complains about anything health related. I asked him a few questions, after which I gave him two different antibiotics. He took them and laid low over that day. After a good night's sleep, he felt better. He went to his mother's home the following day with good energy. He took the antibiotics with him.

When he arrived at his mother's and told her about his abdominal pain, she just wrote it off to constipation. I was not sure why since he wasn't constipated, but there's no way to arrive at another person's conclusions when the other person's worldview are so different than your own. She told him that he did not need to take the antibiotics. He went to a friend's house and played all day. When he returned home, he told his mother that his stomach started hurting again. She told him that it would probably be fine after he had a good night's sleep.

Sunday morning came. He awoke and his stomach pain was worse. He was told to try some milk of magnesia, so he did. Although his gut had a bowel movement, the pain continued to bother him. He called me by phone and asked if I was having ribs. "Of course. You coming over?" He replied, "Yep. I'll be there."

At about four in the afternoon he came walking into my home. He was slightly bent over. I asked him what was wrong and he said his stomach hurt. Dinner was on the table, so he and his sister and her boyfriend began to eat. My son really did not touch his food. After we finished, I asked him to rate the pain. He said it was a seven out of ten, ten being the worse ever. I told him to lay on the floor. I examined his abdomen, stood up and proclaimed, "We're off to the emergency room. You have appendicitis." I call his mother to let her know the adventure we were going to partake in, she was unhappy about it. She made it clear her diagnosis was constipation, but if I wanted to waste my evening in the emergency room, that was my choice. After my son and I got on our way, His mother told my daughter that I over-react to everything health related.

We arrived at Baptist Collierville Hospital's emergency department. I signed my son in. We were taken back to our room immediately. No sooner did he get on the bed, a nurse was in the room, taking a second set of vital signs and putting an intravenous line into his left arm. She drew several tubes of blood. Then pleasantly said the doctor would be with us shortly. Shortly is a relative word. When you compare a twenty-four hour day to time ever lasting, a day is short. But if you compare a 4 hour period of time to an eight hour adventure, it seems much longer than shortly.

My son's pain grew with every passing minute. After about two hours of waiting, the emergency department physician entered our room. He had all the blood test results in hand. He asked my son a few questions about his pain. Listen to my son's chest and told my son he thought my son had a urinary tract infection. As far as that doctor was concerned, I was a mere fixture on the wall. I spoke up, "Good evening doctor. I'd like you to get a CT scan of his abdomen please." The doctor turned and looked at me, "Who might you be?" I replied, "I'm his father. He needs a CT scan." The doctor seemed a bit disturbed that I would ask for such test, given that I was just his father. "Well. I think he can go home. A CT scan is unnecessary. His white count is normal. He has some leukocytes in his urine. Do you know what leukocytes are dad?" 

His attitude was a bit condescending, but this was no time to bust him in the chops. "I think so. They're white blood cells." The emergency doctor replied, "And they signal infection in the urine." I smiled, "Well they could. But if his appendix is retro-cecal, it means he has appendicitis. Just get the CT scan." The emergency physician looked at me, "Are you a physician?" I smile back at him, "Yes. I did my residency in emergency medicine twenty years ago. Get the CT scan or I'll find someone in this hospital who will." He looked at me in shock, "Where did your train?" I replied, "Cincinnati. Ever hear of it?" He just nodded. "CT scan of the abdomen coming right up." He hurried out of the room. My son looked at me, "What an asshole." I replied, "Pay no attention to his ignorance."

The technician wheeled my son to get the CT. He was back in the room in no time. About twenty minutes later, the emergency physician returned. He looked at my son, "You're dad's got some skills. You have appendicitis. I never would have diagnosed it." My son looked him square in his eyes, "My dad's a great doctor. You're a clown! I could've died if my dad didn't push you to get the CT scan. You're a clown. Wow!"

The physician looked at me, "Sorry. I just didn't think he was that sick. Who do you want to do the surgery?" I smiled, "Mark Miller." The physician said, "Who? I've never heard of him." I replied, "You didn't think he had appendicitis either. Now you don't think I know the surgeon I want. Get out and call Mark Miller." He left in a greater hurry than before. Returned in fifteen minutes, "I talked to Dr. Miller. He'll do the surgery at seven tomorrow morning. We'll admit him and start antibiotics. You good with that?" "Yep. Let's get my son to the floor." The emergency physician scampered out of the room. We were on the surgical floor in about twenty minutes. My son kept saying, "What a moron" over and over again.

Per his word, Dr. Miller came in early, operated at seven in the morning and we were home by three o'clock that afternoon. My son recovered fine. 

I'm not sure what would have happened if I did not insisted on a CT scan of the abdomen. The emergency physician did not examine my son's abdomen. He just listened to his chest with a cheap stethoscope, one you might buy at Walgreen's. He had his mind made up that my son wasn't sick before he even entered the room. I examined my son's abdomen and I knew he had appendicitis. Memorial Day means something special to me; honor the men and women who have given their life for our country as well as remember to follow my intuition. 

If you have a pain anywhere and a physician doesn't even have time to examine the region of your body that hurts, get another opinion or demand an imaging test of some kind, especially if it's your abdomen. After all, it may be your life in the balance. And remember, it's a jungle out there!


Posted by Amanda Sanders at 10:47 AM
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