Appendicitus and my daughter’s life threatening experience

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It was the year 2003. We were in the middle of a heat wave, the best summer since moving to Normandy. My daughter, Emilie had just spent 5 weeks of her summer holiday in England with my family. Emilie loved spending time in Bristol, especially with her younger cousin Georgia. Emilie was born in Fountainbleau, France but has always spent a lot of time in Bristol. She is totally bilingual.

The pains started about 2 days after she returned. They were especially bad in the evening. I took Emilie to the local Doctor who sent her for urine tests to the Laboratory. I asked if she thought it could be appendicitis but she said the pain was on the wrong side. We did the tests and had the results but they were normal. The pain returned and the doctor sent us to the Emergency Department of Caen Hospital.

We spent a whole day going to X-Ray and Scans. Finally they sent us to the Children’s Hospital. By now it was evening and I stayed with Emilie in the ward. The following days they did blood tests and further scans and X-Rays. Although the blood wasn’t normal they couldn’t identify any problem so Emilie was released a few days later.

It was very, very hot and so we went to the beach and the swimming pool. Poor Emilie was in agony but trying to conceal it so as not to cause any bother. When her temperature soared I called the hospital and they told me to go for another blood test at the laboratory which was closed. Also to give some painkillers for the pain and reduce the fever. By 10pm Emilie was doubled up on the settee. My French friends were there so they called the Emergency doctor. She said she was on a call with a heart attack victim and we had to wait. However, my friend Isabelle insisted the doctor come straightaway.

The doctor finally turned up and said we had to go to hospital in Caen. Isabelle said we would go to the private clinic in Deauville. We had a note from the doctor and off we sped. We arrived in the early hours and Emilie was given painkillers and a bed. The surgeon was due to come by the following morning, which was a Sunday. All that night Emilie was screaming in agony and was very sick, even through her nose.

As soon as the surgeon saw her she was sent to the operating theatre. It was appendicitis. After the operation the surgeon told us it was very infected but he hoped he had cleaned everything up. However, the following evening Emilie was again in agony and awake all night. I sat with her with my hand on her bandage. I could smell something evil and knew that all wasn’t right. I was just imagining her rotting away. I was very scared. It was also scary because I was on my own and although I speak French, being emotional doesn’t help with the understanding. Also medical terms are very specific and I didn’t fully understand what was happening.

2 days later the surgeon told us that she had several bacteria in her colon and the antibiotics weren’t working. She had to have another operation. This time she was gone for ages in the operating theatre. My parents had arrived from England by now and we were all waiting in the room.

 She came back literally screaming in pain. The nurses rushed passed us with her in the bed. We didn’t know what was happening. We found out later that she had peritonitis and she had to go to an isolated ward because of infection. She had gangarene and it was now a battle to clear everything up.

She was given painkillers and morphine through a drip. The nurses came to change her dressings and clean out the wound. Emilie was very, very brave but she was in agony. The wound had to be left open so that it could drain and be cleaned.

She had to go for a body scan and they found she had ulcers under the wound. She had to have another operation. The surgeon wasn’t sleeping he was so worried about her.

Emilie had to spend her ninth birthday in hospital. My mum made her a cake and as an exception the nurses allowed the family into her room. My brother and his family had travelled over specially.

Finally, she was allowed home after 6 weeks in hospital. The nurses continued to come to the house to change the dressing. Thank God for the surgeon in Deauville and all the nurses that helped her recovery.

Emilie is doing fine now and we’re now living in Spain. She does still suffer pain from time to time, especially from the scar but the most important is that she’s still with us.


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