Photo by Edward F. Palm)

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Forest, Virginia, United States
A long time ago, my sophomore English teacher, Father William Campbell, saw something in my writing and predicted that I would someday become a newspaper columnist. He suggested the perfect title for my column--"Leaves of the Palm." Now that I have a little extra time on my hands I've decided to put Father Campbell's prediction to the test. I'm going to start using this blog site not just to reprint opinion pieces I've published elsewhere but to try to get more of my ideas and opinions out there. Feedback is welcome. To find out more about me, please check out my Web site: www.EdwardFPalm.com (Click on any of the photos below for an enlarged view.)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Intimations of Mortality--My Own, Recently Garnered at the Bremerton Naval Hospital

Medical College, Shunde, China, February, 2006

I first experienced a sharp spasm of  abdominal pain after running last Tuesday, 25 January. It passed quickly; I just chalked it up to my age.  (You can't run at 64 without experiencing some aches and pains and without needing liberal doses of what my friend Chuck Armstrong calls "Vitamin I"--otherwise known as "Ibuprofen."} On Wednesday, the pain started in earnest.  It was a hot, steady pain in the center of my abdomen, Just under my ribs and radiating around to my back.  I took a Vicodin and a wait-and-see attitude.  
     On Thursday, it got worse.  At 4:30 a.m. I awoke to terrible pain.  I got up and took a Vicodin and did  a little work.  Finally, by 6:00 a.m I was able to get some sleep.  I got through the day thanks to four more doses of Vicodin.  At times, I even thought I was getting better on my own.  Thanks to the Internet, I developed several theories about what could be wrong--ranging from a gall bladder attack to dietary indiscretion.  (I had made Irish soda bread and had eaten some of the raw dough.  Food poisoning also crossed my mind.)  I felt better in the late afternoon and evening, but by bedtime, the pain had come with a vengeance.  I couldn't get to sleep.  
     At 1:30 a.m. I threw in the towel.  I told my wife what was going on, and we agreed that I had better go to the emergency room.  We spent all night there, taking every medical test known to man.  The attending physician was nothing if not thorough.  We did blood work, x-rays , and an ultra-sound--all of which were inconclusive.  Finally, a Cat-Scan revealed an angry appendix.  After that, the doctor pushed on the lower-right quadrant of my abdomen.  I had no difficulty believing that it was indeed appendicitis. 
     Hence, I had surgery at 11:00 a.m. Friday.  Fortunately, the surgeon was able to do it the laparoscopic way. I have three small holes instead of a large incision.  The pain, was atypical, the surgeon told me, because my appendix was not quite in the right place.  It was “posterior,” as she put it.  It must have been all those Marine Corps sit-ups that caused that. 
     This was my first surgery, so I have nothing to compare it to.  I got out Saturday morning at about 10:30.  I was sore at first, and I didn’t have much appetite Saturday or Sunday.  Of course, I’m not supposed to run or do any other strenuous activity for four weeks.  But I feel pretty good now. 
      I have nothing but praise for the Bremerton Naval Hospital.  Everyone was great--the doctors, the nurses, and the corpsmen.  They even gave me a private room.  Heaven forfend that I should ever again need emergency surgery, but if I should, I would not hesitate to go back to USNH Bremerton.  
      I realize now that self-medicating and trying to tough it out was not the best response.  If my appendix had “perforated,” as they put it, I would still be in the hospital. 
      And that’s the way my week went last week.  It could have been worse. --EFP
P.S.  Because I am a retired Marine officer, I was able to take advantage of the military's brand of socialized medicine.  I didn't have to worry that my emergency appendectomy was going to bankrupt me.  I don't support Obama care because it does not go far enough.  Joint replacements and other forms of elective surgery are one thing, but basic health care is a human right.  We could afford to provide it if we were not fighting elective wars and building new nuclear submarines.  

1 comment:

Brian said...

Mortality can't last forever.