Adventures living as expats.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Appendicitis on vacation

The day after we finished the Routeburn Track, I started getting a pain in my stomach and feeling nauseous.  Having lived in Jakarta for almost 3 years now, this is nothing unusual and Jeff and I have learned to ignore most digestive issues.   I blamed all the freeze dried backpacker food and PB & J sandwiches we'd been eating for the last 4 days.   By the time we left Queenstown to head for Lake Wanaka, the pain was getting pretty bad and I admitted to Jeff that I thought something was really wrong.   After waffling back and forth about whether we should push on to the remote West Coast or see a doctor, we ended up in the urgent care clinic at 9 pm.  The doctor suspected appendicitis and instructed us to head immediately to the nearest hospital with a surgery division.   Jeff powered up on gas station coffee and sugary snacks and we started on the 4 hour journey from Wanaka to Dunedin.

The drive was harrowing - dark, curvy, hilly, and all in the middle of the night with me moaning and groaning about the pain.  At around 1 am, still an hour away from Dunedin, all of the lights on the dashboard started flashing and indicating that we had every mechanical and electrical failure possible.  We crossed our fingers and pushed on luckily without breaking down.  

I spent the night in the ER and went in for surgery the next afternoon.  Although I've never stayed in the hospital anywhere else, the level of care in New Zealand was fantastic.  While I was recovering, I kept thinking how glad I was to be in New Zealand as compared to the other places we've traveled to in the last few years.

Here's the big reveal of Jeff's video from the first week of the trip.

View of Lake Wanaka just before we went to the doctor. 
Not exactly the tastiest breakfast but at that point I was starving after not being able to eat for a day or 2.
Jeff seemed shocked when I told him he couldn't bring his Go-Pro in to "document" our experience. I allowed this one picture of me.
After being released from the hospital, we tried to make the best of the rest of the trip while still taking it easy.  The doctors had stressed that the surgery was minor so I had expected a quick and easy recovery.   Although the pain wasn't too bad, I was really wiped out and ended up spending a ton of time in bed.   Jeff did an amazing job of taking care of me - tracking my schedule for pain meds, keeping me watered and fed, reminding me to take it easy, helping me out of bed, and most heroic of all giving me a shot every day (in the stomach!) to prevent blood clots. 

Jeff found a little farm B&B to recover at, this is the view from bed. 
Lake Tekapo with Mt Cook in the background.
Not exactly a glamour shot of me, but definitely on the mend.
A month later, I'm now fully recovered with my energy levels finally bouncing back and expecially glad to be rid of my appendix.