Appendicitis can happen to anyone, right? I mean everyone has an appendix and it can get infected at anytime. Then why have I chosen to blog about this as specifically a women's health issue?
When I was 13, I had to have an emergency appendectomy. It was pretty bad. A routine surgery, that should have taken 20 minutes, took about an hour and a half.
The doctor told me, this was because my appendix had been infected for a while, and my body had tried to isolate the infection by building tissue around it. But eventually the infection got really bad and the doctors mentioned something about the appendix coiling around the intestine. That's when I could no longer eat and kept vomiting and was finally diagnosed.
So if things had been deteriorating for a while, why did I wait till things got so bad to get treatment? I had suffered awful abdominal cramps for a few days but since it was close to my period, I assumed the pains were period pains and tried my best to get through them. The pain was in a slightly different location than the typical appendix pain. The doctors did not make it clear, but I got the impression, that it had been festering for a while, so possibly the particularly long lasting and bad menstrual cramps during my earlier period a month before may have been related to it.
Emergency appendectomy is quite an event for a 13 year old. Besides, my case was so bad, I had to stay in hospital for a week and wait 3 days before I could eat or drink anything. Before that all nourishment and drugs were being administered intravenously. On the bright side, I had lots of interesting visits from colorful characters. As soon as I left hospital, I wanted to write a book about it, but I never actually got around to it, until some months ago and finally finished last month, right around the time for signing up for the A to Z blogging challenge.
This, coupled with the fact that I am a bit of a hypochondriac, often researching diseases and health problems, led me to my theme for the challenge: Health Issues Faced By Women.
How is appendicitis different for women?
So the good news is that appendicitis is slightly less common in women than in men. But unfortunately it is harder to diagnose in women, because it often gets confused with various gynecological issues like it did in my case.
According to this article the appendix is very close to the uterus, right ovary and right fallopian tube. So appendicitis pain is often confused with menstrual cramps or other gynecological pains and sometimes the converse is also true, i.e. gynecological problems may be misdiagnosed as appendicitis. Appendicitis may be misdiagnosed as pelvic inflammatory disease, gastroenteritis, urinary tract infection or an ovarian cyst.
Appendicitis can be particularly difficult to diagnose during pregnancy and can be mistaken for early labor.
However modern imaging technology like CT scans and ultrasounds helps in cases where diagnosis is difficult.
Common symptoms of appendicitis
Appendix usually presents itself between the ages of 10 and 30. It is uncommon for very young children or older people to have appendicitis.
The common symptoms include severe pain in lower right side of the abdomen, vomiting and fever. Although appendicitis is not uncommon, it is very important for it to be detected and treated early. A rupture, which can result in a host of complications, could occur as soon as 24 hours after the appendix is inflamed, so timely detection is crucial.
Lesser known aspects of appendicitis
Interestingly, I just found out that there is something called chronic appendicitis, which can persist for a long time with intermittent symptoms, so perhaps this is what I had. The doctors did not make it too clear and I was just relieved to be okay again to ask too many questions then. Chronic appendicitis is difficult to diagnose and can eventually lead to acute appendicitis and even rupture. So I guess I could have been confusing the symptoms with menstrual cramping for a while.
There is also a rare condition in which the appendix may cause a mechanical small bowel obstruction. Here is an interesting paper on the subject. I don't know if this is what the doctors were talking about when they mentioned in lay terms that my appendix had coiled around my intestine, but it seems like a possibility and good to know about in relation to appendicitis.
In rare cases appendicitis can also affect fertility in women, as the fallopian tubes may get infected and damaged. The damage can usually be repaired using a laparoscope, but if not then in vitro fertilization may be done.
Thirteen year old Tara is in a new school in a new town and she is feeling very sick. It turns out that she needs an emergency appendectomy. The story is about her anxiety before the surgery, and the hurdles she faces during recovery.
At the same time Tara finds herself attracted to a boy, Sid, from her class. It's the first time she has ever had a crush. Plagued by confusing emotions and hormones, Tara tries to figure out this new befuddling and complicated world.
Tara shares a strong bond with her parents and identical twin, Rashi. Having open and honest conversations with them, help her through the recovery process, as well as in sorting out her feelings for Sid.
The book has a realistic, yet fun description of various quirky visits Tara has from well wishers and friends.
Although the idea for the challenge came to me because of my story, in preparing for it, I have researched a host of health issues pertaining to women, and learned a lot of new things, that I am eager to share with you in future posts. Stay with me and let's learn together.
I am thrilled to be participating of the A to Z blogging challenge 2018.