How to Get Appendicitis

Don't Gamble with Appendicitis
photo credit: NARA, via Wikimedia Commons

UST MY LUCK that not long after my appendix was removed, science decided that this vestigial wormy thing has a splendid function after all. Whereas once it was just this useless little leftover that did nothing but rupture and put your life in jeopardy, the appendix is now credited with producing helpful bacteria, just when you need some. How clever of it.

So I hope you get to keep your bacteria-producing Worm of Wonders, but be aware: you stand a 1-in-500 chance of contracting appendicitis. Allow my experience to be your guide to:

The Best Method of Achieving Appendicitis Without Dying

and thereby receiving my Bonus Guide to:

Getting a Good Week of Legitimate Sick Days Out of It

First, remember that the very earliest sign of appendicitis is unusual indigestion. Now I, who was born with indigestion and will die with a Rolaids in my mouth, assumed I would never be able to distinguish harmless indigestion from the kind that leads to possible deadness. But, amazingly, I did: it was extra knotty and growled something from Les Miserables, which I never could tolerate. I also managed my diagnosis on a Sunday afternoon—more on that later. For now, get thee to an emergency room.

If you are female, I'm afraid you're going to have to undergo additional testing to insure that your symptoms have not arisen by way of a feisty uterus. Do try to get the E.R. to send you off for that test before the MRI of your appendix. Because the MRI requires a prep consisting of fruit juice mixed with a laxative that would clean out an elephant. Yes, long after the staff doesn't need you to "void" anymore, you'll still have a stomach full of turbo-charged cranberry juice blasting you into the biffy even though the official Time for Pooping has elapsed.

Before you are wheeled to the pre-op room, pull out your mobile phone and call your boss's work number, which you happen to have in your contacts for just such a delightful occasion as this. "Hello, Boss?" you'll say, "It's Sunday night and I thought I'd let you know that I'm about to undergo surgery for acute appendicitis. So I won't be in tomorrow. Actually, hold on, yes, the doctor is telling me I probably won't be in for the rest of the week. They have to put me under now. Bye." It feels so good to make that call you'll almost forget your appendix is trying to kill you.

If you are still conscious when they wheel you into the O.R., do not concern yourself with the profusion of surgical instruments. Yes, there is enough gleaming metal to equip a M.A.S.H. unit, but you are getting five days off of work, so keep your priorities straight.

I myself could not possibly have been less concerned, for a previous ankle surgery had introduced me to a lovely drug called Versed. Ask for it by name! Versed makes you feel so carefree that you'll wish you were having surgery every day for the rest of your life just so that you could ask, "May I have a little Versed, please? I'm feeling kind of anxious," and someone in scrubs would cheerfully empty a syringe into your i.v., rendering you a very silly person in love with all humanity.

For as long as you remain hospitalized, you will be reminded by a variety of admiring personnel how incredibly "hot" your appendix was. Not hot like Heidi Klum, I'm afraid, but like an appendix so red and swollen it practically pulses on the verge of rupture. My wormy thing didn't quite achieve the ultimate State of Hotness, though, a condition rapturously described by a nurse who had been lucky enough to witness an appendix rupture right in the surgeon's hand immediately after removal. Wow! That's James Bond, brink-of-death hotness. I bet James could have substituted that for a kill and still earned his "00" status.

Personally, I'd rather get the sick days.