I’m still alive . . . literally! Appendectomy, recovery, rehab, cycling and Paleo eating

I haven’t posted to this blog in over two months. Many of you might be thinking, “is he still alive?” I am, but it could have easily gone the other way. Let me take you back 8 weeks . . .

I was at a company offsite meeting and started to feel some stomach cramps. Nothing major, more uncomfortable than anything else. I went to bed early that night only to wake up the next day with worse cramps and headaches. I still had no fever, so I assumed it was a stomach bug. I had a white glove service send a nurse to the house and she agreed with my prognosis. I didn’t show any of the signs of appendicitis (no fever, no pain on the right side, no vomiting or nausea, etc.). However, that night was horrible. My stomach pains become more violent and I had crazy, migrane-type headaches. I didn’t sleep a wink.

Early the next morning my wife woke-up and asked me how I was feeling. When I told her how I felt, she suggested we go to the hospital to have me checked out (she’s a rock star occupational therapist, so I generally trust her medical advice/judgement). However, that day was my son’s birthday party. I told her I would “gut it out” another day and if I still felt bad the next day, I’d go to the ER. This was at 6 a.m. and she made a very convincing argument that we should go immediately, it was early in the morning and the ER wouldn’t be very busy. I went with her better judgement . . . and thank goodness I did.

Upon arrival at the ER we learned:

  1. I did have appendicitis and it had ruptured already.
  2. I might have been walking around with it ruptured for a couple of days.
  3. It was a “very bad” rupture – it actually blew a hole in my colon.
Within 30 minutes I was in surgery.  I was blessed to have an amazing surgeon and it went very well, all things considered. The doctor said I had the worst rupture he’s ever seen. His exact words were, “it looked like a grenade went off in your abdomen.” The headaches I had were due to all the septic from the rupture that was flowing through my blood stream. I was told if I had waited another day to come in, I probably would not have survived. 
I was in the hospital for 5 days and then recovery moved to home.  My rehab started with walks in our backyard. First 10 laps, then 20. After a couple of days I started to venture outside for walks – first half a mile, then a mile, etc. For the first 5 weeks the doc said no cycling, weights, nothing . . . only walking. So that’s what I did for 5 weeks (thank you Pandora for keeping my walks enjoyable).
My diet was also limited  (little fiber, etc.). However, I was able to eat mostly Paleo. Lots of omelets with guacamole, some protein shakes, etc. At my 1-month check-up the doctor said my recovery was truly amazing. I credit a couple of things:
  • Paleo eating. I’ve been Paleo for about a year now and I’m convinced the low-inflammatory nature of a Paleo diet helped speed my recovery.
  • My general physical fitness. Being healthy means healing faster.
  • My amazing and supportive wife/nurse and the positive motivation of being able to pick up my kids again (couldn’t lift over 10 pounds for the first month).
I’ll now add a cautionary note. The staff said I must have an incredible pain tolerance because I should not have been able to even stand up with the amount of damage I had in my abdomen. I credit high-intensity cycling and becoming “comfortable” in pain. Fellow cyclists:
ignore pain on the bike = good
ignore pain off the bike = bad
I’ve now been back on the bike for one week. It feels great to ride again and in general I’m pretty much back to 100%.  Like I tell everyone, the good news with an appendectomy is that you never have to do it again (you only have one appendix). However, a close call like this definitely makes you re-evaluate what is important in life and being thankful for family and friends.
So since I’m “alive” expect more regular updates to the blog.

4 responses to “I’m still alive . . . literally! Appendectomy, recovery, rehab, cycling and Paleo eating

  1. Glad you are still with us Coopa. Wow.

    KS

  2. Yeah, so, your appendix story beats mine by many miles. Had no idea it was that bad. Glad you got taken care of and are back on your feet!

  3. Hi Ben,

    I’m was cruzing for blogs on cycling in Texas and found your site. Wow! What an adventure you had. Glad you made it through the ordeal. I agree with that last assesment on pain although, I’d rather not have pain on bike as well. lol

  4. This is a crazy story! Good to hear you are fixed up and better. Amazing what the human body can deal with!

    cheers,
    Lindsay

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