Sunday, December 5, 2010

DEC. 5, 2010: The Infamous Appendectomy

TOP: Friday night...feeling good, heading to Runner's World gig in a problems! Then: ER, with an IV and happy medicine, thought I would hydrate up and still run, still in a good mood, NEXT: A few hours after appendectomy, team member Erin O'Mara gave my her NYC Marathon medal, and it sparked a tear or two, LAST: Made it to Central Park to visit Ryan's bench and rock 3 days after surgery (not gonna lie it hurt to sit in that pic)

It's been almost a month since I flew to NYC to run in a deeply heartfelt race in honor of my brother, Ryan Shay. I tried to be honest without being too open in most of my blogs during the year of running and raising funds for the Wounded Warrior Project. However, the moment the ER doctor told me I couldn't run the race (which was a few hours away), I just wanted to bawl like a baby and scream out loud, "Why!"

But instead, this is how it played out:
I am originally from Michigan, and so my older sister Jodie, and two younger brothers, Nathan and Elliott, car pooled together from Detroit and Chicago and drove all the way to NYC to watch the big race. I flew in on Friday late afternoon, and all was well. I was worn out a bit, but super excited to be in the Big Apple; my adrenaline on super speed. I dashed over to the Runner's World event, and then headed back to the hotel on Friday evening. I was anxious, but slept none the less. Saturday I woke up with no problems, but started feeling nauseous an hour or two later, so I ate, and then the food came right up! From about noon until 7-8pm I threw up and felt stabbing/twisting pains in my stomach. I was super dehydrated and asked my sister to take me to the ER.

I was determined to run the race, which at this point was less than 12 hours away. We went to the closet ER, St. Luke's Roosevelt, in Manhattan. I must have looked like crap because they got me to the back pretty quickly and started in IV for hydration, and a little happy medicine for the stomach pain. But then the pain started sliding toward my appendix and that's when the CT revealed I should get my appendix removed. It was about 2 in the morning at this point, and I was still determined to run. But they said no way, and so I cried for maybe 30 seconds. The meltdown I thought I would go through, I didn't.

Three years prior played through my head, when my brother was rushed to Lennox Hill hospital and died from a sudden heart attack at 28. I looked at my tired sister, and thanked God she was there to help me. My brothers would join her a few hours later after the procedure was completed.

When the surgeon, Scott Belsley ( introduced himself before surgery, I was a little on edge, but also a little incoherent from lack of sleep and pain medicine. He told me I would be getting a laparoscopic appendectomy. This meant 3 small incisions. I thought, 3 seems worse than one slice near my appendix...but I was wrong! It's been almost a month, and you would never know I had my appendix out unless I told you. I don't know if every laparoscopic doctor performs with such skill at being non- invasive, but I would probably bet he has a lot of satisfied patients. I went in expecting a gash on my right side, and I have healed almost completely with barely a scar for proof.

I was feeling pretty good around Day 8. I would have ran around Day 10, but I haven't ran since the procedure was performed. I have been a little run down. The 2 CT scans and the contrast I had to pump into my body among other drugs left me wiped out when I returned to Austin on November 11th. I had to get back to work and play catch up and things are still a little off, but I hope to run again this week. I did a few walks near Thanksgiving time when my other sister flew in from the Netherlands and it felt good. I have a few more tests to get done, and hopefully all will be clear and I will put my running shoes by the front door again. I don't know if any of this has to do with my Lupus diagnosis from over a year ago, or if I had a really bad bug, or if I took too much on and wore my body down. But I really felt ready to run that marathon. One day, I am walking around, taking in the big city, the next I kissing cold porcelain and wishing the pain would go away.
People were shocked, my parents worried, but I was really thinking about how lucky I was at that moment in time. Just a couple of hours before the race and I was on my way to recovering from an appendectomy instead of being on the race course and falling out mid-run because I would have buckled over in pain, and could have been a lot uglier.

I arrived to work on Monday, the 15th of November to a huge bouquet of flowers, and a banner that read, "Welcome Home, Sarah" The office even catered a welcome back lunch for me and we all just sat around and joked, "Maybe if you give a lung up next time, the boss will give us even more." Ahhh...and that was the moment, it really all made sense..."the next time"....yes, there is a next time, if the cards play out that way. When I was in the hospital, and someone mentioned that to me, I was thinking, no, this was it, and now the moment is gone forever. But, it was only my appendix, and there are thousands of appendix-less racing everyday.
So, today, I get a message from my Wounded Warrior team page that says, Karen Clay, has joined your team. Hmmm,'s been a month, and I was coming to terms that Running For Ryan was a closed chapter in my life, but then another guy, Andrew, from Chicago, wrote recently to see how he could run for Ryan.
It's been a month, and I didn't do the race that would have meant the world to me and my relationship with my lost brother, but that fact that I still have strangers joining the team made me get back in the computer today and give thanks again for all that I have, and to all those who care as much as I do about Ryan and our troops! Thanks!!!!!

The medal Erin gave me, I handed to my son Max after returning home, and he said, "cool, thanks." I told him I didn't get to run the race, but a friend gave me her medal. He told me I could run another one, and maybe get a trophy this time!:)
The goal was $26,200, and we getting near $22,000. Personally, the race was for my brother, but the donations that have gone to the Wounded Warrior Project, have made me feel proud because of the great support and joint effort of everyone invovled. If you feel I should run another marathon to make up for NYC, never say never....

1 comment:

  1. We're so incredibly appreciative for the support, and awfully happy that you're feeling better!