Stories about: appendicitis

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.”

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Our patients’ stories: The other side of the drape

The following blog was written by a doctor whose son was recently treated at Boston Children’s Hospital for appendicitis. In it she discusses what it was like to experience a medical emergency and describes the level of care he received at Children’s. It originally appeared on her personal blog, Notes of an Anesthesioboist, and was mentioned on Paul Levy’s blog, Not Running a Hospital.

But this is more than just a nice story; it’s a reminder that the true heart of Boston Children’s is our patients and their families. Do you have a Boston Children’s story you’d like to share with your fellow Boston Children’s parents? If so, please let us know in the comments section bellow or on our Facebook page.

My son had been having episodes of pain right around his belly button for several weeks. Between these bouts of mild abdominal pain he was completely fine—healthy appetite, active, happy. But I had a feeling something was brewing. The disease finally declared itself: several nights ago his belly pain was severe and unremitting. He was in tears. He couldn’t sleep. The pain had shifted a little bit to the right. Sometimes walking made it worse, and when I examined his abdomen, pressing on the area and abruptly letting go increased the pain. I suspected appendicitis, so we headed to our local hospital.

“Where would you rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10?” asked the Emergency Department (ED) nurse once we arrived.

“Um…6.5,” my son answered. His dad and I had to chuckle. This ultra-mathematically-precise answer was so in keeping with his personality.

Some community hospitals evaluate and treat children for appendicitis, but many refer patients directly to Boston Children’s Hospital, which is what ours did. When I heard we were going to Children’s I was glad; it’s a terrific hospital, with complex, well-oiled systems that include quality health care delivery, and family and child supports.

My son and I walked into Children’s just after midnight. It should have felt like home turf in a way—I had learned to anesthetize children here—but that night it felt utterly foreign.

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This week on Thrive: Dec. 7 – 11

Here’s a quick look at what Thrive was up to last week.

Why are suicide clusters more common in teens? Children’s Global Fellow Stephen Sullivan, MD, MPH, addresses the global burden of surgical diseases. KABC in Los Angeles interviewed Children’s Hanno Steen, PhD, about a urine test that quickly identifies cases of appendicitis. Children’s Center for Young Women’s Health youth advisor, Erica, writes a compelling review of the movie, Precious. The HealthMap team gives us our final H1N1 update. David Ludwig, MD, PhD, director of Children’s Optimal Weight for Life Program, just published a commentary in JAMA expressing concern about the widespread use of artificial sweeteners in soft drinks. Our Mediatrician talks about how negative portrayals of black women in movies affects teens. We give a roundup on all of the news this week on the fight for what our children should be eating and drinking.

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Children's on KABC in LA: Urine test quickly identifies cases of appendicitis

KABC in Los Angeles interviewed Children’s Hanno Steen, PhD, about a urine test that quickly identifies cases of appendicitis. Read our original story about it here.

This project was a recent recipient of a Technology Development Award, which supports the advancement of Children’s promising research into potentially life-saving products. Additional clinical validation of the urine marker is now underway.

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