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Two Decades of Kids and Counting

By Sally Torbey

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About this blog: About this blog: I have enjoyed parenting five children in Palo Alto for the past two decades and have opinions about everything to do with parenting kids (and dogs). The goal of my blog is to share the good times and discuss the ...  (More)

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Luck despite bad luck

Uploaded: Mar 29, 2017
Last week our college-aged son was finishing up winter quarter in Southern California and complaining of intermittent stomachaches. Although he is not typically anxious, he attributed his discomfort to the stress of final exams and less sleep than usual.

He finished his tests on Thursday, with plans to spend Friday packing for a Saturday morning departure on a spring break camping trip in Utah with his roommates. On Friday morning, however, he was still uncomfortable, so he visited the student health clinic. Since his appetite was good, he had no fever, and his blood work was essentially normal, they attributed his symptoms to a viral infection and sent him on his way. By evening, however, the pain was worse. Following the phone advice of his primary care physician here, he went to the ER there, where they promptly scanned him, diagnosed appendicitis, and took him to the operating room.

My husband and I had repeatedly offered on Friday to fly down, but our son insisted he was fine, and as of late Friday afternoon was still claiming that he was well enough to go camping. Much to everyone’s surprise, just a few hours later, he was having surgery. But by that time we had missed the evening’s last flight, which meant an anxious night for us awaiting the first flight south Saturday morning. I will never forget my relief at hearing the surgeon’s reassurances by phone at 12:30 a.m. that the surgery had gone well, nor the utter joy of reuniting with our son in the hospital later that morning.

While our son was in surgery his doctor correctly predicted that our young, otherwise-healthy son would be in better shape in the morning after an appendectomy than we, at our advanced ages, would be after our sleepless night of worry!

While our son was disappointed at the timing and bad luck in missing out on the much-anticipated road trip, we all felt very lucky that his illness came on when he was a mere half mile away from a major medical center as opposed to in a sleeping bag in a far-flung campsite. We were also lucky my husband was home for a few days in between business trips and that my sister and her husband were willing to stay with our daughters overnight, so that we could go together and help our son fly home to recuperate for the rest of his break.

We were lucky to have had help from family and very fortunate to have a talented and dedicated medical team caring for our son. Of course, the family member who feels the luckiest of all is the dog, who has his favorite playmate home again!
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 +  Like this comment
Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Mar 30, 2017 at 1:11 am

Whether far-flung campsite, third world tourism, or your natural disaster emergency kit, consider a little cache of Cipro and knowledge of when to use it. Regarding appendicitis I've read recent studies that it can buy time before necessary surgery. Sure beats having a friend get out his pocket knife. (Medical people are welcome to disagree with me.)

Best wishes to your son on making this a fading memory. Was the appendectomy a laparoscopic procedure? Some follow-up may set others' minds at ease lest they face similar circumstances in the future.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Mar 30, 2017 at 7:54 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Dear musical,
Thanks for reading and commenting. He's home and getting better each day, although the dog is a little disappointed that he is not chasing him around per usual. The procedure was done laparoscopically which accounts for the relatively quick recovery. It would seem prudent to have a discussion with one's physician about carrying antibiotics when traveling to remote areas where immediate surgery is not an option.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by LJ, a resident of another community,
on Apr 3, 2017 at 8:47 pm

Hooray for laparoscopic surgery! This past weekend on This American Life (I think?), they described how back in 1961, a Russian surgeon in Antarctica had no choice but to perform an appendectomy on himself. Yikes.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by PR, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 6, 2017 at 10:15 am

Whew!! Thank goodness all is well now! Thank you, Sally!
I'm no longer packing an appendix, but I know lots of people who are, so I'm thinking I may start packing Cipro...and a laparoscope...

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