The Time My Son Unexpectedly Needed Surgery

The past week all feels like a dream.

“Mommy, Daddy, my tummy hurts.”

Trips to the hospital. IVs, blood work, ultrasounds, surgery…

I’m sorry, my son has what? That can’t be right. Since when do four-year-olds get appendicitis?!

It all started late on a Monday night when my son woke up saying his stomach hurt. Soon after the vomiting began and went on for hours. I thought maybe he had a stomach virus. Poor kid, he’d already been sick all the week before with a bad cough and chest congestion and was on antibiotics.

I didn’t sleep at all that Monday night. “My tummy hurts.” That complaint from my son just didn’t sit right with me. Deep inside I really felt something was wrong. In the middle of the night, my husband and I considered taking him to our local hospital, but the thought of having him sitting in the ER waiting room in the state he was in made me feel horrible.

But when morning came, I couldn’t ignore that gut feeling; that instinct that told me a hospital visit was necessary. So my husband left with our son while I stayed at home with our daughter who was also sick with an ear infection and fever.

I kept checking in with my husband to find out how things were going. Blood work was done, an IV had to be put in to get my son hydrated (it took four tries to get the IV in. My poor kid! He hates needles!) and the doctor wanted an ultrasound done.

Then my husband called. “He has appendicitis. He needs surgery.” I couldn’t believe my ears.

It was recommended that we take him to Sick Kids hospital in downtown Toronto. We quickly grabbed some things from home, made arrangements to have our daughter looked after and drove our son to Sick Kids ourselves. We didn’t want to wait for ambulance transport because it meant waiting a few more hours and we’d be driving during rush hour.

Sick Kids knew we were on our way, but there was still another long wait in their ER. My husband and I answered the same questions over and over again. Nurses and doctors checked our son. A surgeon came to speak to us. The test results and ultrasound from our local hospital did point to appendicitis but he wanted to be 100% sure before performing surgery. Another ultrasound needed to be done.

Watching my son go through that second ultrasound was tough. The process was extremely uncomfortable for him. It’s never easy seeing your kid sick, but to watch your child in excruciating pain is heartbreaking. I would’ve given anything to switch places with him or take the pain away somehow. Kids shouldn’t have to endure that kind of pain, it just doesn’t seem right.

The second ultrasound confirmed the surgery was necessary. After a nearly 24 hour ordeal, our son had his appendix removed. The surgery went well and slowly my brave, strong boy is recuperating and getting back to his old self.

I am so grateful to all the people who helped care for my son; to the nurses at our local hospital who initially helped him and sent him on his way to Sick Kids with a toy gift to wish him luck. And at Sick Kids hospital – from the volunteers who stopped by to offer to play with my son or to give me and my husband a break, to the ER nurses and doctor, to the surgery team, to the post-op recovery nurses and the paediatric team – to all the amazing staff there I am so thankful for the wonderful care you gave my son, and I salute you for the gentle, nurturing care you give to sick children every day!

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