By, Wendiann Alfieri
(context: I struggle with various forms of mental illness.
When I was 16, I was in a psychiatric kids ward for the first time. It‘s important to know it was a ward on a regular hospital, not a psychiatric hospital itself)
On my second week there, I got a really bad papercut
Because of my paranoia, I started to worry about it being infected, me losing a finger or something, not even picking up my books for fear of all my fingers getting cut up.
After A weekend of driving the nurses crazy, Monday rolled around and it was time for school there. They would have tutors come, each day a different topic and on that Monday, the topic was English. my favorite subject.
The nurses were confused because I was tired and didn’t want to go to school, the exact opposite of my personality because I LOVED school it was a welcome distraction, whether I was in or out of a hospital.
This day I was just groggy.
The nurses let me sleep, I was just starting a lot of psychiatric medication. Those kind of meds can knock you OUT before your body starts to get used to them.
This was early on in my treatment for my mental illnesses. The nurses calmed down and accepted that as a logical explanation.
After a few hours, they started to actually get worried: I had not mentioned my paper cut all day, not even mentioning a band aid change.
They called my mom and said they thought something was wrong, I wasn’t complaining about every little thing, I didn’t go to school either, and I wasn’t pacing the hallways like I usually do.
My mom laughed nervously before the nurse said hold on I’m going to take her temperature. My mom hung up and was a little shaken up: I wasn’t worried about the Paper cut I was sure I would die from just the day before.
She sighed and just went outside into the driveway, sat in her car, and waited for the nurses to call her back in case it was serious.
The nurse called her back to say my fever was over 104 and they were sending me to the ER part of the hospital. Mom put the key in the ignition, speeding to meet me there.
it was soon confirmed I had severe appendicitis.
I needed surgery, ASAP.
I was in the OR so damn quickly I don’t even remember being given anesthesia.
As soon as they started, my appendix ruptured. Surgeon said if they hadn’t gotten to me in time, if they waited even a minute, I could’ve died, it was the worst ruptured appendix, hell the worst ruptured ORGAN HE EVER saw as his 20+?years of being a surgeon/ in the medical field.
It was a miracle I survived,
I was in the ICU for two weeks after the surgery, I remember that being awful, I was in a huge amount of pain then, understandably so.
But here’s the thing.
Before recovering in the ICU, I wasn’t hurting, or at least I disregarded it.
I didn’t really feel it. I didn’t feel my appendix pain. I didn’t throw up. I didn’t even have a CRAMP. I was just tired. The only reason anyone noticed anything was wrong was because I wasn’t upset about my paper cut from Hell, wasn’t worried about the germs on the unit, wasn’t worried that my roommate might hate me, wasn’t pacing the halls fast enough it could have been mistaken that I was going for a jog.
I remember throwing up right before I went into the OR but like I said, I was out quick. Who knows, I might not have.
That sums up the way I approach life: I worry about the minuscule and am easy going about the serious shit.
And I’m STILL like this. ( in general AND about the appendix situation)
For example, this is a conversation I had with my boyfriend last week about it when he mentioned my confused sense of priorities:
Me: “ yeah, I guess you are right, I remember not even feeling pain when my appendix ruptured and almost killed me”
Him:” Wendi, knowing you I would be surprised if you DID feel it. You don’t recognize when something is serious”
Me: “ they noticed because I wasn’t complaining about a paper cut”
Him: “ sounds about right on par for you”
Me: “ but you don’t understand, it WAS a nasty paper cut”
Me: “ It was! Worst paper cut I ever got”
Me:!“ you don’t understand, you just had to have seen it”
Him ( sighing from the migraine I probably was giving him):”oh my god Wendi..”
To this day, I still swear about it being the nastiest paper cut I have ever gotten, and bring it up all the time. I never think to include the part where I almost died from my appendix.
Maybe I just don’t think it as endearing a fact like what a danger a Composition Notebook can be.
And that’s the story.
Thank you for listening to my Ted talk.