When "Mommy, My Stomach Hurts!" Requires Medical Attention
The Signs: Stomach Ache or Appendicitis?
I want to tell every parent this:
- Don’t ignore the stomach ache! Touch your child's stomach. It is a myth that the pain is on the right side only. The pain occurs in various places of the abdominal area and then may finally be in the appendix area (right side).
- Be paranoid when your child is sick! Now I am not telling you to run to the doctor if your child coughs, but I am suggesting that you do your homework and listen to your child.
- Keep calling the doctor if the problem persists! Doctors make mistakes!
- Demand a CT scan for a reoccurring stomach ache.
- Get a good medical book to keep at home—I have one and it helps.
- Ask your doctor for good medical websites for children where you can research ailments. Not all sites on the Internet have good information.
- If your child is in pain and you want them to be seen ASAP, go by ambulance or you risk waiting for hours in an emergency room (ambulatory patients get precedence over walk-ins).
- Research appendicitis. It is nothing nice and can kill if it ruptures. Studies show that 1 in 15 people will have their appendix removed. A kindergartner in my area recently died because of a ruptured appendix (the toxins from the appendix and intestines spread quickly through her tiny little body).
"My Tummy Hurts…"
One of the main reasons I am writing this is to potentially help save a child's life. Here is my story!
A few weeks ago my daughter complained of a stomach ache. Being the typical mom, I dismissed it as something she ate or she needed to have a bowel movement. The next morning, she said her stomach still hurt, but I got her dressed, fed her crackers, and sent her off to school. Since I work at the school, I told the teacher if her stomach continues to hurt, allow her to put her head down and I would pick her up immediately following school. My daughter rested all day in class completing some work but nothing major happened. I checked with the teacher who said she seemed fine by the end of the day. I checked with my daughter who said she felt better, so I decided to stay at work and send her to extended care to play for a while.
About an hour after arriving home, she said her stomach pain had returned. At this point I was wondering if she was faking this whole thing—but then again, after raising three other kids, I have learned to never accuse them of faking because you never know. So I called her doctor and explained the problem: stomach pain, vomiting the first day, no fever, no diarrhea, no appetite. The doctor felt it was maybe the flu coming on. I thought: The flu? NOT! She is not coughing, sniffling, has no sore throat, nothing. So I did what every typical mother does. I jumped on the Internet and researched the flu. Well... okay, so I was wrong... hey, I am not a doctor. It wasn’t the first time and surely wouldn't be the last.
The next morning, my little sunshine felt better and off to school we went. But later that day she ate and vomited and also developed a sore throat so I decided to keep her home and keep an eye on her. She started to run a fever and get the sniffles so I figured okay, the flu. I took her to the doctor and they gave her an antibiotic for her throat. I ran out to get all the typical cough medicine and fill her with fluids. By Monday she felt better and again, we were off to another week at school. No stomach pain, no fever, nothing. Great!
The following week she developed a bizarre rash and again, I took her to the doctor because I figured she has been sick for two weeks now and this is not normal. I have watched enough House to know this is not normal. The doctor told me this is just a rash and gave her a steroid and discontinued the antibiotic. A few days later she felt better.
The following week she began to complain of stomach pain again. I told her to rest and see if it goes away. She played with her siblings so again, I dismissed the problem. In the middle of the night she came to get in the bed with us, which is not abnormal. The next morning she complained of her stomach hurting but this time, she was rocking with the pain. I again reached for the Internet to research stomach pain in children, I wrote down her bowel movements, and charted the past 2 ½ weeks. I went to the store to get something to help with her stomach ache. When I returned home she was in tears. I rushed to her side, trying to remain calm, to determine what is wrong. I took her temperature: low grade! I asked the typical questions: 1. Where does it hurt? 2. How bad is the pain? 3. Are you hungry? 4. Are you thirsty? 5. Can you get up? 6. Did you go potty since mommy left?
So, now I give her a painkiller and some plum juice to move the crowd inside. A few moments later, she cries louder. I go back to her room and she is rocking even more, this time holding her stomach. I stretch her legs out (pain) and lay my hand on her stomach. She tells me that doesn’t hurt. I press down and she cries louder. I tell the other children to get dressed because we are leaving. I call her pediatrician to let her know I am going to the emergency room. She concurs and off we go! I rush her in.
I will spare you the emergency room nightmare. Let's just say after a five hour wait we finally get blood test and a CT scan. The doctor came in to give us the bad news. Our daughter had to have surgery because she had appendicitis. Then another doctor entered the room and ask me to explain what happened. I told him how the pain started weeks ago, and how I called the doctor, took her to the doctor twice, and how this morning she is crying in pain but now she feels better. HUH? She feels better! She is talking, laughing, and having a good time. She is her old self again, so are you sure this is appendicitis?
The head physician stated (and I quote): “This is not good.” Now I am scared. Why? He tells us the pain leaving is the calm before the storm, how sometimes right before your appendix ruptures, you don’t feel pain. How the pain with appendicitis comes and goes and she needs surgery immediately!
Within minutes, a surgeon entered the room and explained everything, how fecal matter gets into your appendix and it gets all infected and yucky and requires removal. He explained why my five-year-old needed surgery within the hour, as soon as they assembled a team. I was on the phone with all my prayer warriors, asking them to get the lines of prayer open. My husband and I prayed over our daughter and for the healing of her little body.
My daughter is home now and healing—praise God. The surgeons stated her appendix was nasty and they are sure they caught it just before it ruptured. The surgeon said my daughter must have a high pain tolerance because she should have been screaming in agony—it was really bad. I know God was watching over my daughter because this could have turned out much worse. I pray this will help you.