Jasper and the unwelcome party guest: An unforgettable appendicitis experience

jasepr_s_1Twelve-year-old Jasper Sieniewicz, from Cambridge, Mass., had looked forward to his September 5 birthday party for weeks. So his mother Martha was a little puzzled when he claimed he had no room for cake after pizza.

At 9:30 p.m., after the crowd of middle schoolers left, Jasper confided to his parents that he had a stomach ache. “Jasper is pretty tough. He’s a hockey goalie, and he doesn’t complain,” says Martha. She thought it might be a case of too much pizza and encouraged him to try to sleep.

By 3 a.m., he was vomiting. Martha thought it might be food poisoning and called their pediatrician’s overnight pediatric advice line. The nurse on call asked questions to check the severity of Jasper’s symptoms and advised her to call back in the morning if her son wasn’t feeling better.

Jasper’s vomiting persisted through the morning, and Martha worried he was getting dehydrated. Another concern was appendicitis, so by 2:00 p.m., Martha and Jasper headed to Boston Children’s Hospital emergency room.

The mother of three had made a few trips to the emergency room in the past. “At Boston Children’s, you’re so conscious of how mundane and manageable your child’s illness is compared to many other patients,” she says.

A surprise from the trauma team

When Jasper started perking up in the emergency room, Martha thought that perhaps it had just been something he had eaten after all, and she considered taking him home. “And that’s when the full-on miraculous Boston Children’s experience started. The entire staff was like a cast in a TV program. The physician assistant was friendly and accommodating. Blake Windsor, MD, emergency physician, was charismatic and kind and ignored my chatter about food poisoning.”

“I suppose, somewhere at Children’s, there MUST be some surly, disaffected, inattentive, humorless employees — that IS Boston, after all — but the only ones in evidence are as charming, bright, energetic, gentle, patient, charismatic (and good-looking!) as the cast of an absurdly unrealistic television show.”

Text message from Martha to her husband during Jasper’s visit

Windsor ordered an ultrasound, and the technician showed Jasper his inflamed appendix.

David Mooney, MD, MPH, director of the trauma center, entered the scene, explaining every step of the procedure to Jasper and Martha and re-assuring them that he had finished his last appendectomy just one hour before.

Jasper’s birthday weekend ended on Sunday when he was released from Boston Children’s. He returned to seventh grade by mid-week, and the goalie was back on the ice two weeks later.

“We’re very lucky,” says Martha. “When I tell people Jasper had an emergency appendectomy, they say, ‘It must have been so scary.’ But I wasn’t scared for a minute, once we got to Boston Children’s, because everyone we encountered was perfectly confident, kind and calm. We knew we were in the best hospital in the world, and that Jasper was being cared for by doctors and nurses who were incredibly skilled and sympathetic. I wouldn’t call it a pleasure. But we are tremendously grateful and impressed.”